Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday named as state personnel secretary Quentin R. Lawson, a longtime educator and researcher with political ties to both the current and former governor.
Mr. Lawson, an aide to William Donald Schaefer when he was mayor of Baltimore, would replace Michael J. Knapp, who was forced out over reports that he approved a pay raise for a state colleague who later hired his wife.
Mr. Lawson's nomination drew mixed reactions from organized labor, a group that Mr. Glendening has actively courted during his political career.
He is executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, a nonprofit research and educational group, and chairman of the commission that oversees Maryland's public colleges.
$94,771 a year
In the $94,771-a-year job, the 62-year-old Mr. Lawson is expected to be a key player in the governor's plan to revamp the state's personnel system and bring collective bargaining to 70,000 government workers.
Edward A. Mohler, president of Maryland State and D.C. AFL-CIO, said, "Quentin Lawson was the governor's choice, not organized labor's. We, in particular the American Federation of Teachers, have had serious concerns about Mr. Lawson and his former position and association with the Baltimore education system."
During various times between 1968 and 1981, Mr. Lawson, a former teacher, was an administrator with Baltimore public schools, an education aide to then-Mayor Schaefer and the mayor's human resources director.
"Our concern was that when he worked for the school system, he was very much anti-labor and anti-teachers' union," said Irene B. Dandridge, co-president of the Baltimore Teachers Union.
Mr. Lawson said he is not anti-union, but that some may have thought so because he represented management in its efforts to end a teachers' strike in 1973. "Unions have served a very useful role in protecting the interests and needs of employees," the Randallstown resident said.
'A wise choice'
Other Maryland labor leaders praised his appointment.
"I think the governor has made a wise choice," said William S. Hudson, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Mr. Lawson said he has known Mr. Glendening since he worked with Frances Hughes Glendening, the governor's wife, at the Washington-based Public Technology Inc. in the 1980s.
He is a former executive vice president of the nonprofit group, which is the technology, research and development arm of three national associations of cities and counties.
He also was active in Mr. Glendening's campaign.
Mr. Lawson said Major F. Riddick Jr., the governor's chief aide, contacted him about the state job after learning that he would be leaving the Black Caucus Foundation.
The appointment is "an excellent move because Quentin Lawson represents a steady hand at the wheel," said U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, a Baltimore Democrat and former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Easy confirmation expected
Mr. Lawson said he expects to start his new duties in mid-October and probably will resign his chairmanship of the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
Unlike Mr. Knapp, he is not expected to have difficulty winning confirmation from the state Senate.
"He's a very thoughtful person," said Baltimore Sen. Larry Young, chairman of the committee that approves such nominations.