xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Hogan rejects contract in his Board of Public Works debut

Gov. Larry Hogan's first action as the new chairman of Maryland's Board of Public Works was to refuse to approve an "emergency" contract  for public relations services.

Hogan's disapproval of the $40,000 contact awarded by the Department of Human Resources last August – and belatedly reported to the board – sent a clear message he intends to make changes in the way some state agencies buy goods and services.

Advertisement

The new governor said emergency contracts should be awarded only in the case of true emergencies.

"Hiring a political firm to come in and give you advice is not an emergency," he said.

Advertisement

The other members of the board, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, joined Hogan in sending the procurement report back to the department. Board secretary Sheila McDonald said the effect of the action was to let the vendor be paid while sending a rebuke to the agency.

The first sign of change at the board came when Hogan strode through the door of the Governor's Reception Room at the State House at precisely 10 a.m.

Gov. Martin O'Malley routinely started board meetings 20 minutes late or more.

Franchot, who often fumed at O'Malley's tardiness, called the start "very symbolic." He said a citizen had asked him how people could trust the board with the state's financial well-being when it couldn't start its meetings on time.

For Hogan, it was not only his first time chairing the board, a body unique to Maryland that publicly reviews large state contracts. Hogan said it was the first time he had ever attended one of its meetings.

Hogan led the board through its regular agenda in a brisk 45 minutes before it turned to the annual tradition known as the "beg-a-thon" – in which local school officials come to Annapolis to appeal for school construction money.

The Republican governor quickly found himself in accord with his two Democratic colleagues on the issue of school maintenance – long a pet issue for Franchot. The comptroller contends that the state often has to prematurely replace or renovate school buildings because local governments don't properly maintain them.

Hogan joined Franchot in grilling David G. Lever, executive director of the Interagency Committee on School Construction, about why a report on local governments' maintenance records was late and about which jurisdictions had the best and worst records.

Lever explained that the report was delayed by staffing problems. He offered Frederick County as an example of diligent maintenance and diplomatically said Prince Georges' County and Baltimore were making improvements.

Hogan told Lever it would be "money well spent to give you the help you need" to monitor maintenance.

The governor also endorsed a suggestion by Kopp that the state allocate money in trust to maintain school buildings at the time it spends the money to build them.

"I like that idea and it's something we ought to pursue," Hogan said.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement