Housing chief dispels conflict of interest worry BALTIMORE CITY

March 19, 1993|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Staff Writer

The chairman of the Baltimore ethics board said yesterday that Daniel P. Henson III, the former developer and city housing commissioner-designee, has taken measures "over and above what the law requires" to avoid a conflict of interest in his new position.

Alan R. Yuspeh, a Washington lawyer who chairs the ethics board, said Mr. Henson's decision to divest himself of business interests and to voluntarily agree not to meet or deal with his former business partners for two years "ensures the integrity of his public service" and "avoids the appearance of a conflict of interest."

At the time of Mr. Henson's March 4 appointment, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke acknowledged that there were ethics issues that had to be resolved, but said yesterday he was satisfied that they had been.

Mr. Henson, who took charge of the troubled Department of Housing and Community Development on Monday, outlined how planned to distance himself from Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse -- the developer-contractor that employed him as a vice president -- in letter to Mr. Yuspeh and Mr. Schmoke.

Mr. Henson agreed in the March 12 letter to go beyond the city's ethics law, which requires that city workers disqualify themselves from taking part in decisions affecting any matter in which they or their families have a direct financial interest.

The 49-year-old former developer wrote that he will not meet with any employee of Struever Bros. for two years, if the purpose of the meeting were to discuss an action that would benefit the developer or a company client.

In addition, he agreed that for the next two years he would not participate in any decision that "would have a reasonably foreseeable economic benefit" to the company.

"I believe that these self-imposed voluntary limitations should remove any conceivable appearance [of conflict] issues," he wrote.

Mr. Henson said that aside from "a limited number of investments" -- which Mr. Yuspeh described as "passive investments," such as interest-bearing bank accounts -- he would not receive any earned income other than his $103,000-a-year salary as housing commissioner.

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