An `unsung hero' is honored by city

Kagan has been instrumental in real estate deals

December 14, 2006|By Doug Donovan | Doug Donovan,Sun reporter

When Richard E. Kagan began working as an attorney in Baltimore's City Hall in 1977, he asked a fellow lawyer where to get a good haircut. The colleague demanded that they leave work immediately to go to the city's best barbershop.

"But we're on city time," Kagan recounted yesterday. "He said, `It doesn't matter. Your hair grew on city time.'"

Once at the barbershop, his friend recognized a man getting a haircut as Richard A. Lidinsky Sr., Baltimore's deputy comptroller at the time.

"He said, `Let's leave,'" Kagan said. "Then, a couple weeks later, Mr. Lidinsky sees me and calls me over. ... He said, `Do me a favor. You know I work with [Comptroller] Hyman Pressman. Please don't tell him you saw me" at the barbershop.

Twenty-nine years later (despite the truant trim), Kagan won an award named for Lidinsky. And Mayor Martin O'Malley praised him yesterday as a model public servant at a City Hall ceremony.

"He's one of the great unsung heroes of Baltimore's comeback," O'Malley said.

Kagan, 56, leads the Law Department's corporate and real estate division and has been instrumental in real estate deals involving public financing, including the convention center hotel and parkland leased from the University of Baltimore, O'Malley said.

Kagan, a married father of six, praised the mayor and his boss, Solicitor Ralph S. Tyler, for fostering and rewarding innovative efforts to complete public projects.

"I think it's very important that city employees get recognition," Kagan said.

Kagan, a native of North Miami Beach, Fla., moved to Baltimore to attend the University of Baltimore School of Law.

O'Malley created the $1,000 award in 2004 to honor Lidinsky, who spent 28 years as deputy city comptroller and clerk to the Board of Estimates under eight mayors.

Lidinsky's wife and children attended yesterday's ceremony, during which $500 runner-up awards were presented to Lisa Veale, a Commission on Aging and Retirement Education employee, and William Stack, the city's water quality chief.

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