The Board of Public Works last Wednesday renamed the Jeffrey Building a half-block down from the State House for Fred Wineland, the longest serving secretary of state in Maryland history.
Wineland was a Prince George’s County delegate and senator before Gov. Marvin Mandel named him secretary of state — the only cabinet officer established in the constitution — in 1971. The secretary gets a motley array of duties and the lowest salary of anybody in the cabinet because the legislature refuses to raise it.
Wineland, 85, is a World War II Navy Veteran and a good friend of Gov. Harry Hughes, with whom he served in the Senate. Both Gov. Parris Glendening and Hughes lobbied Gov. Martin O’Malley for the name change. Hughes “never let up,” O’Malley told Wineland after the ceremony.
But what of the poor Jeffrey for whom the building was named when it was built in 1966? It wasn’t until Wednesday that Hughes himself learned of the connection to his own career.
According to Susan Wood at the Department of General Services, the building was named Jeffrey by politically connected developer Victor Frenkil for his first grandchild, Jeffrey Krieger, son of Frenkil’s daughter Janet. Krieger now has his own architecture firm in Philadelphia.
Victor Frenkil, friend of governors, was one of the bidders to build the Baltimore subway when Hughes was secretary of Transportation in the 1970s. According to Hughes’ autobiography and newspaper accounts at the time, Frenkil’s firm was not chosen for the contract, but he used his political connections with Mandel and Comptroller Louis Goldstein — with whom he once owned some land — to work behind the scenes and scuttle the chosen contractor so he could get the business.
After battles back and forth which delayed the award of the contract, Hughes eventually resigned as Transportation secretary in 1977, citing the political games being played over the subway contract. This established his reputation for incorruptibility in the troubled administration of Mandel, who eventually went to federal prison on an unrelated deal – later to have the conviction overturned.
So when Hughes learned of the Frenkil connection to the building and the Jeffrey name last Wednesday, he said, “I’m glad they’re taking [the name] off,” and replacing it with that of his friend and Senate colleague, Wineland.
“I was stunned when I got the news,” said Wineland, who was wearing a portable oxygen device to help him breathe. “I’m flying so high I had to bring my own oxygen.”
The state began renting the building in 1966 and purchased it from Frenkil in 1972.