At first blush, it appears Iris Boswell, County Executive Jack B. Johnson's special assistant, edged out her boss in the gift category. At least that's what financial disclosure forms recently filed with the county Board of Ethics show.
County Council member Thomas R. Hendershot (D-New Carrollton) still wins the crown as the county's biggest receiver, totaling $3,345 in gifts last year.
But Boswell didn't do too badly herself. She surpassed Johnson in both quantity and quality, recording $870 worth to Johnson's $840 last year.
And, based on Johnson's list, he hasn't been invited to golf outings with anyone doing business with the county. Nor has he been invited to any dinners.
Boswell, on the other hand, received Washington Redskins tickets worth $200. Her hotel and airfare to Chicago as part of the county's Super Bowl XLII bid in October was also recorded. The cost: $600. But Boswell does not list who paid for the two top items.
Johnson doesn't list the Chicago trip on his form. But recently the Office of Law, responding to a request by The Washington Post for the county executive's out-of-county travels, did have the trip on its list. It also noted that the executive's transportation and lodging for the overnight trip was paid for by the Redskins.
Johnson called the trip his "most publicized since taking office. It was not a gift. It was business travel on behalf of the county."
Johnson's disclosure form does list 25 gifts; none is more than $50.
Here's a sampling: golf duck covers, worth $25, from Fred Schladensky of American Family Life Assurance Co.; two jars of honey from South Korea, worth a total of $50, from Nan H. Kim, a county Board of Licenses commissioner, former head of the Prince George's Korean Chamber of Commerce and prominent Johnson supporter; and a "dessert in a wood chest" from Ed Wayson, who runs a for-profit Bingo in Anne Arundel County. The gift was for Christmas and was valued at $50.
The council recently approved four appointments to the county's Redevelopment Authority and the Revenue Authority.
Avis L. Clinton and Walter T. Lewis will serve on the Redevelopment Authority until July 2007 and July 2008, respectively. Gerald J. Smith and Mirian L. Torain of Laurel will serve on the Revenue Authority. Smith's term will run until July 2007 and Torain's until July 2008.
The appointments were approved 7 to 1, with council member Marilynn Bland (D-Clinton) voting against the measure. Council member Thomas R. Hendershot (D-New Carrollton) abstained.
Before each of the votes, Bland read the following statement: "I did not support the creation of these positions because it goes against the charter. So I will not support the filling of these positions. My vote is in no way a vote against the individuals, but a vote against the process."
Bland's opposition is in line with Johnson's. The county executive refused to take any action on the measures, which were sponsored by council member Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant) in February. So, the bills went into effect last month.
Jim Keary, a spokesman for Johnson, said the county Office of Law determined that the council appointments violate the county charter. But the council's legislative counsel, Ralph Grutzmacher, disagreed, saying the two authorities, which were created by the General Assembly, are not subject to the charter. He said the charter, which gives the county executive the authority to appoint, applies only to county-created boards.
Exum has defended the move, arguing that the authorities needed better representation from across the county. Before the change, each authority had five members appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the County Council. Under the new law, the council is allowed to appoint two additional members.
Hendershot abstained from the votes. He said appointees will normally contact council members' offices to arrange an informal meeting to "get to know" each other. None of the four appointees reached out to his office, he said.