IN 2006, WE WROTE the following about Marilynn Bland, who was then running for reelection to the Prince George’s County Council and was already notorious for charging taxpayers when she took her children to Walt Disney World on vacation:
“She is ignorant of the issues, heedless of public ethics and irresponsible with the public’s money; she has spent far more of it on office expenses than any of her colleagues.”
Since then, Ms. Bland has gotten worse.
As reported by The Post’s Paul Schwartzman, Ms. Bland, who for the past four years has been the elected clerk of the Circuit Court in Prince George’s, has been up to her old tricks — and then some. She has variously been reported to have slapped and cursed a county council staffer; been shoved in an altercation with a longtime associate who was her chief deputy; fired a 17-year veteran of the clerk’s office who dared to greet the same longtime associate at the courthouse some months later and was barred by a judge from speaking with jurors.
“Why are all these things happening to me?” Ms. Bland mused to The Post.
Ms. Bland’s travails didn’t start recently. On the council, she was involved in pay-to-play schemes that helped brand Prince George’s as anathema to new employers and economic development. As a school board member in the 1990s, she was known mainly for wasting the public’s money on conferences and self-serving newsletters. Ultimately, that board became such a disgrace that the state legislature disbanded it.
That Ms. Bland is Prince George’s own Calamity Jane is all very amusing, except for one big thing: She is one reason — and not a small reason — for the less-than-wholesome reputation that hinders the county. To put it another way: Ms. Bland isn’t just a disgraceful public official; she is also an embarrassment to Prince George’s.
In her current role as clerk of the court, Ms. Bland commands a $98,000 salary and manages a $14 million budget in a courthouse with 200 employees. Judges and lawyers at the courthouse say it is in disarray, and they blame Ms. Bland.
Fortunately, there is a solution to the problem of Ms. Bland: Kick her out of office. In the June 24 Democratic primary, she faces a credible opponent in Sydney Harrison, an employee of the clerk’s office and a strong advocate for foster care children (he was one himself) and underserved youth. Mr. Harrison, who has smart ideas for making the courthouse more efficient, transparent and friendly to the public, also has the support of County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks and the county’s entire state Senate delegation.
Mr. Harrison deserves the nomination. Ms. Bland deserves the boot.
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