Panel OKs Rawlings-Blake's city finance director nominee

A city council subcommittee on Wednesday approved, 4-0, the nomination of Harry E. Black as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's nominee for city finance director.

The entire council must now vote on Black's nomination.

During the hourlong hearing of the Executive Appointments committee, there were no speakers who voiced opposition to Black's nomination, despite the tumultuous three years Black spent as the top financial official in Richmond, Va. During that time, he oversaw the forced ejection of the school board from City Hall and was sued by the Richmond City Council.

"My management style is very much hands-on," Black told the committee as he fielded job interview-style questions.

Black grew up in Park Heights and earned a bachelor's degree from Virginia State University and a master's in public administration from the University of Virginia.

"You rarely ever get to come home in such a position as this," Black said of the job in Baltimore. "It's something that's meant to be."

If approved by the council, he would replace Edward Gallagher, who worked in the city's Finance Department since William Donald Schaefer's mayoral administration. Gallagher announced his retirement last year.

"I realize I'm succeeding a legend," he said. The job pays $180,000.

Black told the committee he plans to find so many efficiencies in city government that his salary will more than pay for itself.

"Whatever money is being paid to me in terms of salary, my intention is to pay that back many times over," he said.

In Richmond, Black was nicknamed "the mayor's pit bull" for the ferocity with which he implemented Mayor L. Douglas Wilder's agenda from 2005 to 2008, according to news reports. The City Council there twice rejected Black's appointment for a higher-ranking position, citing his aggressive personality.

Black has said his experiences in Richmond would have "no impact" on his work in Baltimore.