Reporting Mike Hellgren
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– Is there a leadership crisis in Anne Arundel County? One week after County Executive John Leopold’s indictment on misconduct in office, union leaders want him out. Now, he’s responding.
Mike Hellgren has the new reaction.
Leopold says there is no crisis. Far from it, he praised his police and fire chiefs but union leaders say they are at their breaking points.
Firefighter and police unions in Anne Arundel County overwhelmingly voted they have no confidence in their leadership days after the scathing misconduct indictment against County Executive John Leopold.
And some citizens are fed up too after the state prosecutor’s lurid allegations that Leopold’s private security detail was driving him to sexual encounters, and keeping tabs on his lovers and political opponents.
“We have police officers driving this grown man around. What a waste of limited resources! It’s an embarrassment, I think, to me as a county resident,” an Anne Arundel County resident said.
But Leopold appears unfazed. His office sent WJZ a picture of him on the job–business as usual after the police and fire chief no-confidence votes. Leopold said: “Chief Ray and Chief Teare have done an excellent job of maintaining public safety despite fiscal challenges, and they will continue to do so with the understanding that the County must live within its means.”
And the county executive does have his supporters.
“I think he should be given his day in court,” another Anne Arundel County resident said. “They want him to resign. It’s a lot of petty stuff that’s going on because they didn’t get their increases.”
The rhetoric from union heads is harsh.
“He is a failed leader of Anne Arundel County,” said Craig Oldershaw, president of Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighters. “It is time for him to step aside.”
But Leopold says he has no intention of stepping down.
“I’m very confident when all the relevant facts are known, that we will prevail,” he said.
Legal experts tell WJZ that fighting an indictment like this can be emotionally-draining, distracting and time-consuming. But there is precedence for staying in office which is exactly what former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon did.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has told WJZ it is investigating whether Leopold broke Maryland laws against spying by allegedly asking police to keep files on opponents.