Pratt wrong to appoint Henson Playing politics: City comptroller destroying trust voters placed in her.

March 23, 1996

THERE IS NO WAY that Comptroller Joan M. Pratt can justify the appointment of her former campaign manager, Julius Henson, to direct the city's real estate office. Her assertion that he was the "best qualified" person for the job even though she did no talent search or interviews of other potential candidates insults the intelligence of Baltimoreans. It is shabby treatment indeed for voters who took a chance on political unknown Pratt because they believed she would be a breath of fresh air at City Hall.

Instead, Ms. Pratt has decided to play the same ram-it-down-the-public's-throat games that people have come to expect from politicians whose primary motivation is their own survival, not service to the people.

In contrast to the Henson appointment, Ms. Pratt conducted a national search and interviewed several candidates to fill the vacant city auditor's post. She has hired Beverly L. Everson-Jones, a former audit manager for the accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand and executive director of the National Association of Black Accountants. The same process should have been followed to find a real estate chief.

Mr. Henson's only real estate experience appears to be his owning and renovating 15 rental homes, at least two of which are in rundown condition. He says he has also bought several homes, fixed them up and sold them over the past 10 years. Even so, that would hardly justify Ms. Pratt's declaration that he has "an extensive real estate background." His experience is not of the caliber the city needs to run this important office. As real estate officer, Mr. Henson will oversee the city's portfolio of 350 buildings valued at $3.2 billion.

It has become quite clear that Ms. Pratt's very limited experience in fiscal matters pertaining to the operation of a big city such as Baltimore requires her to have competent, knowledgeable staff. She gets just the opposite in Mr. Henson, who must learn the job. That she chose him indicates she thought it more important to have someone she can depend on for political advice at her side in City Hall. The decision has cost her the trust of many Baltimoreans who thought she would put them first. Who knows what it will cost the city?

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