Monday, March 5, 2012

Indicted Anne Arundel Exec. John Leopold's Aide Pushed Former Senator for Council Vacancy // Police Seek Resignations

BACKGROUND: Maryland Juice has written a great deal about Anne Arundel County politics lately. This is owing mainly to the pathetic controversy over how to fill a vacancy on the County Council. The Democrats and one Republican are pushing to appoint a young, qualified African American Marine Corps reservist, while the remaining Republicans are pushing Michael Wagner, a 70-year-old, white, former State Senator.

Recent news coverage makes it appear as though former Senator Wagner was pushed into the race by allies of Anne Arundel County's Republican Executive John Leopold. Strangely, Wagner also seems to describe himself as out-of-touch with the District's voters. Notably, Wagner's political benefactor -- County Exec. Leopold -- is currently under indictment for shocking misuse of his public office (see below). Yesterday, The Baltimore Sun provided additional context on the race:
The council has been deadlocked in a 3-3 tie between two candidates: Peter I. Smith, a Defense Department budget manager and a Marine reservist from Severn who is African-American, and Michael J. Wagner, a former state senator from Ferndale, who is white....

Smith said he became interested in politics when he worked as a volunteer for former county Sheriff George F. Johnson, who ran unsuccessfully against County Executive John R. Leopold in 2006....

In his pitch for the seat, Wagner has said he was encouraged to apply by a former top aide to Leopold....

"I probably wouldn't have thought of it, to tell you the truth," said Wagner.... "I'm a conservative Democrat. I know a lot of the regular Democrats wouldn't be jumping for joy with me in there. They'd rather have a person who's stepping to their tune."

Smith, meanwhile, said he's anxious to get the matter settled. "I wish they would just give me an opportunity."

Meanwhile, The Tri-City Herald recently reported on the ridiculous details of County Executive Leopold's misuse of taxpayer resources:
A Maryland official was indicted Friday for misusing his police protection squad, including making them wait while he had sex with a county employee in parking lots, using the officers to conceal his affair and having them do errands such as emptying his urinary catheter bag, prosecutors said.

Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold was charged with four counts of misconduct in office and a count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary, state prosecutor Emmet Davitt announced Friday.

WJLA also notes that Leopold had police planting political lawnsigns for his campaign (really???):
Leopold, a Republican, allegedly used sworn, on-duty Anne Arundel County officers as political campaign workers who would regularly place and distribute campaign signs during the 2010 election, according to the state's attorney.

Today, the union representing Anne Arundel's police force is calling on John Leopold to resign. The Examiner's Jennifer Teates reports:
International Brotherhood of Police Officers, the union representing the sergeants and lieutenants of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, has followed up their recent “no confidence” vote with a call on Monday for County Executive John Leopold and Police Chief James Teare, Sr. to resign....

If county leaders do not take immediate action, officers fear a rise in crime and, according to the IBPO, “the waste of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to fix problems that could have been avoided with more prudent management....” 

"Our members thought the county executive made unsafe decisions about public safety before the indictment," said Paul J. Birks, IBPO national vice president, referring to the vote of no confidence the sergeants and lieutenants took in Leopold’s performance a week before the release of the indictment. "We're even more concerned now that Mr. Leopold will have the distraction of such serious legal troubles."

"If officers cannot trust their chief to protect them from the alleged abuse by a public official, then how can citizens trust the chief to protect them?" asked Birks.

Can the Anne Arundel County Council really appoint the hand-picked choice of an indicted politician to fill a vacancy?

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