Racial Composition of Proposed Human Rights Commission Might Be Illegal, Tom Herz Says

Screen shot of Ward 2 Councilman Tom Herz during an August Zoom meeting

As a vote to establish of a Human Rights Commission ordinance in Chestertown draws near, Nov. 2, Ward 2 Councilman Tom Herz has sought advice from an anonymous lawyer over language on how the members would be selected.

In an email to other council members on Oct. 28, Herz said he sought legal advice from a friend.

“Colleagues – I asked for some general advice from a friend of whether the following statement in the proposed ordinance is legal:

The Chestertown Human Rights Commission shall consist of seven residents of the Town of Chestertown, of which not less than four members shall be People of Color.

Herz said the subsequent response from his friend led him to believe that the clause in the ordinance needed review from the town’s own attorney prior to the Nov. 2 meeting.

He said his friend concluded that the clause is “probably illegal.”

On Sept. 8, Herz voted in favor of a resolution sponsored by Ward 3 Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver that committed to establishing the Human Rights Commission with a racial makeup of at least 50 percent People of Color.

And no concerns from any council members have been expressed since the Human Rights Commission ordinance was introduced by Tolliver on Oct. 5, which requires at least four People of Color sit on the seven-member commission.

The Kent Pilot reached out to Herz to ask why his legal concerns were not mentioned earlier in an open session of the council.

“I look forward forward to discussing this with my fellow council members in the public meeting next week,” he said in a response. “I am eager to make sure the Human Rights Commission is the very best it can be for our small town.”



  1. If a lawyer wants to give an “off the cuff opinion”, the lawyer should be identified, Joseph McCurdy

  2. The problem with non-lawyers opining on the legality of legal questions is obvious: they don’t know what they don’t know so they make mistakes. This fact should inform not only Tom Herz, who is not a lawyer or even a law school graduate, but also should inform the Mayor and Mr. Herz’s fellow Town Council members. Don’t listen to Mr. Herz or his unidentified alleged lawyer friend. The link he provided to the Mayor and his fellow Commission members is readily pulled up by anyone with the Internet. A Google search is not legal research and certainly not an adequate basis for suggesting a legal conclusion.
    I am a practicing lawyer, a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia bars, and admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, and the U.S. Supreme Court. I have successfully argued cases before the appellate courts of Maryland.
    Based on my 35 years of experience and my legal research, I respectfully disagree with Mr. Herz and his unidentified colleague. I urge each of you, including the Mayor, Mr. Herz, and each of our Town Council members to read the well-reasoned and well-researched Pilot editorial in today’s edition. (The publisher of the Pilot is a lawyer, by the way.) Let us not forget that Mr. Herz, who was forced to recuse himself on the street murals vote, opposed those murals as “illegal” also. His argument then was as poorly reasoned as his new argument.

  3. For a Councilmember to use the “opinion” of an anonymous attorney, who is a “friend” of his, to justify an objection that was rightfully raised during the meeting and taken up by the Town’s attorney, is utterly suspect, and doesn’t pass the smell test.

    If Councilmember Herz has an objection to the majority/minority make up of the proposed Human Rights Commission, he should be willing to raise it in an open meeting, where there can be discussion and debate.

    However, demonstrating once again his distain for process, Councilmember Herz is using the “opinion” of this “friend of his who happens to be an attorney,” as a Trojan Horse to kill the Commission without standing up and voicing his own objections in an open forum.

    As he did in the voting about the BLM mural, Councilmember Herz is demonstrating that his primary desire is to protect himself from controversy, to appear open-minded and then use questionable means to achieve his objective.

    The Mayor and the other Members of the Town Council should NOT entertain any discussion or research about the “issue” raised by Mr. Herz unless and until he raises it openly. To do otherwise is to endorse circumventing the public process.

  4. All of comments above are accurate and succient in the language of our country and town. What should be added, simply, ” Tom Herz is a coward.” Wanting to look to those that elected him, he has found a friend, I doubt he has many, who has added their legal opinion without revealing who they are. I have found that when working with lawyers, those that have a stated opinion, whether that opinion is on point with the majority or not, they are honest enough to say their name(s). Tom Hertz has found excuses to stall and stop this progressive movement and moment in Chestertown. He has shown his disdain for the residents of color in our town and county. Remember my dear friends, we have seen “Tom Herzs” before and we will again. Malcontent so called public servants should be silenced unless they can add meaningful dialog in their opposition. Tom Hertz adds nothing to the political discourse to our town and should frankly scurry back to his cave of discontent and be quiet.

  5. Let us not forget that councilman Herz voted in favor of the “HRC”. The above posted comments (as educated as they may be) seem to insist that he has some sort of ill intent towards the idea, which is obviously incorrect based on his vote to establish the board. I believe that these “arguments” all revolve around the color of ones skin, something that NONE of the associated parties can get past. When we learn to work together for the better, regardless of our skin color, we will finally be ready to achieve something great. That’s my .02.


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