DePazzo often near eye of storm BALTIMORE COUNTY

November 24, 1992|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

It's easy to become a political ally of Dundalk's flamboyant Del. Louis L. DePazzo. But it's hard to stay that way.

Just ask former County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen, former Councilman Dale Volz or current Dundalk Councilman Donald C. Mason.

Mr. DePazzo ran for re-election in 1990 as a member of Mr. Rasmussen's "Forward Together" Democratic ticket, along with Mr. Volz, who was then Dundalk's councilman.

But Mr. DePazzo campaigned against both of his ostensible ticketmates.

He vigorously supported Republican Roger B. Hayden for executive and campaigned for Mr. Mason, an independent Democrat running as an anti-tax reformer.

Now, two years after helping Mr. Mason win election, Mr. DePazzo has nothing good to say about him. In fact, he now says he wants Mr. Mason's council seat in 1994.

"He [Mr. Mason] made a lot of noise before the election. I haven't heard anything lately," Mr. DePazzo said. "I've pretty much made up my mind" to run for Mr. Mason's council seat in 1994.

Those who know the fiery Dundalk legislator say it's vintage DePazzo.

"It's just the way he operates," said Jacob J. Mohorovic, a veteran Dundalk political hopeful who also lost to Mr. Mason in that 1990 primary campaign.

"When Harry Hughes was governor, Lou had bad things to say about him. Now when [William Donald] Schaefer is in, he says things about him. For some reason or another, he just gets mad at them," Mr. Mohorovic said.

Although Mr. DePazzo's freewheeling, uninhibited attacks on the powerful have made him a favorite among voters in his blue-collar district, his style has not served him well in the General Assembly, where he is not a part of leadership despite four terms in office.

He now describes himself as "kinda burned out in Annapolis."

It's very frustrating down there," he said. "Sixteen years of it is enough. I'd like to get in there [the County Council] and just see what's behind those closed doors in Towson."

So Mr. DePazzo has switched his attack to Mr. Mason. "I hear no voice," he complained, referring to Mr. Mason's quiet, single-minded pursuit of less government spending and lower taxes.

Some of his attacks on Mr. Mason echo the charges both men lodged against Mr. Rasmussen and Mr. Volz two years ago.

The delegate is critical of Mr. Mason's use of a free county car, for example, and his failure to reform what Mr. DePazzo says is an overly generous pension system for County Council members.

He also claims that Mr. Mason won't sit down and talk with him to iron out their differences, despite numerous friendly overtures.

But his main beef with Mr. Mason involves a private firm's controversial plans to build a soil-recycling plant in Rosedale. Mr. DePazzo claims he was "duped" by Mr. Mason into believing the plant was safe and unopposed, then was surprised to encounter hundreds of aroused voters at a Rosedale meeting in 1991.

The recycling plant issue is awaiting resolution by the state, which must decide whether to issue a permit for it.

Mr. Mason, who was an advocate of lower property taxes and less government spending during his campaign, refuses to join the verbal battle with his former ally and said he won't announce his plans for the next election until January 1994.

"I'll not get personal with anyone," Mr. Mason said.

So far, Mr. Mason has not declared publicly for or against the soil-recycling plant.

He said he merely invited Mr. DePazzo to a meeting with state and recycling company officials so he could be briefed on the project and made no attempt to mislead him.

Others close to the situation say Mr. DePazzo enjoyed the attempt to play to the angry crowd at the meeting last year because he was running for a Circuit Court judgeship at the time. He lost that race.

Mr. Mason said he uses the free county car because Dundalk is a long way from Towson and the perk is "available."

He said he has never refused to speak with Mr. DePazzo and can't remember promising to reform the County Council pension system during his campaign.

He said he's now "looking into it," however.

Despite the often harsh, personal attacks that Mr. DePazzo levels at former allies, few have been willing to respond in kind.

But Mr. Volz, who refused to be openly critical during his ill-fated 1990 campaign, has a different attitude now.

"He's done nothing as a legislator," Mr. Volz said of Mr. DePazzo's record in Annapolis. He said Mr. DePazzo's criticism of fellow officials is "typical of his style of politics."

"He uses people up. He can be little more than a critic," the former councilman said. "He certainly has no solutions to offer."

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