Opinion: Wicomico Council correct to oppose Dan Cox hiring


Re: Bid to hire Cox for Wicomico legal role fails; March 1 Salisbury Independent

Putting aside whether Daniel Cox is qualified to provide competent guidance in the areas for which County Executive Julie Giordano wants to hire him as Wicomico County’s “special legal counsel,” her suggestion that the Republican members of the County Council should agree with her because Mr. Cox was that party’s candidate for Governor is absurd.

Even if they voted for him, that is not a valid reason if they feel that he is either unqualified or otherwise inappropriate to be the county’s special legal representative and advisor regarding collective bargaining with the union (“FOP”) that represents the sheriff’s deputies, revising the County’s personnel manual, and certain complex litigation.

Ms. Giordano also asserts that her proposal for the county to engage Mr. Cox’s services has no political basis, but those members are duty-bound by party loyalty to do what she wants.

Thus, she contradicts her disingenuous sanctimony that she is above politics in her conduct as the County Executive, which is her mantra in the media.

Her rationale regarding the Republican members may not be the only ridiculous aspect of Ms. Giordano’s effort to hire Mr. Cox to replace an attorney who for some years has served as a Special Counsel for the county. She claims that she fired Kevin Karpinski because he has filed “unnecessary appeals” to increase his legal fees, but she has not pointed to any particular instances.

Ms. Giordano also claims that he has committed ethics violations, again without specifics, and a complaint in that regard has been filed with the Attorney Grievance Commission. These aspects will eventually be resolved.

Regarding Daniel Cox’s qualification, when asked to discuss that subject at a recent work session of the County Council, all Ms. Giordano could do was assert that he is an “amazing attorney” and refer to a few matters he has handled that do not relate to the areas for which she wants to hire him.

Fortunately, most of the members have concluded that he should not be retained by the county.

But the most ridiculous aspect is Ms. Giordano’s proposal to hire someone with Mr. Cox’s blatant public conduct (“Pence is a traitor,” etc.) and his close political connection with her -- in 2022, he endorsed Ms. Giordano in her campaign; she provided over $3,500 to his campaign for Governor. Incredibly, she claims that there is nothing “political” about her request that the county engage him and, inevitably, pay his fees.

Daniel Cox is not the only amazing performer in this obvious political duet upon which a majority of the County Council members want to lower the curtain as promptly as possible, thereby preventing the county from becoming a notorious laughingstock in Maryland and probably elsewhere that would surely cause irreparable harm in the future.

Robert B. Taylor is a former legal counsel for the Wicomico County Council. He was in private legal practice for many years, during which a significant part involved local governments in counties and towns on the Lower Eastern Shore. 

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