O'Malley gets to work

Mayor-elect unveils broad transition team to help select Cabinet

To `change and reform'

Tasks include finding new chiefs of police, housing, public works

Election 1999

November 04, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

After a resounding election win Tuesday, Baltimore Mayor-elect Martin O'Malley wasted little time yesterday introducing a 20-member committee to help him pick key Cabinet members and begin working to "change and reform" city government.

About 100 people crowded into a City Hall hearing room to get a glimpse of the city's 47th mayor, who at 36 will be the youngest in Baltimore history.

O'Malley was all business as he unveiled a transition team that contains a mix of races, ages, genders, interests and occupations, from banker to soup-kitchen operator.

The former prosecutor, who bested 26 candidates in the primary and general elections, said he has had little time to savor Tuesday's election triumph, in which he garnered 91 percent of the votes cast.

"This is the beginning of the hard part," said O'Malley, who spent the morning on a West Baltimore street corner waving to motorists. "Campaigning is one discipline, governing is another."

O'Malley's transition team bears familiar faces such as House Appropriations Committee Chairman Howard P. Rawlings and behind-the-scenes city powers such as Richard O. Berndt, a Baltimore attorney who helped then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer create the Inner Harbor three decades ago.

O'Malley has asked leaders from the city's African-American, Hispanic and Korean communities to serve on the committee.

"I have always said that no one person can do it alone," O'Malley said. "These are serious people, who would not lend their good name to `business as usual.' "

Among the immediate tasks at hand, O'Malley said, are finding a new police commissioner, housing commissioner and public works director. O'Malley said he would break the 20-member group into committees to study issues ranging from housing to law enforcement.

O'Malley said he hopes to have the three key Cabinet posts filled before he takes office.

"I'm not going to postpone tough decisions," O'Malley said. "I'm not intimidated by what lies ahead. Look who I have around me."

On O'Malley's team

One of the committee members standing next to O'Malley yesterday was his former roommate, Michael A. Brown. Now a Baltimore trial attorney in commercial law, Brown is expected to head O'Malley's search for a police commissioner.

As he did during the campaign, O'Malley listed making the city safer and cleaner as his two chief goals. He mentioned plans to conduct a citywide effort in the spring to clean Baltimore.

"He's as determined as anyone I ever met," said Brown, who roomed with O'Malley after the two graduated from law school. "He's a fighter. I'm psyched."

Others on the committee accepted humbly O'Malley's invitation to serve, including Sister Gwynette Proctor, director of Christopher Place Employment Academy. Last year, Proctor became embroiled in the debate over whether to move the Our Daily Bread soup kitchen that she operated from downtown.

Proctor called her addition to the committee an example of "Mayor-elect O'Malley's sincere intent to be more inclusive to all the people of Baltimore and wanting very much to hear from voices of people that I represent, that are rarely recognized by city government."

Useful impatience

Berndt, who as a young attorney served as a close adviser to Schaefer, welcomed O'Malley's victory. The partner in the law firm of Gallagher, Evelius & Jones will co-chair the committee with Joseph Haskins Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Harbor Bank of Maryland.

Berndt said O'Malley carries a key trait to being a successful mayor: impatience.

"Mayors put the gas in the engine and turn it on," said Berndt, who helped O'Malley raise $1.3 million for his mayoral bid. "I feel a great deal of energy and a great deal of hope, and that energy is what people want."

`Very talented people'

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who will step down in December after 12 years, also welcomed the news of O'Malley's transition team.

"I'm feeling very good about the future," Schmoke said. "Martin O'Malley is starting to surround himself with very talented people. I know these people."

The committee includes several former Schaefer allies, including civic activist Sally Michel and Walter Sondheim Jr. of the Greater Baltimore Committee; and black leaders such as the Rev. Frank M. Reid III, pastor of Bethel AME Church; Earl S. Richardson, president of Morgan State University; and state Sen. Joan Carter Conway.

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