Is Gov. Parris N. Glendening falling into the "Schaefer trap"? It looks that way, based on his top-level appointments.
Back in 1987, Gov. William Donald Schaefer loaded his administration with people who had worked for him in Baltimore City. They knew how to run things in the city and thought they could simply duplicate their successes in Annapolis.
It didn't turn out that way. Running state government is far more complex and multi-dimensional than operating a county or city.
Now Mr. Glendening has loaded his administration with aides he worked with in Prince George's County. And they have a similar attitude: "We know how to get things done; we did it in Prince George's." It could be a recipe for trouble.
For instance, Mr. Glendening has ignored large areas of the state in his staffing -- generally the regions that voted Republican. Nearly all top jobs went to individuals from the city and Prince George's and Montgomery counties, which happen to be the three jurisdictions he carried on Election Day. That could give the administration a myopic view on issues, one that reflects the liberal, urbanized interests of these jurisdictions but ignores conservative sentiments in the rest of the state.
Another problem is the new Cabinet's unfamiliarity with the General Assembly process and with key legislators. Only a handful of appointees have any expertise. That could prove a handicap.
Additionally, Mr. Glendening has set up a hierarchical corporate management system that places several layers between the governor and those trying to communicate with him -- such as cabinet secretaries or legislators. The House speaker or a committee chairman won't tolerate such an arrangement for long. The danger is that essential messages could get distorted or the information never reaches the governor. During the 90-day General Assembly session, when rapid response and good intelligence are crucial, the Glendening system might not work well.
Most of the governor's cabinet selections fit the mold of bland technocrats. With the exception of economic development chief James T. Brady, there are no apparent stars in this constellation. They are unknown to the general public, though they have good resumes in their fields.
It's disappointing that the new governor did not bring broader geographic diversity to his cabinet, or fill top slots with appointees steeped in the ways of Annapolis. It could handicap him in his first legislative session. This places a greater burden on Mr. Glendening to remain ever-vigilant at the helm at all times. He can't expect much help from his green cabinet in the next two months.