Housing Authority official leaves post

Graziano expresses dissatisfaction with condition of city's sites

2 other employees let go

January 12, 2002|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Noting his dissatisfaction with the conditions of Baltimore's public housing, Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano said yesterday that the official responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations at the city Housing Authority is leaving his post.

Officials also confirmed that two additional housing employees have received layoff notices. One is responsible for selling city property to developers and the other is Graziano's driver.

Graziano said the staff departures are not a sign of a shake-up within the housing department, which has been roundly criticized by federal officials and business leaders.

"I generally have a lot of faith in my staff. That doesn't mean I can't make individual judgments and adjustments," Graziano said in an interview.

He said there has been "a separation of employment" with Charles Gaskins, the associate deputy director for public housing operations at the Housing Authority. Gaskins, a seven-year veteran who earned $88,671 a year, was responsible for maintaining the city's public housing sites.

"Let me just say that I am not pleased with the condition of the city's public housing and I think the public would agree that the conditions in public housing in this city are not where they need to be," Graziano said.

Gaskins did not return calls seeking comment.

Also let go are Walter Horton, development administrator for the Department of Housing and Community Development, and Louis Anderson, Graziano's driver.

Horton, 50, said he had just received a letter stating that his position was being abolished effective Jan. 25 because of budget cuts. The 27-year-veteran said he believed he was being squeezed out, noting that new positions were being created at the same time. Two weeks ago he was offered a job in the department that paid far less than his $69,600 salary.

"I believe that in all honesty they believe that I am associated with the previous administration," Horton said.

Graziano at first declined to confirm he had laid off Horton, saying, "As of now, he is an employee."

Later his staff acknowledged that Horton was being dismissed, as well as Graziano's driver.

Otis Rolley, first deputy housing commissioner, said changes to Horton's office began last year after it was criticized for inefficiency. The decision to lay Horton off had nothing to do with ties to the past administration, he said.

"It's more of a managerial action, recognizing the skills and talents of your players and putting them in the right place," Rolley said of Horton.

Of Anderson, Graziano's driver, Rolley said: "The commissioner doesn't feel he should be chauffeured anywhere."

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