Holland claims difficult victory

November 21, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

Last May, Anne Arundel County Councilman Carl G. "Dutch" Holland said he heard the fat lady begin to hum.

Six months later, with the County Council's decision to restore a pair of capital projects dear to his constituents, Mr. Holland says he's the one who stopped her from breaking into song. But his critics insist that he's taking credit for other people's efforts at damage control.

When the dust settled in May after a particularly messy budget session, the County Council had deleted the two projects: a new Solley Road Elementary School and the Mountain Road Library.

Mr. Holland howled, charging that a four-vote Democratic bloc had conspired to cut the property tax rate, give pay raises to county employees and renovate a middle school in North County at his expense.

It looked like a stunning defeat. But Mr. Holland said that night that he was not done fighting.

The fat lady, he said, borrowing an over-used sports analogy, was humming, "but she hasn't burst out into song. And I'm going to put a muzzle on her."

Six months later, both projects are back in the budget. Solley Road Elementary was restored in June, after a compromise was reached to borrow some money from the Andover Middle School project in North County. And the council unanimously approved a bill Monday granting money for the Mountain Road Library.

And Mr. Holland is taking what he feels is some well-deserved credit.

"That was the first time that two items in the budget were resurrected between budgets," Mr. Holland said last week. That claim didn't seem right to several longtime council observers, but none could remember an instance of that happening.

"That's a feather in my cap that we did it," he continued. "We could have waited, but the people in my district couldn't wait."

Jack Feehley, president of the Greater Pasadena Council and a political ally of Mr. Holland's, said he hoped the councilman would take credit for bringing home the bacon.

"I think he deserves it," said Mr. Feehley, a Republican candidate for state Senate. "If he's a little puffed up, he deserves to be."

"Not so fast, Mr. Holland," say some of his council colleagues, as well as members of the state legislative delegation representing Pasadena.

They point out that the two projects were initiated by Mr. Holland's Democratic predecessor, Edward C. "Buddy" Ahern.

"He hasn't started anything new," said Councilman C. Edward Middlebrooks. "The projects he was able to get done were started under the Democratic administration."

That sentiment was echoed by Tom Redmond, a Pasadena businessman who will oppose Mr. Holland for council in the Republican primary. "All these are ongoing projects," Mr. Redmond said. "He hasn't come up with an original idea yet."

Having inherited these projects, they were Mr. Holland's to lose, which he did during the budget session.

"When he came into office, these projects were in the pipeline," said Philip C. Jimeno, the Democratic state senator representing Pasadena. "All he had to do was pick up the ball and run with it and score a touchdown. And he fumbled. And we had to recover the fumble and score in overtime."

The consensus among most Democratic lawmakers is that Mr. Holland was punished by the County Council members who voted against him in May because he is not a team player.

"All you have to do is be able to work with your colleagues," Mr. Jimeno said. "That's part of effectiveness, your ability to get along with your colleagues and deliver for your constituents."

After Solley Elementary School was defeated, it was Del. Joan Cadden who stepped in and forged the deal to borrow money from the Andover Middle School project.

"I tried to tell them, don't spite the kids at Solley just because you're upset with Mr. Holland. That's crazy," Ms. Cadden said.

Mr. Holland "didn't do a thing," said Council President David G. Boschert, who credits Ms. Cadden and other members of the District 31 delegation for putting the Solley Road school back on line.

"They were the ones who sat down with me to get me to reconsider my vote," he said. "Mr. Holland was nowhere to be found."

Mr. Holland's critics are a little more willing to give him some credit for fighting to restore funding for the Mountain Road Library, which will open next spring. After teaching Mr. Holland a lesson with the 11th-hour defeat of the library in May, the council approved last week's bill unanimously.

"Clearly, he's been fighting for these projects, with the community's help," Mr. Middlebrooks said. After all, he added, that's a councilman's job, and that's what Mr. Middlebrooks did when he fought for Andover Middle School to be built at the expense of Solley.

"Certainly, if the council is not out there fighting for their projects," he said, "they're going to be in a lot of trouble."

And in the end, who could oppose a library?

"We've invested a lot in our library system," said Mr. Boschert, explaining his decision to reconsider his vote. "I don't think there's any member who wants to shut out a library in any district."

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