Levy challenges Republicans' record in TV ad

October 30, 1994|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Sun Staff Writer

Ellicott City lawyer Andrew D. Levy, who's trying to unseat Republican incumbents in District 14B, says "the two Bobs" are not telling the truth in a new cable TV ad in which they claim to have doubled the amount of school construction funds the county received.

The 30-second spot for Dels. Robert H. Kittleman and Robert L. Flanagan began airing last week.

More than 90 percent of the county's $12.9 million allotment for fiscal 1995 went to schools outside the district -- mainly to Del. Virginia M. Thomas' east Columbia district, Mr. Levy said.

"They had nothing to do with it," Mr. Levy said, "and to claim that the 14th District did so great is even more ridiculous. We did terribly."

The two Republicans, who each have served three terms in Annapolis, defended their record, saying they led the county delegation's fight to bring home nearly $13 million for school construction.

"That's just the facts. It's not arguable," said Mr. Kittleman, 68. "I'm surprised he'd come up with that lie."

Mr. Levy has criticized his GOP opponents as being ineffective during their 12-year tenure, ridiculing Mr. Kittleman as the sponsor of a bill establishing the state fossil. He says the lack of money for district schools is typical.

"The problem with that is you look at the facts and nothing could be further from the truth," the 38-year-old Democrat said. "It's like the navigator of the Titanic bragging about the great job he's done."

At issue is how each side interprets the complicated and competitive process of securing state school construction money.

The state authorized $107.7 million for Maryland school construction projects in fiscal 1995, said Yale Stenzler, executive director of the state's Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC).

He said once local school boards and county governments request money, the IAC holds a hearing and makes recommendations to the Maryland Board of Public Works. The board, composed of the governor, state comptroller and treasurer, holds a hearing and divides construction money among the state's 23 counties and Baltimore City.

During the hearing, legislators can make pitches to the board.

"It is there that the 14th District did a bad job and Virginia Thomas did a good job," Mr. Levy said.

Northfield and Centennial elementary schools are the only schools in District 14B to get money -- $537,000, Mr. Levy said.

The two GOP delegates argue that their duty in Annapolis is to fight for as much money as possible for the entire county, not just their district. The school board is responsible for deciding how state and local funds are used, and the delegation's chairman pitches those projects.

"The bottom line is, united we stand, divided we fall in Annapolis," said Mr. Flanagan, 48. "Andy Levy's complaint is with the school board, not with our effectiveness."

From 1987 to 1990, the state gave the county $15 million for school projects, Mr. Flanagan said. But Howard got $33 million between 1990 and 1994 for school construction, he said, adding that ultimately the county lost $2 million this year because of Ms. Thomas' last-minute lobbying for school projects in her district.

Ms. Thomas, who's running for a state Senate seat in District 13, said her GOP colleagues seem to be misleading voters with their cable ads. "They don't want to admit they can't deliver," she said.

"You can't win unless you know how to play the game," the delegate said. "They don't know how to play the game, let alone hit a home run."

The GOP lawmakers say they are effective leaders who have excelled despite being in the minority party. They blame the Democratic legislature for blocking most of their bills.

"I am a Republican leader. They don't pass Republicans' bills," Mr. Kittleman said.

But Mr. Levy charged that his opponents exaggerated the school data because they have accomplished so little.

"If they are as effective as they say they are, they should be able to point to things they've done, not fabricate bogus accomplishments that the facts just don't back up," the Democrat said.

"It's demagoguery," Mr. Flanagan said. "If you understand the process you realize that it is the school board that decides which schools get built with state funds and which schools get built with county funds."

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