2 top county officials plan to leave posts Administrative officer, community conservation director may move on

October 28, 1998|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Two of Baltimore County's highest-ranking appointed officials are planning to leave as County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger winds up his first term, county government sources say.

County Administrative Officer Robin L. Churchill, 43, who has held the top appointed county job for 16 months, is expected to take a job in the county school system that would more closely fit her training as an accountant and auditor.

Churchill, however, refuses to confirm any impending move.

P. David Fields, 63, the former county planning director and now community conservation director, says he's thinking about retiring but might stay on for a year or more, depending on Ruppersberger's wishes.

Speculation about their plans arose yesterday when Republican county executive candidate John J. Bishop charged that they, among others, are "disillusioned" and are leaving "because of the micromanaging of Ruppersberger political operative Mike Davis."

Davis, who is Ruppersberger's spokesman and policy chief, denied the charges, denouncing them as a last-ditch attempt by Bishop to garner publicity for his lackluster campaign before next week's election.

"I'm sure there will be some changes [after the election]," Davis acknowledged, noting that he might not stay on for an entire second term either, and that Jennifer A. Macek, 60, Ruppersberger's executive secretary and aide for 13 years, is retiring next month.

Churchill and Fields said yesterday their career plans are unrelated to politics.

"Any assessment I make about my future is going to be post-election," Churchill said. "It's not unusual for folks to assess their status after turnover in the election."

Fields, who often works 12-hour days, seven days a week, devising ways to strengthen older county neighborhoods, said yesterday: "It's time for me to retire. The issue is, after 10 to 11 years, I'm getting on. This particular job is a young person's job."

Ruppersberger refused to comment on what he described as "private, personal situations," saying it would be "presumptuous" until after the election.

"I'm focusing on the campaign," he said.

In a news release, Bishop noted that Ruppersberger's administration has had three fire chiefs, and he accused the executive of meddling too much in departmental operations. He also claimed that Ruppersberger's heavy-handed management is going to produce scores of resignations in the county's Police and Fire departments.

County police spokesman Bill Toohey said he knows of nothing other than routine turnover. The Fire Department is expecting more retirements next year, when enhanced pension benefits take effect.

Several County Council members defended Ruppersberger's tight control of his government, though T. Bryan McIntire, a north county-Owings Mills Republican, said, "If I were county executive, I would give department heads more freedom."

McIntire and Kevin B. Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Randallstown Democrat, said an executive should be free to manage his administration.

"He's the boss. In that sense I would want to be in complete control, too," McIntire said.

Pub Date: 10/28/98

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