February 1, 2023
Annapolis, US 30 F

Cohen Appoints Two

The City of Annapolis has confirmed two recent Mayoral appointments.  Both Michelle LeFurge and Eugene Peterson will be working in the Mayor’s office. We reported on Peterson’s hiring several weeks ago. Both LeFurge and Peterson were key members of the Zina Pierre campaign with LeFurge serving as Campaign Manager and Peterson serving as Treasurer.

According to Phill McGowan, the City Public Information Officer, LeFurge is a direct replacement for Murph, and Peterson is a replacement for Spencer. When asked about Spencer’s former department being eliminated in the upcoming budget, McGowan said that while the department may be eliminated, the underlying positions will not. The combined salary for LeFurge and Peterson is approximately $115,000 per year plus benefits.

The press release from City Hall follows:

Mayor Joshua J. Cohen announces the recent hiring of two appointments in the Mayor’s Office, focusing on the organizing of special events and providing constituent service. Both appointments fill existing full-time positions.

The Mayor has named Michelle LeFurge as the Special Projects and Events Coordinator and Eugene Peterson as Community Relations Specialist.

In her position, Ms. LeFurge is responsible for coordinating most city-sponsored events as well as overseeing the permitting process for events such as parades, walks and festivals. She replaces Jenelle Murph, who recently left the City to take a marketing position at ARINC.

Ms. LeFurge has 25 years of experience in program management, economic development, events planning, advocacy and campaigns in the United States and overseas. She holds a bachelor’s in philosophy from Grand Valley State College and a master’s in management and community organization from the University of Maryland. She was hired on March 7, 2010.

Among his duties, Mr. Peterson is responding to and resolving constituent issues; conducting outreach to community associations; and assessing the City’s efforts to meet the federally mandated Limited English Proficiency (LEP) needs for citizens. As the Mayor’s liaison on the Human Relations Commission, he will also work to address language access issues. Mr. Peterson fills the position left by Tony Spencer, who transferred last year to the Fire Department to serve as that agency’s Public Information Officer and Quartermaster and fill other duties. Mr. Peterson was hired on February 17, 2010.

Mr. Peterson has more than 20 years of government experience at the local, state and federal levels. After serving as director of the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission, he later worked in senior positions for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. He is serving his second term as a member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Kenyon College and a master’s in political science from the University of Washington.

Both positions are contractual and report to Gail Smith, Director of Services.

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  1. The department of Youth & Community Affairs was eliminated and replaced with what’s now called a Director of Constituent Services.

    The former Director of Youth & Community Affairs, along with his $84,138 salary was moved to the Annapolis Fire Department as a Public Information Officer. I guess Cohen thinks the AFD needs its own $90,000 PIO to make sure people change the batteries in their smoke detectors every year.

    So, for this small town of 37,000, we now have at least 4 (not counting their staff) Public Information Officers, or people who essentially serve that function.

    Phill McGowan $111,998
    Rhonda Wardlaw $67,361
    Tony Spencer $84,138
    Eugene Peterson $58,793

    Plus, there’s another in the Police Department (salary unknown) who is also essentially a PIO, bringing the count to 5.

    Consequently, we’ve got a combined PIO salary of almost $400,000 to make sure the City can effectively communicate that they’re broke.

  2. Bob–

    Just a few corrections/clarifications.
    Spencer is not making $90K
    There is no PIO for the police department. Ray Weaver was a contracted position and when he left in June2010, his duties were assumed by Major Baker and just recently by Sgt. Nelson. But this does bring up the question why the FD needs a dedicated PIO and the police do not. I would assume the police have many more “newsworthy” calls in a year.

    Gail Smith is the Director of Community OUtreach. I am not sure if this is a new position created by the Mayor when he came into office (I believe so), but both LeFurge and Peterson report to Gail Smith who reports to the Mayor. I also believe that the grants coordinator (Lynn Farrow) and Hillary Raftwich (sp) also fall under the wing of Smith.

    So in terms of the PIO, you have three. Of course plus whatever staff falls under their guise–I assume the COATV folks

  3. In an email to me on 3/22, Phill told me that Tony Spencer’s salary was $69,487, $84,138 with benefits. Then you also have to include the retirement costs associated with Moyer’s $42,000,000 unfunded retirement program created in 2002. So, I think it’s pretty accurate to say that Spencer is around $90k.

    Neither the AFD or the APD need a PIO. I’d love to follow someone like Spencer around all day and see exactly what he does for $84 grand.

  4. Taxpayers pay for the benefits too!

    It’s a typical response when asking the City what people cost to forget that small detail. The unions also frequently fail to add that. I’m still not sure it’s all in there. According to Arnett, you need to add 30% to the typical City salary to accomodate the benefits.

  5. “assessing the City’s efforts to meet the federally mandated Limited English Proficiency (LEP) needs for citizens”

    So, Mr. Peterson, who worked for the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, was hired primarily to do what’s noted above?

    I thought the city was broke, but they must be rolling in dough, if we believe there is enough money to promote an obscure Federal program.

    Or, is it about “political” outreach to Annapolis’ exploding Hispanic population. Hmmmm, I wonder.

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