Memorial commission targets Schmoke Mayor's office puts hold on hiring of new secretary

September 23, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

The former chairman of the Maryland War Memorial Commission accused Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke of political cronyism yesterday for preventing the commission's newly hired executive secretary from taking his position.

Schmoke's office held up the hiring of Doug Henley, former state commander of the American Legion, after East Baltimore Democratic state Del. Clarence Davis of the 45th District called for an investigation into the dismissal of Henley's predecessor.

In June, Baltimore police escorted Cynthia DeLeaver-Coates from the stately War Memorial building at City Hall Plaza after the commission's personnel committee recommended that she be fired. Commission members accused her of poor performance, including taking 30 sicks days in her first year.

DeLeaver-Coates, 47, is demanding her $35,000 per year job back. She said her problems with the commission began when she questioned former Chairman W. Russell Brown for using the commission office for personal use. Brown denies the allegations.

Brown, whose commission term expires in 2000, called the action by Davis political interference and accused Schmoke of backing Davis due to political ties.

"We want the mayor and whoever else is involved to get off it," said Brown, whose two-year tenure as chairman ended on Sept. 6. "We want Henley on board, we hired him."

Davis, a Vietnam veteran, intervened on behalf of DeLeaver-Coates, who is a constituent in his district. Schmoke's office has contacted state Attorney General J. Joseph Curran to review the matter. A Schmoke spokesman denied any political motivation in the action. Schmoke administrators told Henley to leave his new position last week until the matter could be resolved.

"There is some confusion over who has the authority to hire," said Wendell Sutton, an aide to the mayor.

The veterans board, established in 1924, manages the War Memorial building on Gay Street, which is used by community groups. Five board members are appointed by the state, five by the city.

Pub Date: 9/23/98

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