In yearly spat, Schaefer attacks legislature

March 28, 1991|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- Like that other hardy perennial, the daffodil, the yearly clash between the legislature and Gov. William Donald Schaefer appears to be reaching its full springtime bloom.

Before a Board of Public Works meeting yesterday, Governor Schaefer lashed out at legislators who rejected Monday his supplemental budget with $48.3 million in social programs and, in a particularly brazen move, three of his gubernatorial appointments.

"People say that the power of the governor is waning. I assure rTC you that is an overstatement," said Mr. Schaefer, who warned legislators "not to underestimate the power of the governor."

"The power of the governor," he said, "has not yet been expressed."

Administration officials said Governor Schaefer may have been particularly incensed by the Senate's Executive Nominations Committee's decisions to disapprove Courtney J. McKeldin of Baltimore, the daughter-in-law of former Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin, and Daniel J. Earnshaw of Havre de Grace to fill the two Republican seats on the five-member State Administrative Board of Election Laws.

The panel also rejected Alan B. Plevy of Silver Spring, husband of Schaefer aide Daryl C. Plevy, for one of two Democratic seats on Montgomery County's election board.

It was the first time Schaefer nominees have been rejected by the 19-member Senate panel.

According to the state attorney general's office, the Senate committee's action is invalid, however. The administration had withdrawn the names from consideration earlier in the day and therefore the committee was acting on something no longer before them, according to Assistant Attorney General Robert A. Zarnoch.

Nevertheless, Robert A. Pascal, Mr. Schaefer's appointments secretary, called the Senate's action "extremely embarrassing" to the administration and said the governor may chose to install the nominees after the General Assembly session anyway.

If that happens, the candidates will assume office July 1 and will have their names resubmitted to the Senate during the 1992 session. If they are rejected by the Senate then, the

administration "could put someone else in [during the interim] and we can keep playing the game for three years," Mr. Pascal warned.

Legislators had rejected the two Republican nominees at the urging of GOP senators who preferred the board's incumbents over Mrs. McKeldin, who headed Republicans For Schaefer before last year's election, and Mr. Earnshaw.

Mr. Plevy's rejection on a 7-5 vote came at the request of Sen. Laurence Levitan, D-Montgomery, a frequent Schaefer critic whose own nomination to the University of Maryland Medical System's governing board has been delayed by the administration.

"I don't know how bad it can get with appointments because it's never been good with this administration," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's. "I think the governor needs to take a trip to Ocean City, let the sun shine on his face and reflect on what's good in life and clear his head of all the bad thoughts."

While Governor Schaefer made no specific mention of the nominees during his speech yesterday, he warned legislators: "Don't underestimate the power of the governor for the next 3 1/2 years."

"The so-called problems between the governor and the legislature don't serve the public interest," said Mr. Schaefer, acknowledging his own "combative" style. "It's time for it to stop."

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