They were fit to kill over 'shrill' His apologies:Unfortunate use of word in connection with Ellen R. Sauerbrey is columnist's No. 1 lapse of 1995.

The Political Game

January 02, 1996|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

SINCE 1995 became the past over the weekend, it seems like a good time to assess the transgressions of the last year, ask for forgiveness and resolve to do better in the future.

Apologies for the year's No. 1 lapse would have to carry the headline "Shrill No More," even though that sounds more like a self-help affirmation.

Never in the past two years has the column that appears in this space received such a response as one this fall about Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey finally putting her loss in the 1994 gubernatorial election behind her.

In that column, Mrs. Sauerbrey was described as "shrill" in her post-election complaints of fraud (unfounded) in the race she lost to Gov. Parris N. Glendening by 5,993 votes.

Chauvinistic dementia

(Clearly, in retrospect, your correspondent experienced a momentary deadline lapse into chauvinistic dementia.)

While the S-word passed the muster of two women editors here, it certainly did not do so out there.

The Sisterhood went on the warpath with a response that cut across party and ideological -- though not gender -- lines.

The calls came, the notes came. A silver-haired woman shouted, "Shame on you," across a parking lot.

A secretary began calling your correspondent, "Shrill Will."

"You're the one!" she accused. "Would you have ever called a man 'shrill'? Well, would you?"

Uh, no ma'am.

Finally, just last month, a liberal Democratic legislator (who shall remain nameless) dropped a line proposing that perhaps an appropriate penance would be a reading "Beyond the Double Bind: Women and Leadership," by Kathleen Hall Jamieson.

Key is Chapter 8

"Pay particular attention to Chapter 8," the suggestion continued.

So, 25 bucks later, a proud new book owner dove into the tome, paying particular attention, as instructed, to the chapter entitled "Newsbinds" about what amounts to institutional sexism in the news biz.

Guilty.

And herewith offered is the apology.

(Rest assured, the punishment was sufficient -- given the dryness of that book.)

Bipartisan messages fly on misidentification

Speaking of egregious errors, your correspondent experienced another synapse misfire just last week, identifying Prince George's County Councilman Walter H. Maloney as a Republican.

A REPUBLICAN!

It could only have been worse if he had been identified as being "of English descent."

The bipartisan messages began early.

"Walter Maloney ain't no Republican -- no how, no way. Not even close," said one protector of the truth. "You've been spending too much time around [Ellen R. Sauerbrey] & Co."

Meanwhile, a GOP state party activist called to say: "We'd love to have a second vote on the council -- but Walter Maloney, a Republican?"

At one time in his career as a sort of good-government gadfly, Mr. Maloney could have been suspected by the Prince George's County Democratic machine as being from the other party. He and at least one other "goo-goo" are said to have tormented the b'hoys with such antics as driving to their gatherings in a hearse covered with placards decrying whatever scheme they happened to be touting.

Mr. Maloney was gracious in being so maligned, brushing it aside as a simple mistake.

"If you had called me an Orangeman, that would have been a problem," he said, clearly identifying himself as a proud Irish-Catholic.

Lobbyists' conference honors one of their own

Lastly, 1996 will bring a small change to an ad hoc group of lobbyists that meets regularly to discuss matters legislative.

The Legislative Conference formally has changed its name to honor the courtly, former dean of the State House lobbying corps, the late William S. Wilson Jr.

The group, which is made up of individual practitioners and corporate representatives of the art of lobbying, will now be known as the Wilson Legislative Conference, after the former delegate who chaired the House Judiciary Committee in the 1930s.

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