Pension Offer Draws Ire
[Post staff writer Eric Rich contributed this item from his story in today's paper]
Just days after he was sworn into office, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) named Marcus Brown, a deputy police commissioner in Baltimore, to serve in one of Maryland's most senior law enforcement positions.
In recent days, the arrangement under which Brown left city service to follow his political patron, becoming the police chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority, has drawn intense scrutiny. At issue is a pension Brown received despite having worked for the city for fewer than the customary 20 years.
At age 42, with less than 15 years in Baltimore and credit for three in San Jose, Brown was awarded an annual pension from the city of more than $55,000. He took advantage of a relatively obscure provision in the city code -- the meaning of which has been much debated -- that allows an employee with between 15 and 20 years of service to collect a pension if he is "removed . . . without fault upon his part."
In a letter dated Jan. 29, three days after Brown's appointment to head the agency was announced, Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm told Brown he had notified the retirement system "of your layoff." The action, Hamm wrote, "makes you eligible for retirement benefits."
Steve Fugate, chairman of the police and fire pension board, said in an interview that it is "clearly not the case" that Brown was laid off. A spokesman for Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) confirmed yesterday that Brown, who was appointed to the city job when O'Malley was mayor, had been invited to stay in the city post in her administration.
Brown was not available to comment yesterday, his spokesman said.
On behalf of Hamm, police spokesman Matt Jablow said: "He was advised and believed and continues to believe that the matter was handled in a completely aboveboard way and is consistent with prior practices of other commissioners here in Baltimore."
O'Malley would not comment on the propriety of the arrangement but said he was not involved in the decision to award it. "I think it was something between [Brown] and the police commissioner," he said.
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