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by Mark Reutter7:30 pmMar 16, 20120

Inside City Hall: Peter O’Malley bails as chief of staff

More staff turnover in mayor’s office

Above: Peter O’Malley listens to Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s State of the City address last month. To his right is Deputy Mayor (now renamed Deputy Chief) Kaliope Parthemos.

In the latest reshuffling of the chairs on the S.S. Rawlings-Blake, Peter O’Malley, younger brother of Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, is leaving as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff after 10 months in office.

The longtime political operative and campaign guru for his brother will depart City Hall on April 6 to join Venable LLP as a lawyer in its government relations practice in Baltimore. He will be replaced by Thomasina “Tomi” Hiers, director of the Mayor’s Office of Human Services, while a search for a permanent chief of staff is conducted.

O’Malley’s departure is the fifth top official to step down in the last three weeks.

The exodus began with the retirement of M.J. “Jay” Brodie as president of the Baltimore Development Corp. Rico J. Singleton, Chief Information Officer and director of the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology, resigned following a scandal at his former job.

Christopher G. Thomaskutty, Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Operations, is leaving to join Mercy Health Services, while Gregory Bayor, director of Recreation and Parks, will head the parks department in Tampa, Fla.

Second COS in Two Years

O’Malley is the second chief of staff to resign since Stephanie Rawlings-Blake became mayor two years ago. The first chief of staff, Sophie Dagenais, lasted 13 months.

The 41-year-old O’Malley joined the Mayor’s staff last May (resigning as chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party) while Rawlings-Blake was running for her first full term as mayor. He previously served as campaign manager for his brother’s mayoral victories in 1999 and 2003.

After her election, O’Malley spearheaded Rawlings-Blake’s plan to “grow” Baltimore by 10,000 families. He also headed the search for a new Director of Finance to replace retiring Edward Gallagher. His choice, Harry E. Black, was formally sworn in as finance director on Wednesday.

Bob Waldman, co-managing partner of Venable, said in a press release that O’Malley’s “experience working at various levels of state and local government will be an invaluable asset to our many clients operating in Maryland.”

New Titles for Confidants

O’Malley’s departure leaves the mayor’s inner circle mostly in the hands of females, headed by two childhood friends, Kimberly Washington and Kaliope Parthemos, who have been active in the mayor’s political ascent.

Today Rawlings-Blake announced that Washington will hold a new title, Deputy Chief for Government and Community Affairs, and shed her old moniker as Senior Advisor.

The mayor also announced that her office will no longer use the title “deputy mayor.” As a result, Deputy Mayor of Economic and Neighborhood Development Parthemos will now be known as Deputy Chief for Economic and Neighborhood Development.

The mayor also announced that Yolanda Jiggetts will become Deputy Chief for Public Safety, Operations and CitiStat, succeeding Chris Thomaskutty, whose last day is April 2.

Jiggetts began her career in 1999 in code enforcement at the Housing Department and became a special assistant to the housing commissioner before serving as legislative liaison and project manager for the director of Recreation and Parks. Over the last two years, she was Thomaskutty’s deputy.

Some New Faces

Two other appointments were announced today.

Sharon R. Pinder will head the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development. She replaces Carla A. Nelson, a holdover of the Sheila Dixon administration who resigned in November.

Pinder last served in government as Special Secretary for Minority Affairs under former Maryland Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich. She resigned  shortly after Martin O’Malley became governor in 2007.

Olivia Farrow will succeed Tomi Hiers as director of the Mayor’s Office of Human Services. Before joining the mayor’s office, Farrow was Interim Commissioner of the Baltimore City Health Department and Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Community and Environment Health. Prior to that, she was Assistant Commissioner for the Division of Environmental Health and director of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

She will oversee the city’s homeless services, community action centers, offender reentry and Head Start.

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