With his transportation secretary already leaving, Gov. William Donald Schaefer has asked for letters of resignation from his entire Cabinet as well as all other high-level appointed officials of his administration.
"It's all doom and gloom around here," said one top-level Schaefer aide.
The Schaefer order affects somewhere between 50 and 100 officials, perhaps more, according to several state officials who asked not be identified.
Meanwhile, outgoing Anne Arundel County Executive O. James Lighthizer is likely to succeed state transportation Secretary Richard H. Trainor, who announced his retirement yesterday, sources said.
Lighthizer, 44, a Crofton attorney and Democrat, is expected to be named to the post shortly, possibly as soon as today, sources said. Lighthizer is stepping down as the county executive Dec. 2, after serving the maximum limit of two consecutive four-year terms.
Schaefer's broad order seeking letters of resignation did not mean that he is making a clean sweep to begin his new term in office, sources said.
But, the sources added, Schaefer plans to review each and every Cabinet officer, their top aides, all small departments and even his own Executive Office appointees, including his legislative and press officers.
After the initial shock of the move, sources said, most of Schaefer's appointees are expected to be retained, or their letters of resignation rejected.
But the governor's command has created an air of uncertainty and uneasiness in the top levels of state government.
One state official said that no one can predict the temperamental chief executive's mood. "I look at it as a way to shake everyone up," the official said. "He wants everyone on their toes."
Schaefer told reporters yesterday that more changes in his Cabinet are coming.
Asked whether he had requested Trainor's resignation, the governor, perhaps alluding to his broad request for letters of resignation, responded: "Not the way it sounds. No, I did not, not the way you put it."
Trainor, 61, said he had been considering retirement for about a year, made up his mind last week and discussed it with the governor on Wednesday.
"I just figured it was time," Trainor said. "There comes a time when the enjoyment stops. It's a tough job. It's satisfying, but it's time-consuming."
"Dick has been not only a trusted adviser and associate but a long-time personal friend," Schaefer said of him in a prepared statement. "I am very grateful for his support and association over the years."
Trainor began his public career 41 years ago as a state road inspector and held a variety of posts in Baltimore government. Between 1978 and 1984, he served as deputy director of the Baltimore Department of Public Works, supervising the construction of many major projects, including the Convention Center and the National Aquarium.
He served as chief transportation officer in Baltimore under then-Mayor Schaefer between 1984 and 1987, when he came to Annapolis to run the state transportation department.
The affable, chain-smoking Trainor led the transportation department, which oversees roads and bridges, as well as the state's airports, port and railroads, during a difficult time.
At the Port of Baltimore, a slide in business to competing ports was well under way when Trainor took over. But labor strife and bickering among the port's various elements seemed to reach new highs in recent years. And the massive, $200 million Seagirt Marine Terminal opened this year after several embarrassing problems, including expensive computer glitches and construction delays.
Schaefer has offered to employ Trainor as a consultant for state projects, something he will consider doing, Trainor said.
In government circles, rumors have circulated for more than a year that Schaefer wanted to find a place for Lighthizer in his administration.
Schaefer and Lighthizer often have sung each other's praises and Lighthizer served as chief cheerleader at Schaefer's re-election party the night of Nov. 6.