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Best Public Servant

Algie C. Epps

When he lost his $51,000-a-year job as a Baltimore City housing inspector this year, Algie C. Epps became more of a public servant than he was in all of his years of taxpayer-funded work. That’s because, by losing his job the way he did, the public now knows how perverse City Hall’s bureaucratic culture can be. Epps thrived in city government, starting out in 2005 as a housing inspector, quickly advancing to senior housing inspector, and becoming assistant superintendent of housing inspections in 2007. Then the city’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released an investigation into Epps’ career, exposing him as a bad apple—something his superiors knew, but they promoted him anyhow. The OIG concluded that Epps appears never to have been qualified for any of the positions, that he had lost his prior job as a lieutenant correctional officer at the Maryland House of Correction after a fraud conviction involving his job there, and that he was promoted even though his superiors knew of his checkered past—and knew that he’d lied about it during the promotions process, providing false and misleading information on forms. Housing chief Paul Graziano lambasted the OIG for conducting a “full-scale investigation” instead of addressing the Epps problem quietly in “one meeting,” contended that the agency “followed the required process” in Epps’ case, and promised to lower the job requirements for housing inspectors so that they don’t have to be subjected to criminal-background checks. Thanks for the insights, Algie!

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