Bases panel sends Md. 5,000 jobs Much of gain is at expense of Northern Va.

June 28, 1993|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Maryland gained more than 5,000 defense jobs yesterday as the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission ended five days of voting that left some communities reeling from the economic impact of its decisions.

While some jobs are being moved out of Maryland -- more than 1,000 from Southern Maryland and 485 from the Washington suburb of White Oak -- more than 6,900 jobs are being shifted into the state, mostly from Northern Virginia.

In decisions affecting Maryland, the commission agreed yesterday to:

* Move about 1,000 jobs from the Naval Electronics Systems Engineer Center from St. Inigoes in St. Mary's County to Charleston, S.C., rejecting an earlier Pentagon proposal to move about 2,000 jobs from the center to Portsmouth, Va.

* Move about 2,600 jobs in the Naval Air Systems Command from Arlington, Va., to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

* Move 566 jobs in the Naval Security Group Command from Arlington to Fort Meade.

* Save about 300 jobs at the Naval Surface Warfare Center's in Annapolis, rejecting a proposal to move the operation to Philadelphia.

* Move about 3,800 jobs in the Naval Sea Systems Command from Arlington to White Oak.

* Move about 485 jobs in the Naval Surface Warfare Center operation at White Oak to Dahlgren, Va., and move 165 jobs from White Oak to another Maryland facility at Indian Head.

* Reject a proposal to move about 250 jobs at the Naval Air Technical Services Facilities in Philadelphia to the Patuxent River base.

As legislators from South Carolina and Virginia complained bitterly about the process that is costing them thousands of jobs, Maryland Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, both Democrats, were practically chortling over Maryland's good fortune.

After some vigorous lobbying by Mr. Sarbanes and Mr. Hoyer, which lasted until moments before yesterday's meeting, the commission trimmed the number of jobs that would be moved out of St. Mary's County from about 2,400 to a little over 1,000.

The Defense Department had proposed consolidating the Naval Electronics Systems Engineering Centers from four sites in Ports mouth. But the seven-member commission decided to send the jobs to Charleston in an effort to soften the blow of last week's decision to close the Navy base and shipyard there at a cost of up to 65,000 jobs.

Charleston eventually will recoup 6,000 to 8,000 jobs from yesterday's decision, said Sis Inabinet, president of that city's Chamber of Commerce.

"This is a bittersweet victory," said Sen. Strom Thurmond, a South Carolina Republican.

For Maryland, the victory was more sweet than bitter.

"This was a very good day for Maryland," said Mr. Hoyer, "and an extra good day for the 5th Congressional District," the Southern Maryland district that he represents.

Mr. Hoyer and Mr. Sarbanes have been working for three months to prevent any jobs from moving out of Maryland while trying to assure that the thousands of jobs scheduled to come to the state actually do so.

One of the commissioners, Harry C. McPherson, Jr. drew a laugh when he said, "I'll miss my every morning and every evening telephone calls from Congressman Hoyer."

The commission decided to reject the Pentagon proposal to move 300 jobs from Annapolis to Philadelphia because the Navy made clear that laboratory facilities would not be moved and that employees would have to commute back to Annapolis frequently to use them.

Overall, the seven-member commission, which includes former 6th District Maryland Rep. Beverly B. Byron, went along with most Defense Department recommendations, submitted in March, to close 31 major installations and realign 12 others.

Its recommendations must go to President Clinton, who can approve or reject the report. If he rejects it, the commission has until Aug. 15 to come up with a substitute. If the president fails to send the report to Congress, the effort at closing and realigning the bases ends Sept. 1.

If the president sends the report to Congress, the legislators have 45 days to approve or reject it. They can take one vote on the entire report -- not piecemeal votes -- and if it is not rejected by both House and Senate, the closings and realignments are adopted.

Stung by commission decisions that cost Northern Virginia 11,000 jobs, Sen. John W. Warner was threatening yesterday to introduce legislation that would allow the secretary of defense to make piecemeal changes to the final list based on last-minute information.

The Navy, wanting to get out of millions of square feet of rented space in Arlington, proposed to move 11,000 employees out of Northern Virginia. Scrambling to save the jobs, Virginia legislators put on a last-minute campaign to have the owners of buildings sell them to the Pentagon at bargain basement prices.

Though the campaign came too late, James Courter, the commission chairman, spoke of "a rash of very seductive and, on their face, very provocative offers" that the commission was unable to consider. He suggested that the Virginia interests make a pitch in 1995, when the next round of base closings will be considered, to undo yesterday's decision.

Most base closings and moves take years to complete, and none of the jobs in Arlington is expected to move before 1995.

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