Liquor board hires man with Pica ties for top post Senator says he had no involvement in hiring

September 17, 1996|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Thomas W. Waldron contributed to this article.

Weeks after political jockeying began to fill the city liquor board's top administrative job, the board has hired the director of a work-release program who has political ties to state Sen. John A. Pica Jr.

The board voted 2-1 last week to hire Julian L. Morgan as its executive secretary. The Northeast Baltimore resident is director of Threshold Inc., a nonprofit work-release program funded by the state.

Morgan also chairs the North Central Democratic Coalition, a political group that received $1,000 from Pica's 1994 re-election campaign to finance Election Day activities supporting Pica and other candidates, according to campaign finance records filed with the state election board. One of the two liquor board members who voted for Morgan over 22 other candidates was Curtis H. Baer, Pica's campaign manager.

Board Chairman George G. Brown said he voted against hiring Morgan for the $59,000-a-year job, overseeing a staff of 46.

Brown said he favored Jane Schroeder, deputy executive secretary, for the position. "She's done a Herculean job," he said.

The liquor board is one of Maryland's last bastions of political patronage, where bar inspectors and board members who control liquor licenses are chosen by state senators representing the city.

Brown said he tried to take politics out of the hiring process by advertising for the position in local newspapers and conducting interviews with 12 of the 23 candidates.

But in the end, he said, he believes politics prevailed.

"Why would eight senators [the city's delegation] be against this woman?" he said of Schroeder, who has no political alliances with the city's senators. "Why is it those people can't recognize the experience it takes to do the job?"

Brown said he never was contacted by any senators concerning Morgan's application. The other two board members, Baer and Charles E. Thompson, could not be reached for comment.

Morgan said he had no contact with Pica during the application period. And Pica said he had no involvement in hiring Morgan.

"I didn't support anyone for the job," said Pica. "Julian Morgan is certainly qualified for the job. He was among a number of qualified candidates, but I was not involved in the interview process. Nor did I discuss candidates with any of the commissioners."

Pica also downplayed his political association with Morgan in Northeast Baltimore.

"I have had little contact with Julian Morgan," he said.

The North Central Democratic Coalition's campaign finance report shows the Pica campaign gave the coalition $1,000 on Sept. 6, 1994. Six days later, the report shows, the coalition paid Morgan $900 under the category "salaries and other compensation."

Morgan said yesterday the money did not go directly to him, but was used to buy food, campaign T-shirts and hats and for gasoline to transport Election Day workers to the polls.

He said $1,640 raised that year was spent on Election Day activities supporting candidates, including Pica and state Del. Gerald J. Curran, a Baltimore Democrat.

Pub Date: 9/17/96

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