County Councilman Ken Oliver Indicted
The state prosecutor's office yesterday announced the indictment of Baltimore County Councilman Ken Oliver on felony theft charges and assorted campaign finance regulations related to two checks he wrote from his campaign account to his personal account. The total alleged take is about $4,000 -- not much compared to the $195,000 he's reported raising since 2001, but it would be against the law nonetheless.
Oliver came to the council in 2002 amid much fanfare -- he was elected from a new district designed to create a majority-minority seat, and he became the first (and so far only) African-American to serve on the body. He had the backing of the Randallstown political establishment and narrowly defeated Democratic activst Penny McCrimmon to take the seat.
The idea of his election and the creation of the new district was to get a different voice on a council that was dominated by white men. But over his years on the council, he hasn't gained much of a reputation for shaking things up. Although he's not in the power clique of the council (Moxley-Kamenetz-Bartenfelder-Olszewski), he's not exactly a thorn in their side either. I covered his election and spent a fair amount of time on the county's west side back then, enough to pick up a strong sense among the residents out there that their community wasn't getting its fair due. I'd be curious to hear from people in the district to see if you think Ken has improved that situation or not.