At last council meeting as member, O'Malley names housing appointee

Members approve raises for themselves, mayor

December 07, 1999|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Mayor-elect Martin O'Malley appointed M. J. "Jay" Brodie acting housing commissioner last night, returning him to a job he held from 1977 to 1984.

Brodie, who was housing commissioner under Mayor William Donald Schaefer, will remain the city's economic development chief.

"Nobody in the city understands development better than Jay," O'Malley said in an interview after he announced the appointment at last night's City Council meeting, O'Malley's last as a councilman.

Last month, O'Malley reappointed Brodie as president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's economic development agency.

As acting housing commissioner, Brodie will run the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, which oversees public housing.

O'Malley also said he will retain Herman Williams Jr. as fire chief and appointed Col. Bert Shirey, the chief of patrol, acting police commissioner.

O'Malley's announcements came during his last remarks as a councilman. He will be sworn in as mayor at noon today in War Memorial Plaza outside City Hall.

Also last night, in a surprise move, the council amended a bill and gave final approval to an $11,000 pay raise for council members. The original bill would have raised the salary from $37,000 a year to $41,440.

The measure also increased the council vice president's salary from $39,000 to $50,000 a year and council president and comptroller from $65,000 to $80,000.

The original bill would have increased salaries for council vice president to $43,680; council president to $78,000; and the mayor from $95,000 to $125,000. The comptroller's raise was inadvertently omitted from the bill, but added last night.

The raise for mayor also was approved.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke had proposed a 10 percent increase to $104,000 for the city's chief executive, but he said yesterday that the council wanted to increase it and O'Malley supported the move.

Schmoke signed the measure late last night as his term was winding down.

"I said I would sign legislation that the council amended," Schmoke said. O'Malley "indicated that he wanted something higher" than the $104,000, Schmoke said.

O'Malley said that he supported a higher pay raise, but had not wanted to make it a political battle.

"What I told [Councilwoman Stephanie Rawlings] was, `I don't want to spend any political capital to increase my salary,' " O'Malley said. He said one proposal was "a lot higher" than $125,000, but he declined to support that increase.

Even with an increase to $80,000, council President-elect Sheila Dixon said she plans to retain her job with the state on a part-time basis. She makes more than $56,000 a year as a senior trade representative for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

Dixon would take a $13,000 pay cut if she quit the state job, she said. She said she did not ask for the $15,000 pay raise.

"These were not my recommendations," Dixon said. "It puts you in a very awkward position to have to vote on your own pay increase."

Dixon said a more pressing issue than the salary increases was the Brodie announcement. She said she hopes his tenure as acting housing commissioner will be "for a very short time, a very short time."

Brodie worked in Schaefer's administration from 1968 to 1984 as deputy commissioner and then commissioner of the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Schmoke appointed Brodie, an architect, head of the city economic development agency in December 1995. Brodie was recommended by the then-newly appointed 11-member board of the Baltimore Development Corp.

O'Malley relies on key members of that board as advisers on his transition team.

Among the board members is Richard O. Berndt, a lawyer who is a co-chairman of the steering committee for O'Malley's transition team.

Shirey, 54, the acting police commissioner, is a 33-year veteran of the department. He has been in a variety of assignments, including heading the tactical section and commanding the Northeastern District.

Shirey has said he does not want to be police commissioner.

Williams, 69, the father of television talk show host Montel Williams, took over the Fire Department and its 1,700 firefighters in 1992. He had been the city's transportation director, but had more than 25 years experience as a firefighter.

Sun staff writer Peter Hermann contributed to this article.

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