Saturday, September 10, 2005

The continuing saga of David Rakes

More problems for the beleaguered councilman from District 2...

It all started back in November 2004 when Rakes inexplicably voted to approve a liquor license for someone who had, in Councilman Chris Merdon's words, "the worst record I've ever seen." Of course, the license was for a new restaurant in Oakland Mills Village Center, the ailing shopping center in Rakes' district, and the vote could have been construed as one for Oakland Mills revitalization. How it looked in reality, though, was that he was trying to help out a friend. From the same story linked above:

Rakes' troubles began in November, when, as chairman of the county liquor board, he failed to tell other board members that a license applicant for a restaurant in Oakland Mills Village Center, Haluk "Alec" Kantar, had been his campaign treasurer. Howard County council members also serve as liquor board members.

...Rakes said later he had replaced Kantar as treasurer months before the liquor board hearing, but he acknowledged an error in judgment for not informing the other board members of his relationship.

But Kantar did not submit his resignation as Rakes' treasurer to the state election board until February 2005.
Despite the ethical gaffe, he was cleared of any wrong doing by the county ethics board. But more problems arose when his campaign finance reports were released in early 2005 and they included several errors. The cause of these errors, in Rakes' words at the time: "I've got somebody working on this who doesn't know what they're doing." Nice.

I have never been very impressed with him (and we share a political party, although I think on the local level, parties are borderline useless, despite great efforts by politicians to the contrary). I always thought Rakes was someone who looked out for himself by making sure that at least his constituents were happy; that is, he made decisions solely based on what he perceived to be in the best interests of District 2 and not the county as a whole, which I suppose is understandable. Generally not a good politician or legislator, but pretty harmless.

Then in July of 2005, he provided the deciding vote against a bill that would have increased the availability of affordable housing in Howard County--a strange move given that he represents some of the county's lowest-income neighborhoods.

Map of Median Household Income by Census Tract (from US Census Bureau). Click map to enlarge.

District 4 Councilman Ken Ulman rightly questioned Rakes' decision:
"(Rakes) doesn't understand the legislation," Ulman said. "His constituents should be embarrassed for him."

Rakes said Ulman's comments were "a put-down and a slap in the face."

"I take it very personal," Rakes said of Ulman's statement. "I'm a very independent voter."
Such poor ethical, managerial, and political decisions are not those of an "independent" legislator. Rather, an inept one.

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