Young seeks appointment to long-dormant board overseeing ethics director

Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young is asking the council to appoint him to a long-dormant board city officials say is supposed to oversee the city's ethics director.

"It is my hope that you will see fit to appoint me to represent this Honorable Body," Young wrote in a letter to fellow council members this week.

The seven-member Board of Legislative Reference, which is charged with hiring and potentially dismissing the Director of Legislative Reference -- who also serves as the ethics director -- has not met in years, city officials say. One board member, contacted by The Sun, said he had never even heard of the board.

Some watchdog and good-government groups have questioned the side legal work done by city ethics director Avery Aisenstark. Aisenstark has acknowledged performing work on behalf of a committee funded by developers who are challenging zoning decisions in Baltimore County. The same developers have had significant business interests before city agencies.

Aisenstark has said he took off from his $94,000, full-time job to perform the work, and it does not represent a conflict of interest because the developers do not do work with his specific agency. 

According to the city charter, Aisenstark's position reports to the Board of Legislative Reference, composed of the mayor, the city solicitor, the president of the Johns Hopkins University, the deans of the University of Maryland and University of Baltimore law schools, the director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library and a member of the City Council.

The board hasn't met in at least six years, city officials acknowledge. The last meeting documented in The Sun's archives was in 1996.

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