Zimmerman named people's counsel BALTIMORE COUNTY

May 18, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

In a move sure to please many of Baltimore County's community associations, County Executive Roger B. Hayden promoted Deputy People's Counsel Peter Max Zimmerman, who has held the post for the past 16 years, to head that sensitive office.

Current People's Counsel Phyllis Cole Friedman is leaving the post June 1.

Mr. Hayden also said yesterday that he is committed to keeping at least two lawyers in the politically independent office. Two years ago, Mr. Hayden proposed eliminating the deputy people's counsel position as a budget-cutting move.

The office was created by the voters in 1974 to help defend them and county zoning maps, and to be a public advocate in zoning and development disputes.

Yesterday, Mr. Hayden named Carole S. Demilio, a 43-year-old Towson lawyer, to replace Mr. Zimmerman as deputy people's counsel. Mr. Zimmerman, 44, will earn $46,640, and Mrs. Demilio will earn $33,120. Both lawyers will maintain part-time private practices.

The County Council must approve only Mr. Zimmerman's appointment. No council opposition is expected.

Despite Mr. Hayden's commitment to keep a deputy people's counsel, Catonsville Councilwoman Berchie Lee Manley, R-1st, refused to remove from the council's agenda her charter amendment resolution to make the deputy's post mandatory. At the council's afternoon work session, two of her colleagues made a rare public plea for her to withdraw her proposal, which she rejected. Later in the evening, the council voted 5-2 against the amendment.

Towson Councilman Douglas B. Riley, R-4th, told Mrs. Manley that all her resolution would do is "make us all look anti-people's counsel."

"And we're not," said Council Chairman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-3rd. He argued that Mrs. Manley already has brought the issue to the public's attention by proposing the measure and that she would get no more positive results from the doomed effort. "It does nothing but hurt the relationship with the rest of the council," he said.

The other council members and the Hayden administration feel that changing the charter is too drastic a move for such a small item and that the desired change could be guaranteed by changing the county code.

Mr. Zimmerman's promotion represents quite a turnaround from two years ago, when he nearly lost the deputy people's counsel job in a proposed Hayden budget cut. Although Mr. Hayden said yesterday that he has respected the office's independence by not speaking to Mrs. Friedman or Mr. Zimmerman until recently, community groups viewed his proposed budget cut as a direct assault on the office. Many of the groups campaigned for Mr. Zimmerman to get the top job.

Those earlier confrontations and disputes were not evident yesterday as representatives of two large county umbrella civic groups praised the appointments. David S. Thaler, a Chamber of Commerce member whose land-planning firm does scores of jobs for local developers each year, echoed their praise.

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