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Three attorneys named to open meetings board

Three attorneys were selected to fill vacancies on the Open Meetings Compliance Board by Gov. Larry Hogan.

The appointments fill key vacancies that crippled the board and delayed decisions on complaints related to government agencies.

Appointed to the board are:

  • Gerald “Rod” Wittstadt, Jr., the chairman attorney with Butler & Hosch in Baltimore and a retired naval officer.
  • April C. Ishak, attorney with Stark & Keenan in Bel Air, a business and civil litigation firm specializing in trusts and estates.
  • Rachel Shapiro, an attorney with Miles & Stockbridge specializing in commercial litigation and business torts.

The appointment of Wittstadt came on the same day his employer, an Orlando, Florida-based foreclosure oriented law firm, announced it had ceased operating last week and was dissolving the firm in a court filing similar to a bankruptcy proceeding.

The appointments fill three vacancies on a board that has not been able to meet recently because none of the positions had been filled, according to a recent Baltimore Sun report.

An early primary and a law dating back two decades prevented former Gov. Martin J. O’Malley from filling two vacancies after June 24.

Rebecca Snyder, executive director of the Maryland Delaware DC Press Association, applauded the appointments.

“We didn’t want to see the openings linger because it’s a critical board,” Snyder said.

The association submitted names to be considered for the vacancies. Snyder said none of the appointees, who must be confirmed by the Senate next year, were among the candidates her organization provided to the governor.

“It sounds like (the governor) has taken the idea of neutrality to its furthest extent,” Snyder said, adding that a lack of experience on public access issues could delay the work of the board.

“It can be complex, nitpicky law,” Snyder said.