By Lurene Heyl
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Three members of the Baltimore County Council say they support County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s proposal to improve ethical standards in local government.
Councilman David Marks, R-Fifth District, who for almost a decade has been an active participant in efforts to improve the county government, said the proposal will help build public confidence in how their government operates.
“Since 2010, I have supported numerous initiatives to improve county government, including restrictions on free tickets to sporting events and a term limit for Councilmembers,” Marks said. “I welcome these changes. I agree that the public deserves the opportunity to vote on campaign finance reform.”
Councilman Izzy Patoka, D-Second District, said he is impressed by the county executive’s efforts thus far.
“While we were all seeking office, County Executive Olszewski talked about accountability, transparency and ethics,” Patoka said. “Two months into his term, the county
executive is implementing those very things that he talked about. I commend the county executive for taking such quick action with his package of ethics reforms and also for hitting the ground running as our county executive.”
Olszewski’s proposal calls for public financing of campaigns, having an Office of Ethics and Accountability put in place to prevent fraud (which includes the ability to audit, inspect, evaluate and investigate government operations), stopping county officials from lobbying county government for a period of one year after they leave office, and posting all lobbying registrations online.
In a statement, Olszewski said residents of Baltimore County deserve a government that is leading by the highest form of ethics and accountability and can put their trust in them.
“Baltimore County residents put their trust and confidence in their local government to be good stewards of their tax dollars and deliver high quality services,” Olszewski said.
Democrat Councilman Julian E. Jones, Jr., D-Fourth District, said he also favors the proposal, but emphasized that everyone should patiently wait to have a closer look at what the proposal entails.
The proposal, which was first introduced to the county council on Feb. 19, will undergo a final reading and vote before the council on March 18 during their legislative session.
“If there’s not enough openness or accountability, people may say they had no idea,” Jones said. “I look forward to examining the proposal. It’s just a matter of time of looking over it and having everyone open to it.”
The four other council members did not respond to a request for an interview.