- The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 2003

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore City Council is considering a grandfather clause that would allow six of its members to continue employing their adult children, but would stop future lawmakers from hiring relatives.

Council members, with 10 of 19 employing a relative, discussed proposed changes to strengthen the city’s ethics laws on Thursday night.

City Council President Sheila Dixon, whose sister is her part-time assistant, said she wants to prevent current council employees from losing their jobs.

“I think in some cases, the grandfather clause is fair, in particular in regard to areas where it could affect someone’s livelihood,” Miss Dixon said.

Two other council members, Pamela V. Carter and John L. Cain, also employ siblings, which is prohibited by the city’s ethics laws. The city’s five-member Board of Ethics is handling what should happen in the three cases.

Council members Miss Carter, Kwame Osayaba Abayomi, Agnes Welch, Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Paula Johnson Branch and Lois A. Garey employ their adult children, which is allowed. But if a bill that was introduced by Miss Dixon on July 14 were passed, it would be prohibited.

Other council members employing a relative are Robert W. Curran, who hired a niece, and Kenneth N. Harris Sr., who employs his mother-in-law.

Avery Aisenstark, executive director of the city’s ethics board, introduced the idea of a grandfather clause Thursday night to protect the jobs of relatives on the city’s payroll. He said the state made that allowance in 1999, when it stopped the hiring of certain family members of state legislators.

The council intends to hold several meetings to discuss ethics law changes.

Another proposal would stop public servants from accepting gifts or tickets from people who do business with the city.

Some council members objected to a two-year prohibition on “revolving door” employment by officials who leave to take positions with companies performing work on projects that they worked on while in office.

Joan L. Floyd, an independent candidate for council president in November 2004, said ethics laws should be tightened.

“How many of Baltimore city’s problems can be truly solved without first addressing this culture of corruption?” she said.

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