"Four top leaders at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources were let go Friday, sending a combined 98 years of fisheries, land conservation and communications experience out the doors of the Tawes building, the department's headquarters in Annapolis." This from Rona Kobell, a former Sun reporter now at the Bay Journal. The news came in an email that the incoming secretary, Mark Belton, sent May 29. The departures do not bode well for continuity in the long-term effort to clean up Chesapeake Bay. Deputy Secretary Frank Dawson, Assistant Secretary Kristin Saunders, Fisheries Director Tom O'Connell, and Communications Director Darlene Pisani are leaving. Kobell puts their departures in the context of new administrations putting in their people, but takes special care to outline Dawson's longtime dedication over nearly 30 years, and the respect O'Connell built in the politically fraught job of fisheries director: "He was the best state employee in the history of Maryland. I don't know how else to put it. The guy stayed late, came in early every day, and he cared almost as much about his employees as he did for his own family. And I might add, he has four children of his own," Tony Friedrich, executive director of the Coastal Conservation Association, told Korbell. The story also notes that Mike Naylor was recently moved from his job as "point person on oyster restoration." Naylor's oyster sanctuaries cut into watermen's territory, and they have complained bitterly even as environmental scientists lauded the oyster restoration effort. Gov. Larry Hogan called the state's oyster restoration effort a "war on watermen," and has already begun to adjust the policies, as The Sun's Tim Wheeler reported on May 28. Belton named Mark Hoffman acting deputy secretary, Emily Wilson acting assistant secretary for land resources, and Kristen Peterson acting communications director. Dave Goshorn will assume fisheries director duties in addition to the job he already has as assistant secretary, Kobell reported. (Edward Ericson Jr.)
Mark Puente's front-page story in this morning's Sun unpacks the deadliest month of killings in Baltimore over the last 40 years. Three homicides on Sunday brought the total for May to 43, surpassing the mark of 42 from August 1990. Worth noting: "Baltimore has recorded more homicides in a single month: There were 44 in December 1971 and 45 in August 1972.
"But in that era, the city had approximately 908,000 residents — nearly 300,000 more than today." (Brandon Weigel)