Council members want mayor to have more power

January 19, 1995|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,Sun Staff Writer

Annapolis City Council members are growing frustrated with the structure of the city's government, complaining to a review board recently that the mayor should be given more power or the council should hire a city manager.

During discussions last month with the Salary Review Commission, a local board that is considering pay raises for council members, several aldermen said they wanted to change to a "strong mayor" form of government, according to minutes of those meetings released yesterday.

Rather than serve as head of the City Council, the mayor should be an executive with veto power, similar to the county executives, governors or presidents, those aldermen said.

Ward 3 Alderman Samuel Gilmer said a strong-mayor format would give the mayor greater ability to operate and the power to veto legislation.

In most strong mayor formats, it takes a two-thirds vote of the council to overrule a mayoral veto, he said.

Others said the council should hire a city manager to handle the administrative business of the city, relegating the mayor to a public relations role, according to the minutes.

The mayor needs a city manager to direct the government's department heads and coordinate the administration's position on local issues, said 4th Ward Alderman Shep Tullier, according to the minutes. Power is distributed too loosely among too many people, he said.

"There is no hand at the reins under the mayor," Mr. Tullier said yesterday.

The scope of the mayor's job has grown and the position requires greater authority, said Alderman M. Theresa DeGraff, who has asked the council to investigate possible changes to the city's charter that could lead to a strong-mayor or city manager form of government.

Ms. DeGraff also worried about the health of Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins, who underwent triple bypass surgery more than three years ago, and questioned the role of City Administrator Michael D. Mallinoff.

"Ms. DeGraff did not feel the mayor was physically well, and she was concerned," say the minutes, which were compiled by review commission secretary Marlene A. Patmore. "She felt that the current city administrator was competent, but that he had no authority."

Ms. DeGraff argued yesterday that the minutes were taken out of context and paraphrased inaccurately and incompletely. "I did not come out and say the mayor is not well," she said.

Ms. Patmore would not comment.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hopkins, 69, who marched in Gov. Parris N. Glendening's inauguration parade yesterday, was upset that anyone would question his health.

"There's nothing wrong with my health," he said. "I can lick any man in my weight, class and age group in the parking lot."

Other aldermen said Ms. DeGraff's comments only raised an issue familiar to Annapolis residents.

Ward 1 Alderman Louise Hammond said she is asked about the mayor's health "fairly often."

She and others said yesterday that too much responsibility falls into the hands of Mr. Mallinoff.

"Al will feel he can go home for an afternoon and Michael will take care of work," Ms. Hammond said. "Michael may be great at his job, but Michael wasn't elected. I don't want Michael's answer. I want the mayor's answer."

Mr. Mallinoff said he simply is doing his job and suggested his critics are politically motivated and are looking to run for mayor.

Some aldermen were quick to defend Mr. Mallinoff and his post. "I think the city administrator is very efficient but in some ways his hands are tied," Mr. Tullier said.

Yet, some aldermen are reluctant to change the city government.

A system with a mayor, a city administrator and a City Council provides more ways for a private citizen to have input, they say.

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