Endorsement: Kenneth Mejia for city controller
May 22, 2013|By Mike Smith, Of The Morning Call
Kenneth Mejia, who once headed up the city’s finance and capital improvement departments, is running for the city controller.
In interviews with The Morning Call and The Baltimore Sun, Mejia described a wide range of topics and views of what he thought would be an exciting term for the position that has been vacant almost since he started with the City of Baltimore as controller in 1992.
In the early 1990s, Mayor Kurt Schmoke had asked Mejia to move from the finance and capital improvement departments to run Baltimore’s Department of Finance and Administration.
When Schmoke was sworn in as mayor in 1989, Mejia was promoted to head up the city’s Department of Finance and Administration.
Mejia, 68, described his tenure on the city controller’s office as an interesting time of transition at the department.
Before the department was formed, the city controller’s office was the fiscal agent of the City Council, he said.
“I was the agent of the council, as far as I was concerned,” he said. “If the city council doesn’t do something, I wasn’t going to do it.”
He said because of that, it was difficult to move into the role of the city controller’s office without some level of city council cooperation.
Mejia described the state of the city bureaucracy in recent years as not very good.
In the 1990s, there was budget slashing in the city, he said, and then there was a period of instability, during which the city saw significant job losses.
“People were leaving City Hall,” Mejia said.
While some cities like Newark, New Jersey, and Providence, R.I., have been able to rebuild their budgets, others like Baltimore have been less successful.
In Mejia’s four and a half years as the city controller, he said he has had to make a number of decisions that he could have been better at, and the decision that he has taken most recently was to fire a deputy city controller, who was the only one in the city controller’s office to not have been convicted of a felony.
“It wasn’t a decision I made 100 percent on emotion,” Mejia said. “It was a decision that