Trainor steps down as state secretary of transportation

November 16, 1990|By Doug Birch

State Secretary of Transportation Richard S. Trainor, whose 3 1/2 -year tenure was marked by sporadic skirmishes with state legislators, has resigned pending his replacement and will become a part-time, paid consultant to the governor.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who announced Mr. Trainor's resignation in a written statement yesterday, later told reporters that his 61-year-old transportation chief had decided to retire and collect his pensions after more than 41 years with the state and the city of Baltimore.

Mr. Trainor, who earned $101,168 during the year ending June 30, did not return several telephone calls.

The transportation secretary was the first, though possibly not the last, Cabinet officer to decide to depart after the Nov. 6 elections.

One participant in yesterday's Cabinet meeting in the State House said the governor, to no one's surprise, demanded resignations from his entire Cabinet to clear the path for a possible reorganization. Mr. Trainor's resignation was tendered, and accepted, the day before.

The governor's statement said Mr. Trainor had agreed to remain in his post until a successor is named. But the secretary told a professional engineering group in Baltimore Wednesday that he expected to leave by year's end.

State officials privately mentioned two possible replacements for Mr. Trainor: Hal Kassoff, administrator of the State Highway Administration, and former Anne Arundel County Executive O. James Lighthizer. Neither could be reached for comment yesterday.

In the statement, the governor said Mr. Trainor had "ably shouldered one of the most challenging positions within state government. His energy and dedication are part of the reason Maryland has one of the finest transportation systems in America."

He credited Mr. Trainor with improving the state's road network, mass transit systems, port and Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

But Mr. Schaefer, talking to reporters later, acknowledged that not everyone was impressed with the transportation secretary.

"Unfortunately, we built the roads and the gratitude that should come his way certainly didn't go his way -- it went just the opposite," Mr. Schaefer said.

Delegate Timothy F. Maloney, D-Prince George's, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that reviews funding for transportation projects, said Mr. Trainor "continued the progress" started by his predecessors.

But Mr. Trainor was sometimes criticized for not keeping legislators informed about state transportation projects -- particularly when the

cost of the Baltimore light-rail line rose by more than 50 percent.

In January 1989, Mr. Trainor publicly apologized to members of both the Senate Budget and Taxation and the Finance committees for not telling them that the federal government had at one point balked at providing $44 million in aid for the light-rail line.

"I think many legislators liked him individually. I did," Mr. Maloney said. But, he added, "he was not particularly comfortable with" the legislative process.

Sen. Julian L. Lapides, D-Baltimore, a longtime critic, said Mr. Trainor had "a fierce loyalty to the governor" that led him, sometimes, "to tell the governor what the governor wanted to hear. . . . A lot of times I felt we got reports that were less than objective."

Mr. Trainor joined the State Roads Commission in 1950, serving in several positions, including project engineer on the Jones Falls Expressway. He went to work for the city in 1978 and rose to become its first commissioner of transportation.

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