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Money Tiff Over Aides' Salaries

With Maryland facing a $1.5 billion budget deficit and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) ordering state agencies to find $200 million in cuts, the governor's budget chief was not at all pleased when Comptroller Peter Franchot asked her to approve hefty salaries for three top aides, one of them in a newly created position.

Franchot wrote T. Eloise Foster in April that he wanted to designate three aides as his deputy comptrollers: chief of staff David Weaver; Len Foxwell, a communications expert who would oversee the Division of Revenue Estimates; and Linda Tanton, a longtime accounting, payroll and information technology professional. They each would be paid $150,000.

Several of O'Malley's top aides make about as much, including chief of staff Michael Enright ($150,000) and deputy chiefs Matt Gallagher and Peggy Watson ($145,000), Franchot spokesman Joseph Shapiro said Friday. But the salaries represented a big increase from the top of the pay scale under Franchot's predecessor, William Donald Schaefer. Tanton earned $128,000. And under Schaefer there was one other deputy, not two.

"I cannot support or recommend approval of these . . . requests," Foster wrote Franchot on May 31, according to documents The Washington Post obtained under the Maryland Public Information Act. In other letters, she "strongly urged" him to eliminate the third deputy position and assign its functions to the chief of staff.

She noted that the proposed salaries put Franchot's aides at the same pay level as several Cabinet secretaries with "distinctly greater responsibilities." The secretaries for human resources, the environment, state police, housing and natural resources all earn about $148,000. Foster earns $150,632 as secretary of the Department of Management & Budget.

The money tiff got ugly.

"I certainly do not presume to know . . . what works best in the Executive Branch in terms of structure of management compensation," Franchot shot back in a letter to Foster. "But I completely support the Governor's right to organize his departments and pay his people what he feels is necessary to carry out the mandate he received from the people of Maryland."

Foster was within her rights to deny the salaries and creation of an extra position. But she granted them anyway as a courtesy. "We have been advised that because of your position as a publicly-elected constitutional officer, the Governor's office will not prevent the Department of Budget and Management from processing your proposal should you believe that it is in the best interests of the citizens of Maryland," Foster wrote.

Shapiro said Friday that the governor was fully apprised of Franchot's request and that the comptroller "got his approval every step of the way, personally."

"The comptroller has an outstanding relationship with Governor O'Malley and is a consummate professional," Shapiro said. "He will work in good faith with members of his administration, despite any individual or personal differences that might arise."

O'Malley spokesman Steve Kearney said the correspondence speaks for itself and declined to comment further.

By Phyllis Jordan  |  July 2, 2007; 9:35 AM ET
Categories:  Lisa Rein  
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Next: Franchot Asks for Delay on Land Deal

Comments

A straw tells which way the wind blows. When the Governor and Comptroller both have little interest in limiting spending, as in this case, it is a portent of things to come--like their support for tax increases within a year of their elections.

Posted by: Robin Ficker of Robin Realty | July 2, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The "mandate" thing is good to fall back on when you're at a loss for words to explain the unexplainable. I don't think that the 53% of voters that casted their vote for O'Malley mandated him to bloat the size of government with unnecessary overpaid positions. Perhaps Franchot should clarify this.

If this "tiff" is coming from within the O'Malley regime it really must be over the top.

Suddenly a few non-PC comments by Willie D don't seem so bad. Even at 80+ years old, he needed only one deputy. However, with O'Malley salivating like a Pavlov dog over the idea of increased taxes, maybe another deputy Comptroller is needed to count all of those extra beans.

Posted by: BG from PG | July 2, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

still nothing on the shady land deal by corrupt martin o'malley? does the post hear the tree fall?

Posted by: still nothing? | July 2, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure that this blog is just what the Post hoped for: a place where six whacky ultra conservatives can have an irrelevant conversation with themselves, and few people participate because the quality of the commentary is so low.

Sorry Post. I had better hopes too.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for raising the quality of the commentary. What other cronies would you like to see get an unneeded position or pay raise? Go back to sleep on your featherbed.

Posted by: See above | July 3, 2007 7:39 AM | Report abuse

As a Marylander, I care if this O'Malley administration is fleecing me for my tax dollars. I care if I have to choose between feeding my family or paying my BGE bill, which O'Malley promised to stop the huge rate increase and has failed. If you don't mind scandal and corruption, go right ahead and remain silent. BUT as a taxpayer and voting citizen, I will not.

Posted by: Dear / | July 3, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

When the article in question exposes O'Malley for what he really is (a political hack whose lies and deceit are becoming more and more apparent each day), there's no one here to defend him.

That's why there's only the six of us on this blog.

Posted by: Whacky Ultra Conservative | July 3, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Typical leftist! Whines about the reality then does nothing to actually improve it.

Posted by: Rufus | July 3, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Ah, those were the days when Peter Franchot was young and progressive. Now he's just an old-fashioned pol empire builder. He won this time on his reputation from the past. Might not happen again.

Posted by: Art Brodsky | July 3, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Franchot the same guy who said he was going to be a fiscal watchdog like his hero, Louis L. Goldstein? Poor Louis must be doing about 400 rpm in his grave right now.

Posted by: mercury | July 3, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

2,100 state employees make $125,000 or more. I guess Mr. Kennedy-wannabe-O'Malley forgot "It is not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." We have a Governor hiring his relatives for top paying jobs who fires anyone who dares disagree with him and if you've got an R next to your name, you're automatically out. Ask yourself, why were nearly half of Governor Ehrlich's cabinet Democrats, but almost none of Governor O'Malley's cabinet Republicans? The monopoly is back!

Posted by: Joe | July 9, 2007 1:54 AM | Report abuse

2,100 state employees make $125,000 or more. I guess Mr. Kennedy-wannabe-O'Malley forgot "It is not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." We have a Governor hiring his relatives for top paying jobs who fires anyone who dares disagree with him and if you've got an R next to your name, you're automatically out. Ask yourself, why were nearly half of Governor Ehrlich's cabinet Democrats, but almost none of Governor O'Malley's cabinet Republicans? The monopoly is back!

Posted by: Joe | July 9, 2007 1:54 AM | Report abuse

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