O'Malley set to name 3 more Cabinet picks

Gov. Martin O'Malley is to announce three more Cabinet appointments today, a day after a state Senate committee unanimously approved seven nominees and a new people's counsel for the board that regulates utilities.

The picks require final approval of the full Senate. Thirteen of 21 positions have now been filled.


Cathy Raggio, executive director of a suburban Washington nonprofit organization, said yesterday that she is to replace Kristen Cox as secretary of disabilities, an office with a budget of $6.8 million that drew attention last year when then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. chose Cox as his running mate.

"I've been an advocate for people with disabilities all my life, and I just saw this as another opportunity to work at another level and advance the inclusion of people with disabilities," said Raggio, who plans to leave her position with Independence Now, a nonprofit organization based in Montgomery and Prince George's counties that promotes independent living.


Ehrlich elevated the agency's top job to a Cabinet-level position in 2004 with the selection of Cox, a former Washington lobbyist.

Two other appointments expected to be announced today include an alumnus from the administration of Gov. Parris N. Glendening and a former deputy mayor of Washington.

Brenda Donald Walker, a former deputy mayor for children, youth, families and elders in the District of Columbia, is expected to lead the Department of Human Resources. Walker was appointed in 2005 and resigned shortly after Adrian M. Fenty won the Democratic primary for mayor last year.

Also, Raymond A. Skinner will be named secretary of housing and community development, stepping back into a position he held under Glendening. The department helps provides affordable housing for low-income people.

Walker and Skinner would add to the diversity of O'Malley's Cabinet. Of 13 nominees named, four are black and one - Thomas E. Perez, the new secretary for the department of labor, licensing and regulation - is Hispanic.

Skinner joins a growing list of former Glendening appointees who will return to their old posts, including Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari, Budget Secretary Eloise T. Foster and John R. Griffin, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.

Those three were confirmed by the Executive Nominations Committee yesterday, along with Perez and the new secretaries for the departments of Planning; Environment; and Health and Mental Hygiene. Paula M. Carmody, a new people's counsel for the embattled Public Service Commission, was also confirmed.

The nominations panel is typically a rubber stamp for the governor's Cabinet selections. Since Maryland's modern government was formed three decades ago, the panel has rejected just one nominee: Lynn Y. Buhl, Ehrlich's choice for environmental secretary.


Ehrlich administration officials were outraged at that action, believing they had the necessary votes. It was one of the first partisan showdowns of what would be a contentious four-year term for Ehrlich.

Yesterday, Sen. Patrick J. Hogan, a Montgomery County Democrat, urged the new agency leaders to evaluate their agencies and aggressively confront problems they encounter.

"Whatever happened in the past, it's your job is to take responsibility for fixing things," he told Foster. "I'd like to see more secretaries take ownership - not of what caused the problem, but how we can fix it."