Council members in Montgomery County, Md., are closer to finally voting on a controversial teen curfew plan. A vote could also come next week on an alternative plan to the curfew.
Before the full council can vote on the curfew, the body's Public Safety Committee had to first give its recommendation on the measure. Thursday it voted down the curfew, meaning a final decision could come on Tuesday, the council's next full meeting.
Roger Berliner, who is expected to be elevated to council president next week, said he would rather his colleagues shelve the curfew Tuesday, along with the anti-loitering bill opponents of the curfew have pushed.
"I am concerned that this entire conversation casts our community in a negative light, and makes it appear as though that things are out of control in our county, and they most assuredly are not," Berliner said.
Councilman Marc Elrich abstained in the committee vote. He will offer amendments to the plan Tuesday, softening the curfew by allowing the county executive to impose curfews for short periods in reaction to crime trends. He would also include language that makes the curfew applicable only to those under the age of 16.
"At the age of 16, people get driver's licenses, and the state has made a decision that someone at the age of 16 someone is mature enough essentially to handle a deadly vehicle," Elrich said.
Phil Andrews, who has been the staunchest critic of the proposal, said an anti-loitering measure would be an effective alternative to a curfew.
"It's a tool that would be a scalpel rather than the sledgehammer of a curfew," Andrews said.
Police chief Thomas Manger supports the curfew but more than anything just wants a definitive decision on Tuesday.
"I wish the council would vote it up or vote it down," he said. "But let's make a decision about this. We've talked about it enough."