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The Baltimore Sun talked with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her choice for fire chief Niles Ford, along with a union official and council member. The discussion with Ford included details on his departure as city manager in Chamblee, Georgia after he clashed with a council member who wanted Ford to approve a building on the council member's property that Ford believed violated zoning laws (see TV story below).
"His resume has a really, really strong mix of managerial experience, fiscal stewardship, which is very important to me, and on-the-ground experience," Rawlings-Blake said Sunday. "He was the best fit. I really liked his sensibility and his leadership style."
Fire officers union president Michael Campbell and Councilman Brandon Scott questioned why the mayor didn't hire from within the department, and others pointed out that Ford has never run an agency as large as Baltimore's. Lincoln's fire department has 300 employees, compared with 1,700 in Baltimore.
Ford's most recent position as a city manager ended with a clash with the City Council in Chamblee, Ga., which has a population of 10,000. According to news reports, the Chamblee City Council issued a preliminary resolution saying its members had lost confidence in Ford.
"This city councilperson's property did not meet the current zoning guidelines," Ford said. "It was too small to put a house on. I felt like it was my job to be consistent, and treat him like any other citizen."
Shortly thereafter, the council began an effort to terminate Ford without cause, he says.
The Baltimore Fire Officers Association, IAFF Local 964, has tweeted that the new fire chief for the City of Baltimore will be Niles Ford. According to the tweet, Ford will be introduced by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at an event on Monday.
Below is the tweet from Local 964 just before 6:00 this evening, followed by additional tweets from Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton.
Ford is the former fire chief in Lincoln, Nebraska and a deputy chief in Fulton County, Georgia. More recently Niles Ford was back in Georgia as the city manager in Chanblee. That ended in June when the Chamblee City Council fired Ford, in connection with a controversial zoning issue Watch the story below for details (Click here is you are unable to play the video).