Young supports highest ethical standards on city council

March 09, 2010

The Sun editorial "A Question of integrity" (March 8) is an aggressive distortion of a position based on the legal tradition and ethic of American justice. In this country all of us are innocent until proven guilty. No one is excluded from that uniquely American assumption. The editorial seeks to call that standard into question only when it comes to Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young. The reality is there simply is no comparison between the issues facing Washington's City Council and the position taken by Mr. Young.

The only conclusion to be drawn from the decision to have Councilwoman Helen L. Holton resume her leadership of the Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee is that this council president is concerned about competence and respect for the legal process. The editorial brings a fundamental assumption not conceived in fact or action. No questions have been raised by colleagues or the ethics board because there are no legal, ethical or moral reasons to do so.

Remember it was former council president and now Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake who originally appointed Ms. Holton to chair the taxation and economic development committee. Council President Young is comfortable with her leadership of the committee since the bribery charge against Ms. Holton was thrown out by the judge and is under appeal by prosecutors. A hearing on that appeal is expected in May.

Mr. Young wants Ms. Holton to resume leadership in order to make the best use of her expertise as a certified public accountant during the city's ongoing budget crisis.

There is nothing about Council President Young's decision that signals a lower ethical standard. On the contrary he fully supports and promotes ethical reform and compliance. Clearly Mayor Rawlings-Blake recognizes this because she recently thanked the Young-led council for quickly bringing her ethics bill out of committee. It is on the final stage before passage.

The editorial's penchant for drawing conclusions about Council President Young's intentions without talking to him is at the least troubling. A phone call to Mr. Young would have been fair and would have probably gone a long way toward answering any questions and correcting several inaccuracies. As for committee assignments, Mr. Young put a council member who didn't support him in charge of a committee and cut funding for projects close to members who supported him.

After reading between the lines of this editorial we are left with the unfortunate impression that the criticism is more an expression of what those who lost to Council President Young might say. Sharing a journalistic opinion is always appropriate. But it's not an excuse to take sides without being factually correct or at least listening to the other side.

The citizens of Baltimore are Council President Young's only concern. Serving them will always take precedence over political agendas. Under his leadership it is Mr. Young's desire that council lead by example while demonstrating the highest moral and ethical standards in every action taken.

Dennis Edwards, Baltimore

The writer is director of public information in City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young's office.

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