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On speed cameras, city ethics board failed

Your series of articles on the speed camera fiasco prompts me to make the following comments. Since I started teaching political science in 1964 with my first assignment at Ridgely Junior High School, I have developed a good idea of what constitutes good or bad behavior on the part of our politicians. Thus, on Jan. 6, I filed a formal complaint with the Baltimore City Board of Ethics concerning the behavior of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake with regard to the speed camera mess. I stated in my complaint that Mayor Rawlings-Blake violated the sacred public trust by approving a speed camera program which allowed the Department of Transportation to issue tickets to citizens with the understanding that the company, Xerox State and Local Solutions, would receive a portion of every $40 ticket issued.

Even Gov. Martin O'Malley has said that paying a speed camera company based on the number of tickets — as Baltimore and Baltimore County do — is illegal. I also stated that the mayor knew that a number of the speed cameras were dysfunctional, yet she allowed the tickets to continue to be issued against citizens. It was only after your paper exposed these flaws that she finally called for an investigation. Thus, I suggested that the ethics board formally censure Mayor Rawlings-Blake for violating the public trust with regard to the speed camera debacle.

On Jan. 15, I was notified that the ethics board voted to dismiss my complaint. They offered the reason that their jurisdiction is limited to complaints that allege violations of items codified in the Baltimore City Ethics Law. What's more, the board's consideration of my complaint was not open to the public.

It seems to me this is positive proof of what a waste of taxpayers' money and what a joke the ethics board is. I ask that if the city ethics law doesn't allow the board to hear and adjudicate the grievances I brought forth, blatant violations of the public trust, then what useful purpose does the board serve? I say the time has come for the Baltimore City Board of Ethics to be abolished!

Ralph Jaffe

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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