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Controversial Office Lease Dies (Again) in Pr. George's

The path of a proposal in Prince George's County to lease pricey new office space during an economic crisis has read like a bad horror film: Every time critics and union chiefs thought the proposal was dead, it kept rising again.

Today, it appears to have been killed once more, having been struck down in committee because no County Council member seconded a motion to pass it on for a vote by the full body.

Critics have charged that the measure -- pushed by County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) -- is wasteful and ill-timed, costing more than $11 million over 10 years, while the county recently decided to lay off dozens of workers because of a budget crisis. The measure would move employees from several agencies in Largo to a new, consolidated space in New Carrollton to solve logistical and security concerns and to help revitalize the New Carrollton area, Johnson's spokesman has said.

The bill had been packaged with another project: An eight-year lease to house a new forensics lab for county police, although officials plan to pay for that through money from drug seizures.

In a bit of creative legislative maneuvering, the Public Safety and Fiscal Management Committee's chairwoman, council member Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant) moved to separate the bill into two parts. Today, the forensics lab was passed on to the full council, and the office lease died.

The office lease proposal would have moved employees in the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Housing and Redevelopment Authorities from their existing county-owned locations in Largo to the rental space -- 38,000 square feet attached to a New Carrollton hotel.

The moved employees would have allowed the Department of Environmental Resources' permitting office -- now on the sixth floor of a county building in Largo -- to move to the first and second floors for easier access. Johnson's spokesman, James Keary, said traffic in that office, which issues more than 40,000 permits a year, has reached burdensome proportions and has taxed elevators, which break down frequently, and that housing the offices on separate floors presents security concerns.

The measure was previously thought to have died in committee this spring, but was reintroduced in June.

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  October 7, 2009; 3:10 PM ET
Categories:  Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County  
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The PG County Council and its moronic council members are better than any comedy show on TV! Bwaaahaaaaaa

Posted by: checkered1 | October 7, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: craigspr | October 11, 2009 1:54 AM | Report abuse

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