More of the same gives voters less confidence in the appointment process
As the old adage goes, 'screw me once shame on you, screw me twice however, shame on me'; what it left out was when someone continues to screw you over, and over and over again – like Governor Martin O'Malley has done to Greg Hall and the voters of Prince George's County?
"At the end of the day, the governor gets what he wants, and PG County voters once again get screwed!" ~ Greg Hall
The on-going saga and political musical chairs of the county's 24th legislative district has finally come to a head with the appointment of Darren Swain, a former state delegate who has now officially filled the seat vacated by Tiffany Alston. However, the Governor's appointment came as yet another surprise to the 24-member body of the Prince George's County Democratic State Central Committee – the body of legislators the state's constitution designates as the rightful appointees of any such vacancy.
This committee, who initially voted to replace Alston - the first term democratic delegate removed from her position based on a criminal conviction in October 2012 – with one of their own members, Greg Hall; was rebuffed when Governor O'Malley decided to reject the nomination of Hall based on a 21-year old misdemeanor conviction. Hall, a 42-year old former candidate for the office in 2010, appealed the Governor's actions, along with Alston, on the grounds that his actions were unlawful and unconstitutional. They both lost that appeal earlier this month before the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals; who offered a unanimous decision in favor of the Governor and the State in their handling of both Alston's ouster and Hall's nomination rejection.
"Had this had happened under a Republican Governor like Bob Ehrlich, would the Black Caucus and these so-called civil rights group been silent on what happened to me? Absolutely not," says Hall, pointing out the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party and its hold over blacks. "This was an absolute sham and shame that groups like the NAACP, who are suppose to fight for the rights of people like myself, have chosen instead to become special interest organizations - and the people aren't of special interest to them any longer!"
The courts subsequently ruled that since the time period had elapsed for the state's democratic central committee to offer up a new name to the Governor, the committee could only offer up a non-binding recommendation to the Governor. They offered three choices for the Governor to choose from this time, and in common O'Malley fashion, the Irishman offered up yet another cold shoulder to those elected and appointed by the voters of PG County for just that purpose – to fill the vacancies of elected officials. (Article III, Section 13)
The Governor instead chose his own nominee, former delegate Swain, a North Carolina native and one-term delegate from the 24th district serving from 1999-2003. The current Bowie State University employee, Swain received the late endorsement of PG County Executive Rushern Baker, who had previously swore to remain neutral in the fight for Alston's seat and was said to be the behind-the-scenes leader for the Governor - on all stages of the appointment process. In fact, the PG County Judge who initially heard Alston and Hall's cases and dismissed their claims, Circuit Court Judge C. Philip Nichols, is a close personal friend of Baker's; and three of the seven judges that make up the state's Court of Appeals were appointed by Governor O'Malley.
“After careful consideration of a number of very impressive, qualified, and talented candidates, I am pleased to appoint Darren Swain to represent District 24 in the House of Delegates. With experience as a former legislator, support from county and local partners, and his dedication and commitment to moving our State forward, I am confident that Darren Swain will serve the people of Prince George’s County with distinction. I thank the Prince George's County Central Committee and County Executive Rushern Baker for their valuable insights and hard work in filling this important seat in the House of Delegates for the people of the 24th District of Prince George's County." ~ Governor Martin O'Malley, Press Release Statement
The three very impressive names that followed Hall's were Orphan's Court Judge Vicky Orem, attorney Clayton Aarons and defense contractor, Phillip Raines; however, O'Malley instead chose Swain, who after winning the 1998 Primaries as one of three delegates in the 24th district, decided to run for Senator in another district (47th) against Gwendolyn Britt - the late, great state senator who beat Swain convincingly. Besides his service at Bowie State, from which he holds a B.S. In Political Science and a M.A. In Administrative Management, Swain also serves as a business analyst for the Prince George's County Minority Business Opportunities Commission. He will be sworn in to the office tomorrow in Annapolis.
"I know most of the nominees, and they are all good people - including Darren Swain, who I think will make the rest of the delegation work; and despite the politics the Governor chose to play, I'm all about moving the district forward. I'm still the people's choice, and ultimately the people - the voters of the 24th district - will have the final say-so (laugh) next year in the 2014 elections!" ~ Greg Hall
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