Today is a pivotal day for Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott as the 5 p.m. deadline approaches for him to decide whether he is vetoing the controversial Security Deposit Alternatives bill that City Council President Nick Mosby has made a top legislative priority.
Political observers are watching to see what Scott will do on an issue that shines a light on the muted but ever-present power struggle between the city’s two top elected officials.
Mosby, who abandoned a mayoral bid in 2016, has made no secret of his ambitions for higher office.
Meanwhile the sizeable coalition of city activists and advocates who have pressed Scott to veto a bill they say will hurt renters – many of whom supported Scott in last year’s primary election – are watching as well.
The moment has parallels to Mayor Catherine Pugh’s flip-flop on the $15 minimum wage issue shortly after her 2016 election. After making a campaign promise that she would sign any $15 minimum wage bill that reached her desk, Pugh vetoed the measure.
Until the last few days, it seemed certain that Mosby and Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton could muster a majority of the Council to override a Scott veto of the deposit alternatives bill.
After all, the Council had passed the bill by a lopsided 12-2 margin last month, with only Councilmen Zeke Cohen and Ryan Dorsey voting “no.” (Councilman Kris Burnett abstained.)
Mayors do not typically attempt a veto unless they know the Council will sustain it. Under a recent charter amendment, 10 votes are needed to overturn a mayoral veto.
Opponents of the bill, led by the Baltimore Renters United coalition, have been calling out individual Council members by name, pressuring them not to vote against a veto.
Until this weekend, it was unclear that the votes needed to sustain a veto were there.
But in the wake of yesterday’s Brew article about the behind-the-scenes interactions between Mosby’s and Middleton’s offices and Rhino, the New York-based company that has been pushing the bill, City Hall sources say the votes may now be there.
“It’s close, but the votes are there [to sustain a veto],” a Council member told The Brew yesterday. “So the ball now is squarely in Brandon’s court.”