Though he ran on a campaign to streamline state government after years of Democratic excess, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has quietly created new high-paying positions and layers of bureaucracy that, in many cases, reward legislative allies, campaign workers and others who helped him get elected, state payroll records show.
These new positions are among hundreds of other new hires that are expected
when any administration comes into office - from Cabinet secretaries to policy
advisers and clerical staff.
World War II took control of the governor's office
and its considerable patronage powers.
"The turnover's more dramatic because they are dismissing people that
[previous Gov. Parris N.] Glendening probably didn't feel like he had to
dismiss when he took office," said James G. Gimpel, an associate professor of
government at the University of Maryland, College Park.
As of early last month, the governor had hired 124 people to state jobs
paying $70,000 or more, according to payroll records. And more are going on
the payroll with each passing week.
But beyond the expected replacements, Ehrlich is creating positions for
political allies and contributors, even as the state struggles to bring a $1
billion budget shortfall under control and as deep funding cuts to the
University System of Maryland and state agencies force administrators to
explore layoffs, unparalleled tuition increases and cutbacks in services.
Malik Rahman, a longtime Baltimore political operative who had been a paid
staffer for Ehrlich's campaign, landed a new $71,123-a-year job in the state
Housing Department to "look at options" for financing housing projects.
Three new assistant secretary positions were created in the state's
Planning Department that pay $66,884 to $80,312. The three people hired had
campaigned for Ehrlich, one as a paid campaign staff member, the others as
Tim E. Braue, a lawyer who headed President Bush's campaign in Maryland in
2000, was appointed to a new $90,270 position as special assistant to the
secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development. He said his
main responsibility initially was to coordinate the department's Preakness
events, but he also will be working to get more federal grants flowing into
the state economic development agency.
Since taking office in mid-January, Ehrlich has found work for dozens of
prominent Republican officeholders, former legislators or their wives or
relatives. Some were hired for newly created jobs; others are filling
positions that existed previously. How many have been hired into newly created
positions is difficult to determine because some agencies have been
reorganized and some jobs have been retitled.
Ehrlich's spokesman, Greg Massoni, said that the administration is proud of
its hiring decisions. In reorganizing state government to make it more
efficient, Massoni said, the administration is cutting many positions even as
it adds others.
"There are not just political thank-yous on that list," Massoni said. "It's
not business as usual. We have looked for the brightest and best and that's
who we've gone after, regardless of party affiliation."
He pointed out the appointment of people such as former Democratic Del.
Kenneth C. Montague Jr. as secretary of the Juvenile Services Department and
others to other prominent positions.
However, some appointments have had clear political overtones.
For example, a waiver was granted to circumvent an existing hiring freeze
to hire Julie S. Madden, wife of Ehrlich political adviser Martin G. Madden.
She was appointed the director of arts and community outreach in the
Department of Business and Economic Development. She was an art history major
in school, served as a trustee of Maryland Citizens for the Arts and was on
the board of the African Art Museum of Maryland in Columbia.
Massoni noted that the state's annual payroll costs overall are down "well
over $500,000" since Ehrlich assumed office, largely because many positions
are left unfilled as they become vacant. The state employs about 108,000
people, including those working for colleges and universities, and has an
annual payroll of $5.3 billion.
Government policy experts say it is normal for any new administration to
want to bring in as many of its people as it can. A new governor has to put
into key positions people who will be loyal and who can be counted on to
execute his policies, said Gimpel, the University of Maryland professor.
"Loyalty is even first over experience and competency," Gimpel said. "You
want all three, but loyalty is the first."