Kenneth C. Nohe, the embattled director of Baltimore County's Economic Development Commission, resigned yesterday.
Despite denying on Friday any intention of resigning within the next two weeks, Mr. Nohe submitted his resignation to Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden, and the action was made public late in the day.
Mr. Nohe, owner of the White Marsh Dinner Theatre, held the director's job only since November and was plagued by a series of controversies -- the most serious of them involving his sudden dismissal of three key commission staffers in March, including his deputy director.
Mr. Nohe was criticized for spending $1,700 of commission funds for expensive restaurant meals during the most serious budget crisis the county has endured since World War II.
More recently, commission Chairman A. Samuel Cook resigned amid charges that Mr. Nohe had excluded Mr. Cook and the volunteer commission members from the policy-making process.
Mr. Hayden's spokeswoman, Carol Hirschburg, issued the announcement of Mr. Nohe's resignation from his $70,000-a-year position and quoted his letter to Mr. Hayden as saying he had enjoyed the job but "I find that I must devote more time to my private business interest."
Asked if Mr. Nohe's comments were the real reason for his resignation, Ms. Hirschburg said, "It's not my business to second-guess what he says."
Ms. Hirschburg also issued a prepared statement from Mr. Hayden praising Mr. Nohe's work.
The statement said the departing director was responsible for putting the Economic Development Commission "on the right track."
In March, Mr. Nohe fired commission deputy director Anthony J. Haley; Patrick L. McDonough, a commission staffer who managed Mr. Hayden's 1990 election campaign; and 14-year county employee and commission office manager Patricia Krug.
Adam Wasserman, currently the deputy commission director, is temporarily in charge of the operation now that Mr. Nohe has departed, Ms. Hirschburg said.