Glendening rejects nomination

January 26, 1995|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Sun Staff Writer

Unhappy with dozens of last-minute appointments by his predecessor, Gov. Parris N. Glendening flatly rejected one of them yesterday, and said he is delaying many others for further review.

The new governor said he is withdrawing the nomination of Welford L. McLellan, a press aide to former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, to a $62,117-a-year job on the Maryland Parole Commission.

He said he is holding up many of Mr. Schaefer's other appointments while his staff looks into the nominees' qualifications. Some offers almost certainly will be withdrawn, Mr. Glendening said, but others may go forward. "There are a couple who are good people who I would have appointed in any case," he said.

Mr. Schaefer made about 130 appointments, including friends, staff members, and financial backers, to various state boards and commissions during his final two months in office. A review of the list yesterday showed that only about 40 of those can be reversed.

The so-called "midnight appointments," some of which involve non-paying jobs, took the new governor by surprise. Mr. Glendening complained yesterday about his limited ability to withdraw them.

"Unfortunately, some of the names that were advanced in the last few minutes of the prior administration are permanent," Mr. Glendening said. "Some of them I find very difficult because they were in areas where I wanted to do some very important things."

He pledged to back legislation that would limit an outgoing governor's ability to make such appointments, as well as to commute prison sentences and grant pardons. "We ought to do it now when [the issue] is removed from the heat of the next campaign," Mr. Glendening said.

In the case of Mr. McLellan, he said, there is a question as to whether the former journalist met the requirements for a parole commissioner. Commissioners, who decide whether to release prisoners early and discipline parolees, must have training and experience in law, sociology, psychology, psychiatry, education, social work or criminology. Mr. McLellan declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Mr. Schaefer, who was visiting the State House yesterday, defended his actions and his right to hang onto political power until his final minute in office.

Mr. Glendening "will be out of office in four or eight years, and he will be interested in appointing people who were loyal and competent and could fill positions, so I think he's making a mistake," Mr. Schaefer said.

He called Mr. McLellan a "sensitive" and "good" man, and said a seat on the parole commission "can be used for political purposes."

Mr. Schaefer claimed Senate Majority Leader Clarence W. Blount had played politics by pushing his son Michael and a friend, Marjorie A. Jennings, onto the commission years ago. The former governor said he wanted to replace one of those two with Mr. McLellan.

Senator Blount, a Baltimore Democrat, did not return calls yesterday.

Governor Glendening said he had hoped to appoint people who share his views on education, crime and other issues while striving for racial, gender and geographical diversity on the boards.

In particular, Mr. Glendening complained that he cannot withdraw Mr. Schaefer's six recent appointments to the state's seven-member commission that disciplines judges.

The Commission on Judicial Disabilities came under fire last year for its handling of a Baltimore County Circuit judge who gave sympathy and a light sentence to a rapist. The panel took more than a year to give Judge Thomas J. Bollinger a slap on the wrist for his remarks.

In October, another uproar arose when Baltimore County Circuit Judge Robert E. Cahill Sr. made sympathetic remarks in sentencing a trucker to 18 months on work release for killing his cheating wife.

Said Mr. Glendening: "I am very dissatisfied with the way the process [of judicial discipline] is working at the moment, and the judges' actions, which caused a great deal of concern in the community, are not being adequately addressed."

He announced some appointments of his own yesterday, including that of John P. O'Connor, 47, a union official from Huntingtown, to be labor commissioner.

Mr. Glendening said he wants to revamp the state's "antiquated" personnel department and institute "some type of nonstrike collective bargaining" with employee unions next year.

He said he is seeking "total personnel reform, so we can reward people who are doing a very good job and discipline [or] remove people who are simply not pulling their weight."

He said he did not believe collective bargaining would drive up personnel costs. "I've never considered labor to be the enemy and certainly not the enemy of responsible government," he said.

When he was Prince George's County executive, he said, he negotiated give-backs with union officials three times during the recession.

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