School redistricting foe quits budget advisory panel Ethics board forces lawyer to choose between 2 roles

September 17, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Told by Anne Arundel County ethics officials to choose between being a member of a budget advisory panel and representing his neighbors in a school redistricting challenge, David C. Douglas has quit the Planning Advisory Board.

Douglas, a resident of the Seven Oaks community, sent a resignation letter to County Executive John G. Gary last week. A spokeswoman for Gary would not release the contents of the letter yesterday because Gary had not seen it.

Douglas could not be reached yesterday.

The Odenton lawyer is representing Seven Oaks residents who oppose school board plans to switch their children from schools that feed into Arundel High School to schools in the Meade High School group. At the same time, he was on the the budget advisory panel, which makes recommendations to Gary on capital budget projects, which last winter included two Meade-area schools.

The county school board filed a complaint against him with the county Ethics Commission, arguing that the Seven Oaks redistricting dispute related directly to funding requests to replace two Meade schools with larger ones that would add capacity exactly where the Seven Oaks parents do not want to send their children.

It is unclear whether Douglas voted on Board of Education projects this year. He recused himself from votes in 1995. Minutes of this year's Planning Advisory Board indicate that he voted to approve all school projects, but Douglas told the school board and the ethics panel that he did not.

The Ethics Commission decided a month ago that Douglas' assurances that he would discuss school projects but not vote on them was not enough.

Douglas, who said last week that he considered the issue confidential, had asked County Attorney Philip Scheibe to review the decision. Scheibe said his office does not oversee the ethics panel.

Scheibe said he agreed with the panel's findings but added, "It doesn't matter what I say."

Pub Date: 9/17/96

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