Cumberland Times-News

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January 28, 2013

Governor's concern about Garrett storm response led to Frantz ousting

OAKLAND — Gov. Martin O’Malley, concerned about the emergency response in Garrett County to the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Sandy in late October, has declared his intent to rescind the appointment of Brad Frantz as emergency management director there.

The governor’s intention was confirmed in an email statement Monday by County Administrator Monty Pagenhardt.

Frantz, who held the position for 35 years, had retired in July, but was back on the job contractually when the vicious weather event struck.

“The county was notified in late December that the governor’s office had serious concerns with the emergency direction ... during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” Pagenhardt wrote, adding that the governor spoke then of his intent to rescind the appointment.

Frantz said Monday afternoon that he has heard no specifics from the governor’s office about dissatisfaction with his post-storm response decisions.

“I believe there were a lot of very different opinions expressed to the governor about the situation in Garrett County. There were a lot of ego issues,”  Frantz said, referring to interaction with the Maryland Emergency Management Administration.

In a Times-News story on Nov. 10, Frantz said, “To understand the magnitude of the event, officials removed some 3,000 downed trees, replaced 300 utility poles and replaced more than 50,000 feet of electric wire throughout the county.”

Although Frantz was involved in the declaration of 10 to 12 weather emeregencies during his career, most involving snow, but also floods and a tornado, he said Hurricane Sandy was “the worst ever.”

“I pre-date 911,” Frantz said Monday, recalling his emergency management career of more than three decades.

Pagenhardt and the county’s commissioners will meet Tuesday morning in executive session to discuss the situation and to come up with names to send the governor for possible appointment to the directorship.

“Right now we have no director,” Pagenhardt said Monday afternoon. The group will also talk about Frantz’ future as a county employee.

Pagenhardt said the contract with Frantz has no end date prescribed, but allows either party to terminate with a notice of 30 days.

Israel Patoka, director of the Governer’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, said Monday afternoon that “the singular intent (of seeking names for the directorship) is to strengthen emergency management in Garrett County, nothing more.”

“There were significant communication issues and during a weather event that is one of the stronger skill sets that is needed,” Patoka said. “Also, during such times we need persons at full-time capacity,” he added, referring to Frantz being a contractual employee.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

 

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