Irked senator seeks to oust liquor board Postponed action on Irby nomination angers McFadden

'I'm saying clean house'

Legislators also upset by 24.3% pay raise for panel official

February 03, 1997|By Walter F. Roche Jr. and Ivan Penn | Walter F. Roche Jr. and Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer William F. Zorzi Jr. contributed to this article.

The city liquor license board is balking at swiftly appointing the recommended nominee for its top post, triggering a call by a key legislator for a complete overhaul of the agency, including the replacement of all three commissioners.

Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden called Friday for an emergency meeting of the Baltimore Senate delegation next week to consider "a complete overhaul of the current management team" at the liquor board.

McFadden's call was prompted by the failure of the Baltimore Board of Liquor License Commissioners to act last week on the Senate delegation's recommendation that former state Sen. Nathan C. Irby Jr. be named to the $59,000-a-year job of executive secretary.

Senators were further infuriated to learn Friday that the board, while deferring action on Irby, had decided to increase the deputy executive secretary's pay by 24.3 percent. The pay boost for Jane M. Schroeder was approved Wednesday by the city Board of Estimates.

"I'm saying clean house -- a new executive secretary, a deputy executive secretary, three new commissioners," McFadden said. "We made a recommendation. That fell on deaf ears."

Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman said, "I think a 24 percent pay raise is absolutely inappropriate, no matter who has the job. We need to clean house."

Curtis H. Baer, a liquor board commissioner, said the reason the board hadn't acted on Irby's nomination was that the former senator and city councilman hadn't submitted an application or a resume for the vacant post.

"His application is not in front of us," Baer said, adding that he had no reason to believe Irby would not be a good candidate for the job if proper procedures were followed.

Board Chairman George G. Brown said the board had decided to defer action until this week and that a formal announcement would be made tomorrow or Wednesday.

The cross-fire between the Senate delegation and the liquor board began last month when Julian L. Morgan Jr., the liquor board's executive secretary abruptly resigned. On Jan. 21, following a long-standing tradition, the city's Senate delegation took a vote on a replacement, recommending Irby for the job. Usually, such nominations are rubber-stamped by the liquor board, whose members are chosen by the Senate delegation.

In a letter sent to his Baltimore colleagues Friday, McFadden said actions by the liquor board's current management "place questions on its ability to effectively carry out its operational requirements."

McFadden wrote that it was "imperative that we move quickly" and added that he would call an emergency meeting of the delegation within a few days.

Irby acknowledged Friday that he had not formally applied for the liquor board post and said he planned to correct that by submitting a resume and an application.

"It's on its way. [Baer] is absolutely right. Procedurally, that's the correct way to go," Irby said.

The former senator said he would submit an application but that he would take the job only on an interim basis. Noting an investigation of liquor board operations by the state special prosecutor, Irby said the job "may not be to my liking."

McFadden said part of the issue with the board is that at least two of the three members want to promote Schroeder to the board's top post.

"They can do what they want," McFadden said. "That's why we're so upset."

McFadden said he planned to tell the board "not to invoke the salary increase" approved for Schroeder. The $10,600 pay increase would bring her annual salary to $54,200.

In addition to nominating Irby, the city Senate delegation had recommended that the commissioners be replaced except for Brown. On Friday, McFadden called for all three to be replaced.

The names of William A. Welch, son of City Councilwoman Agnes B. Welch, and Leonard R. Skolnik, 60, a retired apartment manager, had been forwarded earlier to Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who appoints liquor board members.

The positions are among the governor's "green bag" patronage appointments, which will be made Feb. 16. Glendening has made clear that he will follow the delegation's recommendation in filling the positions.

Pub Date: 2/03/97

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