Harbormaster and deputy fired, police investigating case involving Harbormaster's Office

The view looking over Annapolis harbor from the top of the State House dome.
The view looking over Annapolis harbor from the top of the State House dome. (By Joshua McKerrow / Capital Gazette)

The Annapolis harbormaster and his deputy were informed this week they will be fired, and Annapolis police are investigating a case related to the office, according to city officials.

Harbormaster J.P. "Flip" Walters and Deputy Harbormaster William "Bill" Brookes received "notice of intent to terminate," a letter that informs city employees they will be fired if they don't appeal the decision, said Rhonda Wardlaw, a city spokeswoman.


Such employees are placed on administrative leave and given five days to decide whether to appeal. If they don't, they will be officially terminated after those five days. If they appeal, they will remain city employees on leave until the process is resolved, Wardlaw said.

She declined to comment on whether the two will be paid while on administrative leave.


Annapolis police confirmed that a case involving the Harbormaster's Office is under investigation.

Wardlaw and other officials said they couldn't comment on the reason for the firing and couldn't say if it was related to the active investigation.

Attempts to reach Walters and Brookes for comment were unsuccessful.

The department doesn't comment on active investigations, said Cpl. Amy Miguez, Annapolis Police Department spokeswoman. No charges have been filed.

Both men's names have been removed from the city website.

A closed session of the City Council has been proposed for 6 p.m. Monday to discuss "discipline and removal of employees; and to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice on the status of litigation."

It is not known if this is directly related to the removal of the harbormaster and his deputy or the police investigation.

The Harbormaster's Office, according to the city website, is responsible for the safety of navigable city waters, such as the Severn River, Back Creek, Spa Creek and Weems Creek. The harbormaster maintains waterfront assets, oversees maritime ecology, helps to maintain homeland security and reports to the mayor on water issues.

Walters began in December 2006 as a contractual employee serving as acting assistant harbormaster of operations. He was made a full-time employee, in the same position, in March 2007. In May 2011 he was promoted to harbormaster.

Brookes was hired as a temporary employee in April 2011 as assistant harbormaster. In September 2013 he became a contractual employee as deputy harbormaster. In November 2014 he was hired full time for the same position.

Walters and Brookes have not yet been replaced, Wardlaw said. She said other harbormaster office employees, led by the director of Recreation and Parks, are supervising operations.

Alderman Ross Arnett, D-Ward 8, declined to comment, and Alderman Joe Budge, D-Ward 1, could not be reached Friday afternoon.


The removal of the two employees comes shortly before the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show, which starts April 22.

Paul Jacobs, president, general manager and owner of Annapolis Boat Shows, said show organizers have worked closely with the Harbormaster's Office to plan the event. He said officials from both sides met this week to finalize plans.

"We don't think the building or operation of the boat show will be negatively impacted," he said.

Last year Walters made $97,923, and Brookes made $55,351, according to city government data.

Clarification: This story was updated to clarify the harbormaster and deputy are technically city employees until they choose to appeal or not to appeal the city's decision to fire them.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun