Henson OK'd as city housing chief

April 20, 1993|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Staff Writer

The Baltimore City Council last night approved by voice vote the nomination of developer Daniel P. Henson III as city housing commissioner.

Also, a council committee scheduled a hearing for April 28 on an operating surplus in the Police Department that officials say could be as high as $2 million.

The approval of Mr. Henson -- whose nomination last month generated controversy because of questions about potential conflicts of interest posed by his business associations and his style as a political confidante of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke -- came with just one dissenting voice.

Council members praised Mr. Henson, who has been acting commissioner of the Department of Housing and Community Development since March 15, for his experience and enthusiasm.

Councilman Lawrence A. Bell, D-4th, chairman of the Executive Nominations Committee, which recommended approval, said a council hearing last month and a subsequent follow-up conversation with Mr. Henson resolved the issues raised about his nomination.

Mr. Bell said he was convinced Mr. Henson "would work with everyone in moving the city forward."

Mr. Henson has sold virtually all of his business interests and said he would not have any business contacts with his former partners at Struever Brothers Eccles & Rouse, a major developer -- moves that go far beyond the requirements of city ethics laws.

Councilman Wilbur E. "Bill" Cunningham, D-3rd, said he was "very supportive" of Mr. Henson's nomination even though Mr. Henson had worked against him twice in races for his council seat.

"I think he's going to bring that entrepreneurial spirit to the housing department -- something sorely lacking in the last few years," said Mr. Cunningham.

The sole dissenting voice belonged to Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge, D-2nd. Mr. Ambridge said Mr. Henson had refused to meet with him because of published comments he made about Mr. Henson's appointment.

"I think he has a lot of things going for him," Mr. Ambridge said of Mr. Henson. "One I think is lacking is the demeanor and sensitivity to work with this body politic."

The scheduling of a hearing on the Police Department surplus came in response to a resolution by Councilman Martin O'Malley, D-3rd. Mr. O'Malley claims the surplus for the fiscal year ending June 30 could reach $4 million -- a contention budget officials strongly contest.

Mr. O'Malley said the excess money could have been used to "put more patrolman out on the street all year."

Meanwhile, budget director Edward J. Gallagher sent a memo to council members repeating the Schmoke administration position that an operating surplus in the department did not reduce the need for an increase in the piggyback income tax, the proceeds from which Mr. Schmoke wants to use to hire more police officers.

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