Rules Are Rules….Unless You Don’t Want To Follow Them

So, a while ago I posted the campaign finance reports for the city of Annapolis that were due July 1st of this year. Silly bloggers like me over analyzed what the reports meant, and there was some interesting email chatter. Everyone who raised or spent money, or had balances in their campaign accounts, reported their dealings. Everyone except Ward 7 Alderman am Shropshire.

Rather than filing a report, Alderman Sam filed a letter explaining why he didn’t file a report. Apparently, his house was flooded on May 13th, preventing him from accessing records. In his letter, he advised that everything should be back to normal shortly, and that we could expect a report to be filed by the end of July. The other day, a friend of mine called to remind me about this. He said he talked to the city clerk, and that as of a couple of days ago, no report had been received from the Honorable Alderman.

A few questions come to mind:

1. Why does the treasurer not have these records?

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2. Why did it take 5 weeks for the “piecing together of records” to get started?

3. Why is there still no report, a month after it was due and almost 3 month after the flood.

4. Why, in the name of at least trying to satisfy the laws which he is sworn to uphold, did Alderman Sam not go to the bank and report how much money is in the account?

Is this upsetting? Yes. Is this inappropriate? About as inappropriate as I was in 7th grade when my first girlfriend ever called me to talk, and within 3o seconds I asked “so why did you call me”. But, at the end of the day this matter per se does not matter all that much. Would the other candidates like to know how much money he has? Of course, but it wouldn’t change that much for the average person.

The underlying issue is more troubling. The city–specifically the Moyer administration–has a history of following rules selectively, if at all.

Example 1: The Mayor, in a work session, advocated implementing the sidewalk tax even though an advisory opinion from the attorney general deemed it unconstitutional.

Example 2: When the city was sued by police and fire retirees, it lost a statute of limitations argument, then was told in March by the courts exactly how much it had to pay, but still has not paid.

Example 3: In cases where rules must be followed, this administration simply changed the rules. Political appointments are to be expected. But, Mayor Moyer changed the charter to create a new department, which she promptly staffed with a friendly who now makes $100,000+.

Example 4: When the Mayor fired former public works director John Patmore (because Patmore brought up valid concerns that city resources would be stretched for the triathlon), the Mayor replaced him with City Administrator Bob Agee, ignoring the requirement in the code that the DPW Director had to have an engineering degree.

There are other things that I’m certain are against the rules, but I just can’t find the rule. Aldermen spend their “education” budgets to travel to sister cities, and Mayoral Candidate Chuck Weikel gets free advertising through the Annapolis 300 program–to name 2.

Following minor rules is important because it forecasts how strictly you will follow the important rules. The uncertainty for Annapolitans is which rule will be broken next.

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