- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2006

BALTIMORE — Gov.-elect Martin O’Malley yesterday named Jeanne D. Hitchcock as appointments secretary, saying she would be involved in all hiring and firing decisions in supplanting Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s administration.

“The appointments secretary will be involved in all positions,” said Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat and the current mayor of Baltimore.

Ms. Hitchcock will be stepping into a post that has been a lightning rod for criticism under Mr. Ehrlich, the state’s first Republican governor in 36 years who lost his re-election bid last month.

Mr. Ehrlich’s appointments secretary, Lawrence J. Hogan Jr., was a central figure in an investigation by the Democrat-controlled legislature into the Ehrlich administration’s firings of state government workers appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat.

After more than a year of investigation, the Special Joint Committee on State Employee Rights and Protections said some firings may have been politically motivated and in violation of state law.

The committee recommended changes to state law to enhance protections for state workers. Criminal charges against the administration have not been pursued.

Mr. O’Malley said he will decide whom to fire and whom to retain from the Ehrlich administration based on their “competence and professionalism.”

“Our primary focuses is putting the best people we possibly can to move our government forward,” Mr. O’Malley said during a press conference at transition headquarters in the William Donald Schaefer Building in Baltimore.

“The fact that some [Ehrlich administration staffers] worked well with legislative leaders doesn’t mean there isn’t someone better out there, and it is our responsibility to search for the best person we can find,” he said.

He said Ms. Hitchcock is well-suited to help make those decisions.

“She has a deep understanding of the challenges we face in Maryland,” he said. “Her ability to build partnerships, to forge compromise and to treat every individual she speaks with dignity and respect is really the hallmark, I think, of a true public servant and professional.”

Ms. Hitchcock, who is deputy mayor for intergovernmental relations and one of the mayor’s closest advisers, is the second City Hall official tapped for a top administration job.

Last month, Mr. O’Malley named Deputy Mayor Michael R. Enright as chief of staff.

The mayor, who also has looked to past Democratic administrations for key personnel, also announced that Joseph Bryce, the chief legislative officer for Mr. Glendening, will become his senior policy and legislative adviser.

“Joe is one of the most knowledgeable and skilled professionals in Annapolis,” Mr. O’Malley said.

Lt. Gov.-elect Anthony G. Brown, Prince George’s County Democrat, also announced appointments to his office.

His longtime friend and adviser Gerard Boden, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an Army veteran, will become his chief of staff.

The lieutenant governor tapped Earl Adams Jr., a Prince George’s County lawyer, as deputy chief of staff and Dawn Flythe, the O’Malley-Brown deputy campaign manager, as director of intergovernmental affairs.

In other matters, Mr. O’Malley said his administration likely will have to make “some tough choices” with regard to the state budget and a looming structural deficit.

“There will be some revenue projections coming up again shortly which inform the structuring of that budget,” Mr. O’Malley said. “And what we all know, now that the election is over, is that there is a structural deficit that we need to address.”

Mr. O’Malley will inherit a $1.6 billion budget surplus when he enters office next month, but the state faces a projected $5.8 billion deficit over the next four years because expenditures are forecast to be higher than revenues.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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