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Dixon bill would tighten pension law

The Baltimore Sun

Mayor Sheila Dixon's administration introduced legislation in the City Council yesterday to tighten the city's pension law after a former top police deputy received a lucrative pension deal -- a proposal that may end similar arrangements in the future.

The legislation, introduced without discussion yesterday, follows a move this year that allowed Marcus L. Brown, a former top police deputy, to receive a $55,000-a-year pension -- plus health benefits -- despite not qualifying by age or years of service.

After leaving the department, Brown, a longtime ally of Gov. Martin O'Malley, was hired to lead the state's transportation authority police, where he makes $127,500 a year.

The council bill, which followed a review by city attorneys that found that the Brown arrangement was legal, would prohibit employees who are removed from office from qualifying for a similar payout unless they can certify that they have not secured future employment and that they have no immediate prospect of future employment.

"This definitely would allow for there to be no gray area for agency or department heads," said Demaune Millard, who is Dixon's director of government relations.

But Stephan G. Fugate, the chairman of the pension board and head of the city's fire officers union -- which has endorsed Dixon's opponent, City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., in this year's mayoral election -- criticized the legislation as unnecessary.

"All that needs to be done in this regard is to enforce the rules that are in place and not allow your agency heads to lie with impunity," Fugate said. "There's no need for additional legislation."

Fugate and others have criticized former Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm for writing in a January letter that he had laid off Brown, an action that allowed the pension package to go through. Dixon fired Hamm in July.

Also last night, the City Council approved a bill that would prohibit the practice of landlords throwing eviction chattel onto public sidewalks, requiring them instead to pay to store and dispose of household items and giving tenants three days to reclaim their property.

The legislation was sponsored by Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr.

The council also introduced bills to add the Senator Theatre, the Upton Mansion and the Roland Park Water Tower to the city's list of historic landmarks.


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