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Annapolis council to weigh new ethics code for officials


The Annapolis city council will consider tonight whether to impose a new ethics code to minimize conflicts of interest in local government.

The measure, proposed by Ward 5 Democratic Alderman Carl O. Snowden, would bar the mayor, aldermen and other city officials from voting on any city matters in which they might have a personal interest.

"There are so many holes in the existing ethics law that I could drive a Mack truck through them," Mr. Snowden said.

While Mr. Snowden said he did not draft the bill with any specific aldermen or ethics violations in mind, the measure comes after a dispute over the makeup of the city's the Historic District Commission.

Last fall, several aldermen accused the commission of advancing a hidden agenda for the district's residents when it criticized the city's plans for a new Main Street design. Three of the five members of the commission belonged to the Ward One Residents Association, a community group that lobbied against the city's original plans for the rebricking project. Those members eventually resigned from the residents association.

The measure could affect several alderman with ties to the private sector. Alderman Wayne C. Turner, for example, has worked for Bell Atlantic Corp. for the past 19 years and would be barred from voting on telecommunications matters.

The bill would modify the city ethics code in several other areas, banning officials from accepting gifts or voting on any issue in which a family member might have an interest.

The ethics code is supervised by the city Ethics Commission.

Mr. Snowden said his new set of rules would strengthen the city code by modeling them after Anne Arundel County's more specific regulations.

The city council is expected to refer the measure to the Rules and Ethics committees for further review. Tonight's council meeting begins at 7 p.m.

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