Dear Santa, Please Bring Me a Real Working City Office of Law For Christmas

Annapolis Maryland, City Hall. Photo: City of Annapolis.

Dear Santa,

My name is Tommy Annapolitan, and I want a real, working Office of Law for Christmas. I know I already have one, but it doesn’t work the way it should. I’ll give you some examples of problems with the one I have. Then maybe you can bring me one that works:

The Office of Law defended Annapolis police officers who were accused of police brutality and falsifying an arrest report down at the Federal House in 2012. The officers involved appear not to have been disciplined, and since that time, one of them has been the subject of two additional civil rights lawsuits against the City.

The Office of Law defended a police sergeant who admitted to falsifying an arrest warrant and arresting the wrong man. Not only did he stay on the force, but he was promoted. He was then later the subject of another civil rights lawsuit against the City for police brutality.

The Office of Law for the City of Annapolis spent a lot of time chasing after a mural and trying to force the building owner to submit to the taste police as to what mural could be painted there. While the Office of Law ultimately forced the owner of the building to get a permit for the mural, the court also found that the statute we have is unconstitutional. That is not really a “win” for the City, unless, by the City, you mean “We the People,” not “We the Government.” (That seems to be the primary blind spot with the Office of Law that we have).

The Office of Law gave no guidance to the Office of Planning and Zoning during the planning stages for the Eastport Landing development proposal, and now the City is in litigation with the developers.

The Office of Law knew the Annapolis Police Department sought an illegitimate subpoena for records of HACA residents that wasn’t actually related to any ongoing criminal investigation. When citizens called the Office of Law out, they sandbagged and tried not to hand over any of the documents.

One thing is for sure, Santa. With the City getting sued all the time because of the mistakes by the City’s lawyers, we sure will need lawyers for a long time to come.

I could go on, Santa. But the real thing I am saying is that the Office of Law is not working. The reason for that is they think of the City employees and the City government as being their employers, not the People of Annapolis.

If a citizen has a complaint, the City Office of Law doesn’t care if the complaint is valid or not—they just defend the city employees without caring who is right or wrong, and keep things as secret as they can.

So maybe you could bring me a whole new working City Office of Law this Christmas, with all the bells and whistles. And along with it—maybe you could throw a Citizen Review Board into my stocking?

  • Richard W. Right is a father, writer and community activist.

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