Smith won't move up hearings on nominee for administrative post

February 12, 2003|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Although Baltimore County's No. 2 official is headed for a job in the Ehrlich administration, County Executive James T. Smith Jr. said yesterday that he does not plan to accelerate the confirmation hearings for Beverley Swaim-Staley, his politically embattled nominee for the post.

County Administrative Officer John Wasilisin's term ends May 31, but Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced yesterday that Wasilisin will become deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, effective March 3.

Smith announced last month that he would be nominating Swaim-Staley, a veteran administrator from the Maryland Department of Transportation, to the job, which resembles that of a city manager, when Wasilisin's term expired.

But rather than submit Swaim-Staley for confirmation now, Smith said yesterday that Fred Homan, county budget and finance director, will serve out the remainder of Wasilisin's term.

Last week, the County Council voted down a resolution authorizing an increase in the administrative officer's pay to reflect the $140,000 salary Smith promised Swaim-Staley, and councilmen have indicated that the executive will have difficulty swaying one vote on that measure, much less the two he needs for it to pass.

Moreover, three councilmen - enough to block confirmation - have raised questions about whether Swaim-Staley has the right personality for the job.

Smith spokeswoman Elise Armacost said yesterday that Smith has known Wasilisin was looking for other jobs and always planned for Homan to take over if he left early.

"It has always been the intention that [Swaim-Staley] would continue working as a senior assistant," Armacost said.

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