GRANOLAPARK: Unequal ethics

Takoma Park Mayor Bruce Williams


Dear Readers,

The state knows where it can stick its ethics. The mayor gave them directions.

Takoma Park mayor Bruce Williams was of two minds when the city council reviewed ethics-law revisions Sept. 6. The revisions would update city ethics laws to match new state ethics laws. These new state laws impose greater transparency on Maryland politicians. Elected officials have to disclose not only their own financial dealings, but those of their spouses and domestic partners. Politicians and their significant others could be fined for conflict of interest – financial connections with companies that also deal with the city, for instance.

Mayor Williams and the rest of the council favor the proposed rules in principle. However, looking at the larger picture, Williams pointed out that the Maryland and federal governments don’t allow same-sex marriage, withholding marriage rights and privileges from some. Then they turn around and impose the same legal requirements and consequences on domestic partners that they place on married spouses.

“I’m tempted to say ‘I want to go there, but dammit if you’re not giving me equal rights, why do I have to do this?'” said the mayor.

Councilmember Fred Schultz furrowed his brow at financial disclosure requirements un-elected candidates for office had to meet. Schultz said the rules seem out of proportion to Takoma Park’s small-town, short election cycle. The city tries to make it easy for people to run for office, he said, and this might discourage them.

There were no votes on the ethics laws, this being only a discussion session. Votes – and more discussion – will come later.

Knew It All

Sept. 6, saw the first city council meeting since the month-long summer break. As predicted by Your Gilbert, who knows all, each councilmember reported on his or her vacation – and how their vacation spots compared with Takoma Park. Councilmember Dan Robinson said he resisted the urge to introduce himself as a fellow politician at the Istanbul, Turkey city hall. Councilmember Reuben Snipper felt no such resistance on his travels through a number of towns on the US west coast.

After comparing tans, they praised city employees for their response to the recent hurricane. Not ONE of the council cut short their vacation, returning home to be in their ward when Hurricane Irene struck. This shows a refreshing lack of cynical calculation that will get them exactly nowhere in higher-level politics. Poor lambs.

Back at the Table

The council took their first bite of their fall season, quickly spitting out two proclamations, one in honor of the recreation director, and another denoting September National Preparedness Month, ironically a few days after an earthquake and hurricane. On hand to say a few words in favor of being ready for Anything was Kay Daniels-Cohen, chair of the Emergency Preparedness Committee. Oh, and she’s also the only announced candidate for the soon-to-be-vacated Ward 3 council seat.

The council scarfed down some easy votes, awarding tree maintenance contracts, the purchase of police in-car video cameras, and suchlike. Then, they got their teeth stuck in a long, chewy discussion about ethics law revisions – as mentioned above.

Your Gilbert was NOT invited to the closed session the followed the public meeting, a consultation with the city’s hired suits about the Adventist Hospital’s petition to relocate. The agenda said they would discuss “pending or potential litigation, including administrative proceedings before the Maryland Health Care Commission.”

That sounds all tough and steely-eyed, but so far the city’s objections to the hospital relocating have had as much effect on the process as a tough, steely-eyed ant has against a steamroller.

– Gilbert

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

2 Comments on "GRANOLAPARK: Unequal ethics"

  1. Bruce Williams | September 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm |

    Gilbert–I didn’t comment about any vacation, since I didn’t get one. I therefore was in town for the earthquake and the hurricane, and spent days going around the city working with residents to make sure things got cleaned up and powered up. 🙂

  2. So! Setting the groundwork for a higher office, eh?

    By the way, we submitted expenses for granolapark’s fact-finding mission to the Netherlands. See: . However, we have not yet received a check. It’s been four weeks. Where’s that “Service Oriented Government?”

    – Gilbert

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