We’d like to put our faith in a government that is doing what’s best for us, or in our best interest; public administrators — politicians — are ethically bound to protect the public interest. We like to think that our elected representatives serve the people and not themselves, that they bring morality to our government.
Yet we have become jaded, unfortunately numbed by politicians who say one thing but use their position and power to act in their own self-interests and feather their own nests.
So, when we see a mayor standing up to a majority of the Baltimore City Council on the grounds that the council’s action may be unethical and not in the public’s interests, we have the need to give him or her a loud shoutout.
This one goes to Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott who recently vetoed the city council’s efforts, led by Council President Nick Mosby, to decrease from 12 to eight the number of years for an elected official to vest in a city pension.
Mosby’s bill was quickly filed and was a last-minute reaction to the Baltimore City Charter amendment that limited certain elected representatives, like Mosby, to two, four-year terms in office, although under that amendment an elected representative can be elected to serve a different office and collect years in order to fully vest.
That charter amendment, it should be noted, was not at the initiative of any politician, but instead was driven by someone from outside city government, Sinclair Broadcasting’s David Smith.
Mosby’s bill passed the council 8-5, with two members abstaining. Councilman Zeke Cohen was very critical of the bill and voted against it, perhaps because to his nose it emanated a pungent odor reminiscent of the old stables that once were located near the Fallsway.
The council rushed the bill through its hands so quickly that no one had time to assess its financial impact. Nor did the city’s ethics board have time to consider whether the bill served the public interest or the private interests of those members of the council who voted for it.
The ethics board asked Mayor Scott to delay the passage of the bill until the board had time to consider the bill and issue a formal opinion whether the bill violates ethics laws. He did so. Kudos, then, to His Honor for doing what was the right thing.
And of the members of the council who voted for this bill, or who abstained from voting, we are very disappointed in either their failure to recognize the appearance of a conflict, or their lack of caring that a conflict actually existed.
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS
James B. Astrachan, Chair
James K. Archibald
Gary E. Bair
Andre M. Davis
Arthur F. Fergenson
Julie C. Janofsky
Ericka N. King
Susan F. Martielli
Angela W. Russell
Debra G. Schubert
H. Mark Stichel
The Daily Record Editorial Advisory Board is composed of members of the legal profession who serve voluntarily and are independent of The Daily Record. Through their ongoing exchange of views, members of the board attempt to develop consensus on issues of importance to the bench, bar and public. When their minds meet, unsigned opinions will result. When they differ, or if a conflict exists, majority views and the names of members who do not participate will appear. Members of the community are invited to contribute letters to the editor and/or columns about opinions expressed by the Editorial Advisory Board.