Quick tour of duty for real estate officer

Hubble yearns to return to his private business

May 23, 2001|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

For the second time in just over four months, Comptroller Joan M. Pratt needs a real estate officer.

Acting Real Estate Officer John D. Hubble, hired in early January to replace Anthony J. Ambridge, said yesterday that he will leave June 30.

"I just want to get back in the private sector," said Hubble, whose business includes buying and selling properties, and whose wife and daughter are well-known real estate agents in the Baltimore area. "I don't even go in my [private] office. I go in my office maybe once or twice [a week] after work, at 4:30."

Hubble said leaving was his idea. Pratt tapped him for the job after abruptly firing Ambridge, a dismissal protested by some officials who said Ambridge had saved the city millions of dollars.

Hubble said he believes he's saved the city money by discouraging real estate deals in which the city sells property for a dollar or leases it for a dollar a year.

"Everything we have done has been fair-market value," said Hubble, who is paid $75,700 a year.

Pratt could not be reached for comment last night.

Hubble has a long career in real estate development. The last time he left public office, a quarter-century ago, it was under a cloud related to that work.

In September 1976, he resigned as clerk of Circuit Court No. 2, a post to which he had been elected twice, in a deal struck with a prosecutor to avoid indictment for neglecting his duties. That resignation came after public scrutiny of allegations that he had spent his time and the resources of his office on his real estate dealings.

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