Confirmation hearing goes smoothly for Smith's attorney choice

June 16, 2004|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

In contrast to last year's battles over top appointments in the Baltimore County government, the executive's pick for county attorney sailed through a confirmation hearing with the County Council yesterday with a few easy questions and some friendly advice.

The only questions came from Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Ruxton Democrat who asked the nominee, Pikesville attorney Jay L. Liner, about his plans to wrap up his private practice and about a loan he and his law partner received from the county to renovate their offices.

The county attorney is the legal counsel to the County Council and executive and to department heads. Councilmen said they look forward to working with Liner, who is subject to a confirmation vote Monday, and they offered him advice.

"The county executive wants to hear what he wants to hear, and the council wants to hear what it wants to hear," said Councilman T. Bryan McIntire, a north county Republican. "I urge you to be of great strength and tell the same things to both sides. If you don't, your time here will be very sad."

In another sign that relations between the executive and legislative branches have improved over the last year, councilmen raised few objections to a proposed raise for Administrative Officer Anthony G. Marchione.

Smith's biggest early political defeat was over the $145,000 salary he promised to his first nominee for the job, Beverley Swaim-Staley.

After she withdrew from consideration, Marchione won easy confirmation and has been working for his predecessor's salary of $115,000. Smith wants to raise his wage to $125,000 on July 1 and then to $130,000 on Jan. 1. Kamenetz questioned the idea of a two-step raise, but none of the councilmen objected to the amount.

"I have no problem with his salary at $130,000," said Council Chairman Stephen G. Samuel Moxley. "He's doing a heck of a lot more than his predecessors."

At yesterday's meeting, councilmen also praised the administration for negotiating a deal to take over the Kingsley Park apartments in Essex. The council is scheduled to vote Monday on the agreement, which would cost about $2.8 million.

The council is also scheduled to vote on funding for a study of whether there is a disparity between the amount of county contracts that go to minority firms and the prevalence of minority-owned businesses in the area.

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