Policy on city workers started

Lead-paint unit staff must report property they own

December 19, 2003|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

The city Health Department has implemented a disclosure policy for employees in its lead-paint division that requires them to report properties they own, Health Commissioner Dr. Peter L. Beilenson said yesterday.

And the department is considering a broader policy that would forbid lead-paint inspectors from owning rental property in the city.

"There's already a precedent for this," Beilenson said. "Housing inspectors are not allowed to own [rental] property in the city, according to ethics guidelines. We're considering doing the same for lead inspectors, but only in the city. For instance, you could own property in Harford County."

The new rule comes in the wake of the firing last week of lead inspector Ali Sardarizadeh, who has been fined more than $100,000 by the Maryland Department of the Environment for failing to address lead violations at four rental properties - violations that date to 1998. MDE officials say Sardarizadeh owns at least four city houses - in the 300 block of Whitridge Ave.; 1800 block of Asquith St.; 1800 block of Wilhelm St.; and 800 block of McCabe Ave.

Sardarizadeh, 47, of the 4200 block of Mary Ave., was a licensed inspector with the department's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program - responsible for reviewing properties for violations and citing landlords who fail to adhere to the state's tough lead laws. They require owners of rental properties constructed before 1950 to reduce lead-hazard risks.

Since he was fined Dec. 2, city Health Department officials have linked 26 rental properties to Sardarizadeh or companies with which he is affiliated, and say he purchased three of the homes after inspecting them.

Beilenson said he didn't know whether Sardarizadeh would be replaced. "Most of his funding, I believe, is state funding, so it's not frozen. We'll take a look at the impact and whether we might want to have someone fill in for his position or another position in the lead division," he said.

Sardarizadeh was paid just less than $30,000.

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