Saying he wants Maryland to take a "new direction" by intervening with troubled children before they break the law, Gov. William Donald Schaefer has named a former educator to head the proposed new Department of Children and Youth Services.
Schaefer yesterday announced that he would appoint Nancy S. Grasmick as secretary of a department to be created by merging the Department of Juvenile Services and the Governor's Office of Children, Youth and Families.
Pending legislative approval of both the appointment and merger, Grasmick would succeed former Juvenile Services chief Linda D'Amario Rossi, who is leaving to take a job in Rhode Island.
Grasmick for the past 18 months has served as Schaefer's special secretary for the Office of Children, Youth and Families, which coordinates various state and local programs for children.
The Department of Juvenile Services runs Maryland's correctional facilities for juveniles, and Schaefer said he wants more emphasis on preventive programs.
Grasmick was an assistant and associate superintendent in the Baltimore County public school system for 11 years and served as a school principal for four years.
Political action committees gave $2.4 million to successful General Assembly candidates last year, a 43 percent increase over the amount PACs contributed in state elections four years ago, according to Common Cause of Maryland.
The $2.4 million of special interest contributions brought the total amount spent by successful candidates to more than $10 million, Common Cause reported.
The PACs are formed to promote the interests of lawyers, doctors, Realtors and a variety of other groups.
"Common Cause thinks this is a problem . . . of undue influence," said Phil Andrews, executive director of the citizen lobbying group.
Andrews repeated his call for the legislature to tighten Maryland's campaign finance laws, particularly by capping at $3,000 the amount a PAC can give to any candidate during a four-year period. Currently, there are no limitations on the money PACs can distribute to office-seekers.
Two Eastern Shore senators proposed legislation yesterday to counter the Schaefer administration's plan to impose new restrictions on development of private property in Maryland.
"It seems like property rights are being taken away from us more and more every year," said Frederick C. Malkus, a Dorchester County Democrat, one of the sponsors.
The bill, sponsored by Malkus and Lewis Riley, R-Wicomico, would require all proposed laws and regulations restricting use of private land to be reviewed by the state attorney general.
The attorney general would advise the General Assembly and state agencies if the rules or laws would open the state to lawsuits from landowners over the loss of their right to develop their property.
The bill would not prevent enactment of Schaefer's land-use restrictions. But the sponsors said lawmakers would be more reluctant to approve new restrictions if they knew the state might be sued for millions of dollars by unhappy property owners.