Ecker to dissolve ties to political adviser who lobbied on tax NHC

May 18, 1991

Charles I. Ecker, the Howard County executive, said yesterday that he was severing his ties to a key political adviser who went to bat last month as a paid lobbyist for the promoter of Merriweather Post Pavilion, asking the executive to reconsider his plans to increase the county admissions tax.

Mr. Ecker said yesterday that Michael W. Davis, a Columbia lawyer who was co-chairman of his transition team, would have "no other connection with county government."

He said he and Mr. Davis reached a "mutual understanding" that the attorney would step down as chairman of a citizens' panel drafting an adequate public facilities ordinance, a key piece of legislation for the Ecker administration.

Mr. Ecker said he was concerned that reports in The Sun about Mr. Davis' lobbying efforts on the admissions tax might prompt "the public to discredit the report of the APFO committee."

He said he appointed Jim Eacker, a consultant and former Rouse Co. executive who is president of the Howard County Citizens Association, as the new chairman of the task force, which is expected to issue a report sometime next month.

In a letter April 12, Mr. Davis asked Mr. Ecker to consider alternatives to raising the amusement tax because it would hurt the Nederlander Organization, the pavilion's promoter. Four days later, Mr. Ecker included the tax rise in his budget proposal but delayed its implementation until Oct. 1, after the Columbia pavilion closes for the season, saving the promoter about $150,000. Mr. Ecker said the letter didn't influence him.

Mr. Davis could not be reached yesterday for comment.

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