Annapolis alderwoman faces ethics inquiry

July 20, 2004|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

An Annapolis man has filed an ethics complaint against Alderwoman Louise Hammond, contending that she altered a recently passed ordinance in a way that would lessen competition for the downtown shop where she works.

The ordinance, passed by the city council this month, authorized the lease of Susan B. Campbell Park for Latino Fest, an event planned for Sept. 25. At Hammond's request, the council amended the ordinance to prevent merchants from selling their products at the festival.

Annapolis resident Michael Calo considers the amendment a conflict of interest because Hammond works part time at Outer Island Imports, a downtown store that sells polished stones and other rocks.

"If some other alderman had presented the amendment, that would have been fine," said Calo, who is not associated with the festival. "But she has a clear conflict of interest under the city code."

Hammond said yesterday that she had not seen the ethics complaint but dismissed its premise as silly. "I haven't set up any situation where there would be more rock sales at the store," she said.

Hammond, a Democrat who represents the downtown business district, said the council often has prohibited the sale of merchandise at festivals. "The thinking is that the businesses on the City Dock suffer when people spend their money at a festival and therefore don't spend money in the shops," she said.

She said working at Outer Island Imports two days a week "is a good way to keep in touch with the business community down there."

Hammond's action also has drawn criticism from the Association of Latin Marylanders of Anne Arundel, the group putting on the festival.

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