Ambridge begins working as Balto. Co. consultant

Fired from city job in Jan., he will evaluate land for Ruppersberger

March 14, 2001|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

Anthony J. Ambridge, the Baltimore city real estate officer fired in January in a move viewed as political retribution, has accepted a $25,000 consulting position with Baltimore County.

"We're lucky to have Tony. Trust me. He knows real estate," said Robert J. Barrett, a special assistant to Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger who contacted Ambridge within hours of his termination.

Ambridge, 50, began work this week and will bill the county $50 an hour for special projects. His assignments will include the evaluation of real estate in areas the county has targeted for revitalization, including Essex-Middle River and Yorkway in Dundalk. Both neighborhoods were singled out last year in Senate Bill 509, the Ruppersberger development initiative that failed at the ballot box because of opposition to its allowing expanded condemnation authority.

"Dutch has some real positive vision," Ambridge said. "He knows what direction he wants things to go in, and I want to help him."

Ambridge was a 2nd District city councilman from 1983 to 1995 and since 1996 had held a $79,000-a-year position managing city-owned buildings and negotiating leases for city agencies.

In January, he was fired by Comptroller Joan M. Pratt. Political observers speculated that the move stemmed from friction between Ambridge and Julius Henson, Pratt's campaign manager. Henson had asked Ambridge to enter the 1999 mayor's race in an apparent effort to draw white votes away from from eventual winner Martin O'Malley, according to City Hall sources. Ambridge did not run.

A certified real estate appraiser, Ambridge said he has done private consulting and volunteer assignments for the O'Malley administration since his firing.

Because the consulting deal will not exceed $25,000, it does not need approval of the County Council, Barrett said.

"I'm hoping he likes what he is doing, and we could offer him a job at the end," he said.

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