As he had promised, Annapolis city council member Michael W. Fox has asked the city's Ethics Commission for its opinion before he votes on a plan to allow a prestigious around-the-world sailboat race to lease City Dock for $1 and to receive a contribution of city money and services.
Council members have criticized Fox's dual roles in the race as an elected official and vice president of the nonprofit Ocean Race Chesapeake, which is arranging an Annapolis stopover for the Volvo Ocean Race Around the World next year.
Ethics board Chairman Fred Paone said yesterday that his commission received a written request from Fox this week, and that the five-member commission will meet Monday afternoon to "discuss thoroughly" whether Fox's situation poses a conflict of interest. He would not elaborate.
While the commission usually has up to 60 days to issue an opinion, the Volvo lease and city contribution will be up for vote by the city council Monday night.
Fox, who is resting his voice after vocal cord surgery last week, could not be reached for comment yesterday. But he has maintained that his actions pose no conflict, and has said he has nothing to gain personally from the event, which will likely provide huge economic benefits for the city.
But council members argue that the appearance of a conflict should persuade the Republican alderman to recuse himself from voting on the Volvo lease. The council also will vote on including $50,000 in the city's fiscal 2002 budget for race expenses.
Democratic Alderman Ellen O. Moyer said yesterday that Fox has no conflict of interest and that the criticism of him "continues to be an embarrassment" for the boat race. Moyer worked in 1998 on the race then known as the Whitbread Round the World.
Bill Badger, president and chief executive officer of the Anne Arundel County Economic Development Corp., resigned last month from Ocean Race Chesapeake to avoid a conflict of interest.
Badger left the group after about a month when the Anne Arundel County Ethics Commission told him his role as an Ocean Race Chesapeake board member and his effort to get the County Council to contribute $50,000 to defray the race's costs might pose a conflict of interest. The council supported the funding because it had spent a similar amount in 1998 on Whitbread.