Voters--those who showed up at all--cast ballots for...


September 16, 1990

Voters--those who showed up at all--cast ballots for change

Low voter turnouts are supposed to favor political incumbents. Not this time.

Thirty-five percent of eligible voters, a record low, cast their ballots in Maryland's Democratic and Republican primaries, and they defeated six senators, and possibly a seventh, including the chairmen of both subcommittees of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. They also left John S. Arnick, majority leader of the House of Delegates and chairman of the Environmental Matters Committee, in office by just six votes after absentee ballots were counted and an election-night error was corrected.

Reasons for the defeat of incumbents, including Montgomery County Executive Sidney Kramer, included concerns about development and poor representation in the State House, but four of the defeated senators -- Baltimore County's Francis X. Kelly, Montgomery's S. Frank Shore and Margaret C. Schweinhaut and Prince George's Frank J. Komenda -- had opposed abortion rights in an eight-day filibuster last session. Abortion-rights activists warned that they still had the general election to think about. Meanwhile, Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who won his primary over Fred Griisser with, for him, a hair-thin 77.5 percent of the vote, said he would issue a position paper on abortion this week.

In the 1st Congressional District, voters set up a re-run of 1988's race between Representative Roy P. Dyson, who took 54.1 percent of the vote against three challengers despite repeated controversies over alleged special-interest ties and his Vietnam-era draft status, and Wayne T. Gilchrest, the political novice who nearly beat him. But two of Mr. Gilchrest's challengers said they wouldn't support him in the general election, citing his liberal stands on wetlands control, gun control and -- there's that word again -- abortion.

Hopkins changes the score for Peabody

Just before the final notes threatened to sound at the Peabody Institute, the Johns Hopkins University pledged approximately $3 million to keep it alive. That will let the conservatory meet a fund-raising deadline the state had required for it to qualify for $30 million in state aid over the next five years. Peabody, a part of Hopkins since 1977, was required to raise $15 million when the state approved the aid last April, but a whirlwind effort that included personal appeals to virtually all the major Maryland-based corporations and foundations and several wealthy philanthropists netted only $12.3 million at the most recent tally, said a Peabody spokeswoman, Anne Garside. The Hopkins board of trustees' executive committee voted to make up the difference rather than lose the pledges already made -- and, according to some sources, face the costs of closing the conservatory.

Hopkins President William C. Richardson said the university had the "full expectation" it would be able to raise the money from outside sources between now and 1995, when its pledge is due to be paid, and thus would not actually have to divert any of its own money. But he said Hopkins was "fully prepared" to make up any shortfall from the university's unrestricted endowment fund.

Presidents' raise legal, not wise, Curran says

The regents of the University of Maryland System have the legal right to give healthy salary increases to 11 campus presidents, some as high as 17 percent, behind closed doors, according to Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. But he said he was not advising it.

"I guess it's just a good judgment call when dealing with the public and the subject is really sensitive," he said. "Whether the governor, the General Assembly, or a college professor, they probably all can say they deserved everything they've been given. But it seems to me they ought to be singing their praises in public." The increases were approved before the regents learned that a state revenue shortfall would force them to absorb severe budget cuts worth $39 million this year. This year's raises and bonuses, which total more than $141,000, are within the total sum earmarked for executive salary increases when the regents passed a budget this time last year.

Montgomery tops scholarship list again

"It's a nice feather in the cap of the county, no question about it," said Brian Porter, a spokesman for the Montgomery County school system. With just 14.3 percent of the state's public school students, Montgomery had 44.7 percent of the National Merit Scholarship semifinalists in the yearly competition.

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