Visitor panel gets help in hunt for boss City board hires search firm to find its new staff director

September 29, 1995|By John E. Woodruff | John E. Woodruff,SUN STAFF

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's new tourism-promotion board has handed its most urgent job -- replacing the staff director who quit amid the controversy that surrounded the board's creation -- to a Bellevue, Wash., head-hunting firm.

The board turned the job over to a search firm after taking a three-month process that started with members sorting through applicants' resumes themselves and ended with a decision to get outside help, said Roslyn Smith, a Westinghouse Corp. personnel executive who heads the search committee of the restructured Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association.

"First we began to get unsolicited resumes from people who had heard there was an opening, and then we began to get proposals from head-hunters, and eventually we concluded that it was a search that would require professional assistance," Ms. Smith said.

The assignment went to Jensen, Oldoni & Cooper, a firm that has experience in the convention and tourism business. The company will be paid $18,000 plus expenses, Ms. Smith said.

With the state constructing a $151 million expansion and upgrading of the Baltimore Convention Center, the biggest portion of which is to open by next September, the board has been faced with time pressure to get a new staff director and get down to the work of pulling conventions into the city.

The target for having the new director in place is Jan. 1, Ms. Smith said.

The vacancy was created when Wayne Chappell resigned in the summer at the height of the controversy between Mayor Schmoke and Henry A. Rosenberg Jr., the chairman of the

former board of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association.

Mr. Schmoke accused theboard of repeatedly overspending its budget without consulting City Hall, and Mr. Rosenberg at one point threatened to move the company he heads, Crown Central Petroleum Corp., out of Baltimore in retaliation.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening stepped in to try to defuse the controversy, but the rupture eventually proved irreparable. The governor promised that the association's $3-million-a-year city budget would be supplemented by $1.5 million in state funds.

Mr. Schmoke eventually took advantage of the expiration of the association's contract with the city, which he refused to renew as a way of putting the old board out of business.

Then, on June 23, the mayor named his own board, headed by William L. Jews, the president of Maryland Blue Cross and Blue Shield and chairman of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

"The search committee proposed the Jensen group because of a proven track record as a leader in successful searches for highly respected, public and private organizations throughout North America," Mr. Jews said in a news release announcing the selection.

"They also have an excellent track record in the convention/tourism business," he said.

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