Director of city Parking Authority resigns

Stake in 2 garages created possible conflict of interest

July 02, 2004|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

The executive director of Baltimore's Parking Authority resigned yesterday after acknowledging that he is a minority owner of two privately held garages within walking distance of City Hall.

Jeff Sparrow, who was hired in January 2002 to modernize the city's parking facilities, including more than a dozen garages and 10,000 metered spaces, was asked to resign yesterday after his bosses - a five-member board - raised questions about potential conflicts of interest.

"I have really enjoyed my job with the Parking Authority and feel the Mayor and the Board has done a great job supporting me over these past two years," Sparrow said in a statement.

Sparrow's resignation was effective immediately, said board Chairman David W. Wallace. Sparrow's contract, worth an annual salary of $108,000, was set to expire this month.

Wallace said Sparrow achieved much at the Parking Authority, including increasing revenues by as much as $3 million during his first full year as head of the quasi-public entity.

"However," Wallace said in a written statement, "his outside business activities do not meet the high ethical-standards the Mayor, and this board, expect from public servants."

Sparrow did not disclose a 20 percent, nonvoting ownership of a 140-space garage on Gay Street near Saratoga Street when he was hired, Wallace said. Nor did he disclose it on annual financial disclosure forms. However, after someone tipped off the board and it confronted Sparrow with the information, he confirmed his partial ownership, Wallace said.

The board was talking with city attorneys about how to handle the issue when Sparrow acknowledged Wednesday in an e-mail to Wallace that he had recently purchased a 20 percent ownership in a garage on Guilford Avenue near the Hammerjacks club. "It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back," Wallace said.

Sun staff writer Matt Whittaker contributed to this article.

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