O'Malley says he rues sweet deal for Norris

Ex-commissioner getting a fat severance package

January 24, 2003|By Del Quentin Wilber and Jamie Stiehm | Del Quentin Wilber and Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

On the eve of announcing that a New York police commander will be the city's next top police officer, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley said last night that he regretted what he characterized as a "sweetheart" severance package given to former Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris.

Kevin P. Clark is expected to be introduced as the new commissioner today, sources close to the mayor said.

O'Malley's comments regarding Norris were further evidence of increasing strains in the once warm relationship between the mayor and his former commissioner, whose three-year tenure in the job ended last month when he joined the Maryland State Police as superintendent.

Upon leaving the department, Norris received a $137,000 severance payment and will earn $6,850 a year for life.

"In retrospect, I'd structure it differently than I did," O'Malley said. "Chalk it up to a young mayor's inexperience."

City Councilman Bernard C. "Jack" Young recently introduced a proposal that would prevent any department head from getting a similar pension deal.

"There were a lot of council members who cast tough votes to confirm and then reconfirm Norris, and they understandably feel like we got yahoo'ed by this out-of-towner," O'Malley said last week. "Define yahoo'ed as `to be fleeced and taken advantage of.'"

O'Malley also quipped yesterday that Norris disrupted his planned roll-out of Clark.

Norris, who urged O'Malley to consider Clark as a potential successor, praised the New York commander in television interviews yesterday.

"If Commissioner Norris wants to muck [today's announcement] up for me, that's his choice," O'Malley said.

Sun staff writer Doug Donovan contributed to this article.

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