A week after complaining that some of her managers were turf-protecting bureaucrats, Maryland Human Resources Secretary Carolyn W. Colvin confirmed yesterday that she is dismissing five members of her staff, including her two top deputies.
In a brief statement issued by her press secretary, Ms. Colvin said she decided she needed to hire people who could function better "as a team."
But she used much harsher words in a memo to her executive staff last week, charging that some of them were more interested in "trying to protect your terrority" than in improving the department.
Departing in the house-cleaning at the massive agency, which administers the state's welfare and social service programs, are deputy secretaries Julia Danzy and Richard Stein. Both were hired by Ms. Colvin, at salaries in excess of $70,000 a year, within the past 18 months.
Mr. Stein technically is retiring, while Ms. Danzy has resigned.
Letters of resignation requested by Ms. Colvin also have been accepted from Frank Blanton, executive director of the Community Services Administration; J. Eric "Rick" Ebling, director of program support for the Social Services Administration; and Laura Skaff, manager of child-protective services.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer recently told all of his Cabinet secretaries to submit letters of resignation for his consideration, and he instructed them to seek similar letters from their own administrative staffs. He warned last week that even second-level managers in some state agencies might not be around for his second term as governor.
In her memo last week, Ms. Colvin told her staff that Mr. Schaefer wasn't happy with the department because it lacked the " 'can-do' spirit" he expected. But Ms. Colvin's office said yesterday that Mr. Schaefer had not ordered her to dismiss anyone.
"This was Carolyn's decision. The governor did not tell her to do this," said Helen Szablya, Ms. Colvin's press secretary. She said the personnel changes were part of a broader plan by Ms. Colvin to reorganize the department and transfer some of its responsibilities to other agencies.
Ms. Colvin's department currently is running a deficit of at least $24 million, partly because of skyrocketing growth in the welfare rolls. The department also handles applications for some of the health department's medical assistance programs, which are running an even larger deficit.
Ms. Szablya said she did not know if all of the new vacancies would be filled or whether Ms. Colvin had candidates in mind. She said Mr. Stein would be retiring in February.
The other four officials will leave before then, but she could not say just when.