If the mask fits, wear it.
That was the message County Executive Robert R. Neall got from his fellow Baltimore-area chief executives last week when they presented him with a blue-eyed, big-beaked, brightyellow rubber chicken mask.
"It's very becoming, so they tell me," said Neall.
It seems Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke and the executives in Baltimore, Prince George's, Montgomery, Harford and Howard counties wanted Neall to go along with their idea to ask the governor to convene a "working forum" on possible solutions to the budget crisis, including a special legislative session on emergency tax measures.
A letter to Gov. WilliamDonald Schaefer was sent Oct. 18 -- but without Neall's signature.
On Monday night, the five Baltimore area leaders -- Neall, Schmoke,Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, Howard County ExecutiveCharles I. Ecker and Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden -- met, as they regularly do.
To let Neall know what a chicken they thought he was for refusing to sign the letter, they gave him the mask.
"Eileen was the one who did it," said Ecker. "I would never call Bobby a chicken."
Rehrmann could not be reached.
Neall took thejest in stride. "I told them I would wear my chicken head, but if they continue to ask for new taxes, I will buy them all turkey heads."
He said he might wear the mask for a little trick-or-treating withhis children, but, remembering how the governor has been haunted by various costumes he has donned over the years, he refused to let his constituents see him in it.
Chief Administrative Officer Dennis Parkinson, however, modeled the chicken head.
"I guess I work for Frank Perdue now," Parkinson said, as he handed it back to his boss.