Schmoke's ally forced from solid waste post 'Clean Sweep' creator placed on leave

November 11, 1995|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

In a move that has upset local environmental advocates, a close Schmoke political ally who most recently developed several successful programs to clean the city, including "Clean Sweep," was abruptly ousted by the director of the Department of Public Works, George W. Balog.

Yesterday was the last day of work for Kenneth J. Strong, who had been appointed to become head of the Bureau of Solid Waste in April. He had been the acting head for six months before that.

Mr. Strong will be placed on administrative leave but will remain on the city payroll in the $68,917-a-year position until the end of the year.

Department officials say that the move was triggered by a reorganization and a need to get a more seasoned administrator.

"Ken had served 18 months," said Vanessa Pyatt, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works. "It was felt that there really was a need for someone to fill the position who had a technical background and field experience."

Mr. Strong will be replaced by Leonard Addison, who will begin Monday, Ms. Pyatt said. Mr. Addison, a 24-year veteran with the department, leaves his position as the chief of the Parking Division after two years.

Environmental advocates said the unexpected removal of Mr. Strong will be a loss for the city.

"He was not business as usual. The alleys started to actually get cleaned up, and real sound programs were developed," said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, Maryland director of Clean Water Action. "What I have admired about Ken is that he has seen problems and figured out how to fix them. Boy, what a loss."

Mr. Strong's "Clean Sweep" program, which scheduled neighborhoods for special cleanings, often was touted by the mayor during the mayoral campaign. He also developed monthly trash pickup programs, popular with neighborhoods because the earlier process was considered frustrating. Earlier an appointment had to be made to pick up special waste.

"When he came, progress was made which we hadn't seen before," said Terry J. Harris, chair of the League of Environmental Voters. "In our mind, it was kind of unfortunate."

Mr. Strong, who used to work with Mr. Schmoke when he was state's attorney, also was a community liaison and recycling coordinator.

Ms. Pyatt said Mr. Strong was offered but turned down a "civil service service position with the Bureau of Water and Waste Water." Mr. Strong did not return phone calls.

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