Alderman Ellen Moyer wants to give Annapolis city department heads something most of them don't have: job security.
Moyer, D-Ward 8, has submitted a bill requiring Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins and future mayors to show legitimate cause when they fire department heads. All but two now serve at the pleasure of the mayor and can be dismissed without cause.
Personnel Director Thomas Engelke and Recreation and Parks Director Richard Callahan are civil service employees and have more protection.
Three years ago, the council voted to give the mayor broad powers to remove department heads.
Moyer opposed the council's action then and said she decided to propose her bill after Hopkins asked Drug Policy Director Eric Avery to resign. Avery resigned his post effective June 1.
"I would be scared to death if I had done the kind of job Eric had and had been told, 'We don't want you here,' " Moyer said. "Don't tell me that doesn't have a chilling effect on your other department heads. I agree the executive should be able to work withwhomever he wants, but within certain parameters."
Hopkins said that he would never fire a department head without cause but that he doesn't want the mayor's power taken away. He hasn't fired any department heads in his 16 months in office.
"Who determines what is a cause?" he asked. "The city code makes me in charge of supervising department heads, so they should be accountable to the mayor.
Moyer's bill coincides with rumors in recent weeks that Hopkins may be seeking the resignation of Planning and Zoning Director Eileen Fogarty, rumors Hopkins denies.
"That rumor is out there, but the mayor has told me she is not leaving," Moyer said. "But that timing is there."
Fogarty said her meetings with Hopkins "have been very, very positive. The mayor has told me he has no intention of making any changes inmy department." She also said she is moving ahead with Hopkins on plans to start an economic development program.
Under Moyer's proposal, the mayor could remove department heads only for official misconduct, conviction of a crime or poor performance.
The bill must be reviewed by the council's rules committee before it comes up for a vote.
The panel's chairman, Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, said he opposes the bill because it might make it too difficult to fire department heads who aren't performing their jobs well. "Its intent is good, but the end results would be disastrous," he said.
But Alderman Ruth C. Gray, R-Ward 4, another rules committee member, says, "I think giving the mayor the power to arbitrarily dismiss department heads may be granting the executive too much power under our charter."