by Lisa Tome
The sign on the door is clear - No food or drink is permitted in the Elk Room.
But all members of the Cecil County Council and members of their support staff, violate this rule weekly during their meetings in the County Administration Building.
"If we can't have coffee, I'm quitting. I have to have something to drink in these meetings," said councilwoman Joyce Bowlsbey, prior to the Tuesday, July 15 work session. She was sipping hazelnut coffee which she made at home in her Keurig.
Bowlsbey said that prior to be appointed to the council, she brought a drink to a meeting. She was told not to bring it. "I have seen people in the audience with a drink and I have never chastised them," she said. She also said she understands why the rule is on place - to prevent spills on the room's carpet.
Councilman Dr. Alan McCarthy was clutching a 16 ounce coffee. "It's coffee with three small sugars and milk. I bought it in Delaware so as not to pay Maryland tax. I like coffee. It keeps me alert," said McCarthy.
Council president Robert Hodge had a bottle of purple water on his desk. "I think (with the no food or drink rule) they are trying to protect the carpet," said Hodge. "Once we start the meeting, we're stuck here. It's hard to interrupt the meeting and walk out." Hodge said he brought his drink from home. He buys cases of water and adds a flavor packet.
Councilman Mike Dunn said he buys his bottle of water in the county building on his way to the meeting. He said he paid $1.25 for his frosty bottle.
Councilwoman Diana Broomell arrived just as the meeting was started. It is unknown what she drinks. She uses a reusable coffee mug week after week.
County Director of Administration Al Wein was carrying a bottle of water. "The presenters get dry mouthed. They need (a drink) so they can speak," said Wein. "If you spill water, it won't damage the carpet."
County attorney Jason Allison forgot his usual bottle of water last week. Allison said that he is "cheap". He said he has had the same water bottle since April and fills it at the water fountain in the building.
Budget director Craig Whiteford pointed out his spill proof cup. Whiteford said he uses one brand - Eight O'Clock Coffee - and brews it at home in a coffee pot, not a Keurig. "I have it because I'm thirsty. But I'm responsible," said Whiteford.