Prince George's County executive Lawrence J. Hogan, accused by his political opponents of being unable to recruit qualified professionals for key government jobs, has chosen directors for two major county departments.
Hogan, a republican, announced yesterday the appointment of one of his predecessors, Republican former county executive William W. Gullet, as director of the Department of Licenses and Permits.
In addition, Hogan has told members of the all-democratic county council that he intends to nominate Patrick Gaston, a former warden of Riker's Island state prison in New York, to head the county corrections department.
If those nominations are approved by the council, Hogan will have made 11 permanent appointments on the department head level. Four of these are hold-over officials from the administration of Democratic former executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr.
However, six major appointments remain to be made.
Although Hogan denies he has had problems attracting qualified professionals to Prince George's, he has been turned down in at least three cases by his choice for a department directorship.
In addition, Hogan's nominees for seats on two county commissions have recently run into trouble with the County Council, and council members said that many of Hogan's selections have been underqualified.
Hogan and his aides maintain that the delays in filling department head positions have resulted because of a careful-in Hogan's word "judicious"-selection process. They say that attacks on the qualifications of nominees, or on Hogan's recruitment success by council members are politically motivated.
Council members and other county officials, however, cite the following examples of the problems Hogan has had making appointments.
Two major county departments, Public Works and Transportation, and Central Services, are now headed by acting directors who worked for Hogan during his election campaign. These acting directors, Hogan aides say, will held the posts only until permanent appointments can be made.
Several well-known officials, including former state transportation secretary Hermann Intemann and former D.C. police chief Maurice Cullinane, have turned down major department jobs under Hogan.
In another case, at least three persons, including a high Virginia state official, turned down the leadership of the Program Planning and Economic Development Department before Hogan made a nomination. However, Hogan said at the time that his choice "didn't have deep background in the field."
The County Council has recently rejected several of Hogan's choices for the Commission on Women and the Parking Authority, saying that the Nominees were underqualified.
Council members also recently privately refused to accept Hogan's first choice for director of licenses and permits-Acting Director Charles C. Deegan saying Deegan was a political aide to Hogan and not a qualified administrator.
Hogan and his aides maintain that the council's complaints are motivated purely by partisan politics. The council is under pressure from the Democratic central committee to turn down more of Hogan's nominees, they said, and are irritated because more prominent Democrats have not been appointed.
County officials say that Hogan's appointment difficulties are understandable, in part, because Hogan has attempted to reorganize the county government much faster than previous executives. According to aides, Kelly appointed only one new department head during his first six months in office.
In addition, county officials said, TRIM, the voter-approved limit on tax revenues that has led to cutbacks in manly county departments, has frightened away several candidates fee department directorships.
According to members of the all-Democratic council, however, Hogan's appointment problems have been worsened by Hogan's tendency to choose fellow Republicans to fill local government posts in a county dominated by Democrats.
"I can't really say that the people he has been nominating are of the same caliber we're used to," said Council Chairman William B. Amonett. "He's trying to steer away from mainstream Democrats in appointments, and you can't really do that in this county-there are too many Democrats and the Republican Party isn't that big."
According to a Hogan aide, about 80 percent of the 90 Hogan appointments that have won council approval in the past four months have been Republicans.
"The public perception can easily be that we are turning appointments down simply because they are Hogan's nominees," said council member Parris N. Glendening. "I know, though that there has been real, genuine concern about the balance Hogan has had on some of the commissions and on the qualifications of these people."
Council members said yesterday that they thought Hogan's nomination of Gullett for licenses and permits would be easily approved, but said they had not yet reacted to the appointment of Gaston as head of corrections.