Governor shuffles some of state's top aides Staff chief is switched to economic development

August 08, 1991|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS JTB — ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer moved quickly yesterday to fill a vacancy he believes is one of the most important in government, naming Mark L. Wasserman, his longtime staff chief and former campaign manager, as his new secretary for economic development.

On a day in which he announced a number of personnel moves, Mr. Schaefer also said veteran state Agriculture Secretary Wayne A. Cawley Jr. Jr. will retire Nov. 1 and be replaced by his deputy, Robert L. Walker.

The governor also said that J. Henry Butta, a longtime confidant who will retire Sept. 1 as head of the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Maryland, will chair a new commission to study ways of improving government efficiency and cutting its cost. The membership of the commission has not yet been determined, aides to Mr. Schaefer said.

Mr. Butta already chairs the Maryland Higher Education Commission and has headed other study groups at Mr. Schaefer's request.

In naming Mr. Wasserman, 41, to replace J. Randall Evans, the governor said that Paul E. Schurick, his longtime aide and former press secretary, will move into Mr. Wasserman's job as head of the governor's programs staff. Mr. Schurick said that he learned of his appointment when he heard the governor announce it at a morning State House news conference.

As a follow-up to Tuesday's regional meeting on Chesapeake Bay issues, Mr. Schaefer designated David A. C. Carroll, his top assistant for Chesapeake matters, to coordinate Maryland's role in leading regional bay cleanup efforts for the coming year. Responsibility for the regional cleanup rotates every year or two among Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Maryland's turn began at this week's meeting in Harrisburg, Pa.

Mr. Schaefer also said that Eleanor G. Falk, an aide who has helped promote bay-related activities, such as the annual Bay Bridge walk and various bay-related festivals, will assume greater responsibility for advising him on bay cleanup matters.

In another administration change announced separately yesterday, Jane Nishida, the deputy of Mr. Schaefer's four-member legislative office, said that she plans to take a job this fall with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Ms. Nishida becomes the second member of the legislative staff to depart since this year's legislative session concluded in April.

Mr. Wasserman, who has worked for Mr. Schaefer since 1976, including a year as his gubernatorial campaign manager in 1986, TTC called the move to the Department of Economic and Employment Development "a real natural transition for me to make." For five years, he had been Mr. Schaefer's development coordinator when the governor was mayor of Baltimore.

"When Randy's departure popped up, it presented one of those opportunities in life, and I decided to make my interests known," he recounted.

The governor praised Mr. Evans, who is leaving DEED after 4 1/2 years to become a vice president of CSX Transportation Inc. in Baltimore, and described Mr. Wasserman as "very bright, dedicated, a hard worker [with an] excellent background."

As staff chief, Mr. Wasserman has kept a relatively low profile, usually allowing others to speak publicly for the governor on legislative or other matters. But behind the scenes, Mr. Wasserman has served as Mr. Schaefer's primary liaison with the Cabinet, staff and state bureaucracy, as a key political adviser, and as a confidant on the most sensitive appointments and issues that have confronted Mr. Schaefer.

Both because of his own personal interests and his bosses' near obsession with economic development, Mr. Wasserman kept a special tab on Mr. Schaefer's economic development projects and programs.

Governor Schaefer had been urged by some advisers to pick C&P's Mr. Butta to replace Mr. Evans, but the governor instead decided to ask Mr. Butta to head a new study of government efficiency. He said that he hoped the study could be completed by December.

The idea, the governor said, "Is to get some people on the outside to take a look at us -- where we are spending too much money," he said. Many citizens, he said, believe "there is great waste in government. I'd like to know where it is."

The announcement of Mr. Cawley's retirement had been anticipated, primarily because he has suffered in recent years from health problems. Mr. Cawley was named to the agriculture post in 1979 by former Gov. Harry R. Hughes. He is a farmer from Mr. Hughes' hometown of Denton. He was reappointed by Mr. Schaefer in 1987.

That same year, Mr. Walker, 42, became deputy secretary of the department, which now has a $45 million budget and about 500 employees. Prior to that, he worked as vice president of the Esskay Inc., a meatpacker, where he was employed for more than a decade and where he met then-Mayor Schaefer.

Mr. Walker said that his biggest initial challenge will be to find ways to absorb the latest round of budget cuts being forced upon state agencies by a new set of budget deficits.

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