February 5, 2013
Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr. said Tuesday he “accepted” his admonishment by the General Assembly's ethics committee for using legislative stationery last year in trying to silence Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo's outspoken support for same-sex marriage. But the Baltimore County Democrat insisted he had nothing to apologize for in speaking out. Burns said the ethics panel wrote him chiding him for using official stationery to write...
January 11, 2012
When the Maryland Senate came into session this morning, Sen. Ulysses Currie was seated in the front row - but a crucial 10 feet to the right of his former perch, the desk he was for years afforded as chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee. Even as senators and delegates shook hands, hugged and greeted each other after an absence of nine months, Senator Currie served as a highly visible, awkward reminder of what could prove to be one of the most difficult pieces of business the legislature will have to take up this year.
February 8, 1995
Several incidents in the past year point up the need for a clear code of conduct for Baltimore City employees -- and a tightening of the city's ethics law. The spectacle of relatives of high officials getting contracts outside the bidding process brought shrugs of "so what?" from City Hall. So did an attempt by five City Council members to meddle in the corruption trial of ex-comptroller Jacqueline McLean. Prodded by these events, the city's Board of Ethics has proposed a new code of conduct even as it works belatedly on more stringent laws.
June 5, 2007
For those sickened by unbridled development, overcrowded schools, clogged highways and loss of green space, Frederick County has a potential antidote for suburban sprawl. A new county ethics law approved this year by the Maryland General Assembly and signed just weeks ago by Gov. Martin O'Malley uses a "sunshine" provision - and limits on campaign contributions - to help manage growth. Since Friday, Frederick County commissioners have been required to publicly disclose their every communication regarding pending development, whether it's from an applicant or an opponent.
December 14, 2006
This is the unfortunate reality of ethics in state government: Maryland law aims high but the follow-through is not so hot. That's because while this state might lead the nation in the percentage of government workers required to file financial disclosures, Maryland has relatively few people to review those reports. The result is a well-intentioned, if ineffective, paper shuffle. That much is made clear in the recent legislative audit of the Maryland Ethics Commission. The independent agency has a huge job - identifying the nearly 12,000 people who ought to be filing reports, making sure those reports are made and checking them for accuracy.
October 5, 2003
LESS THAN A MONTH after the City Council primary, and the bad old days are back. Promises to end business as usual have already been forgotten. Even while the council is ostensibly going about the business of plugging loopholes in the city's ethics law covering all municipal employees, council members are clueless, blind or worse about their own breaches of ethical conduct. When the city's ethics board disclosed Thursday that it is considering an amendment that would allow City Council incumbents to continue employing family members already on the public payroll, the prospect was greeted with audible sighs of relief.
January 5, 2008
The cheating scandal at Severna Park High School last May may be more typical of teenagers than not. That's not to impugn the character or reputation of a whole class of 13-somethings. But a recent online teen survey suggests a sizable number see no problem with cheating - or plagiarizing, telling lies or resorting to violence, for that matter - to get ahead. We may have expected this "end justifies the means" ethos from college students competing for plum jobs in a global economy, but not from the kids who babysit our kids.
March 4, 2010
I taught in Baltimore County public schools for over 30 years. During that time, I produced an album titled "Kindergarten Blues." The children at my school wanted to own this CD, and I was willing to sell it to them at cost, making absolutely no profit. It would have cost $1 per CD. The Board of Education denied that request, citing their ethics documents. I was fine with that decision, and still am. It amazes and amuses me that an assistant superintendent, Barbara Dezmon, has developed a program, called AIM, that the district tried to force teachers to use, but has now backed off on under pressure from teachers, legislators and parents.
August 9, 2010
Hewlett-Packard's Standards of Business Conduct, like most corporate ethics policies, are earnest, precise and admonitory. "We know that actions speak louder than words," company Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd wrote a couple years ago in a preface to the code. "We must make decisions and behave in ways that we can be proud of, that reflect our commitment to doing the right thing. " Only Hurd can say whether he was proud of fudging thousands of dollars in expense reports and concealing his alleged romantic relationship with contractor Jodie Fisher from the company's board and the accounts-payable department.
February 28, 2010
A city councilman's proposed amendment to ethics legislation introduced by Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake would violate the terms of Baltimore's charter, according to an opinion issued by the city solicitor. The proposal, intended to limit the mayor's influence over the ethics board, was suggested by Councilman Bill Henry last week, but he has not drafted an amendment. Currently, the mayor controls all nominations to the five-member volunteer panel, which came under scrutiny during former Mayor Sheila Dixon's public corruption trial.