Balog reinstated from leave after DWI arrest

January 27, 1993|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Staff Writer

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has reinstated Public Works Director George G. Balog after forcing him to take a paid leave of absence last month when he was arrested in a city car on drunken driving charges.

Mr. Balog, 51, one of the mayor's key Cabinet members, returned to his $75,000-a-year post Monday, after a monthlong stay in a residential alcohol treatment facility.

"I'm aware that Mr. Balog participated in a residential program to help him with his problem, and it seems to have been very successful," Mr. Schmoke said yesterday. "I believe he's prepared to return to work.

"This does not involve probation or anything to that effect," the mayor said. "He's the director, and I have confidence that he will do well and continue to work to overcome the problem that caused him personal difficulty several weeks ago."

Mr. Balog, looking fit yesterday behind his desk on the sixth floor of the Municipal Building, said he felt "terrific."

"I was drinking too much, and obviously I needed some guidance and rest," he said.

"My attitude's better, and I feel stronger," he added.

Mr. Balog was arrested Dec. 17 in Rosedale by Baltimore County police, who found six empty Coors beer cans in the city-owned, 1989 Chevrolet Caprice he was driving. After following him for about a mile, police stopped him just before 2 a.m. on Chesaco Avenue at the Interstate 95 overpass.

He failed a field sobriety test and later failed a breath test administered at the White Marsh Station, where he was taken after the arrest, police said. His license was taken from him under state law, pending a Motor Vehicle Administration hearing.

Later that day, Mr. Schmoke relieved Mr. Balog of his duties and directed him to check into a residential treatment facility. The mayor named Deputy Public Works Director George L. Winfield acting director of the department -- one of the largest in city government.

Mr. Balog, a 23-year city employee, was named to his post in January 1988.

"There never was an indication that his judgment had been impaired on the job," Mr. Schmoke said. "The problem he ran into was the after-work hours."

Mr. Balog also faces trial on charges of driving while intoxicated and failing to keep within a designated lane.

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