Status of 2 Schmoke appointees on City Council agenda today

January 29, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore City Council is expected today to schedule hearings on whether to reconfirm Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's executive nominees to head the city's law and housing departments.

Technically, City Solicitor Neal M. Janey and Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III have served in acting positions since their terms expired in early December.

The 19-member council, in its first meeting since early December, is expected to receive Mr. Schmoke's confirmation letters today asking that Mr. Janey and Mr. Henson be retained, according to City Hall sources.

The recommendations likely will move to the Executive Appointments Committee, headed by 1st District Councilwoman Lois Garey. The committee will schedule public hearings, reach a decision on whether to support Mr. Schmoke's appointments and take the matter back to the council for a vote. The process could take a couple of weeks.

Though it is rare for a mayoral appointee not to be confirmed by the council, Mr. Schmoke has not shown that he can muster enough votes to push his agenda.

After weeks of lobbying for council vice president, Mr. Schmoke could not obtain the 10

votes needed to get 4th District Councilwoman Sheila Dixon the post. Instead, her 4th District colleague, Agnes B. Welch, won. Mrs. Welch was backed by council President -- and mayoral opponent -- Lawrence A. Bell III.

Members are keeping quiet about Mr. Janey's and Mr. Henson's chances for reconfirmation.

But Mr. Henson, who was appointed in March 1993, and Mr. Janey, appointed in November 1987, ran afoul of some members last year over a $25.6 million no-bid housing repair program.

The council tried unsuccessfully to force Reginald C. Thomas, the Housing Authority board chairman, to explain his role in the repair program that federal auditors found had risked millions on start-up construction firms with little experience.

Mr. Janey advised the chairman to ignore the subpoena. The legal flap eventually was taken to the Court of Appeals -- Maryland's highest court -- which declined to hear the case.

In addition, council members who were staunch supporters of Mr. Janey and Mr. Henson, like Vera P. Hall and Iris G. Reeves, are no longer part of the body.

If the council votes to reject any of Mr. Schmoke's appointees, the appointees can remain in acting positions for up to a year, according to the City Charter.

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