Ambridge departure worries council colleagues Exit to real estate job by independent could give mayor more power

June 11, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Baltimore City Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge's resignation last night to head the city's real estate office has left some of his former colleagues worrying that the mayor will gain a stronger foothold in the council.

"The mayor gets another vote," said 1st District Councilman Nicholas C. D'Adamo. "It's sad."

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke often has been able to win the 10 votes needed to push his initiatives through the council. But Ambridge, a member since 1983, was not a loyalist of the mayor.

"Clearly we lose a very important independent vote," said 3rd District Councilman Martin O'Malley, at odds with the mayor. "When we are successful, we are by only one or two votes."

Ambridge's departure to start his new job today means that his seat will be filled by someone chosen by the two other 2nd District representatives, Paula Johnson Branch and Robert L. Douglass -- strong supporters of the mayor.

Because the news Ambridge was leaving came so suddenly, neither Branch nor Douglass has a candidate. The council will have to approve their choice, but, as a courtesy, probably will do so.

Ambridge, a real estate appraiser, was chosen by Comptroller Joan M. Pratt from among 12 candidates to head the city's $3.2 billion real estate portfolio. He will earn $79,400 a year.

Pratt said Ambridge's first charge is to devise a plan to find $1 million in savings in 30 days.

City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III, who controls committee appointments and has opposed many of the mayor's pet projects, could use Ambridge's departure as a bargaining tool. Ambridge leaves behind a powerful and important opening -- chairman of the Land Use Committee.

Bell could use the committee post to sweeten a deal for a council member who hasn't taken sides. He would not comment on his choice for chairman.

Pub Date: 6/11/96

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