City Council president replaces budget chairman

Dixon appoints colleague who is politically friendly

April 01, 2004|By Doug Donovan | Doug Donovan,SUN STAFF

City Council President Sheila Dixon removed Councilman Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. from his chairmanship of the Budget and Appropriations Committee and appointed a more politically friendly colleague to the post yesterday.

Dixon said in a statement that she was exercising her prerogative as council president in replacing D'Adamo with Councilwoman Stephanie C. Rawlings Blake, who had been the committee vice chairwoman. Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. was named to Rawlings Blake's former position.

D'Adamo said Dixon was retaliating against him for being the only council member to vote against the city's $42 million loan to Baltimore's public school system last month and for being politically allied with Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. The entire council is Democratic.

"It's all about control," D'Adamo said of Dixon's move. He said Dixon called and told him of her decision yesterday but gave him no reason.

Rawlings Blake, an ally of Dixon and Mayor Martin O'Malley, declined to comment, saying only that chairman appointments are Dixon's decisions.

The position's power rests in scheduling hearings and in controlling when and if spending bills advance out of committee to the full council for a vote.

Tensions between Dixon and D'Adamo surfaced this week at Monday's council meeting after Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector criticized D'Adamo for scheduling annual budget hearings in the evening. Spector said night hearings increase costs by forcing city employees who attend to charge overtime. She also said D'Adamo was too preoccupied with his job with the state police, a position given to him by Ehrlich.

D'Adamo responded by blowing an air kiss at Spector. He said that many council members have day jobs and that night meetings enable them and working residents to attend.

"I like fights," D'Adamo said.

At one point during D'Adamo's statements, Dixon banged her gavel and told him to maintain more decorum. She also said D'Adamo should allow Rawlings Blake to take on some of the load of the budget hearings, which are held in May.

D'Adamo said he had been the committee chairman for seven years. He also said many council members do not attend the hearings whether they are held during the day or evening

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