Schmoke ousts commissioner of labor for city City personnel chief to replace Whalen


Richard Whalen, Baltimore's labor commissioner, has been ousted from his job by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, in a move that pleased municipal unions whose leaders have complained that it was impossible to work with Mr. Whalen.

Mr. Whalen will be replaced by city personnel director Jesse Hoskins, a spokesman for the mayor said yesterday. Mr. Hoskins will take over his new job by the end of this week, and will serve simultaneously as personnel director and acting labor commissioner.

Mr. Whalen has been offered a job created for him in the mayor's office. He could not be reached for comment.

"The city unions are dissatisfied with [Mr. Whalen's] ability to resolve day-to-day problems," said one labor leader who asked not to be identified. City union presidents, including this source, discussed Mr. Whalen with Mr. Schmoke last Tuesday.

"To work out even the most minute problems became a very cumbersome process devoid of communication," the union leader said.

A high-level source at City Hall said that Mr. Whalen's problems went beyond offending union leaders with a brusque, rigid manner. He also upset the Schmoke administration "by giving everything away" during recent contract negotiations with city unions, the source said.

"Rick's style has been to talk tough and give in," the source said. "It was the worst of both worlds."

Clint Coleman, the mayor's spokesman, described Mr. Whalen's departure as "a reorganization" and denied that the labor commissioner had been fired.

Mr. Whalen's new job will be "special assistant for contracts administration training," Mr. Coleman said.

The spokesman said he wasn't sure exactly what that job entailed, but that it would involve helping city agency heads understand new contracts Mr. Whalen negotiated for the city with labor unions.

It could not be learned how the change in jobs would affect Mr. Whalen's pay. His annual salary has been about $75,000.

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