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Annapolis council unanimously condemns failed insurrection after resistance from Republican alderman

The Annapolis City Council approved a resolution Monday condemning the failed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol this month, despite the objections by the lone Republican alderman who argued the bill was overly political and not a matter the council should take up.

Alderman Fred Paone, R-Ward 2, said he strongly supported the sentiments of the resolution that reaffirmed a commitment to free elections, the peaceful transfer of presidential power and the condolences offered to the family of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, one of five people who died as a result of the Jan. 6 riot.

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But the bill also condemned former President Donald Trump for his role in inciting a mob of his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol and spreading misinformation about the 2020 election. The House of Representatives impeached Trump for inciting the insurrection, his second in a four-year term. A Senate trial is expected to begin next month.

To mention Trump, Paone said, made the resolution “purely political.”

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He and other council members also questioned whether the resolution, sponsored by Alderman Brooks Schandelmeier, D-Ward 5, is appropriate given that it doesn’t directly impact Annapolis.

“We don’t deal with this,” Paone said. “Our time is better spent balancing the budget, keeping the tax rate down, making sure the fire department and police department and public works department are all adequately funded and doing a proper job.”

Trump will “hopefully meet some sort of justice” on Feb. 9 when his second impeachment trial begins in the U.S. Senate, Paone said. “It’s up to them.”

Schandelmeier said that Trump could not be removed from the events on Jan. 6.

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“I don’t think we can separate the man from what happened,” he said. “He was the biggest spreader of the unsubstantiated claims of the election being stolen.”

Paone sought to remove parts of the resolution that mention Trump’s name, but the motion narrowly failed by a 5-4 vote. Eventually, the council unanimously approved the resolution, with Paone casting a yes vote despite his reservations.

Alderwoman Elly Tierney, D-Ward 1, introduced an amendment to change the resolution title slightly to reflect that the attack was both on the U.S. Capitol building itself and democracy. It passed unanimously.

The council should pass the resolution, she said, because the insurrection was felt by residents and business owners in Annapolis who felt fear that a similar attack could happen in the city.

“This attack should never happen again on American soil no matter what the politics are,” she said.

Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson, D-Ward 4, offered a Dr. Martin Luther King quote that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” to show her support for the resolution. Alderman DaJuan Gay, D-Ward 6, quoted the musical “Hamilton” in reference to the importance of George Washington’s peaceful transfer of power at the country’s birth.

The council allowed the general public two weeks to weigh in on the resolution. About a half dozen people did so, the majority of whom opposed it. Some comments parroted Trump’s false claims about the insurrection while another said the city shouldn’t spend time on the non-city issue.

Vaccination rollout, police programs

Mayor Gavin Buckley spoke at length during the meeting about coronavirus vaccine distribution in the city.

Buckley said 80% of city firefighters, 70% of city police officers, and 100% of the Office of Emergency Management members received their shots during the first distribution phase. Phase 1A groups included public safety and health care workers, public health staff, nursing home staff and residents, the judiciary and correctional staff.

After completing phase 1A a couple of weeks ago, the city and the county moved to phase 1B — this group includes residents age 75 and older, plus all of the 1A groups — where they will remain in the next few weeks, Buckley said. There was confusion Monday when Gov. Larry Hogan announced the state was moving to phase 1C.

The city is tethered to the Anne Arundel County Health Department, which receives its vaccine doses from the state health department, Buckley said. The county currently receives about 5,000 doses per week, he said.

“We will get to the other side of this, but it will take longer than any of us want,” he said.

Buckley also spoke during his monthly public address on several police-related initiatives that he hopes to focus on in the year.

Chief among them is something he called The 150% Group, which includes several grant-funded positions meant to offer residents a range of social programs, workforce development training, transportation options and criminal justice diversion programs.

The group includes members of the Annapolis Police Department, a newly hired city social worker, Office of Emergency Management workers, among others, Buckley said.

The group is so named “because this is how much success everyone will have if they look to each other as a resource to answer community needs,” Buckley said. “This is truly a bottom-up approach to problem-solving and helping our residents lead rich, fuller lives.”

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