Letter to the Editor: City solicitor admits it: Board of Estimates is a sham (August 16th, 2012)

[Published as a letter to the editor by the Baltimore Sun]

It was with disgust that I read the comments of the city solicitor, George Nilson, that you published in on August 7 (“City panel plans to vote down settlement for teen whom police left shoeless in Howard Co.”) regarding the rejection of a police misconduct settlement. The city’s highest law officer stated in open court something that many of us knew all along — that the Board of Estimates is simply a rubber stamp for the mayor of Baltimore because majority of this Board (three out of five members) are the mayor and his or her appointees. In the words of Mr. Nilson: “The director of public works and the city solicitor … always vote with the mayor. They are sometimes referred to as the mayor’s votes.”

If so, why do we need this board, other than as another waste of taxpayers’ dollars? In light of these comments and the recent lawsuit against the city’s procurement process that takes place through the same board (“Minority group claims discrimination in city contract process,” Aug. 1), it is high time for reform. We should ask our elected representatives in the City Council to reform the Board of Estimates and either get rid of the mayoral appointees or abolish the board all together. Let them do their job and present a charter amendment to the voters this November, when we can do our job and approve it.

Yakov Shafranovich, Baltimore

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