Summer Sale Extended! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Readers Respond
News Opinion Readers Respond

A war of words in Owings Mills

It is perfectly legitimate to make a case against the rezoning of Solo Cup based on the issues. But Councilman Kenneth Oliver stoops beneath the level of civilized discourse when he resorts to groundless character assassination and claims that "the fix is in" ("A better process for Solo Cup," Aug. 22).

The councilman's accusation is a direct frontal assault on 2nd District Councilwoman Vicki Almond, a freshman member of the council who will cast the deciding vote on the Solo Cup rezoning issue, which is in her district. Councilwoman Almond has an unblemished record of integrity since she began her career as a public figure. She quickly gained the confidence of her colleagues on the council, who elected her chairwoman shortly after taking office.

If Councilman Oliver is going to impugn his colleague's character by casting baseless aspersions, constituents should take a moment to review his own record as an elected official. He has served three terms on the council and has never been elected council chair by his peers. More than once, he has engaged in activities that have raised questions about his judgment and ethics.

In 2009, he pled guilty to multiple campaign finance violations, paid a fine, received probation and performed community service. This verdict marked the first time a sitting councilman had ever been found guilty of a crime in Baltimore County.

In 2011, it was revealed that the councilman had violated a County Charter rule that prohibits County Council members from working for state agencies. For nine months, before he was forced to resign the state position, he simultaneously earned his annual salary of $54,000 as a Baltimore County councilman and $62,000 per year as a finance specialist for the state Department of Business and Economic Development. He tried and failed to abolish that same rule in 2006, so he was definitely aware of the prohibition when he accepted the position. He never made restitution for the salary he collected from the state.

As if that weren't bad enough, while he was double-dipping, he raised even more serious ethical questions by casting a vote on an economic development issue relating to the state agency he was employed by, creating an obvious conflict of interest.

Most recently, Councilman Oliver proposed a bill in May 2012 that would have exempted the Owings Mills Metro Centre, which he favors over the Solo Cup project, from county rules that oversee parking, signage and building size — a virtual "blank check" for the site's developer, Howard Brown. It was vetoed by the county executive.

He says "the fix is in," but now I'm confused. Which council member is he referring to, and which developer?

Words matter in a civil society. This is not about rezoning, it is about returning to civility.

— Ruth Goldstein

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Balto. Co. rezoning is flawed game

    In her commentary, "Don't sign it" (Oct. 18), Ruth Goldstein notes that the Baltimore County zoning process is a game. She points out that "Mr. [Howard] Brown and Mr. [David] Cordish got outplayed by other developers." She is absolutely right. What she doesn't pause to realize is that both sides...

  • Mfume: Sun is too quick to judge Mosby

    Mfume: Sun is too quick to judge Mosby

    Last November Baltimore elected the youngest prosecutor of any major American city, and Marilyn Mosby has brought a balanced approach and a steady hand to the work of restoring a sense of justice and civility to the city's criminal justice system.

  • Why not just give Iran the bomb?

    Why not just give Iran the bomb?

    I have a great idea for an update to the Iran deal that would save a lot of time. We should go ahead and provide Iran with nuclear weapons and also some ICBMs. This will substantially shorten the time necessary for them to develop or purchase them on their own.

  • No more riots, please

    No more riots, please

    Wow. City "leaders" getting ready for protests (also known as riots), thanks for the "heads up" ("City readies for protests," Aug. 27). It's time the law-abiding, taxpaying citizens of Baltimore say loud and clear: "Enough!"

  • Don't coddle dirt-bikers

    Don't coddle dirt-bikers

    I find it amazing that the illegal dirt bikers will probably have a place to ride some day ("City should have zero tolerance for dirt-bikes," Aug. 27). If it is illegal, how will they get to the area that will be provided without riding on the city streets? I guess it will soon be OK for me to...

  • Trump unfit to serve

    Trump unfit to serve

    I am amazed at the number of voters who listen to Donald Trump and support his bluster and arrogance ("Baltimore, others cities say Trump's comments on immigrants in gangs unfounded," Aug. 27). It seems that they don't realize the United States is not a corporation run by one person.

  • Hogan shortchanges Md. schools

    Hogan shortchanges Md. schools

    John F. Kennedy once said "the goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth." Pragmatic and visionary leaders such as President Kennedy realize that in order for society to progress efficiently, we need to allocate the necessary resources needed to boost our...

  • Why must schools hire criminals?

    Why must schools hire criminals?

    What is wrong with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Baltimore City Council? Baltimore Schools CEO Gregory Thornton overspent taxpayers' money by $60 million and still has his job. Now, he wants drug abusers and thieves to work for city schools ("City schools officials to ease hiring rules...

Comments
Loading
79°