O'Malley to keep Brodie as chief of economic development agency

Veteran city leader has `energy,' mayor-elect says of 1st appointment

November 09, 1999|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Making his first appointments since he won last week's election, Mayor-elect Martin O'Malley said he will retain M. J. "Jay" Brodie as president of the city's economic development agency.

Brodie, a veteran city leader who served as housing commissioner in former Mayor William Donald Schaefer's administration, said yesterday that he had accepted O'Malley's offer and is looking forward to working with the new administration.

"I thought there were lots of good things left to do," said Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp. In particular, he said O'Malley's support of PILOTs or "payment in lieu of taxes" and other tax incentives for businesses are key to attracting companies to Baltimore and keeping those already here.

"It's not that [Mayor] Kurt Schmoke has not been a good supporter because he has," Brodie said. "Martin will bring a different spirit to the office. Some say a little more brash. And they think that is good."

Although O'Malley has yet to announce his appointments for the "Big Three" positions -- police commissioner, housing commissioner and public works director -- his choice of Brodie is a significant selection for the new administration.

Brodie will remain responsible for the agency that drives the city's economic engine. O'Malley said he wanted to keep Brodie because he has helped restore confidence in the agency that was criticized by the business community as ineffective.

"I think he's brought a lot of energy to that department," O'Malley said. "I think he's a very professional person."

Business and political leaders credit Brodie for strengthening the agency. Brodie will play a key role in attracting and retaining companies to the city.

From 1989 to 1998, Baltimore lost an average of 722 jobs a month, or one-sixth of its employment base. In addition, heavy manufacturing jobs during the same period decreased 40 per- cent, distribution jobs 35 percent, banking jobs 28 percent and retail jobs 34 percent.

"Given the constraints that have been placed upon him by the current administration, Jay Brodie has done an excellent job in terms of working toward the revitalization of Baltimore's job base," said Anirban Basu, a senior economist with Towson University's Regional Economic Studies Institute. "If he is given the flexibility and he is given new economic development tools, I firmly believe that Jay Brodie and the BDC will have a substantial impact in moving the city forward during Mayor O'Malley's five-year term."

Between 1968 and 1984, while deputy and then later commissioner at the Department of Housing and Community Development, Brodie directed projects affecting more than 30 neighborhoods, developed housing for the elderly, renovated vacant buildings and watched over the planning of Harborplace.

Schmoke appointed Brodie, an architect, head of the city economic development agency in December 1995 on recommendation of a newly appointed 11-member board. O'Malley relies on key members of that board as advisers on his transition team.

Among them is Richard O. Berndt, a politically connected lawyer and a board member with the economic development agency, who is a co-chairman of the steering committee for O'Malley's transition team.

Greater Baltimore Committee consultant Walter Sondheim, also a board member with the BDC, is another O'Malley adviser.

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