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Accountabilityby Mark Reutter4:49 pmApr 10, 20240

Laying criticism aside, Baltimore County Council hails D’Andrea Walker as incoming county administrator

The work session made clear that the public works chief is a shoo-in for the promotion, despite testimony from two speakers linking her to poor personnel practices and harassment of a whistleblower

Above: D’Andrea Walker at the Baltimore County Council’s work session. (Mark Reutter)

Three Republican members of the Baltimore County Council joined forces with the body’s four Democrats in praising a department head who ordered a police investigation of a “whistleblower” who offered evidence about an alleged influence-peddling scheme involving County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.

The show of bipartisan support came at yesterday’s Council work session where D’Andrea Walker, director of the Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT), was up for promotion as county administrative officer.

In that role as the top non-elected officer in the county, Walker will earn $263,000 a year and be responsible for the day-to-day operations of a government with 6,500 full-time employees and a $5 billion budget for 2024-25.

Although a formal vote won’t take place until next Monday’s public session, chairman Izzy Patoka signaled that her confirmation was assured, most likely by a unanimous vote.

But that left Patoka and his colleagues with the task of how best to handle Michael Beichler, the former chief of solid waste management, who was investigated by county detectives after he complained about Walker’s efforts to win approval of the Eagle Transfer Station following a fundraiser held for Olszewski by the station’s promoter, Jack Haden.

Dundalk Republican Todd K. Crandell, whose district would have gotten the garbage transfer station if Beichler hadn’t alerted the press, approached the matter gingerly with the nominee.

“During your tenure at DPWT, our offices worked well together,” he began. “However, you are certainly aware of some criticism, I think, by former employees.

“Would you like to address that now? I don’t know if it’s the elephant in the room or not. But let’s just get it out there.”

Doing my Duty

Walker took the cue and ran with it.

“If I’m being completely honest, I was shocked when I saw a former employee in the newspaper talk about me,” she said, referring to last week’s Brew story about the police probe of Beichler’s alleged “theft” of county documents.

“I do have an obligation, if you are trespassing on county property, to report it”  – D’Andrea Walker.

“I never said a bad word about that employee. But I do have an obligation, if you are trespassing on county property, to report it. Otherwise, I’m not doing my duty. So I was, frankly, hurt about it because I had not done anything for that employee to say the things that they are saying.”

The police report notes that a criminal investigation was opened after Olszewski’s former chief of staff, Patrick Murray, supplied a security video of Beichler entering a DPWT building on two occasions after he retired from the department.

Michael Beichler says his criticism of D'Andrea Walker is not personal, but based on her perofmrance as public works director. (Mark Reutter)

Michael Beichler says the written complaints he lodged about D’Andrea Walker were never personal, but based on her performance as public works director. (Mark Reutter)

The video was provided by Walker, whose top aide, Anthony Russell, arranged for police interviews of DPWT employees, one of whom stated “he was aware of the news articles in the Baltimore Brew” about the Eagle Transfer Station and that Beichler was “probably trying get Director Walker in trouble [because] she was a Black woman.”

The employee “was not able to provide any proof for this belief,” the police report said.

Beichler case holds a harsh mirror up to the Olszewski administration (4/4/24)

Another example of the ethically challenged culture of Baltimore County government (4/25/22)

Walker hit upon the same narrative yesterday, suggesting that she was being criticized because she did not fit the mold of a white professional engineer.

“I walked into a situation at DPWT where people didn’t want to work for me. Not because I wasn’t capable, but, frankly, because I don’t look like a lot of other people.”

She said she accepted their antipathy as a price she had to pay to do her job and make decisions that were beneficial to county residents. “I do have very high expectations. I don’t believe in mistreating an employee. And no employee can come up here and say I ever, ever mistreated them.”

Circling back to Beichler, she concluded, “I wouldn’t dare come onto this stage and lie about somebody. And I don’t know why people feel the need to do it.”

