Missed connections, missed chances

April 16, 1993

Take a poor communicator like Baltimore County Executive Roger Hayden. Add a group as fractious as the county's legislative delegation. Ask them to work together. The results are bound to be disappointing.

Which brings us to how the county fared during the just-completed General Assembly session. At first blush, the subdivision seemed to do well. The county will receive 11.4 percent more in state aid during fiscal year 1994. It also won a goodly portion of the state's capital budget. Funds will go toward renovations at Goucher College, the construction of a Catonsville day-care facility and building repairs at a few public schools.

Given these successes, why did county legislators leave Annapolis frustrated that they didn't bring home more bacon? The answer, they say, is the top man in Towson -- Roger Hayden.

During the 1992 legislative session in Annapolis, cries of "Where's Roger?" filled the corridors of the State House. In 1993, the county executive might have been even more conspicuously absent than he was a year ago. Mr. Hayden started badly, sending his administration's list of bills to the delegation only days before the session opened. County lawmakers were appalled when they finally got hold of the list and saw how skimpy it was.

Nor were they pleased when county officials sent mixed signals about a request for $1.8 million from the state for construction of a new Essex Elementary School. At one point, the money seemed to be in hand. However, a day after the session ended, the grant was in jeopardy because the state had yet to receive the necessary information from the county.

As he has shown in his recent downsizing of the county government, Mr. Hayden is quite adept at making cuts and making do with less. Maybe he has gotten so used to an austere economy that he becomes lost when state money is available, as was this year. Here was his chance to visit Annapolis with his hand out and to ask for as much aid as he could get for his hurting subdivision. He wouldn't have gotten everything he asked for, of course, but the more he requested, the more he could have ultimately received.

The state had some goodies to give away, for the first time in a long while, and Baltimore County got some of them. Still, because Mr. Hayden and the local delegation were short on planning and communication, the county missed out on gaining even more of the state aid that it sorely needs.

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