Tuesday, September 22, 2009

MoCo Nearly Shut Out of O’Malley Cabinet (Updated)

The Governor’s announcements of Beverley Swaim-Staley as the new Secretary of Transportation, Edward J. Chow, Jr. as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Alex Sanchez as the new Secretary of Labor, Licensing & Regulation cement one reality not reported in the mainstream media: Montgomery County has been almost totally excluded from the Cabinet.

Maryland’s Executive Branch contains twenty Departments. Here are their Secretaries as well as their residence and experience.

Only three Cabinet Members have any connection to Montgomery County. Thelma Eloise Foster, the Secretary of Budget & Management, is a Silver Spring resident. But her work experience is in state government and the University of Maryland Baltimore rather than in any Montgomery-specific position. Beverley Swaim-Staley lives in Anne Arundel County but served as the Director of Montgomery County’s Office of Management and Budget in Doug Duncan’s last term. Secretary of Natural Resources John R. Griffin, an Anne Arundel County resident and Glendening Cabinet Member, ran WSSC for five years before getting run out of his job after an ugly dispute over minority contracting.

In contrast, ten Secretaries – or half of the Governor’s Cabinet – live in Baltimore City or Baltimore County. At least four Secretaries have served in the Baltimore City or County local governments. No Secretaries live in the Eastern Shore or Western Maryland and only one lives in Southern Maryland (Agriculture Secretary Earl F. Hance).

The Governor’s pick of United Way executive Alex Sanchez to succeed Tom Perez at Labor rankles not just because he is a resident of Virginia. It is also troubling because Sanchez’s chief rival for the position was Takoma Park resident Holly Fechner, a former staffer for U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and a former attorney for the AFL-CIO. That experience makes Fechner FAR more qualified to serve at Labor than Sanchez. It also would have given Montgomery County a Cabinet position to replace Perez and former Business & Economic Development Secretary David Edgerley. And Sanchez is not the only non-Marylander to serve in the Governor’s Cabinet. Chow is a resident of Washington, D.C.

Montgomery County is the largest jurisdiction in the state and is the uncontested Economic Engine of Maryland. But apparently, almost none of its public servants are qualified to serve the Governor of Baltimore.

Update: One source reminds us that there are three additional Cabinet Members who do not run state departments: Secretary of State John P. McDonough, Secretary of Higher Education James E. Lyons Sr. and Adjutant General James A. Adkins. Their residences are Prince George’s County, Prince George’s County and Dorchester County, respectively. McDonough won the Secretary of State position over Kensington Mayor Pete Fosselman, one of the very tiny number of MoCo electeds who supported O’Malley over Doug Duncan in the 2006 primary.