City Council likely to reconfirm Henson to post today But housing chief still draws criticism

February 26, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore City Council will vote today on the reconfirmation of Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III -- just two weeks after Mr. Henson was involved in a contentious council hearing on his performance.

Though the council is likely to reconfirm Mr. Henson as head of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City and the Department of Housing and Community Development, Mr. Henson's critics have tried to make his reconfirmation difficult.

The five-member Executive Appointments Committee, responsible for making a recommendation to the council on reconfirmation, is expected to vote 3-2 against Mr. Henson's reappointment, according to council members.

If the committee recommends Mr. Henson not be reappointed -- it would be the first time in years that a mayoral appointee has not been endorsed by the committee -- the council would be in the position of having to ignore the committee's recommendation before casting its vote on Mr. Henson.

Anthony J. Ambridge, 2nd District councilman, said he will not support Mr. Henson's reappointment and that he wants to send a message.

"The message is that the council has oversight function, and we don't think he is fulfilling his job," Mr. Ambridge said.

For Mr. Henson's council critics, there are lingering bad feelings after the six-hour public hearing on Valentine's Day.

Mr. Ambridge and 3rd District Councilman Martin O'Malley pressed Mr. Henson during the hearing about his alleged vindictiveness toward some council members who criticize him and about irregularities discovered in the $25.6 million no-bid housing repair program.

Most members of the council, however, have said publicly they will support Mr. Henson.

"If the council is weak, then it chooses to be weak," Mr. O'Malley said.

"One way or the other, we will find out Monday."

Last year, Mr. Henson and the council clashed over the repair program. The council tried unsuccessfully to force Reginald C. Thomas, chairman of the housing authority board, to explain his role in the program that federal auditors found had risked millions on start-up companies with little experience.

The council will also vote on City Solicitor Neal M. Janey and Department of Recreation and Parks Director Marlyn J. Perritt.

They are expected to win reappointment.

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