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New Anne Arundel executive ousts three, names chief of staff

Only days after she was appointed and vowed to make key personnel changes at the top, new Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman ousted three members of her predecessor's administration.

Jonathan A. Hodgson, a former Annapolis city attorney who had been tapped in 2006 to be the county's top lawyer by then-County Executive John R. Leopold, no longer works for the county. Also ousted were Erik Robey, the chief of staff under Leopold and William H. Hyers, a contract employee and former member of the county Police Department.

The American Civil Liberties Union found through a public records request that Hyers had improperly accessed Police Department records on a community activist who was critical of Leopold.

Leopold resigned in January after he was found guilty of two counts of criminal misconduct in office. Neuman was named to succeed him Thursday and began her job Friday. The County Council, which by law was to appoint a new county executive, selected Neuman in a 4-3 vote.

County Councilman Jamie Benoit said the council was informed of the forced resignations late Monday and said he believed more changes were in the works.

"It's a good thing," said Benoit, a Democrat from Crownsville. "It's indicative of the changes that needed to take place in the county."

Of Neuman, Benoit added: "I think she's going to usher in a lot of changes that the county is really begging for. To the extent that she's a woman doing it, I think that's great."

Neuman asked at-will employees in the executive suite and department chiefs on Friday to tender their resignations pending a review of budgets, services and employees. "Scandal doesn't happen without support," she said Friday.

Hodgson said the county's personnel officer delivered the news to him shortly after he told his staff to expect changes. He and Neuman spoke later, and he said they had a pleasant conversation.

"This is how it works in public office. Someone is elected, and she brings in her own people," Hodgson said.

"I will practice law. I am looking forward to it," Hodgson said about his immediate future. He was Annapolis city attorney from December 1985 to January 1993, then was in private practice before getting the county position.

In addition to ousting Hodgson, Neuman named State's Attorney's Office's chief investigator David Cordle as her chief of staff, according to a statement. The statement said Cordle would lead a team that will evaluate individuals and agencies in county government. That team has not been named.

Cordle, a former Annapolis alderman and a 32-year veteran of the prosecutor's office, competed against Neuman and more than a dozen others for the county executive position.

Robey and Hyers could not immediately be reached for comment.

Baltimore Sun reporter Carrie Wells contributed to this article.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

twitter.com/andsiegel

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