D'Andrea Walker, in background, with Councilman Julina Jones, County Executive Johnny Olszewski and retiring County Administrator Stacy Rodgers. (X)

D’Andrea Walker with Councilman Julian Jones, County Executive Johnny Olszewski and retiring County Administrator Stacy Rodgers. (X)

“Thank You, Thank You”

Her remarks were met by applause by outgoing administrator, Stacy Rodgers. Council members followed with laudatory remarks.

“Director Walker, I just wanted to say that when I came in as a Council person, the one thing I’ll always remember is the way you run your department. Thank you,” said Michael Ertel (D, 6th)

“Ms. Walker, I just want to thank you. Thank you for the work you’ve done. You’ve always worked well with me and my colleagues,” added Julian E. Jones Jr. (D, 4th).

“You have one week to get all the roads paved from the list I gave you,” joked Wade Kach (R, 3rd), saying he hoped she would start her new job right after the Council vote on Monday evening, so he could prepare a new list for her.

“We all know that Ms. Walker did not have the credentials to become director of public works”  – Whitney Dudley.

There was no joking – or praise – from another speaker at the hearing.

Whitney Dudley, a retired DPWT employee, urged the lawmkers not to approve Walker’s nomination.

There was a reason for “the mass exodus” of senior staff following Walker’s appointment as acting director, Dudley said, and it stemmed from her  lack of knowledge about public works and poor personnel practices.

Baltimore County’s biggest department sees an exodus of senior staff (5/26/22)

“I find it insulting to use that [race] as a talking point because that was not what anyone was talking about. We all know that Ms. Walker did not have the credentials to become director of public works,” she said.

Beichler then came forward, prefacing his remarks by saying that Walker was always respectful to him and they got along well personally. His issues involved what he considered to be her unethical behavior.

“I woke up one morning and realized that my bureau was for sale by the County Executive through Ms. Walker,” said the 28-year veteran of county service.

His speech (below) was met with stony silence from the seven-member Council.

No questions were asked. No follow-up questions were addressed to the county auditor or inspector general. No request for documentation of his allegations was made.



Thank you for letting me speak. Succinctly and to the point, I should not be here before you this evening. Why?

• The County Executive appointed an unqualified “acting” Director of Public Works, Ms. Walker.

• Ms. Walker for two years worked in this “acting” capacity in violation of County Code 406.c. entitled, “limitation of term.” County Code is the law. Not only was Ms. Walker unqualified, her term was unlawful. I will acknowledge that Ms. Walker was eventually made “kosher,” but only after significant Machiavellian political machinations taking two years to do so.

• During her unlawful term in office, I served as a bureau chief under her and filed six complaints with the Inspector General’s Office with copious records and documentations of each complaint over two years ago. Yet those complaints have not seen the light of day.

• As you are all aware, for making those complaints, Ms. Walker was a co-conspirator in siccing the Baltimore County Police Department upon me.

What has happened to DPW under Ms. Walker? Take the former bureau that I was responsible for, solid waste. I woke up one morning and realized that my bureau was for sale by the County Executive through Ms. Walker, to which I filed a complaint.

“If you approve of Ms. Walker’s nomination, expect more of the same”  – Michael Beichler.

My successor is now a fine young man named Nicholas Rodricks whom I hired and in no way am I disparaging him. When I hired Mr. Rodricks who is not an engineer, he was only an intern. Four months after my early retirement and only 16 months after coming to work, Ms. Walker appoints Mr. Rodricks as bureau chief over experienced bureau professional engineers.

Did you get that? Ms. Walker, in her unqualified acting capacity, hires an unqualified person as bureau chief. And that is how the Department of Public Works and Transportation is today.

Lastly, the question now before you is really governance because that is the CAO’s job. My experience with Ms. Walker’s governance is outlined in my March 27 letter to you and the documentation of that letter as given to the Inspector General and county auditor.

If you approve of Ms. Walker’s nomination, expect more of the same. Plus, you will have appointed her to either investigate herself or cover up whatever investigations there are.

Remember, the County Council’s constitutional job is to balance the executive branch when it is out of balance and kilter. And it is. Please do your jobs and not confirm Ms Walker.

To reach a reporter: reuttermark@yahoo.com

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