Schmoke takes Perritt's word that she lives in city He has not probed where aide resides

June 10, 1993|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Staff Writer

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said yesterday he was "satisfied" wit assurances given to him by parks and recreation Director Marlyn J. Perritt that she lives in Baltimore, but he said that he has not independently investigated her residency.

Mr. Schmoke said that until a newspaper article appeared he had "no reason to question" Ms. Perritt's compliance with a city charter requirement that all department heads be city residents. After the story appeared (May 30 in The Sun), the mayor said, he spoke with Ms. Perritt, who has headed the recreation and parks department for 3 1/2 years, about her residency.

"She assured me she was complying with the charter. I have no reason to think otherwise. I'm satisfied," Mr. Schmoke said in a brief interview.

The Sun story said that a reporter had observed Ms. Perritt leaving her home in Prince George's County to commute to her office in Druid Hill Park on five consecutive days. On four of those days, the reporter observed Ms. Perritt arriving at Baltimore's Penn Station a little more than an hour after leaving home. She was met by a chauffeur-driven city car.

The report angered union officials, many of whom oppose a recent executive order imposing a residency requirement on all new city workers. The order takes effect July 1.

A provision of the city charter, in effect since 1975, requires all department heads to become voters and residents of Baltimore within six months after their appointment.

Ms. Perritt insisted in The Sun's May 30 story that she is a city resident, giving her address as the city-owned parks director's house in Clifton Park. She said she commuted to her home in Mitchellville in the last week in May to be with a married daughter who was hospitalized in suburban Washington. Citing a need for privacy, she declined to provide her daughter's name so the hospitalization could be verified and gave conflicting accounts of when she last had spent the night in Baltimore.

Mr. Schmoke said yesterday that he did not know whether Ms. Perritt's daughter was hospitalized the last week in May as Ms. Perritt had said. But the mayor said he had been told she was ill and that her illness "was a serious concern to Mrs. Perritt." The mayor said he had not interviewed Ms. Perritt's city chauffeur or other employees who might have knowledge of how often she commuted. He said he had reached her by telephone before and after working hours at the Clifton Park house but could not say how often he called her.

Except for six weeks in March and April, when she was recovering from open-heart surgery at her home in Mitchellville, and the week detailed in the story in The Sun, Mr. Schmoke said, he was not aware that Ms. Perritt was not sleeping at the director's house in Clifton Park.

"I don't have information about previous periods of absence. If someone has information, I would want them to present me with that information," he said.

Ms. Perritt is registered to vote at the Clifton Park house but the address on her driver's license is her home in Mitchellville.

City police officials told a City Council hearing last week that Motor Vehicle Administration records on driver's licenses would be a key element in their determination of whether new officers were city residents. But Mr. Schmoke brushed aside the importance of of the address on Ms. Perritt's license.

"The issue is 'Where does she lay her head down at night?' and 'Is she available on an immediate basis if there is an emergency need?' " the mayor said.

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