Governor,legislators reach truce Latest tiff ends in pact on 5-member redistricting panel.

May 14, 1991|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Evening Sun Staff Michael Fletcher contributed to this story.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer and legislative leaders hav ended their latest feud by reaching agreement on a five-member advisory committee to draft new congressional and state legislative districts.

The governor announced his appointments to the special redistricting panel at a news conference today in Annapolis, drawing to a close at least temporarily the war of words that broke out a week ago over how large the committee should be and who should serve on it.

The group will be chaired by Benjamin L. Brown, a former city solicitor who served under Schaefer when Schaefer was mayor of Baltimore.

Brown, a former District Court judge in Baltimore, is described as a respected and politically moderate Schaefer ally whose appointment was endorsed by both Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's, and House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Eastern Shore.

Both Miller and Mitchell, who had urged Schaefer a month ago to work cooperatively with the legislature on the redistricting plans, have seats on the panel. Sources said they will select members of their own legislative bodies to provide advice on how the districts should be redrawn.

The group's lone Republican is Norman Glasgow, a Montgomery County lawyer who backed Schaefer's re-election bid last year. He has been a longtime acquaintance of the governor and was picked by Schaefer to serve on his Special committee on the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program.

The fifth member of the committeee is Donna Felling, a one-term state delegate from Baltimore County who lost her re-election race last year. Because of her political experience in the House, the selection of Felling would appear to weigh the panel in favor of the legislature, despite early claims by Schaefer that he wanted to restrict lawmakers to a minority role on the commission.

Such a makeup balances the panel demographically. Geographically, it includes representatives from the city and Baltimore, Prince George's and Montgomery counties (the state's largest jurisdictions), as well as a member from the Eastern Shore to represent rural constituencies. It has members of both leading political parties, as well as a black (Benjamin Brown) and a woman.

During initial talks about the makeup of the panel, Schaefer said he wanted to create a nine-member group with two positions

reserved for legislators. Miller objected, say

ing the legislature should have a greater voice over the redistricting plans, and threatened to break away from the governor and form his own panel. Mediators in the legislature and on Schaefer's staff managed to keep the two sides talking and the governor agreed to limit the size of the group to five individuals and give Miller and Mitchell joint approval of the chairman.

Schaefer did not elaborate on how panel members were selected, but said he hopes Mitchell and Miller attend committee meetings personally and do not send substitutes.

Brown resigned as city solicitor in April 1987, when Clarence H. Du Burns was mayor, to become executive director of the National Institute of Municipal Law Officers.

The institute collects and furnishes municipal law information to lawyers who give legal advice to city officials, city councils and city employees.

Brown spent 13 years as city solicitor, a post that made him a member of the Board of Estimates, the five-member board responsible for formulating and executing the city's fiscal policy. As solicitor, Brown was a trusted confidant of Schaefer and

was credited with being a pioneer in municipal finance by finding innovative ways to fund city projects. Before becoming city solicitor in 1974, Brown served as an associate judge on the Maryland District Court in Baltimore. He also has served as a deputy state's attorney in the city and has worked for several private law firms. He was a member of Baltimore's Democratic Central committee and currently serves on the University of Maryland's Board of Regents.

Brown is a graduate of Lincoln University and earned his law degree at the University of Maryland Law School.

Federal and state laws require that congressional and state legislative districts be redrawn after each national census. In each case, the governor is required to propose a plan, which will become law unless the legislature changes it or adopts a plan of its own.

Following a series of a dozen public hearings on the plans, the legislature is expected to convene in Annapolis for a special session this fall to review the proposals.

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