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Rawlings-Blake replaces chief of staff

Local GovernmentMartin O'MalleySheila DixonBaltimore Development CorporationStephanie Rawlings-BlakeBernard C. YoungEdward L. Reisinger III

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's office said Friday she has replaced her chief of staff Alexander M. Sanchez with her longtime friend and colleague Kaliope Parthemos, the deputy mayor for economic development since 2010.

"It was a mutual agreement that it was time to go in a different direction," Rawlings-Blake's spokesman Kevin Harris said. The replacement is effective immediately, Harris said.

Sanchez called his time as chief of staff "an honor."

"I am extremely proud of all that we were able to accomplish over the past two years: securing more than a billion dollars for schools, making an unprecedented investment in rebuilding vacant properties, and closing a $750 million deficit by developing and implementing the City's first ever 10-year plan, to name a few," he said in an email.

Rawlings-Blake also replaced Sanchez's deputy, Kym Nelson, with Kimberly Morton — a deputy director in the city's Department of Public Works. That change will take effect May 28, Harris said.

"I would like to thank Mr. Sanchez and Ms. Nelson for their service in my administration as we have worked to continue growing our city, eliminate blight from communities, and reduce violent crime," Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.

She said her new "senior team" will have "more than five decades of experience in local government and senior level management to City Hall."

Parthemos, who previously oversaw the Baltimore Development Corp. and other business initiatives, will now oversee day-to-day operations throughout city government. She will make $172,000 annually. Sanchez was paid $178,000.

Sanchez, a former Maryland labor secretary, generally kept a low profile in City Hall. Several City Council members said Friday they had few interactions with him.

City Council Vice President Edward Reisinger said Sanchez "wasn't that visible as a chief of staff."

"I'm not trying to be mean," he said. "I just barely ever saw him. I didn't see him at meetings or if there were crises or during the budget."

Reisinger called the staffing change "a very smart move for the city of Baltimore."

"Kaliope is a very tough, pragmatic manager," he said.

"This is the best move that the mayor has made as far as arranging staff," echoed City Councilman Brandon Scott. "To have someone who understands and cares about the city as a whole and is from the city is desperately needed in the city government."

City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young said Sanchez, who'd been Rawlings-Blake's chief of staff for about two years, initially worked to improve relations between the mayor's office and Young's.

"At one time, we used to have regular meetings in my office," Young said. "I think he had a lot to do with me and the mayor's relationship improving. But then I stopped hearing from him. I thought he was a good guy. I just didn’t know what he was doing."

Sanchez didn't comment on the perception that he wasn't around.

Parthemos will be replaced by Colin Tarbert, her deputy, who will be paid $140,000. Morton will have a salary of $132,000.

Parthemos will be the fourth chief of staff for Rawlings-Blake, since she became mayor in 2010 after the resignation of Mayor Sheila Dixon amid corruption charges.

Sanchez had replaced Peter O'Malley, the brother of Gov. Martin O'Malley, who held the position for less than a year. Sophie Dagenais, a former corporate lawyer, had the chief of staff job for about a year before that.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Local GovernmentMartin O'MalleySheila DixonBaltimore Development CorporationStephanie Rawlings-BlakeBernard C. YoungEdward L. Reisinger III
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