After winning her fight to oust two longtime courthouse employees, new county Clerk of Circuit Court Mary M. Rose announced yesterday a reorganization of the office and the appointment of a new chief deputy clerk.
Rose said she received the go-ahead yesterday from Chief Judge of the State Court of Appeals Robert C. Murphy and local administrative judges to fire Carroll L. "Bunky" George II, the chief deputy clerk, and Bolton H. Rankin, an assistant chief deputy in charge of land records.
Rose had asked the men for their resignations immediately after taking office in December. The men fought the request, arguing that all personnel moves had to be approved by Murphy.
FOR THE RECORD - In a story yesterday on Circuit Court Clerk Mary Rose's decision to fire two of her deputies, veteran courthouse employee Donald C. Ward's job status was stated incorrectly. Ward has been offered another job, at reduced pay, but has yet to decide whether to accept it.
Rose, who has questioned the competence of the two employees, sent reports on the men to Murphy, apparently convincing him they should go.
Murphy could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Rose also had sought to fire a third veteran courthouse employee, Donald C. Ward. But she said Ward, who had been an assistant chief deputy supervising the courtroom clerks, has been offered the option of keeping his job, with a $10,000 salary cut.
George, 54, had worked at the courthouse for 29 years, the last four as chief deputy under former Clerk of Court H. Erle Schafer, who was defeated by Rose in November's election. He earned $47,881 as chief deputy.
George said yesterday that he likely will continue to fight the dismissal, perhaps through a lawsuit. He has retained Annapolis attorney Alan H. Legum.
"I can'tbelieve it," George said. "I'm just surprised Judge Murphy went along with that. There's still no evidence (of incompetence) that was ever given to us."
Rankin, 50, had worked at the courthouse for 30 years, rising to a salary of about $36,000. Ward, 53, has worked at thecourthouse for 23 years.
The men had complained that newly inaugurated court clerks in the past have transferred employees -- moving chief deputies to lower positions, for example -- but have not asked for resignations. The men filed age discrimination complaints with thefederal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but those complaints were dismissed last month because the jobs are appointed positions.
Rose acknowledged yesterday that the affair made for a somewhat tumultuous start to her term.
"It was a difficult period, this first month, and I know a lot of people felt I was inhumane doing it so quickly," Rose said yesterday. "But I believe in letting people know what their status is. Decisiveness is a sound management practice and it's humane."
Asked whether, in retrospect, she should have handled the matter differently, Rose said, "I'd rather not say."
Rose, aformer deputy undersecretary for management with the federal Department of Education, appointed another former federal bureaucrat as chief deputy clerk. Robert M. Moffit, 44, of Severna Park, is a former deputy assistant secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, where he was in charge of the department's legislative office. He was also a congressional liaison with the federal Office of Personnel Management.
Moffit said he has been working as a health-care consultant for a Washington, D.C., firm. He said, "Mary called me and said 'I really need your help,' so I said OK."
Rose said herreorganization of the office followed the recommendations of a management review conducted two years ago by the state comptroller's office.
She named longtime courthouse land records employee Peter Fenton to replace Rankin as the assistant chief deputy in charge of what will now be known as the office's non-judicial division. The judicial support division, responsible for accounting and courtroom clerks, will be headed by John Wilkerson, a 32-year veteran and former assistant chief deputy who was demoted when Schafer took office in 1986.
Assistant Chief Deputy Sharon Aulton will remain in charge of judicialfunctions, such as criminal and civil files. Darlene Gnip, an assistant chief deputy in charge of payroll under Schafer, will be an executive assistant to Moffit.