ANNAPOLIS -- Fearing he may have lost touch with "the people," Gov. William Donald Schaefer called together a new group of advisers this week: He calls them his "citizens' cabinet."
Made up of at least one resident of each of the state's 24 major jurisdictions, but including several longtime Schaefer supporters, the 28-member group held its first session with the governor over lunch at the governor's mansion Thursday afternoon.
"There was some feeling that somewhere he had lost touch with the people, and he was trying to figure out what was happening," said Gracie Rymer, a "cabinet" member and wife of Calvert County Circuit Judge Thomas A. Rymer. "He was very, very sincere in wanting to know what the people feel and think, not of him personally as much as what is going on in their area, or maybe other things that should attract his attention."
Pamela J. Kelly, a special assistant to Mr. Schaefer, said a "citizens' cabinet" was suggested by Joan Horsey, wife of Schaefer supporter and Chestertown Mayor Elmer Horsey. The governor also felt after last fall's election that "he doesn't get out to the people as much as he should," Ms. Kelly said.
At the initial meeting, Mr. Schaefer was told he should abandon his "Reach the Beach" program because it benefited only WesternShore residents headed for Ocean City, Ms. Kelly reported. In its place, it was suggested he begin a broader program to help the whole Eastern Shore, called "Explore the Shore."
She said appointments to the "citizens' cabinet" were based on recommendations from the governor's real Cabinet or were drawn from lists of people who had written Mr. Schaefer offering to volunteer.
The group includes, however, Mrs. Horsey; veteran Schaefer volunteer Sally Michel, who also is the wife of Robert E. Michel Jr., Schaefer campaign treasurer; former state Sen. Patricia Cushwa of Washington County; and Michael Davis of Baltimore, a key strategist in Mr. Schaefer's 1990 re-election campaign.
Others in the group include local civic and political activists, businessmen and at least one former county commissioner.
The "cabinet" will meet about four times a year, and members will serve without pay or reimbursement for expenses, Ms. Kelly said.