You can't blame Gov. William Donald Schaefer for being touchy about his trips abroad. He's come under considerable criticism for lavish state spending on some of these overblown -- and vastly overstaffed -- missions. Yet all of these travels served the state's interests quite well and furthered Maryland's economic development efforts. His next trip, starting today, could prove one of his most successful.
To begin with, it has a bare-bones entourage: only six people, including the governor and his state trooper. No social companions, corporate hangers-on or bureaucrats eager to see the sights at state expense. And it's a working trip. The idea is to cement relations with overseas companies already doing business in Maryland and to lure hot prospects here.
There are some added opportunities, too. The governor will address graduates of University College in Heidelberg, Germany, a key part of the University of Maryland's overseas educational system. That will help elevate the state's profile in Europe. So will Mr. Schaefer's stop in the new Republic of Slovenia and his meeting with Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek, the first such visit by an American governor. The goal: win Slovenian backing for an air traffic control system manufactured by Westinghouse at its Linthicum plant.