There was a part-time Baltimore County employee who desperately wanted a full-time job, a retired teacher who wanted to be sure the needs of the minority community were being met, and a man who neither lived nor worked in the county but still had a bone to pick.
Roger B. Hayden, the new Baltimore County executive, got an earful yesterday as he spent 12 hours hearing citizens talk about their problems and ask him for solutions. It was the first in a series of open house meetings called "Face to Face."
L Mr. Hayden said he heard it all -- and that was before noon.
"We pretty well heard the spectrum, everything from zoning, personnel issues, staffing and traffic," he said.
Mr. Hayden made himself available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to give everyone a chance to see him. He promised to hold such meetings regularly throughout the county and said the people who come to see him will get "some re
sponse" within a few weeks.
People began showing up at 6:30 a.m. for their audience with the executive in Room 106 of the courts building in Towson. The room was never packed, but there was a steady stream of people filing in with something to say.
Eugene C. Martin-El waited patiently for more than an hour to have five minutes with the executive. When his name was called, Mr. Martin-El went into an inner office, congratulated Mr. Hayden on his victory and thanked him for listening.
Then, after allowing Mr. Hayden a few minutes to read a sheet of paper on which he had written his concerns, Mr. Martin-El argued his case:
A city resident, he has worked part time in the county printing department for about three months. He had transferred out of the records department, where he worked part time for more than a year, because the printing job paid more money.
But shortly after leaving the records department, his old job was upgraded and now pays more than his new one. He wants to return to his old post -- if possible, as a full-time employee.
"I want to go back to the records job -- full time," Mr. Martin-El told the executive. He already filed an application but was told priority for the job would go to full-time county merit employees.
Mr. Hayden admitted that he did not know all of the personnel rules.
"I have more questions, being the new guy on the block, than answers," Mr. Hayden said. "But I want to make sure you get the best shot."
Mr. Martin-El seemed encouraged.
"I'm just glad you listened to me," he said. "I'm a hard worker."
Frederick A. Johnson of Randallstown, a retired teacher who worked in county schools for more than 30 years, told Mr. Hayden he had a number of concerns, all of which centered on the minority community.
"One of the main concerns along the Liberty Road corridor is the disposition of Bob Nealy," Mr. Johnson said, referring to the county's equal opportunity officer, the highest-ranking African-American in county government.
Mr. Nealy, who was part of former Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen's staff, is expected to be fired from his job by Jan. 3.
"Nealy is not a friend of mine," Mr. Johnson said, "but that would send a message."
Mr. Johnson also urged Mr. Hayden to continue meeting with a minority advisory board, to reach out to the African-American community in the Liberty Road corridor and to support the
school system's effort to improve the achievement of its minority students.
Mr. Hayden declined to discuss Mr. Nealy's prospects, describing it as a private personnel issue, but he assured the former teacher that he will be responsive to the minority community.
The executive acknowledged that there is concern in the black and Jewish communities, because voters in those groups tended to favor Mr. Rasmussen. But he promised to be an executive for everybody.
Mr. Hayden also heard from a man whose concern -- taxes -- was one that had brought the executive tremendous support at the polls.
incent King, a 75-year-old Harford County man, waited patiently to tell Mr. Hayden about his concern over the assessment of a waterfront home that he owns in Bowleys Quarters and rents to a retired couple for $200 a month.
The home's assessment is going to go up $10,000 a year in each of the next three years, he complained.
"I rent to a retired couple, and I was going to reduce the rent from $200 because they do work around the house," Mr. King said while waiting to talk to Mr. Hayden. "But last time I paid taxes, it was a little over a $1,000."
Mr. King said the taxes are a financial strain, but he understands that the retired couple cannot afford to pay more than $200. With documents in hand, he pointed to the part that showed his home is now valued at being worth $143,000.
"Hell, I'm going to tell him that he can have it at that money," Mr. King said. Then, after thinking it over, he added, "As long as he lets the couple remain there."