Tue, August 16th, 2011 - 4:48 am - By Gordon Basichis
The Laurel City Council amended the law requiring candidates to undergo background checks. Passage of the amendment was unanimous so there was no discernible dissension among the ranks. Two civic groups believed conducting background checks on candidates for city council may be discriminatory. One wonders if this is due to common issues of discrimination or the belief that politicians may have enough malfeasance in their past and, possibly, their future, so no sense in dragging out the old baggage. Hard to say.
However, both civic groups determined it was okay to run background checks to determine if the candidate owed back taxes. It just wasn’t okay to see if he was a convicted felon. A violent felon. Someone who embezzled money at a previous job or while working for another local government. Whatever.
In fairness, the new law, it is believed is in conformity with the election procedures in the rest of Maryland. All aides believed the amendment to be equitable, enabling transparency without being intrusive.
The article, on ExploreHoward.com, read…”Mayor Craig Moe, who called for the meeting between city, ACLU and NAACP officials, said the original legislation was designed to add transparency to the election process so residents would have more information on a candidate. He said after learning of the NAACP’s and ACLU’s concerns, he realized it would be in the best interest of the city to change the law and called for the special session of the council to amend the rules.
“With everything going on in Prince George’s County (the former County Executive and a County Council member pleading guilty to federal criminal charges), we were headed in the right direction by trying to make sure a felon wouldn’t run for office,” Moe told the council Monday night. “With the election coming up (in November), we needed to make sure this was clarified.”
One aspect of the law that found common agreement is that anyone convicted of a crime while in office would be removed from that office immediately. In short, that official would no longer be allowed to remain in office while awaiting sentencing or an appeal.
As the article quoted…”
That one word is “immediate,” and it refers to the immediate removal from office of any elected official who has pleaded guilty or been found guilty of a crime. In addition, the elected official’s salary and benefits would also be terminated immediately.
“I’m happy with ‘immediate’ being put in so you get away from someone convicted or who has pleaded guilty remaining in office,” said Crary. “I think what we have today is better and clarified.”