Council bill would outlaw hiring of kin Raise of 6.8% given by councilman to wife prompts Mulford plan

'It's a conflict of interest'

DeGrange suggests ban should also apply to other officials

November 13, 1997|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

The "All in the Family" show might be canceled in Anne Arundel County.

A County Council member proposes to outlaw the common practice of council members' hiring spouses as legislative assistants and giving them big raises.

William C. Mulford II, a Republican from Annapolis, said he plans to suggest the ban Monday in response to a recent public outcry over a raise that a Democratic councilman gave his wife.

Democratic Councilman George F. Bachman of Linthicum on Oct. 30 personally approved a 6.8 percent raise for his assistant, Anna Bachman -- more than twice the pay increase that most county employees will get this year.

Anna Bachman earns $50,589 annually, top among the council's seven assistants and nearly twice the $26,000 her husband earns from the county.

Working within county personnel laws that allow councilmen to give their aides raises of up to 10 percent per year, Bachman has raised his wife's pay by 62 percent since 1990, according to county records.

The councilman, a 75-year-old retired railroad machinist who has served six terms since 1965, is not the first to hand paychecks to a member of his family.

In the 1980s, Councilman Theodore J. Sophocleus hired his wife, Alice, as his assistant. The decade before that, Councilman Sarah Carter employed her husband, Ray, and Councilman Wallace Childs hired his wife, Sue.

Mulford said his bill would prevent council members from enriching themselves or their families by hiring spouses, children or siblings.

"Legitimate questions have been raised on this issue," said Mulford. "The only person that the council members hire is their legislative aide. Should that person be a family member? When you pay that person, it could benefit you directly or indirectly."

Councilman John J. Klocko III, a Republican from Crofton, said, ,, "It's a conflict of interest, plain and simple."

James "Ed" DeGrange, a Democratic councilman from Glen Burnie, suggested that any ban on hiring should extend beyond the County Council.

County Executive John G. Gary's wife, Ruthanne, has been working as the county's community services director since 1991 -- three years before her husband took office.

Mrs. Gary, who notifies community organizations about developments planned for their areas, received a 7 percent raise this year, to $69,598 annually.

Many top county officials, including Police Chief Larry W. Tolliver, received similar or larger pay raises this year -- prompting complaints from union workers who received 1 1/2 percent cost-of-living increases.

Lisa Ritter, Gary's spokeswoman, said Ruthanne Gary should not be put in the same category as Anna Bachman because the county executive did not hire his wife or approve her raises. This responsibility falls on her supervisor, Chief Administrative Officer Thomas C. Andrews, who reports to John Gary.

George Bachman could not be reached for comment.

Pub Date: 11/13/97

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