Sondheim heads panel on meetings

August 07, 1991|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. William Donald Schaefer yesterday named Walter Sondheim Jr., one of his oldest and most trusted advisers, to chair the new state board created to resolve disputes over when government meetings may be closed to the press and public.

Mr. Sondheim, retired chairman of Baltimore's downtown redevelopment agency and for years an adviser to various city mayors, was appointed to a three-year term as head of the three-member Open Meetings Compliance Board.

Mr. Schaefer also picked Courtney J. McKeldin, daughter-in-law of former Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin and once the head of Republicans for Schaefer, for a two-year term on the board.

Ms. McKeldin, a public relations manager for the Baltimore Convention and Visitors Association, had been nominated by the governor for a seat on the state elections board, but her name was withdrawn in March after Republican legislators opposed her appointment.

The governor also named Tyler G. Webb, a partner in the law firm of O'Malley and Miles, to serve a one-year term on the board, created as part of a law enacted this year that revises and strengthens Maryland's open-meetings requirements.

Although the law does not go into effect until July 1, 1992, its provisions called for the appointment this year of the Compliance Board to help jurisdictions understand how to comply with the new law.

"I know Walter Sondheim has great integrity," said Tom Marquardt, managing editor of the Capital newspaper in Annapolis and president of the Maryland Media Confederation, a coalition of newspaper and broadcast organizations that lobbied for the stronger open-meetings law. "As chairman, I think he is a great choice."

"The other two candidates have backgrounds in government, and I guess that is going to give them insight into open and closed meetings, but I wish that one of them was not involved in government so we could have a fresh perspective," Mr. Marquardt said.

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