6 People To Not Sweep Out Of Annapolis City Hall

| November 13, 2013 | 1 Comment

sweepingAnnapolis Mayor-Elect Mike Pantelides campaigned on a platform of sweeping Annapolis clean and I have no doubt that he will do just that. City Hall has been bloated for some time and there really is a need to pare down the rank and file.  But Mike (to be known in shorthand as MiPa) might not need as big a broom as he thought. I just confirmed that there are now only 26 appointed positions within the City at this point. Many of the appointees in the Moyer  and Cohen administration have been converted to employees (paybacks are great if you can get ’em) and MiPa may find it a bit more challenging than anticipated to sweep these folks out.

And MiPa needs to proceed with caution because, quite frankly, there are some exceptional people who have been appointed by either Cohen or Moyer who would continue to be an asset to the City and the citizens of Annapolis. Unless Pantelides has some qualified people in his back pocket, I might suggest that these six be given a hard look for retention.

David Jarrell, Director of Public Works

Jarrell is not a crony. He was hired as a result of a national search and comes to Annapolis from San Diego. San Diego is a much larger city with many more complex public works issues than face Annapolis.  He is well qualified and has shown his professionalism time and time again as he was somewhat handcuffed by policy. Jarrell oversaw the re-re-re-renovation of the Market House, is coordinating the replacement of the water plant, handily took care of the recent resurfacing (yes there is plenty more to do there), and is accessible to citizens and their concerns. The Council voted to eliminate leave vacuuming and reduce/outsource trash pick up and Jarrell has been doing a great job managing what the Council gave him. But, take a look at the department, there may be some dead wood laying around!

Richard Newell, Director of Transportation

While the transportation department needs to be overhauled, the current Director is likely the right man for the job. Under Newell’s watch, the routes were tweaked to improve on-time performance, repairs were made (and loaner buses were secured), a circulator was established, and for the most part, the drivers and employees get excellent marks from the public. Newell is a guy who started out in the trenches, and despite a few setbacks has proven himself in Baltimore and now in Annapolis. As the regional transportation initiative begins to take shape (and we hear that is very close), Newell’s knowledge will be invaluable.

Brian Woodward, Director of Parks & Recreation

This is another department that is getting excellent reviews by the public. Like it or not, the Roger “Pip” Moyer Recreation Center is a very well run, and self sustaining facility which sets Annapolis apart from the crowd. We are lucky to have it. The recreational programs for kids throughout the year and especially in summer consistently earn high marks. Granted, the swimming pool situation is challenging, but you get that with an older facility–just look at the water plant.  MiPa would also do well to scour the budget of this department. It is very well funded and historically money for “pet projects” is stashed there. I am not sure if any of the Annapolis 300 money is still there–or if the truth will ever come out about that fiasco, but MiPa needs to put away the broom here and trade it in for a fine toothed comb.

Chief David Stokes, Fire Chief

ISO rating…reduced response times…national recognition…equipment acquisition on a shoestring budget. There is nothing that Stokes has done that can even be remotely looked upon as detrimental to the department. Morale is up (well, of course they just got a new agreement with a DROP clause) and we are fortunate to have a well run department in the City. Can we merge it with the County? Maybe, but there are some inherent risks associated with that–notably a reduced response time. And if it is ever to be a serious consideration, it should be after all historic buildings (can you say tinderbox?) in the Historic District are sprinklered. Imagine the devastation if the India’s or Zachary’s fires did not have the response they did.

Paul Rensted, Director of Human Relations

Another non-crony. Rensted is well-regarded among employees and administration alike. In the past, disputes were usually handled with a suit filed against the City. Employees are now comfortable enough to give Paul the first shot at a resolution to whatever workplace issue may come up. That speaks volumes. He is in charge of hiring and firing (and managing to a degree) all of the civil servants and this is not a political position, while still appointed.

Rhonda Wardlaw, Public Information Officer

Wardlaw has worked as PIO for republicans and democrats in the city and county.  She served under Janet Owens, John Leopold (sorry to bring it up again), Ellen Moyer, and most recently Cohen. In fact, when Cohen’s first choice for PIO left in the beginning of the term, Wardlaw was brought back to do the job. She is incredibly responsive, fair, and measured. With MiPa looking at a contentious 4 years ahead of him, someone versed in crisis management will be an asset and should not be left for someone to learn on the job. When Rush Limbaugh comes calling because of the boneheaded comment from Ross Arnett, you need someone that will put the best face of Annapolis forward on the national level. We are a capital city, not Mayberry.

Without a doubt there is some a lot of dead wood in the City. Without a doubt, Mayor-Elect Pantelides needs to have trusted advisors in place to guide the City through what looks to be a challenging four years fraught with opposition at every turn.  He has promised the voters many things to get elected and will now need to see if he can un-do much of the work of current Mayor Josh Cohen. He is unable to legislate unilaterally and will need the support of the council to implement many campaign promises. Will that support be easy? Based on the shot Arnett fired across the bow of the SS Pantelides, probably not. From a political perspective a true “clean sweep” might do more harm than good.  Just some food for thought.

 

 

 

 

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Category: OPINION, POLITICAL NEWS

About the Author - John Frenaye

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news–and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009.

John’s background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.

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