ANNAPOLIS -- From the man who brought you the "nasty-gram" and the unannounced home visit, now comes a new form of season's greeting -- an epistolary lump of coal, as it were.
It's a Christmas card from Gov. William Donald Schaefer to a constituent whose letter kindled the fires of gubernatorial indignation.
Ken Gelletly of Denton got his card last week. A Republican who ran unsuccessfully against state Sen. Frederick C. Malkus, D-Dorchester, last year, Mr. Gelletly made the governor's Christmas card list after writing a letter to the Salisbury Daily Times objecting to aspects of a congressional redistricting plan.
A careful reader of newspaper editorial pages, Governor Schaefer responded with a Christmas card.
On the outside of the card is a classic yuletide scene: fireplace, wreaths, tree and presents.
Inside, the card says, "Warmest greetings of the season and every good wish for the coming year."
So much for formalities.
In his own hand, Mr. Schaefer added, "Thank you for your nice letter to theeditor Sept. 23 Daily Times. I also want to thank you for the letter you didn't send in regard to the roads, schools, business, health programs we provided your area. Have a Happy Holiday. Don Schaefer, Gov."
Mr. Gelletly, a retired Eastern Shore spice salesman, said a good salesman "does things until you get someone's attention. Apparently I succeeded."
At the Maryland Chamber of Commerce meeting earlier this week, Mr. Schaefer announced that he had begun to write notes again. After several of his missives were made public by surprised Marylanders last winter, Mr. Schaefer
said he would stifle his inclination to put his anger into words on paper.
But now, convinced that Marylanders don't understand how much the state does for them or how much budget cutting he has done, Mr. Schaefer is back at his writing desk.
Frank Traynor, the governor's press secretary, said he didn't know the scope of Mr. Schaefer's latest written communications or whether state expense is involved.
"I think the governor has a good sense of humor and he's probably using it as an attention-getter for people who've communicated with him," Mr. Traynor said.