Upper Cecil County into Pennsylvania, we...


March 21, 1992

DRIVING THROUGH upper Cecil County into Pennsylvania, we came across a sign never seen there before: Tom McMillen for U.S. Congress. Days later, driving toward Annapolis, we came across another red-white-and-blue marker. That we could cross the same congressional turf hours of drive-time apart seemed somehow, well, un-American. How's a politician supposed to represent this place?

Representatives McMillen and Wayne Gilchrest are running for the right to do just that. Mr. McMillen's current 4th District was carved up in a re-districting squabble. Some of Anne Arundel County he currently represents has been lumped with the Eastern Shore -- Mr. Gilchrest's current area -- along with the tip of South Baltimore, of all places.

The district, home to watermen as well as to workers who commute to Delaware, Northern Virginia and Baltimore, is unwieldly. The new 1st covers 3,475 square miles, a third of Maryland. The state's next biggest district, the 6th, which just ousted Rep. Beverly Byron, blankets 2,852 square miles in Western Maryland. The Free State's most compact congressional district?: Rep. Kweisi Mfume's Baltimore city and county-based 7th. It's 109 square miles.

Candidates here can at least find some solace that they're not running in the American West, home to 24 of the 25 largest districts in Congress. Nevada's 2nd Congressional District (the entire state, minus greater Las Vegas) has a whopping 105,000 square miles, the biggest in the nation. That's 30 times as large as Maryland's 1st. On second thought, maybe Messrs. Gilchrest and McMillen have it easy, after all.

* * *

THERE ARE TWO sides to every question, particularly concerning the Oriole Warehouse at Camden Yards. Baltimore's baseball firm, which moved its headquarters downtown from Memorial Stadium a few days ago, is now in that wonderfully renovated former railroad storage building -- a red brick building, quite narrow, fairly tall, very long, many-windowed.

Inside are a central corridor and partitions, but the basic pattern is offices on one side looking off toward Inner Harbor and, on the other side, offices with a view of ballpark happenings.

The question is, how did the Orioles decide which official got which view? Not, it seems, by hand over hand on a baseball bat.

Maybe the way it'll work out is that the officials without the distracting view will be the people who get the work done.

* * *

A SENIOR U.S. diplomat tells this story. Almost everywhere he goes in Europe these days, officials take him aside and whisper that they want American troops to stay -- but only on Europe's terms.

To which he replies, in effect, no deal. Any U.S. presence in post-Cold War Europe will be on U.S. terms.

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