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Leopold criticizes successor for no-show at board

Rushern BakerLaura Neuman

Former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold emerged from his involuntary retirement  to criticize his successor, Laura A. Neuman, for failing to appear at a meeting Wednesday at which the Board of Public Works approved the move of the state Department of Housing a Community Development to Prince George's County.

Over the opposition of three Republican members of the Anne Arundel House delegation, the board voted 3-0 to ratify a lease with a developer at the New Carrollton Metro stop for the new department headquarters. The department is now based on the state government campus in Crownsville.

Neuman sent a letter to the board asking that its members reconsider the decision to move the headquarters and its estimated 380 jobs out of Anne Arundel. But she did not appear in person -- as Prince George's Executive Rushern L. Baker III did to support the move.

Leopold, who was forced from office after his conviction in January for misconduct in office, said that if he were still in office, he would have spoken at the board meeting.

"Would it have made a difference? You never know," Leopold said. "You've got to keep fighting as much as you can until a decision is made."

Leopold, who opposed the move when he was county executive, described the move as "outrageous" and "indefensible" -- charging that the cost to taxpayers would be more than $40 million. Both he and Neuman are Republicans.

Defenders of the move said the New Carrollton headquarters would be a catalyst for transit-oriented development that would eventually produce jobs and additional tax revenue for the state.

Neuman, who is expected is seek election to a full tem in 2014, likely doesn't have much to worry about when it comes to being criticized by Leopold, who was sentenced to 30 days in jail for his offenses. But one of the delegates who did appear was Republican Steven Schuh, an announced candidate for county executive.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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