Annapolis Weighs Rehiring Works Chief

February 24, 1991|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,Staff writer

Annapolis Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins' top choice to be the city's new public works director was asked to resign from the same job eight years ago by former Mayor Richard Hillman.

The City Council will discuss in a closed session tomorrow night the appointment of John E. C. Patmore, 56, who was public works director from 1980 to 1983. If ratified by the council, Patmore would replace William Campbell, who retired last month.

The public works employees' union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, has lobbied heavily against Patmore's appointment. Hopkins has lobbied in the opposite direction, meeting with each alderman individually and setting up interviews with Patmore.

Hopkins strongly defended his decision to appoint Patmore in an interview last week. Thirty-six people applied for the job.

"I don't socialize with him or party with him, and I don't know where he lives," Hopkins said. "I do know that every time I went to him with a problem as an alderman, it was solved. He has an administrative and a professional engineering background that exceeded all the other applicants."

Hillman, who would not comment on the reasons for Patmore's departure, said Hopkins did have problems with Patmore as an alderman.

"More often than not, Al would come over to my office andbe angry that Patmore was stonewalling," Hillman said.

But Hopkins denied having problems with Patmore and said Hillman offered duringa recent conversation no objections to Patmore's appointment.

WhyPatmore left the department in July 1983 is unclear. News articles at the time said low employee morale and a personality difference between Patmore and Hillman led to his resignation.

In its meetings with Hopkins recently, the union cited a high number of grievances under Patmore's leadership, as well as a refuse truck the city purchased under Patmore that the union said didn't work on the city's narrow streets.

Hopkins said he had no problem with the grievances he looked at from Patmore's tenure and said the City Council approved the truck purchase.

Tom Kelleher, senior representative for AFSCME Council No. 67 in Baltimore, would not comment on Patmore's appointment or the meetings with Hopkins. He said the union has filed only one grievance in the department since January 1990 and added, "The union has avery mature and secure partnership with the administration."

Hopkins, Patmore and Alderman Samuel Gilmer, D-Ward 3, said the reasons for his departure were personal differences between Patmore and Hillman. Patmore said he had mellowed in the years since.

"You don't wina ballgame by throwing balls," Patmore said. "You win by throwing strikes and by being aggressive. In retrospect, I think I was too aggressive at the time."

Patmore could face a tough confirmation hearing tomorrow night.

Alderman John R. Hammond, R-Ward 1, who served on the council during Patmore's tenure, expressed reservations about Hopkins' choice.

"I've got to do a lot of homework on this," Hammond said. "I think there are some questions as to why we would want to rehire John Patmore, and those are the kind of questions I will be asking."

Gilmer, who also served on the council when Patmore was public works director, said he would support the appointment.

"I think very highly of Mr. Patmore," Gilmer said. "I hope, after listening to him, the entire council will welcome him back as public works director. I thought he was a very fair public works director, and I thinkhe'll make a good one again."

Patmore, who was born and educated in England before moving to the United States in 1957, said he applied for his old job because he liked the combination of engineering, administration and public service.

"I am very much looking forward to going back to work for the city, but I am particularly looking forward to working with Al Hopkins. He's a fine gentleman," he said.

Patmore, who works for Dewberry and Davis engineering in Annapolis, managed Anne Arundel County's utility operations from 1975-1980. His wife, Marlene, is a long-time city employee.

Hillman and Hopkins agreed on one thing: They said Hopkins should be allowed to appoint whomever he wants to the position.

"I appreciate the union's interest,but the decision is the mayor's," Hopkins said. "Whether this provesto be a good or a bad decision remains to be seen, but whatever happens, I will be praised or criticized."

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