- The Washington Times - Friday, September 28, 2007

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Maryland Stadium Authority’s board of directors yesterday fired Alison L. Asti as executive director and general counsel of the embattled agency, one day after the state attorney general’s Office said it would recommend against approving the terms of her resignation.

Miss Asti agreed to resign last week after her attorney, Andrew D. Levy, and the board negotiated a settlement of her contract, which runs through 2010 and includes a clause calling for her to stay on as general counsel even if she is removed as executive director. The attorney general’s office has said that clause is invalid.

Mr. Levy said the settlement would have been worth $400,000, a figure that included $63,000 in unpaid vacation. Miss Asti’s contract was worth more than $1 million.

The board voted unanimously to accept the settlement. But it was subject to approval by the three-member Board of Public Works, which includes Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Deputy Attorney General John B. Howard wrote in an e-mail to stadium authority board members that the attorney general’s office would not recommend approval of a settlement worth more than $257,000 — equal to Miss Asti’s annual base salary.

“As an independent party, we did not believe that it was in the best interest of the state to recommend this to the board,” said Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office. Miss Guillory declined to comment on why the office thought the settlement was unsatisfactory.

With the settlement apparently off the table, the stadium authority board voted 4-2 to fire Miss Asti after a closed session yesterday. Miss Asti and stadium authority chairman Frederick W. Puddester did not immediately return telephone calls after the meeting.

Board member Dennis B. Mather, an Asti supporter, wrote a strongly worded response to Mr. Howard’s e-mail — obtained by the Associated Press — in which he called for the attorney general’s office to recommend approval of the settlement and said the office did not have the authority to change the amount.

“I will not vote to dismiss Alison for one dime less,” Mr. Mather wrote. He concluded: “Let’s do the right thing and end this embarrassing circus.”

Mr. Mather did not return a call seeking comment after yesterday’s meeting.

Miss Asti has said that she thinks Mr. O’Malley wanted to remove her for political reasons, an assertion that the governor’s spokesman dismissed as “baseless.”

Miss Asti began working for the authority in 1987 as a private lawyer and has served as its general counsel since 1994. She took over as executive director in 2004 when Richard W. Slosson resigned after a highly critical state audit.

Another audit, published in February, found additional problems, including a $42,000 payment to Mr. Slosson for less than an hour of consulting work.

While the payment to Mr. Slosson was approved before Miss Asti became executive director, Mr. O’Malley said after the audit was released that it provided “an opportunity to stir things up on the stadium authority and put in new leadership.”

Established in 1986, the authority manages Oriole Park at Camden Yards; M&T; Bank Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens play; and more than a dozen other facilities around the state, including convention centers and other entertainment venues.

Six board members are appointed by the governor to staggered four-year terms, while the seventh is appointed by the mayor of Baltimore.

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