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Cabinet Choices: Slowly but Surely


Six days before he takes office, Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley is announcing two more nominees today: a health-care policy expert popular with lawmakers and a top environmental official from the previous Democratic administration.

The announcements of John M. Colmers as secretary of health and mental hygiene and Shari T. Wilson as secretary of environment will bring to five the number of posts O'Malley has filled in his Cabinet of about 20 members. Both jobs require Senate confirmation.

Word of Colmers's selection, which spread through the State House yesterday as the General Assembly opened its 90-day session, was greeted enthusiastically by senior lawmakers. He would take over a sprawling agency with a $7.billion budget that includes oversight of the state's Medicaid program.

Colmers, a Baltimore resident, is senior program officer for the Milbank Memorial Fund, a New York-based philanthropic organization that works with policymakers nationally to improve health care. He also has been a board member of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and chairman of the board of CareFirst of Maryland.

Colmers came to know members of the General Assembly through earlier work as executive director of the Maryland Health Care Commission, an independent state agency that plans and develops policy for the health-care system, and as executive director of the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission, which approves rates for hospitals.

"John Colmers is probably the best pick that Governor-elect O'Malley could have made for that position," said House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), who worked closely with Colmers while a committee chairman in the House.

Wilson, whose pick was praised by environmentalists late yesterday, is being nominated to lead a department in which she worked as director of policy management during the administration of Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D). The agency, which has a budget of about $200.million, oversees environmental regulation and enforcement.

More recently, Wilson has worked as a lawyer for the City of Baltimore, representing agencies on environmental and land-use issues.

Dru Schmidt-Perkins, executive director of 1000 Friends of Maryland, a statewide environmental group, called Wilson "an exciting pick."

"It kind of came out of the blue, but it makes complete sense," Schmidt-Perkins said, citing Wilson's background on environmental and "smart growth" issues.

John Wagner

By Phyllis Jordan  |  January 11, 2007; 6:27 AM ET
Categories:  Governor  
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Goodness, what an exceptionally talented Cabinet O'Malley is assembling, shades of the Herbert Hoover administration.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

why does this link to the "closing and delays" icon on the metor page? fix it!

Posted by: pissed | January 22, 2007 6:39 AM | Report abuse

There's no link on this posting. Can you be more specific and we'll fix.

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | January 22, 2007 7:46 AM | Report abuse

pissed was referring to the link/picture for school delays/closings landing on this maryland politics page. i'm not as upset as pissed as much as annoyed.

Posted by: sylvia.brown | January 22, 2007 8:00 AM | Report abuse

on the metro front page, there is a link for closings and delays... when clicked, we are directed to this page instead.

Posted by: jan | January 22, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse

And now it's two hours later, you still haven't fixed it, and no one has commented on the O'Malley piece.

Posted by: pissed | January 22, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Give me a break. I had to take two kids to school and drive to work. I'll fix it now.

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | January 22, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Phyllis -- your professionalism astounds me.

Posted by: pissed | January 22, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

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