Thursday • April 21, 2022
Howard County Executive Calvin Ball Hired and Generously Paid Family Member Who Wrongly Denied the Public Release of Hundreds of Emails Exchanged with Developer Lobbyist
By Steven Keller
Should a County Executive be allowed to hire and give uncommonly generous salaries & pay increases to his immediate family member?
Should this family member be allowed to simultaneously be the County Executive’s paid election campaign manager while also serving as the “gatekeeper” for county Public Information Act (PIA) requests, being granted the highest level of privileged access and given control over the release and denial of county public records, despite having no formal training or prior experience with handling PIA requests?
What can the public do to hold that County Executive accountable after this family member proceeded to wrongly deny multiple county residents access to hundreds of emails related to correspondence between the County Executive and private developer attorneys & lobbyists, deliberately chose to not ask the County’s Office of Law to review these important decisions, and then abruptly resigned from this county position after her employment information was revealed in a lawsuit that was filed against the county due to these actions?
These unusual and extremely concerning questions have been raised by the hiring decisions of Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. Let’s examine the details of this situation and the risks for conflict of interest and breach of county nepotism rules.
After his election in late 2018, County Executive Ball immediately hired his sister-in-law, Jamila Ratliff, to be his “Executive Liaison” — a key position within the Office of the County Executive. In this position, with a cubicle right outside Ball’s office, Ratliff handled such important duties as scheduling, timesheets, and reviewing of Public Information Act requests for Ball and the other members of his Administration.