To Abide By The Constitution orů.
This is actually the second column and submission by Delegate Don Dwyer of Anne Arundel County on this topic. The initial column spoke to the need for Mayor Sheila Dixon to be removed from office based upon a clear reading of the Maryland Constitution.
Since that time, a deal was struck in which Ms. Dixon would resign as mayor of Baltimore and receive a lifetime pension as well as have the charges dropped. This is not justice you and I would receive, but rather judgment for the select few!
To that end, I offer a letter sent to the state prosecutor from Delegate Dwyer.
Office of State Prosecutor
Robert A. Rohrbaugh
300 East Joppa Road
Hampton Plaza, Suite 410
Towson, MD 21286-3152
January 8, 2010
Dear Mr. Rohrbaugh,
As a member of the Maryland Legislature and the House Judiciary committee I am concerned with media reports that Mayor Shelia Dixon has been permitted to resign her position as Mayor [of the City of Baltimore] while facing a conviction and sentence that would ultimately have resulted in removal without pay or benefit. As I understand, the Mayor was “convicted” on December 2. 2009 [by] a Jury regarding the improper use of gift cards.
The state constitution under Article XV required that the Mayor be suspended without pay or benefit upon conviction. That suspension should have taken place on December 2nd.
Under the plain and clear language of Article XV, not only was the Mayor not suspended, she has now been given the opportunity to take an Alford plea (nolo contendere) in a separate perjury case that derived from the original case. As result of the “deal” she has retained the “benefit” of a lifetime pension and been cleared of the original conviction. As I read it, this is in direct violation of the state constitution.
Now that the deal has been cut, what happens to the original case and the conviction that required suspension without pay or benefit? When will she be sentenced under the original conviction of December 2nd?
Would you please explain in detail how the Mayor is allowed a pension and how this is permissible under the law when the requirements of the state constitution under Article XV clearly prohibit it?
Any elected official of the State, or of a county or of a municipal corporation who during his term of office is convicted of or enters a plea of nolo contendere (an Alford plea) to any crime which is a felony, or which is a misdemeanor related to his public duties and responsibilities and involves moral turpitude for which the penalty may be incarceration in any penal institution, shall be suspended by operation of law without pay or benefits from the elective office.
Also explain why the Governor has not acted as instructed by Article XI Sec. 6, to remove the Mayor.
The Mayor shall, on conviction in a Court of Law, of willful neglect of duty, or misbehavior in office, be removed from office by the Governor of the State, and a successor shall thereafter be elected, as in a case of vacancy.
Given the clear language of Article XV and XI, I respectfully request that the state consider an immediate reversal of the pension on the grounds that the state constitution specifically prohibits it. I would also ask that the Governor act immediately in accordance with Article XI to remove Mayor Dixon from office.
Maryland citizens are outraged at the outcome of this trial and the possibility that the Mayor will receive a pension for life.
Your prompt response would be greatly appreciated.
State Delegate Don H. Dwyer, Jr.
c.c. Governor Martin O’Malley
Maryland Attorney General Gansler
Speaker of the House
President of the Senate
The practice of treating elected officials in a different and more lax manner than the general population must stop! Our elected officials are to be held to higher standards. Giving them a pass – and, in this case, a tremendous lifetime benefit – sets a precedent that is completely unacceptable.
I salute Delegate Dwyer for stepping forward to press this miscarriage of justice. So many want to sweep this situation under the rug and try to move forward. This perspective is not acceptable. Ms. Dixon was afforded a jury trial by her peers – she was found guilty. To reward her is in direct conflict with the judgment made.
We can no longer accept these two standards of justice – one for the elites and another for the common man. This has happened in our backyard. If we cannot expect legitimate and consistent justice in our own area, you can be assured it will not occur at a higher level.