Mr. Hodge stated his concern that I knew details of the Ethics Commission deliberations. He already is aware of my efforts on increasing disclosure requirements in Cecil County Government I have promoted and it’s been passed that Directors of County departments have to provide full disclosures and attorneys and ethics commission members are also responsible for filing the short form. I agreed with the Ethics Commission when they raised a concern that under Charter, they would operate at the discretion of the County Executive. Their fear was that the County Executive could remove members at her whim and that actually came to pass recently when County Executive Moore removed Walter Rozanski from the Ethics Commission for comments he made regarding County Council Member, Robert Hodge.
Walt Rozanski called Mr. Hodge unethical. I agree that comments like that could be interpreted that Mr. Rozanski may not be able to remain impartial when it comes to deliberating on ethics complaints against Mr. Hodge. However, did Mr. Rozanski give up his first amendment right when he became an ethics commission member? Was he ever asked why he believed Mr. Hodge was unethical? Ms. Moore didn’t but I did. Mr. Rozanski said his comment was based on Mr. Hodge’s statements regarding illegal bulk liquor sales from Cecil County to New York. Mr. Hodge thought there was nothing wrong with it because the liquor stores weren’t breaking any Cecil County liquor laws. However, Mr. Rozanski pointed out that the Cecil County liquor stores were breaking federal laws: money laundering and wiretap laws punishable up to 20-30 years in prison and some very hefty fines.
And it should be pointed out that Ms. Moore never spoke out or raised objections to previous Ethics Commission Chairman Burns’ comments when he publicly shared his personal opinions attacking certain elected officials. What is even more troublesome is that Ms. Moore removed Rozanski at a key opportune time: right before a complaint was being answered. I’m not permitted to speak on this complaint but know about it because I filed it. I can speak about the comments made by the Ethics Board because deliberations on issues are not private.
Wasn't it hypocritical for her to remove Mr. Rozanski and then pledge to put in a resolution to provide the Ethics Commission the autonomy from her influence? Why wasn't he provided a warning or recourse for appeal instead of an all out dismissal? Yes, I would have to agree that Walter is someone I respect and appreciate. I met Walter at the very first Drug Awareness Meeting I organized two years ago. He asked me what I was going to do about the crime problem plaguing Cecil County. I responded with, “Good Question, what do you propose I do?” I challenged Walt to get involved. He isn’t afraid to stand up and speak out and he works hard to try and make a positive difference in the County because this is his home. On his own time, he attends many work sessions, legislative meetings, ethics commission meetings, drug and alcohol council meetings and interjects on face book comments when he’s got something to say.
Another issue Mr. Rozanski and other ethics commission members have been concerned about are the registering of lobbyists. Why is it that in Cecil County we have never had a registered lobbyist? The County Attorney, Jason Allison, advises the Ethics Commission. When I asked how he would propose going about getting lobbyists to register, he turned the question around and asked if I was accusing businesses of not properly registering?!
So, once again, the deliberations of Ethics Complaints are confidential but the deliberations by the Ethics Commission on ethics issues are not and anyone can attend their meetings on the 3rd Monday of the month. Why wouldn’t I ask the Ethics Commission about their deliberations on the issues? I have always been concerned about the integrity of the ethics process. We all should be.