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After News Of Federal Probe, Mosby Says He Has Three-Plus Years Ahead Of Him As Council President

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Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby speaks at a Monday council meeting.

Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby said he was looking forward to serving the rest of his term on Monday, despite the federal probe into the finances of the Democrat and his wife, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

In his first public appearance since reports of the investigation broke, an upbeat Mosby highlighted the legislative actions of his first 100 days in office and told the city council he is “excited about the next three-plus years as it relates to working with each and every one of you.”

He did not acknowledge the investigation.

Neither the Council President nor the State’s Attorney have responded to WYPR’s requests for comment about the probe. The Baltimore Sun reported Friday that the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office subpoenaed Marilyn Mosby’s campaign treasurer and requested records tracing back to 2014, some related to the Mosbys’ private consulting and travel businesses.

Mayor Brandon Scott’s office issued its first comment on the investigation Monday night.

“The mayor is aware of the pending investigation but is rightfully focusing his energy on addressing the urgent challenges facing Baltimoreans,” Scott’s communication director Cal Harris told WYPR in an email.

Mosby later oversaw the council’s Monday night meeting, where Councilwoman Odette Ramos introduced a bill to allow city residents to pay property taxes in a monthly installment plan. Her bill was assigned to the Ways and Means Committee.

“This is a bill that will help people avoid the tax sale by being able to pay their taxes along the way as opposed to lump sum,” Ramos said.

Ramos has led recent efforts to lobby Mayor Scott to cancel the upcoming tax sale, where investors can buy unpaid liens on city homes and, if they remain unpaid, eventually force foreclosure lawsuits. Scott has said he’s asked the Finance Department to ensure that no city residents lose their homes during the upcoming sale.

Several other housing bills appeared on the docket.

A bill lead-sponsored by Councilman Robert Stokes that would cap rental late fees and require certain city landlords to allow a 10-day grace period before they begin to charge those fees reappeared before the council; it was introduced in February but was withdrawn from a council meeting earlier this month. On Monday, it was whisked through the council from first to third reader.

Another previously withdrawn housing bill that was scheduled to go the same route was delayed after pushback from Councilman Ryan Dorsey.

The bill is intended to create alternatives to the traditional security deposit for residential leases under certain circumstances, including a monthly installment plan to make payments over time and rental security insurance. That rental security insurance, Dorsey argued, could hurt renters .

Those insurance packages, which are surety bonds, are often marketed in misleading terms, said Marceline White, the executive director of the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition.

“You think, ‘Oh, I'm buying insurance for myself, great. I'm protected in case anything goes wrong.’ But in fact, the tenant still owes money, even after they paid the surety bond for any damages that would take place,” White said. “So it's really like they're paying twice, in essence.”

At the council pre-meeting, Dorsey said that Sharon Green Middleton, Chairwoman of the Economic Community Development Committee, did not allow him to discuss his concerns at the bill’s committee work session.

“I was abruptly cut off and not given what I believe is a fair opportunity to have my concerns and the concerns of a great many other people heard,” he said. “I was extremely disappointed by this, and other members of the committee also voiced dismay over the lack of transparent hearing.”

Dorsey tried, but failed to send the bill back to committee; only he, Ramos and Zeke Cohen supported his motion. Dorsey also introduced a failed motion to strike all references to “rental insurance” from the legislation.

Middleton defended her oversight of the hearing. “The person was able to talk. I found Robert's Rules of Order,” she said. “We checked with the parliamentarian. There were no mistakes or mishaps.”

She moved to slow action on the bill, holding off on a final vote.

Lawmakers ended the meeting by officially confirming Christopher J. Shorter as Baltimore's first City Administrator.