Hail, hail, the gang's all here -- except for the lieutenant governor

NOTES FROM ANNAPOLIS

January 13, 1992|By THE ANNAPOLIS BUREAU STAFF

An item in Notes From Annapolis in yesterday's editions of The Sun incorrectly reported that Gov. William Donald Schaefer failed to recognize Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg before delivering his annual State of the State address last week. In acknowledging the presence of various dignitaries, Mr. Schaefer mentioned "Mr. Lieutenant Governor."

* The Sun regrets the error.

Before Gov. William Donald Schaefer began his State of the State address last week, he recognized the dignitaries -- the House speaker, the Senate president, the chief judge of the Court of Appeals, and so on until he had mentioned everyone who was anyone.

Except for Mickey.

Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Mickey Steinberg, a favorite among legislators, has attained the rank of unmentionable with Mr. Schaefer. Mr. Steinberg seemed to getting a payback for slights, real or imagined, that he had inflicted on his boss.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Mr. Schaefer is still angry because Mr. Steinberg refused to join the Schaefer assault team pursuing higher taxes last year.

So, when the governor began his speech last week, otherwise HTC remarkable for its conciliatory tone, he neglected to mention his lieutenant.

When the governor finished, Mr. Steinberg rose to applaud with the rest. But his hands seemed to be moving in slow motion, never quite making contact.

"Look," said one observer. "There's an air cushion between Mickey's hands."

"The sound of hands not clapping," said another.

COME AGAIN?

It's hard to hear in a crowd, particularly when thousands are talking and chanting. That was the case outside the State House on Wednesday night, when folks jammed onto Lawyers Mall to protest budget cuts, among other things.

The Maryland State Teachers Association, worried about the possibility of more cuts in education funding, was an organizer of the rally. Many protesters began chanting the union's slogan, "These cuts won't heal!"

An Annapolis area teacher looked puzzled as she tried to make out the words. "Let's cut Bobby Neall?" she asked a friend.

It probably made sense to her. Mr. Neall, the Anne Arundel County executive, made the teachers' hit list last fall when he championed a temporary state budget clause that gave county officials the power to reduce education spending.

UH, RIGHT

Governor Schaefer's State of the State address was so well organized that everyone figured his staff would be able spell out his proposals in detail.

And at a briefing after the address, a group of the governor's top aides did explain how much this tax would rise, or why the governor decided to propose that tax instead of something else.

But when the conversation turned to Mr. Schaefer's plan to convert the Baltimore Zoo into a state park, the collective response was a blank look.

The governor's chief lobbyist shrugged his shoulders and turned to the deputy budget secretary, who turned to the chief of staff, who turned to executive aide Daryl C. Plevy.

"Uh," Ms. Plevy stammered, "this one is a new one, and we're not sure."

Mr. Schaefer had once again unloaded a proposal in public without bothering to tell his staff what it was all about.

GHOST SESSIONS

Call them the "lost sessions" of the Maryland General Assembly: the 400th, 401st, 402nd and 403rd sessions that magically appeared between October and last week.

Here's the arithmetic. When the legislature last adjourned in October, it ended its 399th session. When it convened again last week, it started its 404th.

So says state archivist Gregory A. Stiverson, who's in a position to know.

The recent discovery of an unrecorded session in 1876 bumped the count up by one, he said in a letter Jan. 7 to the Legislative Reference Library.

And while they were reconsidering history, the archivists decided to count three previously excluded conventions held between 1774 and 1776.

Earlier historians refused to count them because of questions about whether their members were properly elected.

Now, however, "we feel more comfortable with the all-inclusive approach," Mr. Stiverson wrote. "Historians are masterful and tenacious nit-pickers."

WASTE IN GOVERNMENT

There's always talk about waste in state government, but little agreement on how much gets wasted. Now there's an official tally of how much garbage the General Assembly produces -- 158 tons.

Actually, that's only the amount of paper that government offices in Annapolis recycled last year, according to Sen. Gerald W. Winegrad, an Anne Arundel Democrat.

Mr. Winegrad told his fellow senators on opening day that 87 percent of the legislature's paper products were recycled. If we can do it, so can private offices, the senator argued. And he reminded his colleagues that almost all paper and cardboard items are recyclable.

In fact, not all the recycled paper came from the lawmakers. "I bring my cereal boxes and magazines from home," Mr. Winegrad admitted.

IT'S JURY TIME

When does a member of the legislative branch of government suddenly become a servant to the judicial branch?

For Del. Martin G. Madden, a Howard County Republican, that time could come early next month, when he has been summoned to the courthouse in Ellicott City for jury duty.

Mr. Madden, beginning his second legislative session, says he is certain that by February he and most of his 187 colleagues would probably "welcome a peaceful month in the sanctuary of a jury box." But he has decided that his legislative duties should come first.

So he has written county court officials "respectfully" requesting a postponement until after the General Assembly adjourns April 6.

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