A public hearing was held today at 7:02 p.m. in the County Commissioners’ Hearing Room, County Government Center, Chestertown, Maryland, for the purpose repealing Chapter 29 (Ethics) and Enacting a New Chapter 29 (Ethics) of the Code of Public Local Laws of Kent County, Maryland, in order to comply with State ethics mandates for local jurisdictions enacted through SB 315 (2010) and contained in Title 15 of the Maryland State Government Code; re-establishing a Kent County Ethics Commission and making provision for its powers and duties; subjecting certain county officials, employees, and board and commission members to revised conflict of interest and financial disclosure requirements; requiring registration and reporting by certain lobbyists; providing for enforcement of the Kent County Public Ethics Law; and establishing penalties for violations thereof.
County Commissioners, Ronald Fithian, William Pickrum, and Alexander Rasin were in attendance as well as Susanne Hayman, County Administrator.
Commissioner Fithian read the Notice of Public Hearing into the record.
Susie Hayman, County Administrator reviewed the purpose of the public hearing and proposed legislation. The State legislature passed a law subjecting all counties and municipalities, except some smaller municipalities exempted from the law, to revise local ethics laws consistent with the mandates of the state legislation. The mandates for financial disclosure of local elected officials and candidates for local office seem very draconian.
The Commissioners discussed various sections of the proposed legislation. Commissioner Rasin suggested the ordinance specifically exclude the Humane Society’s Director. Commissioner Fithian and Pickrum were not in agreement as everyone to be excluded would have to be listed.
Mr. Mickey Elsberg, Member, Kent County Ethics Commission, stated that the reporting requirements are quite onerous; and it will be harder to get people to accept appointments and run for office. Mr. Elsberg asked if there has been any communication with our state representatives.
Bill Short questioned the privacy of information, once filed with the Clerk of the Commissioners’ office. Ms. Hayman answered it is public information that anyone could, for example, publish on the internet.
Commissioner Fithian invited comments and questions from the audience.
There were no other comments or questions received from the audience.
Written comments will be accepted in the Commissioners’ Office until Friday, November 18, 2011 at noon.
The hearing was taped for reference and on a motion by Commissioner Rasin and seconded by Commissioner Pickrum, the Commissioners unanimously agreed to adjourn the public hearing at 7:25 p.m.
Sondra M. Blackiston, Clerk
Ronald H. Fithian, President
The County Commissioners
Of Kent County, Maryland