Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke yesterday announced the resignation of David M. Gillece, director of the city's chief economic development office, saying Mr. Gillece would be leaving to pursue "private sector opportunities."
The announcement comes less than a year after Mr. Schmoke asked Mr. Gillece, 41, to oversee the merger of the Baltimore Economic Development Corp. (BEDCO) and Center City-Inner Harbor Development Corp. (CCIH). Mr. Gillece's resignation is effective Oct. 4.
Yesterday, the mayor said that the job was complete and that the combined organization will be known as the Baltimore City Development Corp.
"His work leading up to the merger, as well as his service as head of BEDCO, contributed greatly to our city's progress over the last four years," the mayor said of Mr. Gillece.
I= Honora M. Freeman, Mr. Schmoke's special assistant on eco
nomic development, will replace Mr. Gillece as president of the merged operation. Ms. Freeman is an attorney who came to the mayor's office from the law firm of Shapiro and Olander. Two attorneys with that firm -- Ronald M. Shapiro and Larry S. Gibson -- have been the principal architects of the mayor's political career, serving as co-chairmen of his past two mayoral campaigns.
Mr. Gillece was said to have been troubled by the mayor's insistence that the development agency retain Shapiro and Olander to work on the merger and by the prospect of interference by the law firm.
Since Mr. Schmoke took office, Shapiro and Olander has been paid at least $399,000 in legal fees for city work. But the mayor's office has refused to disclose the amount of fees associated with the merger.
Yesterday, Mr. Gillece declined to comment on the firm's involvement.
Mr. Gillece's abrupt resignation shocked members of the Greater Baltimore Committee -- where he served as deputy director before coming on as BEDCO president in August 1988 -- and other civic leaders. "My reaction is one of great dismay," said Robert Keller, president of the GBC. "There is great trust of David in the business community."
Mr. Gillece said his resignation was purely voluntary and that he did not regret leaving. "I've had a great three years, and I've loved every minute of it," said Mr. Gillece, who said he will explore career possibilities, preferably in Baltimore.
"I thought it was time to move on to something else, and the timing with the mayor's second term was not coincidental," said Mr. Gillece, who began his career in neighborhood development for the Citizens Planning and Housing Association. "I thought it was a good time for transition purposes both from my point of view and the city's point of view."