At least six Baltimore City Council members do not plan to vote to override Mayor Brandon Scott’s veto of the Security Deposit Alternatives bill, should such a vote come before them at next month’s meeting.
If these members hold firm in their resolve, Council President Nick Mosby (and the bill’s sponsor, Vice President Sharon Middleton) will have failed in their push to have Bill 21-0022 become law.
UPDATE: On May 24, Councilwoman Odette Ramos released this statement saying she will vote to sustain Scott’s veto.
Under a change in the city charter approved by voters last year, a two-thirds majority is needed to override a veto, meaning 10 votes must be cast.
The bill had overwhelming support last month despite criticism from advocates for poor renters and was approved by a 12-2-1 vote. (Councilman Kris Burnett, a landlord, abstained.)
But after weeks of organizing that focused on Rhino, the New York company that stood to benefit from the measure – capped by a leaked company video and reporting about internal emails showing a Rhino lobbyist’s interactions with and Mosby and Middleton – the momentum shifted.
Bullock the First
Councilman John Bullock, who previously voted “yes” on the bill, started the ball rolling, publicly at least, on Tuesday.
Responding to a comment on Twitter, he was asked about a rumor that he would not vote to overturn Scott’s veto.
“That is correct,” Bullock tweeted back, later confirming his decision with The Brew.
Councilwoman Phylicia Porter, reached by The Brew before the start of a hearing on Tuesday, was matter-of-fact about her decision to side with the mayor on the issue.
“I’m going to vote to sustain,” she said.
Sources close to Councilman James Torrence say that he, too, has switched position and would not vote to override.
The position of the original lone opponents of the bill – Councilmen Ryan Dorsey and Zeke Cohen – has not changed.
Their votes, added to those of Bullock, Porter and Torrence, mean there are not enough votes left for an override. (Burnett confirmed to The Brew that he would again abstain.)
Still Officially Undecided
There is time for the issue to play out before the next Council meeting on June 8 when an override vote would have to take place.
Other members’ intentions at this point are not clear.
The 2nd District’s Danielle McCray has not responded to a request from The Brew for comment.
Neither has the 14th District’s Odette Ramos, whose activism on issues of housing and ending predatory tax sales has had bill opponents clamoring for her to join them.
Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer declined to disclose his intentions. “I’m still reviewing the issue,” he told The Brew.
Likewise Councilman Mark Conway: “I’m reviewing the mayor’s veto letter, having conversations about this bill with stakeholders, and will be making a decision soon.”
The other Council members – Antonio Glover, Eric Costello and Robert Stokes – have not responded.
The 3rd District’s Dorsey, the first to voice concerns about the measure, predicts the veto will be sustained. So has Cohen.
“I am confident that after careful consideration my colleagues will reach the same conclusion I did,” Cohen said. “The legislation is well-intentioned, but could cause significant harm to vulnerable people.”