Dvorak, hardly the retiring type, will quit county government May 1 Unelected official served all 5 Arundel executives

April 02, 1997|By Tanya Jones $$TC | Tanya Jones $$TC,SUN STAFF

He has served in nine positions in the administrations of all five of Anne Arundel's county executives. Now Chief Administrative Officer Robert J. Dvorak, known for decades as a tireless adjutant with a fiery temper, is moving into a job that doesn't seem to suit him: retirement.

County Executive John G. Gary's closest and most outspoken adviser since 1994, Dvorak said he had been considering the decision to leave for several months.

"It was just sort of time to go, and I'm going to go," said Dvorak, 58. "All too many people stay too long, and they get stale. I have no regrets."

Gary announced Dvorak's retirement Monday and is expected to pick a replacement by the time Dvorak leaves May 1.

Dvorak, the county's top unelected official, has made enough enemies during his years of public service to fill the council chambers.

His rough edges made him the bane of public employee unions last year during the long fight over pension reform. During one public meeting, Dvorak blamed Anne Arundel's tight budget on New Deal and Great Society programs, telling employees the county couldn't "baby-sit" them anymore.

"The arrogance of this guy," Leroy A. Wilkison, president of the International Association of Firefighters, Local 1563, said at the time.

Dvorak, with characteristic candor, responded, "I don't have any problem with people taking shots. Hey, if you take a shot at me, then I'll take a shot at you."

Dvorak has always had a reputation as an aide who would take a bullet for his boss. Prickly to political opponents, Dvorak could also be disarmingly affable and persuasive with the public.

"He's an original," said Joseph W. Alton Jr., the county's first executive, who hired Dvorak as a senior accountant in 1968.

"Some people really don't understand Bob because he's so intense. He's a brilliant mind fiscally, especially as it relates to government," Alton said.

Dvorak was appointed chief administrative officer by County Executive Robert R. Neall in August 1994, shortly before Gary won office. Under Neall, starting in 1990, Dvorak was chief of staff, director of inspections and permits, planning and zoning officer, and director of planning and code enforcement.

Dvorak helped Neall win election after spending much of the 1980s in the private sector, sitting out most of the administration of O. James Lighthizer, the county's only Democratic county executive. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for the County Council in 1986. Dvorak was fire administrator under Lighthizer from 1983 to 1984.

Under Alton, Dvorak went from senior accountant to assistant budget officer. Then, under County Executive Robert A. Pascal, he was assistant to the director of administration and assistant to the county executive.

He remembers his work on the adequate-facilities ordinance and growth management in 1977 and 1978 as one of his greatest achievements.

"What the governor is proposing on Smart Growth is not a whole lot different [from] what we proposed 20 years ago," he said.

Dvorak, a longtime Arnold resident who is married and has two adult children, said that he had no firm plans for the future but that he might expand his work as an accountant for small businesses.

Pub Date: 4/02/97

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