Anne Arundel council weighs two bills on Jones' future

Two Anne Arundel county councilmen have introduced dueling but similar legislation that would clear the way for the ouster of their colleague, Daryl D. Jones, who is set to begin a five-month prison term next month.

John J. Grasso, a Republican from Glen Burnie, introduced a resolution at Monday night's council meeting that would, if passed, declare Jones' seat vacant and allow the council to proceed in appointing a replacement. The bill mirrors an emergency ordinance introduced by Jamie Benoit, a Democrat from Crownsville.

Grasso called his proposed resolution a "contingency backup plan." Because Benoit's proposed ordinance is emergency legislation, it requires five votes for passage. Grasso's resolution would pass if a majority of the seven-member council votes for it.

Grasso said while he "applauds" Benoit for introducing the ordinance, he wants to ensure the substance of the legislation — Jones' absence from the council — gets full consideration.

"I owe the people of Anne Arundel County some peace of mind," said Grasso. "I just wanted to follow up behind that if there came any chickening out when it came time to vote — in case anyone gets a case of guilt."

Jones, a Severn Democrat, must report to federal prison Jan. 23 to begin serving a five-month prison term for failing to file tax returns.

While the county charter is silent on members of the council convicted of crimes or sentenced to a term of incarceration, the county attorney has advised the council that it can declare Jones' seat vacant and appoint a replacement.

Jones has not said if he plans to resign or challenge the council's legislation if passed. He could not be reached for comment.

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