Drivers ring up overtime 5 city chauffeurs' pay markedly augmented

April 26, 1992|By Ann LoLordo | Ann LoLordo,Staff Writer

In the ranks of Baltimore's municipal work force, it pays to be a chauffeur for a handful of top city officials.

Of the dozen city-employed drivers assigned to department heads and members of the Board of Estimates, five significantly increased their annual salaries last year by amassing thousands of dollars in overtime, shuttling their bosses from City Hall to community gatherings, neighborhood events and professional meetings at the end of a regular work day.

Take Edward Ewing, the chauffeur assigned to Public Works Director George G. Balog. In 1991, Mr. Ewing received $9,429 in overtime -- on top of his $18,158 annual salary, according to city payroll records.

From the state's attorney to the school superintendent, the city's top elected and appointed officials are assigned city cars and drivers, perks afforded high-ranking bureaucrats whose jobs often require them to work longer than eight hours a day.

In 1991, the total amount of overtime paid to these 12 drivers was at least $63,235, city records show. The four chauffeurs in addition to Mr. Ewing who earned significant amounts of overtime last year were:

* William Bland, the driver for City Council President Mary Pat rTC Clarke, received $13,275 in overtime pay in 1991 -- more than 50 percent of his annual $23,037 salary;

* Stanley Joyner, who drives for City Solicitor Neal M. Janey, was paid $11,422 in overtime during 1991. Mr. Joyner's base pay is $18,158, according to the Public Works Department, the agency for whom he works;

* Anthony Blackwell, the chauffeur for Recreation and Parks Director Marlyn J. Perritt, received $10,594 in overtime. The recreation agency did not provide Mr. Blackwell's yearly salary;

* Ralph Askins, the $27,600-a-year driver assigned to School Superintendent Walter Amprey, was paid $10,141 in overtime.

To a person, city officials interviewed about the use of their cars and drivers said they used them for city business -- although Mr. Balog acknowledged going to an out-of-town golf tournament on one occasion. But the public works director said he worked during the drive.

Baltimore regulations require all employees assigned a city-owned car to report the mileage and destination of the vehicle "every time" it is used. But the practice has been that department heads and Board of Estimates members do not fill out these reports.

The extent to which the cars are used can be monitored through monthly mileage reports or payroll records, specifically the amount of overtime paid to the department head's driver.

A sampling of city payroll records for 1991 shows that the way in which city officials use their drivers varies -- some meet their drivers at the office, others are picked up and dropped off at home.

Herman Williams Jr., the city transportation chief until his appointment this month as chief of the Fire Department, said he only uses his city driver after work hours when he has to travel to Annapolis or to a community meeting where he was concerned about parking the car. Mr. Williams' driver, John Lilly, was paid $316 in overtime last year.

"Very seldom did I use John Lilly after 4 p.m.," Mr. Williams said.

Housing Commissioner Robert Hearne's driver, Richard Carter, earned $2,333 in overtime last year, according to city records. But a spokesman for Mr. Hearne never responded to a request for an explanation of those overtime hours.

When Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke moves around the city and state, he has at least two city police officers with him at all times. The officers are part of a nine-member executive security unit assigned to the mayor, who works nearly every day -- if not every day of the week. Citing security reasons, the Police Department would not provide exact figures on the schedule or overtime earnings of the group. But Michael Zotos, the deputy police commissioner who oversees the detail, estimated the unit's weekly overtime at about 20 hours -- or about $460.

On a yearly basis, the cost of protecting the mayor would be about $23,920 in overtime.

Baltimore State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms keeps as rigorous a work and community schedule as the mayor. A group of police officers is also assigned to Mr. Simms. But, in an effort to reduce the amount of overtime, one police officer works during the day and a second works a later shift to accompany the prosecutor to night meetings.

"The ability to have at least two persons who are able to alternate [shifts] reduces and minimizes the extra hours and burden," said Mr. Simms, who says he averages 12- to 14-hour days.

Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods also has two drivers: A (( patrolman who earned $3,599 in overtime last year and a sergeant, whose rank does not entitle him to overtime.

Keeping pace with the hectic Council President Mary Pat Clarke may have proved profitable for her driver, Mr. Bland. But it means working as many hours as she does.

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