In Annapolis, Exemplars Of Irresponsibility

August 25, 2009|By Marta Hummel Mossburg

At least Maryland is not New Jersey. The recent federal indictment of politicians across that state shows that government contracts there are up for sale to the highest bidder. They hobnob with purveyors of illegal organs. Another bonus: Taxes there are even higher than in the Old Line State.

Also, Maryland's landscape is beautiful.

But politicians here still behave as if the rules of law and economics do not apply to them.

Case one: the betrothal stunt pulled by Del. Jon Cardin, a Baltimore County Democrat and nephew of Democratic U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin. The younger Cardin commandeered on-duty Baltimore City police officers to stage a fake drug raid on the boat he was borrowing from a friend Aug. 7. In the meantime, a police helicopter hovered overhead. While the raid was in progress, he dropped to one knee and asked his girlfriend, Megan Homer, to marry him. (She said yes.)

The fact that he thought it was romantic to organize a proposal that has been known to cause heart attacks in the people being targeted speaks to his horrible judgment.

But the bigger issue is why he thought it was appropriate to ask on-duty officers to assist him in his elaborately creepy wedding proposal when the safety of Baltimore residents would be compromised and their wallets raided for the stunt. Mr. Cardin said in a statement that "I should have considered that city resources would be involved and used better judgment to put a stop to it."

The nonapology makes it seem as if the event was out of his control and others were the main planners. And second, "city" resources? It's taxpayers' money, not the "city's" money that he stole. Maybe taking an institution's money makes him feel better, but in reality he took the money of Baltimore City taxpayers - people he does not represent in the General Assembly. Given the spate of crime in the Inner Harbor, he could have endangered lives, too.

If he can't offer a proper apology, it shows he doesn't get what he did was wrong. And it raises the question of whether he treats other people's money with such abandon in the state legislature. He should resign.

Case two: Partying in Ocean City as the state budget gap widens. Gov. Martin O'Malley will propose about $470 million in cuts to the state budget at a Board of Public Works meeting this week because of declining tax revenue. In light of these tough times, Michael Enright, Mr. O'Malley's chief of staff, wrote a letter asking government staffers throughout the state to carpool to the Maryland Association of Counties conference earlier this month in Ocean City, share rooms and use personal time for trips to the beach and golf course.

But the festivities looked like business as usual, thanks to 115 photos posted on Facebook by Jeremy Rosendale, the governor's deputy director of correspondence and constituent services. As noted on Maryland Politics Watch (http://mary land-politics.blogspot.com/), "Who knew that hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts could be so much fun?"

Mr. Rosendale kindly put captions on his photos, before removing them from his page. Some descriptions include: "Shots before heading out (the first of many)" and "Hmmm." They featured him and tanned friends doing Jell-O shots and other alcoholic toasts in various states of attire and sobriety.

Are taxpayers such a joke that staffers feel free to flaunt their party-like-it's-2005 ways in 2009? Here's to reviewing Mr. Rosendale and fellow partygoers' expense reports to ensure taxpayers didn't buy a round or 10 for the house.

Marylanders may be fortunate to live in a cleaner state than our neighbors to the north. But it should not be too much to ask for adults to represent us and work for us in Annapolis.

Baltimore resident Marta Hummel Mossburg is a senior fellow with the Maryland Public Policy Institute and a columnist for the Washington Examiner, where this article originally appeared.

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