Fox set to offer his resignation

Ethics board noted conflict of interest in asking him to leave city planning panel


Former Annapolis Alderman Michael W. Fox plans to offer to resign from the Annapolis planning commission, citing a city ethics board ruling that his employment with the Anne Arundel County planning and zoning office presents a conflict of interest.

"In very strong language the ethics commission recommended that he resign, and if he did not they would seek to terminate him," said Alderman David H. Cordle, who brought the issue to the attention of the commission.

Cordle explained that Fox, who was appointed to the committee in February, would have had to recuse himself from all votes on land use and planning issues.

Fox defended his volunteer work with the committee. "I just wanted to help out. I'm not looking to cause problems," Fox said, noting that he feels more support to stay than to resign.

Still, the former two-term alderman from Ward 7 said Friday that he planned to submit a resignation letter to the mayor and the committee tomorrow. Fox said that he could not discuss the details of his resignation until he had formally submitted the letter.

Fox said he found it ironic that Cordle, the chief investigator for the state's attorney's office, is also a county employee. In the letter, Fox said he would "pinpoint where politics has come into some of these issues." Fox and Cordle are both Republicans.

Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, a Democrat, did not want to comment on Fox's resignation until she had received his letter, spokeswoman Jan Hardesty said.

"The mayor thinks very highly of him," Hardesty said, adding that the city attorney, Shaem C. Spencer, would make the final decision. Fox could appeal the ethics commission's ruling, Hardesty said.

Fox has long been involved in county and city politics. He is the vice president of Ocean Race Chesapeake, the group that coordinates the local celebration of the Volvo Ocean Race.

He is also a board member for the Maritime Heritage Festival. In 2001, the ethics commission ruled that Fox's position with Ocean Race Chesapeake did not pose a conflict of interest to his work as an alderman. Although a division of Volvo paid for Fox to travel to Europe, the commission allowed Fox to vote on issues related to the race.

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