Former partnership head to stay as deputy mayor

Laurie Schwartz says job helps her build on commitment to city

July 08, 2000|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Former Downtown Partnership President Laurie Schwartz said yesterday she will remain as a deputy mayor in the administration of Mayor Martin O'Malley.

Schwartz, 47, joined O'Malley's Cabinet as the acting deputy mayor for economic and neighborhood development after his December inauguration. Earlier, she served as co-coordinator of his transition committee after his September Democratic primary win.

She has been on loan from the partnership, a downtown organization composed of 400 businesses, which has paid her City Hall salary for the past six months.

O'Malley has not set a salary for Schwartz but recently said that he expects it to be close to the upper tier of the new deputy mayor pay scale, which climbs to $140,000 a year.

Schwartz, an urban planner in the Department of Housing and Community Development under former Mayor William Donald Schaefer, will be taking a pay cut to remain at City Hall, she said yesterday. But she called the job an opportunity to expand her horizons.

"I was happy at the partnership; I wasn't looking for a job," Schwartz said. "But it allows me to build on my commitment to the city."

Schwartz will be succeeded at the partnership by Michele L. Whelley, interim president and former executive vice president of the organization. Whelley, 46, is a former vice president with the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's quasi-public economic development arm.

In addition to coordinating contact with its membership, the partnership president manages a staff of about 100 employees. Its $5 million annual budget is mostly funded by annual membership dues ranging from $300 for smaller companies to $50,000 for the city's largest corporations in the 200-square-block partnership zone, which is bordered roughly by Key Highway, the Jones Falls Expressway, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and West North Avenue.

Whelley said the partnership views the transition as a natural progression for both women.

"I think it's going to be good for both of us," Whelley said. "It's not like I'm going into a situation that I'm not comfortable with, and I think it's good for the city to have Laurie at City Hall."

O'Malley was out of town yesterday on vacation but has called Schwartz a "tenacious" champion for city issues who turned the Downtown Partnership into a "model of urban advocacy."

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