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Preservation nominee opposed Appointee is not qualified, advocates say.


Local preservationists have challenged one of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's nominees to Baltimore's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, saying he lacks the qualifications to fill the position.

David A. Portnoy, a history teacher and soccer coach at Gilman School, was nominated to succeed Loyola College history professor Jack Breihan, whose term expired in December.

At a meeting of the City Council's Executive Appointments Committee yesterday, a member of Baltimore Heritage, a preservation advocacy group, argued that Mr. Portnoy does not have the required credentials.

Mr. Portnoy was named to fill the position on CHAP that, according to the Baltimore City Code, can be occupied only by a "teacher of history in a recognized college or university" or "an individual engaged as an historian by a non-profit organization devoted to matters of historic interest."

Mr. Portnoy, 30, a Baltimore County resident with a law degree and an undergraduate degree in economics and political science, conceded that he does not satisfy the requirement that the nominee be a college teacher.

He said his position at Gilman might qualify him as an historian at a non-profit organization devoted to matters of historic interest, although he conceded that "was probably not the intent" of the code.

"It's a little embarrassing to come up and realize it's a description I do not fit," he told council members. "I hope that the strict definition would not get in the way [of the confirmation], but I would understand if it does."

Donna Shapiro, a board member of Baltimore Heritage, said she fears the mayor is trying to replace the "very few real preservationists" on the 11-member panel with people who know little about preservation or history.

She said she'd like to see Mr. Breihan reappointed or to have the mayor name someone else with Mr. Breihan's "experience and knowledge of preservation."

Councilman Lawrence Bell, D-4th, committee chairman, said he would seek advice from the city's Law Department and Department of Legislative Reference before deciding what action to take on Mr. Portnoy's nomination.

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