Delegate needs some advice, better judgment and cash


August 05, 1993|By DAN RODRICKS

So there I was yesterday morning, enjoying a nice breakfast of raisin bran, juice and coffee, when I read that Leslie Hutchinson was threatening to call the cops if reporters called her.

I could have plotzed! I had been thinking of calling her myself.

"I have no intention of speaking to reporters," Delegate Hutchinson said to one of ours, Marina Sarris, Tuesday. "If you call me again, I will contact my attorney and have criminal proceedings filed against you."

This reminded me of the mother of a defendant who, upon spotting me in court during her son's trial, said: "If you write about my son one more time, I'm gonna throw a suitcase at you!"

So, after I read Hutchinson's quote, I said the heck with it. (My brother-in-law from New Jersey woulda said: "Daheckwiddit.") It was my first day back from vacation, and who wanted trouble? I opted not to call the delegate from Essex.

Sadly, I would not get to hear her side of the story of that rubbery $1,500 check she wrote against an empty campaign account of her uncle, a former U.S. Senate candidate who, today, is probably distressed at all the bad publicity the Hutchinson family has been getting because his niece is:

A. Not good with numbers.

B. Bad at keeping court dates.

C. In over her head.

D. All of the above.

This has been one of our stranger local stories.

Leslie Hutchinson, elected to the House of Delegates in 1990, is struggling, shall we say, with her personal business.

What she needs is the WPA (Wise Personal Adviser), a Bill-Payer Loan from The Money Store (or Rose Shanis) and a Personal Planner from Hallmark.

Before I went on vacation, there were stories about her driving on a suspended license and driving an uninsured vehicle with House of Delegates tags issued to her uncle, Don, 23 years ago. She failed to appear in court to face traffic citations seven times ,, in three years. She missed deadlines for reporting her campaign finances. She was behind on payments on her 1991 taxes. She has unhappy creditors and landlords after her.

And there was another story about her having sent letters to state officials advertising her new party-planning firm, even though state legislators aren't supposed to use their official titles for any commercial purpose.

(Can you imagine her pitch? Hey, party animals, let us plan your affair. We'll hire all the caterers, buy all the setups, the favors, the mints, the balloons, the broccoli, the dip. We'll order the cold cut platter. We'll rent chafing dishes for the Buffalo wings. We'll buy all the Sterno. And it won't cost you a thing! Because nobody gets paid! At least not right away.)

Look, in the big picture tube of life, this is petty stuff.

If she were not an elected official, we would never have heard of her financial or legal problems. If my brother-in-law from New Jersey were here, he'd simply listen to the evidence, turn to Leslie Hutchinson and ask: "What're you, wood?" Stupidity and sloppiness is epidemic in American society and, therefore, forgivable, except, of course, in major surgery and boccie.

But then, what happens?

I get home from vacation, pour a bowl of raisin bran, pick up the morning paper and there's another Leslie Hutchinson story. In this one, her lawyer says Hutchinson knew a $1,500 check was bad when she wrote it last January as a security deposit on a house she rented in Annapolis during the 1993 session of the General Assembly. The check was written against an account opened in 1986 for Don Hutchinson's ultimately unsuccessful Senate campaign. The landlord only found out the check had bounce to it when he tried to cash it to cover $800 in damage and $2,000 in unpaid bills left by Leslie Hutchinson.

This goes beyond stupidity or sloppiness.

It's hard to believe that, some time over the 31 years of her life, Leslie Hutchinson did not learn that writing checks on accounts that are empty is wrong. It might not be a crime if you pay up within 10 days of being notified that your check has bounced; let's concede that fine point of law.

But the original act -- writing a check on a virtually dead account -- is the mark of someone, as my brother-in-law from Jersey would say, "trying ta get ovah."

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