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Committee Hears From More Fired Employees (MD4Bush)
AP via WJZ-TV ^ | 1/30/06 | TOM STUCKEY

Posted on 01/30/2006 8:45:51 PM PST by conservative in nyc

A special legislative committee heard testimony Monday from three more workers who lost their jobs after Gov. Robert Ehrlich took office in 2003, including one woman who was fired from two jobs, the second time while recovering from eye surgery.

Susan Fernandez testified that as a high-level employee in the Department of Human Resources, she was not surprised when told she would be replaced as assistant secretary by the new administration and quickly lined up a new state job at the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Just a month after starting the new job, she said she was told by a supervisor that the governor's appointments office wanted her fired and that "you're lucky you still have a job." About a year after beginning the new job, Fernandez said she got a call while recuperating from surgery telling her not to come back to work.

"It's hard when you've spent your whole life in public service to have the rug pulled out from under you twice," Fernandez said. "I expected the first rug. I really didn't expect the second rug."

Fernandez said she lost her second job about two weeks after Joseph Steffen, an administration aide, showed up at her department. Steffen was later fired by Ehrlich for his role in spreading rumors on the Internet about Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat.

Steffen's involvement in firing state employees triggered the inquiry into the Ehrlich administration employment practices. Democratic leaders say they want to find out if employees were fired because of their political affiliations and whether the law needs to be changed to give more protection to low-level state workers.

Republicans have sharply criticized the inquiry as an attempt by Democrats to embarrass Ehrlich.

Senate Minority Leader J. Lowell Stoltzfus, R-Somerset, said after the hearing Monday that the inquiry has already cost more than half a million dollars and "we haven't got anything to show for it."

"There's no smoking gun," he said.

But another committee member, Delegate Maggie McIntosh, D-Baltimore, said the inquiry is justified because of the way some employees were treated.

"If this had happened in the (William Donald) Schaefer administration or the (Parris) Glendening administration, we would have had the same hearings," she said.

Steffen's name also came up in testimony by a second witness, Debbie McKerrow, who lost her job as chief spokeswoman for the Maryland Insurance Administration and was replaced by Steffen.

McKerrow was a holdover from the previous administration who continued to work under the new insurance commissioner, Alfred Redmer, until May 2004, when she said she was fired without notice. She said she asked for but was given no reason for being forced out.

Stoltzfus said there was nothing political about the loss of her job.

"I was told you were terminated based on your performance," he said.

McKerrow also testified about attending a mandatory meeting of all state public information officers in the State House reception room 11 months after Ehrlich was elected. She said Paul Schurick, Ehrlich's communications director, told the public relations officials: "Everything we do from this point is for the re-election of the governor."

Schurick was not at the hearing but later disputed McKerrow's testimony.

"If she said that, then she lied under oath, because I would never say that," Schurick said. "I take our responsibilities as communications officials very seriously. Our responsibility is to state government and the citizens of Maryland. I don't believe that and I would never say that."

The third witness at the hearing Monday, Alan Clark, said he had to search for a new job when his position as an actuary at the insurance administration was abolished. He told the committee he thought his position was chosen to be eliminated because he fell into disfavor after recommending against some requests for rate increases from insurance companies.

He said he was told he was undermining the governor's position.

The committee plans to take a break from public hearings during February, but is tentatively scheduled to hear from witnesses on three days in March.

TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events; US: Maryland
KEYWORDS: ehrlich; md4bush; ncpac; specialcommittee; steffen; witchhunt
The "non-partisan hearings" will drag on through March. There's still no word on whether NCPAC/Joseph Steffen will be called to testify.
1 posted on 01/30/2006 8:45:54 PM PST by conservative in nyc
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To: NCPAC; MD4Bush; xcullen; Anti-Bubba182; Mo1; cyncooper; BillF; crushkerry; Howlin; backhoe; ...
MD4Bush Ping!

See also Ex-aides recount political pressures (Baltimore Sun)

I guess the Governor of Maryland can't fire departmental spokesman, if the Democrats get their way. That makes no sense.
2 posted on 01/30/2006 8:48:23 PM PST by conservative in nyc
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To: conservative in nyc

Steffen was later fired by Ehrlich for his role in spreading rumors on the Internet about Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat.


spreading rumors? Is that so. at least that's how the ap chap appears to interpret it or seeks to portray it anyway.

3 posted on 01/30/2006 8:51:45 PM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Monthly Donor spoken Here. Go to ...
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To: conservative in nyc
"..Steffen was later fired by Ehrlich for his role in spreading rumors on the Internet about Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat..."

Still the same lie.

4 posted on 01/30/2006 8:52:04 PM PST by Anti-Bubba182
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To: Anti-Bubba182
One more article:

Witnesses Describe Firings From State Jobs (Washington Post/Matthew Mosk)

From the article:


Later yesterday, Ehrlich's deputy press secretary, Shareese DeLeaver, recounted Schurick's reaction to McKerrow's sworn testimony. "He said if that's how she describes the meeting, then she lied under oath."

"Debbie McKerrow was replaced because she was a sub-par public information officer, not up to the task at hand," DeLeaver said. "We chose to put a more capable PIO at the insurance administration, which we considered an extremely important position."

The person who replaced McKerrow: Steffen.

E-mails released by Ehrlich's chief counsel showed that shortly after McKerrow was dismissed and the position was advertised, the governor's then-chief of staff, Steven Kreseski, was helping to ensure that Steffen landed the job.

Kreseski wrote to Steffen that he had dined with a top insurance administration official and "really pushed the political, practical, and fun merits of you as PIO."

Steffen wrote back that Ehrlich press secretary Greg "Massoni and Schurick both know [of his interest] and are very gung ho with the idea."

The governor fired Steffen last February, hours before The Washington Post prepared to publish Internet postings in which Steffen described efforts to smear one of Ehrlich's political opponents.


The WaPo also reports that FReeper NCPAC/Joe Steffen is expected to be one of the three witnesses who will testify in March.
5 posted on 01/30/2006 9:15:16 PM PST by conservative in nyc
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To: conservative in nyc

The never ending story..thanks for posting this my FRiend.

6 posted on 01/31/2006 4:31:10 AM PST by happinesswithoutpeace (You are receiving this broadcast as a dream)
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To: conservative in nyc
In all these hearings, about the people fired, we never hear any word on whether or not they actually deserved to be fired. I find this information (or lack thereof) in the Sun to be telling.

If the Sun had information that these people had stellar work records, and had no other reason to be fired other than partisan politics, it'd be front page news I'm sure. Something smells here, and it's not the fish that's usually wrapped in the Sun.

7 posted on 01/31/2006 8:03:07 AM PST by FourtySeven (47)
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