Tell Baltimore County Government: No conflicts of interest on the Charter Review Commission
In November 2016, voters approved a referendum requiring that Baltimore County’s Charter be reviewed every ten years. The Charter is in need of ethics reforms, adequate representation, and amendments that will increase transparency in government and protect the public interest in the development process, especially with regards to the environment. Each Councilperson appoints a member to the Charter Review Commission and the County Executive appoints two members. The Council will vote on Tuesday February 21 on a resolution to create the Commission with the slate of nominees currently named. This commission will make recommendations to the County Council who will vote on changes to the Charter to include on the next ballot for final approval by the voters of Baltimore County.
Unfortunately, four appointees to this commission have clear conflicts of interest. They are attorneys on retainer with clients who have business pending before the County Council. Changes to the Charter may have a financial impact on the clients of the appointees.
It is said that no man can serve two masters. The first obligation of the lobbyists is to serve their paying clients who have business requiring action by the County Council. These are the lobbyists and who nominated them:
- John B. Gontrum, attorney with Whiteford, Taylor and Preston, nominated by Councilperson Vicki Almond
- Michael Paul Smith, attorney with Smith, Gildea & Schmidt, nominated by Councilperson Cathy Bevins
- Edward Gilliss, attorney with Royston Mueller, McLean & Reid, nominated by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz
- David H. Karceski, attorney with Venable, nominated by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz
Revisions to the Charter that might impede clients of these attorneys or their firms, however beneficial to the constituents of Baltimore County, will place the appointees in a conflict of interest. A commission containing development attorneys is not likely to solve current problems with the closed and ethically compromised development process in Baltimore County.
Councilman Wade Kach, from District 3 is the only Councilperson who has publicly denounced the appointment of these registered lobbyists. Click below to read an article from the Towson Flyer
Write to the County Council and County Executive. Ask them to:
- appoint members to this Commission that are not encumbered by conflicts of interest
- vote NO on the Resolution to create the Charter Review Commission.