Ecker Aide Finds Major Flaws In County's Government "Prior Administrations\" Faulted

No "Quick Fix"

December 05, 1990|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff writer

County Executive Charles I. Ecker's transition team captain sent him a scorching report yesterday that criticized government bureaucracy on four counts -- training, organizational structure, quality management and interdepartment cooperation.

There can be no "quick fix" of the problems, attorney Michael W. Davis told Ecker in his report, because "good management techniques were not priorities of prior administrations.

"We cannot let that practice continue," Davis told Ecker in a three-page letter followed by six pages of "hot issues" covering everything from whether the county should change banks to whether a water rate adjustment may be required to cover a deficit in the bureau of utilities.

Davis, who advised Ecker during the campaign and served as co-chairman of his transition team with Beverly M. Wilhide, told Ecker the four issues scored in his report were "themes" he discovered while culling through reports of the 108 transition team members.

"It appears that training has been sorely neglected," Davis wrote Ecker.

"We have managers who have never been trained in effective management techniques . . . employees who have not been given adequate training to do their jobs. If nothing else, your administration should initiate an aggressive training program."

Secondly, "too many of the upper-level positions (in the administration) have ill-defined purposes," Davis said. "We should conduct a functional review of each position and consider modifying the government organizational structure."

Thirdly, Ecker must initiate a "management philosophy" that would "change the focus" of county employees in such a way as to make them more "people-oriented," Davis said.

Finally, people in one department have "no idea" what people in other departments do, Davis said. "We need to break down the barriers that exist and create teams of employees to solve problems."

Among the so-called "hot issues" Ecker must deal with, Davis said, were preparation of a new affirmative-action plan, obtaining assurance that the county will keep its high bond rating, negotiating four union contracts, and defining the county's position regarding the report of a commission charged with recommending changes in the state's tax structure.

Davis also said Ecker will have to quickly answer several questions such as whether the county should support a hotel tax, pay $25,000 to keep the Maryland Bays soccer team here and continue with plans for three proposed golf courses now that the county is facing a decline in revenues.

Davis said Ecker should appoint "a blue ribbon" citizens' panel to deal with the police department's tarnished image. As a prelude to a citizen's advisory committee, the panel would "examine the operations, practices and procedures" of the department, Davis said.

Although Davis said his report was merely "preliminary" and did not attempt to deal with personnel changes, it did say that "personnel savings (could be) anticipated in the office of the county administrator" where deputy and assistant roles should be evaluated on a "functional basis."

Friday, Ecker decided the county could not afford the $64,535-a-year deputy administrator slot held by Robert E. Vogel. Vogel, who served as executive secretary of the County Council prior to being hired for the deputy administrator post by Ecker's predecessor, was given two weeks' notice.

Also given notice Friday was Nancy E. Griffin, the private secretary to former county executive M. Elizabeth Bobo. Griffin will be given a different job within the administration and will keep her $30,759-a-year salary, said Ecker aide Wilhide.

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