Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr.'s last four nominees for top county posts slid through their confirmation hearings yesterday with no tough questions from the County Council, suggesting six months of often testy relations over the executive's appointees may soon come to a close.
Smith's first pick for the county's No. 2 post withdrew her name from consideration rather than face a nasty confirmation hearing. But yesterday, when the County Council interviewed the executive's new nominee, former Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione, the toughest question they asked was how the job would affect his golf game.
In addition to Marchione, the council interviewed Barry Williams, 49, the former Randallstown High School principal, for director of employment and training; Theresa Stokes Hill, a longtime human resources professional in the private sector, for director of human resources; and Deputy Zoning Commissioner Timothy M. Kotroco for director of permits and development management.
None of the four interviews lasted longer than 10 minutes.
Marchione, 71, who retired three years ago as superintendent of Baltimore County schools, said he would like to serve as county administrative officer as long as he is needed and looks forward to coordinating the activities of county department heads.
Council Chairman Kevin Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Ruxton Democrat, said Marchione met all the criteria that Smith's previous pick, former Maryland Transportation Department official Beverley Swaim-Staley, did not. He lives in the county, is familiar with the county government and is well-known to the executive and members of the council.
"We look forward to a good working relationship if you are approved," Kamenetz said.
Intent to change
Council members asked the other nominees whether they had any plans to change their departments if they are confirmed. All said they would like first to study the operations before making changes.
"I can't foresee changes at this point. I would spend the bulk of my time getting to know how things work," said Stokes Hill, 47. "A lot of things work very well."
Kotroco, 42, is Smith's second announced pick for the permits and development management job. He had previously said he would nominate Zoning Commissioner Lawrence E. Schmidt, but he changed his mind amid complaints from community activists that Schmidt is too pro-development.
Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall-Towson Democrat, asked whether Kotroco would be willing to re-evaluate the permits position, which he said under current director Arnold Jablon has been granted excessive authority in deciding development issues.
Although Kotroco was careful with his answer - Jablon was in the room at the time - he suggested that he would do things differently.
"I think it should be reviewed," Kotroco said. "The way decision-making has occurred has not been by design but a function of his experience and personality. It may not be my particular style or my way of doing it."
The council is set to vote on Smith's nominees Monday.