Frank O. Heintz, chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission, said yesterday that he has resigned from the governor's Information Technology Board, citing a need to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest.
The chairman's dual roles came under criticism early last month from Del. Robert L. Flanagan, R-Howard, who contended that the two roles are incompatible.
In response, Mr. Heintz said he would have to re-evaluate whether to remain on the advisory board.
Mr. Heintz said yesterday that after consulting with other members of the commission, he decided to submit his resignation from the board Aug. 26.
"We decided it would be best to cure or dispel any perception problems about overlap between PSC actions and anything the HeintzITB might do," Mr. Heintz said. "My participation wasn't all that critical."
Frank Fulton, a spokesman for the PSC, said the commission's executive director, Gregory Carmean, and members of the regulatory agency's technical staff would continue to attend meetings of the technology board as "observers" who would provide information upon request.
The Information Technology Board was created by Gov. William Donald Schaefer late last year to advise him on ways to keep Maryland in the forefront of what has been dubbed the "telecommunications revolution."
One of the first actions by Francis J. Knott, chairman of the board, was to lead negotiations with Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Maryland on a statewide "distance learning" network to connect about 270 Maryland schools.
The accord was criticized by rivals of C&P;, which contended that the agreement gave the telephone company an unfair advantage in creating a statewide fiber-optic network.
When the agreement was announced in June, C&P; President Frederick D. D'Alessio and Mr. Schaefer publicly thanked Mr. Heintz for speeding action on a C&P; tariff proposal to cover the costs of operating the network.
The Schaefer administration initially resisted calls from cable television companies and other C&P; critics to put the network proposal out for public bidding. But the state reversed itself last week after receiving advice from Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. that such competition is required by law.