Councilman Takes Heat in Public Over Tax Conviction
An audience member was cut off after asking about Councilman Daryl Jones's tax charges.
Shortly after being appointed as the Anne Arundel County Council’s newest chairman Monday night, Derek Fink (R-3rd District) used his gavel to halt public testimony that centered on Councilman Daryl Jones (D-1st District).
Last week, Jones was sentenced to five months in federal prison after pleading guilty to failing to file his taxes over a six-year period. Despite the conviction, the county charter allows Jones to keep his council seat. He has not given any indication that he will step down.
Pasadena resident Karen Delimater took to the microphone early during Monday’s meeting to ask why Jones’ conviction didn’t translate into an agenda item for the council.
“It’s the elephant in the room. Or perhaps we should call it the Democrat in the room that has been convicted of a crime,” Delimater said.
Fink put his new gavel to use quickly, urging Delimater to stop.
“Ma’am, this is not the right place for that, I’m sorry. We’re not going to talk about that tonight,” Fink said.
When Delimater persisted, Fink banged the gavel harder, ushering her away with a stern, “Thank you.”
Shortly afterward, several in the audience spoke up saying they’d like to hear about it as well. But Fink pressed the meeting forward.
Throughout the exchange, Jones said nothing, and remained stoic. After the meeting concluded, he promptly exited. To date, Jones has said nothing about resigning as a councilman. After his sentencing hearing in Baltimore on Nov. 28, he told The Baltimore Sun that he would be considering his options.
Later at Monday's meeting, Fink became the target of a harsh comment for his recusal from voting on a Long Hill Road rezoning at the last council meeting. Without Fink’s vote, the motion to maintain the property’s zoning failed by a split vote between the six remaining councilmen.
Community member David Griffin called upon County Executive John R. Leopold to veto Bill 66-11, the comprehensive rezoning bill for Districts 2, 3, and 5. Griffin accused Fink of siding with developers and said that “this war has just begun.”
Councilman Jamie Benoit (D-4th District) spoke up in Fink’s defense, saying that there were rules of decorum for those participating in council meetings, and that audience members should follow them.
“You don’t come up here and attack any member of the county council for personal things or make suggestions that are based on innuendo,” Benoit said. “I’m simply going to take the floor every time I hear it, if it’s directed at me or my six colleagues.”
However, Councilman John Grasso (R-2nd District), ever the contrarian to Benoit, said they were merely exercising free speech. He directly opposed Benoit’s line of reasoning.
“You’re welcome to say anything you’ve got to say,” Grasso said. “The way I see it, if you’re not man enough to take it, then it’s time to resign.”
Benoit smiled while some in the audience applauded.