In an unexpected move, the mayor of Annapolis announced the resignation of city administrator Sanford W. Daily yesterday, ending a two-year controversy over Daily's role in city government.
Daily, 61, had served as administrator since February 1999 after a 27-year career as city manager in Gaithersburg, where he resides. His resignation is effective immediately.
Starting Tuesday, city Public Works Director David L. Smith also will serve as acting administrator, becoming the chief operating officer for Annapolis and assuming day-to-day supervisory authority of all city departments.
Daily had been a source of political criticism for Mayor Dean L. Johnson, because, under his work arrangement, he regularly left the office for home by 4 p.m., did not attend city council meetings and maintained a four-day workweek - however, he was available Fridays for emergencies. The city charter states that the city administrator "shall devote full time to the duties of the office."
Daily said he insisted on the arrangement with the mayor because of his 100-mile roundtrip commute to work and because he did not see the need to serve full time. He was paid $74,000 a year.
Reached at his home last night, Daily said he decided to resign because he did not want to be "part of an obstacle" for the mayor, who is nearing the end of his first term and is seeking re-election.
"I know that he had been criticized and I had been somewhat criticized by the fact of my [work] arrangement with him," Daily said. "I just thought it was time from the standpoint that the election is coming up. ... I decided I would help him out."
Daily said he and the mayor spoke recently about potential problems on the horizon for the re-election campaign, and Daily's decision to resign "just kind of evolved."
"I just don't need to be part of this at this point in my life," said Daily, who served as Gaithersburg city manager from 1968 to 1995. The mayor pointed out yesterday that Daily had come out of retirement to serve as Johnson's second-in-command for five months before being appointed to the post in July 1999. Johnson had had problems hiring a full-time city administrator because candidates considered $76,800 - the maximum salary for the position as defined by the City Code - too little.
Johnson labeled criticism of Daily's work arrangement "disingenuous." He said he twice introduced proposals to increase the city administrator's salary by $20,000 to make it competitive, but they were rejected by the city council.
"The city council turned down two requests to fully fund the job," Johnson said. "If we want a highly qualified, experienced city administrator, we have to be able to pay for the job, and this council decided it was not willing to."
Six department heads - one a deputy - make more than the city administrator, Johnson said.
The mayor's appointments must be approved by the city council, but Alderman Sheila M. Tolliver said yesterday that as far as she knew, the council had approved a full-time position for Daily.
"The council found out later that there were different terms for his employment, and we never had the opportunity to consider it, because the mayor never told us about it," Tolliver said. "Most of us realized it when we tried to reach Sanford and he wasn't there. That's not a criticism of Daily, that was a problem of communication between the mayor and the council."
Still, Tolliver, a Ward 2 Democrat, said she was surprised by Daily's departure.
"The timing of it seemed unusual to me that it would be so close to the end of the mayor's first term and yet not at the end," she said.
Alderman Ellen O. Moyer, a Ward 8 Democrat who is running for mayor, said the council had approved of Daily's schedule and his resignation was not surprising.
"He was a retired person, and he would from time to time joke about, 'Is this retirement or not?'" Moyer said. "When you're retire, your agenda changes a little."
Johnson said he won't seek to replace Daily before the Nov. 6 general election.
Before his career in Gaithersburg, Daily was the assistant city manager in Bowie. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in municipal administration.
"I found the job to be challenging, but there needs to be a little more coordination between the mayor and the department heads," Daily said yesterday, his last day on the job.
In the meantime, he said he plans to spend time with his wife, two stepchildren and his favorite hobby - fishing.
"I asked my friend that I used to go fishing with, 'Is my seat still available?'" Daily said. "I plan to work on the house, go fishing and enjoy the summer."