Malinoff Again....and Smith Again...But It's Just Window Dressing ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Friday, June 25, 2010

Malinoff Again....and Smith Again...But It's Just Window Dressing

It was no great surprise that Mayor Josh Cohen has named Mike Malinoff as his new "city manager" nor was it much of a surprise that he retained outgoing chief administrative officer Doug Smith to a new contractual position as special assistant for development. There is no need for CP to repeat details here, but I am wondering how Cohen was able to pull off creating yet another high-paying contractual position.

The elevation of Malinoff from director of the city's Department of Neighborhood and Environmental Protection (DNEP) to  this new "city manager" position is just window dressing. For one thing, Malinoff, an ally of former Mayor Ellen Moyer has all kinds of ties and connections to local politics. He does not come here with a "clean slate" by any stretch of the imagination.  Make no mistake, this is just another move by Cohen to reward and loyalty and surround himself with more patrons, and this time, he even creates a whole new position to carry out his ambitions.

For another thing, this "new" position of "city manager" is really nothing new at all but is merely a slightly tweaked "city administrator". Cohen remains completely and firmly in charge. He chose Malinoff and he will direct him. That makes him a city administrator, not a city manager. I truly wish my colleagues in the news media would understand this and get it right. The beauty of a real city manager in a real council-manager style of government is that the chief administrator is isolated and essentially immune from political influence in carrying out daily tasks. With Malinoff by Cohen's side and answerable to Cohen, this is likely an impossibility.

Malinoff came here from his position as city manager in Newport, RI (which is another story for sure...) at the behest of former Mayor Ellen Moyer, who essentially created DNEP as yet another fiefdom to further her own personal goals and installed Malinoff at that highly paid position to carry out her environmental agenda. But Malinoff was also supposedly going to improve the city's insufferable permit and inspection process. Did that ever happen? At each and every one of the nearly dozen mayoral debates or forums CP attended last fall, the issue of our city's anti-business climate and impenetrable permitting process came up repeatedly and vociferously. Hmmm. Do you see where this is going?

Now, in order to further Cohen's oft-stated priority of economic development, he places the man who headed up permitting and licensing into yet a higher position and creates yet another high-paying position to work on development. So, will permitting and inspections ever be streamlined?

As for Smith, he is a diplomatic, hardworking man with a business background who may very well be able to shine in his new position. I am concerned that he and Cohen may be using this as a way to put off hiring a real transit and transportation professional to revamp and head up the city's ailing transportation department. Cohen's own transition team, of which this writer was a member, recommended transforming what has essentially been a bus systems into a true multi-mission, urban mobility department. Is this Cohen's mission as well and is he moving toward hiring a real transportation professional to carry this out, or is he "parking" Smith there to hold off on that?

This commentary is nothing against Malinoff. I've had little interaction with the man, but I must give him begrudging credit for being such a political survivor, from Senator Gerald Winegrad, to Mayor Al Hopkins, to Newport, to Mayor Ellen Moyer to Mayor Josh Cohen. Indeed, that might qualify him for being a real "apparatchik."

But hey, if he and Cohen do a good job, I suppose we can all just be happy for that and not worry about the politicking behind the scenes. Only time will tell.

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Dennis McKeon said...

Hi Paul,
A few errors. You spelled Mallinoff incorrectly. Also, you bungled DNEP's name. Even Joe Gross got stuff like that right.
Also, before you said he was a skilled manager who might make a good city manager ( Now you're saying he's just the benefactor of political patronage. Which one is it? Lemmie guess, the one that's more popular to say right now.

Paul Foer said...


Thanks for being a careful reader. I don't believe I said he is only the benefactor of political patronage.

By the waym since you enjoy reading ACP, please let me remind you that your generous financial support will allow me to continue to improve the service I am providing to you for free.
PS Next time, please fully identify yourself in accordance with the blog's stated policy

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