Your Oct. 29 editorial asserts that Question G on the Nov. 6 ballot in Baltimore “merely redefines the city’s director of legislative reference as an at-will employee, instead of a civil servant.” Really? As two distinguished attorneys wrote in a recent op-ed (“Baltimore’s Question G: ‘a very bad idea,’” Oct. 25), this change in the City Charter is like a snake in the garden.
Your editorial misses an important part of the Question G proposal. The City Code provides that the director of legislative reference also serves as executive director of the indispensable City Ethics Board on which I have served. The ethics board meets regularly. It deals with the ethical problems of city employees without political interference. This structure has worked well for many years because the executive director could not be removed except for incompetence or neglect of duty.
Approval of Question G would enable the mayor and president of the City Council to remove him or her without cause. Thus, if there are city employees with serious ethical challenges, the director will no longer be able to conduct his or her investigation and make recommendations to the ethics board free from the political concern that if the investigation is pursued, he or she can be fired. Why would a thoughtful person even want to apply for such a position?
In short, passage of Question G would result in the fox guarding the henhouse. The citizens of Baltimore deserve much better. Vote no on Question G!
Michael Millemann, Lutherville
The writer is a law professor at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law.