By CHRIS YAKAITIS, Capital News Service
BALTIMORE - In the first of many expected appointments, Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley named his running mate, Anthony Brown, as the chair of his transition committee Thursday as the Baltimore mayor began preparing for the move to Annapolis.
O'Malley said that with his military background, Brown, a member of the House of Delegates from Prince George's county who served as an Army reservist in Iraq in 2005, would bring a "very good understanding of organization and also a more linear thought process than some of us that have not had the benefit of that training."
Brown said he had already spoken with Chip DePaula, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich's chief of staff, for a "short period of time" about replacing the Ehrlich administration. "We just talked about the need for an orderly and efficient transition," he said.
At a press conference at City Hall Thursday afternoon, O'Malley also named Baltimore City Solicitor Ralph S. Tyler as the O'Malley-Brown Transition Committee executive director. He told reporters to expect a broader list of committee members next week.
O'Malley repeatedly said his administration would be recruiting "the most capable and competent people we can find," but suggested he would not clean house as thoroughly as Ehrlich is accused of doing when he took office in 2002.
"What we're going after is professional people, regardless of party, to step up and take leadership roles in the government," he said. "People who are there and doing their jobs, they just need to continue doing their jobs."
However, he pointedly did not include the Public Service Commission as one of the agencies he felt was doing its job.
"I would like to press, consistent with what we said in the campaign, that we have a new Public Service Commission, and we will very shortly," he said. "But it is consistent with the drive to find more professional people. There were few agencies that failed quite so badly as the Public Service Commission."
O'Malley declined to comment on his plans for State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick, who publicly sided with Ehrlich in the campaign.
"I haven't had any conversations with her," he said, "for about a year and a half."
O'Malley said Baltimore residents didn't need to worry about a wholesale transplant of City Hall administrators to Annapolis because his performance-based assessment programs had become ingrained in many city departments.
"While some of the people at the very top of some of the departments may indeed be applying as part of this process to play a leadership role in Annapolis, there is a much stronger farm team throughout the bureaucracies that are steeped in performance measurement management," he said. "There are much better supervisors and managers than there were four years ago."
As he prepares for the transition to the Governor's Office, O'Malley said he's fully committed to helping Baltimore City Council President Sheila Dixon prepare for her own transition to his vacated mayor's office.
"We are also coordinating with Council President Dixon to do everything that we can so that she has an orderly and smooth transition too," O'Malley said. "I'm going to be making time for both of those transitions."
Dixon is set to complete the remainder of O'Malley term as mayor, which is scheduled to expire next year. Asked if he would endorse Dixon's candidacy for mayor in 2007, O'Malley was deliberately evasive.
"I'm certainly going to do everything in power to make her the best mayor she can possibly be," he said, grinning slightly.