Longtime city official assigned to new job

Goetzke to advise mayor on emergency issues

Annapolis

February 20, 2003|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

After serving a decade as Annapolis' city attorney, Paul G. Goetzke is taking on a new job in City Hall as special counsel to the mayor dealing specifically with emergency management and homeland security issues.

Goetzke, 42, was assigned the new role after an emergency management meeting last week, Mayor Ellen O. Moyer said.

Assistant City Attorney Shaem Spencer, who joined the city in May, will become acting city attorney, taking over Goetzke's role at city council meetings, among other duties.

"There are a lot of [legal] issues that municipalities and local governments have not thought of ... arising from homeland security," Moyer said yesterday.

Goetzke, whose salary will remain about $91,000, said he will coordinate public safety responses with the school system and the Naval Academy and work on other issues of emergency preparedness.

"The new laws that govern emergency response, both federal and state, are complicated, but ultimately it will be the municipalities that respond to these emergencies," Goetzke said. "At the mayor's request, I will be spending time with her to develop what will be cutting-edge policies to ensure that Annapolis is not only safe but ready to respond in these situations."

Annapolis has been seen as a possible target of a terrorism not only for its status as the state capital, but also because of its proximity to Washington and the presence of the Naval Academy, Goetzke said. But his duties will also extend to natural emergencies, such as this week's historic snowstorm, for which he prepared last-minute snow removal contracts, he said.

Moyer said she does not know if or when she will appoint someone permanently as city attorney but said she does not see Goetzke's new assignment as temporary. She described the challenges before him as "much bigger than most of us imagine."

Goetzke said he views the new position as a "lateral move" and welcomes the change of pace after serving in the same role under three mayors.

"I've run the Office of Law as the city attorney for 10 years, and it can be very exhausting, and this offers new and different issues," Goetzke said.

Both Goetzke and the mayor brushed off the suggestion that the change comes from their previous political differences: Goetzke is a former Republican, while Moyer is a longtime Democrat.

Moyer said those differences were "not a factor" in the decision to reassign Goetzke, despite speculation since her election that she would replace him with her own appointee.

"We work well together," she said of Goetzke. "I trust his judgment, I trust his advice."

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