Lawyer for Arundel councilman tries to strike bargain with Republicans

Attorney says Democrat Jones could give up pay, keep his seat while in prison

January 05, 2012|By Nicole Fuller, The Baltimore Sun

The attorney representing embattled Anne Arundel County Councilman Daryl D. Jones, who lost a legal fight Wednesday when a judge ruled against his effort to block his colleagues from removing him from his council seat, has been floating an alternative council rebuke.

Linda M. Schuett has reached out to at least two council Republicans – Chairman Derek Fink, of Pasadena, and Richard B. “Dick” Ladd, of Broadneck – about the possibility of scuttling the proposals if Jones agreed to give up his council pay while he’s incarcerated, a proposal that doesn’t appear to have won Republican support. His annual salary is $36,000.

Jones, a Severn Democrat in his second term, is set to report later this month to federal prison to serve a five-month sentence for failing to file nearly three dozen tax returns. The Council will vote on two dueling pieces of legislation on Jan. 17, which if passed would declare Jones’ seat vacant and allow the council to begin the process of choosing a replacement.

On Wednesday, a county circuit court judge denied Jones’ request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the council from voting on the bills.

When asked Thursday, Schuett said she had contacted the councilmen.

“I  did have a conversation with Councilman Fink and with Councilman Ladd and the discussion that we had was really the idea of the county attorney,” she said. “I was just seeing if this was a potential option.”

County Attorney Jonathan A. Hodgson, who authored a legal opinion to the council last month stating that it has the power to remove Jones, said he was simply advising his clients of all their options.

“It was certainly not my idea that she lobby them not to vote for it,” said Hodgson. “It’s my job to be thoughtful about resolving problems facing my clients. My clients are the County Council in this case. And it’s my job to be thoughtful about how my clients choose to solve a problem. The choices they make are entirely up to them.”

Fink did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Ladd, who was among the first members of the council to say that Jones should resign, said Thursday he had a “wide-ranging conversation with Schuett.

“I am not inclined to vote against that thing simply because he is wiling to give up his pay,” said Ladd. “I don’t think that’s the proper linkage to make.”

Councilman John J. Grasso, who is sponsoring one of two of the pending bills, said he would not pull his resolution.

“We don’t plea bargain with convicted criminals – not interested,” said Grasso.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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