The flood of depressing economic news has Gov. William Donald Schaefer's strategists working overtime on how to cut, slash, postpone and save as many jobs as they can for the rest of this and into the next fiscal year. Grandiose new schemes are out. If the National Football League handed Baltimore a franchise today, the city and state would have to give it back. This is not the time for building another stadium.
It isn't the time for increasing taxes either, with one exception. When the extent of the deficit in the Transportation Trust Fund is revealed and projects across the state are halted, the governor and legislators may be able to raise the gasoline tax or come up with some kind of other plan to generate revenue for critical projects.
It would help enormously if Schaefer was willing to put the brakes on the dollar-draining light-rail project. He's unlikely to do that.
The anti-tax mood won't go much further. There is little sentiment for the tax revision scheme of the Linowes Commission. But it won't be killed entirely either. The most likely scenario is slow and selected study of the panel's recommendations. Then over the next two or three or four years, they will be brought back in bits and pieces, revised and rewritten, and probably passed into law.
There will still be plenty to fight about in the State House; abortion and no-fault insurance are two areas of combat. That's for openers.
All those who attended the governor's recent prayer breakfast received a small, blue-covered prayer book. The 37 prayers were written by Leslie Gordon Metcalf.
In his introduction to the book, Schaefer wrote that the prayers are expressions of his concerns and thoughts about his position. Included are prayers for Baltimore, Chesapeake Bay, Ocean City, Western Maryland, the poor, understanding and patience, and about frustration and the burdens of office.
"Prayer is the manner in which we communicate with God and [it] verbally expresses our needs, anxieties and concerns," he wrote. "The power of prayer is not always fully understood but it is present and can not be denied."
A sample, titled "No One is Perfect":
No one is perfect.
Everyone makes mistakes.
Help me correct it.
When I speak harshly to others,
Help me apologize.
When I react with anger.
When I respond with pride,
Help me be humble.
It seems there was a mighty parcel of voters who didn't want either Schaefer or his Republican challenger, William S. Shepard, to be the next chief executive. The Maryland ballot does not have a "none of the above" category. But tens of thousands of voters who did come to the polls for other races passed over the governor's contest.
In Baltimore County alone, nearly 15,000 voters (14,696, according to final but unofficial results) skipped the governor's race. That's roughly 7.2 percent of those who voted. In Montgomery County, the figure for those who didn't pick either candidate for governor was well over 12,000. In Prince George's County, it was nearly 10,000; in Anne Arundel County, well over 6,000. Over on the Eastern Shore, the count was about 1,000 in Talbot County, about 164 in Somerset County and more than 1,400 in Worcester County, which includes Ocean City.
Those nearly final but unofficial figures also show that Democrats turned out in greater numbers than Republicans in a number of key counties. In Baltimore County, the turnout was 62 percent for Dems and 56 percent for Republicans. In Howard County, that powerful GOP machine got only 55 percent of its voters to the polls compared with 61 percent for the Democrats. In Anne Arundel County, Democrats turned out by 69 percent to 63 percent for the GOP.
The figures underline the fact that new county executives Roger Hayden in Baltimore County, Robert Neall in Anne Arundel and Charles Ecker in Howard owe their victories to Democrats who crossed party lines.
By the way: Del. Ellen Sauerbrey, R-Balto. Co., will present a legislative agenda, including a measure limiting terms for lawmakers.
The loyalty of conservative Republicans make Alan Keyes the early favorite for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in 1992.
The 1994 Watch: In adding scholar, lawyer and Democratic Party election expert John T. Willis to his staff, Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening underlines the seriousness of his gubernatorial effort.
Also, watch for the formation late next month of committees in some larger counties supporting the effort of Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg.