From a cast of hundreds, the 'Marvin' winners

April 14, 1996|By Barry Rascovar

MAY I HAVE the envelopes, please. . . It is time for this year's "Marvin" awards from the 1996 General Assembly. The awards are named for the last old-time wheeler-dealer leader in the legislature, Marvin Mandel.

Best Overall Performance: Casper R. Taylor of Cumberland. The JTC House speaker proved a man for all seasons, ending the session with a near-perfect record. He has a firmer grip on the House than any speaker since Mr. Mandel.

The stadium bills would have died without Mr. Taylor's patient one-on-one work and his $24 million compromise. He proved a worthy friend of the city, too. He consistently lined up votes for the governor, though the two have sharp policy disputes -- witness the speaker's critical op-ed piece last week that could signal a Taylor-Glendening race in 1998.

More than anyone else in Annapolis, Mr. Taylor provided a thoughtful, statewide perspective on issues. He earned his Marvin.

Best Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series: Thomas V. Mike Miller of Clinton. The Senate president bit his lip much of the session. But he was remarkably effective running his rambunctious body and gathering votes on issues that mattered to him. He, too, resisted the temptation to savage the governor -- the two are long-time foes -- and did what was best for the state.

Mr. Miller also got along well with Mr. Taylor, letting the speaker take the lead. And he played a strong supporting role for his best friend, lobbyist Gerry Evans, making him look good for his clients.

Best Supporting Role in a Comedy: A tie! Two Baltimore legislators, Del. Howard "Pete" Rawlings and Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman won their Marvins for taking on the mayor, school superintendent and others who adamantly refuse to make city officials accountable for the travesty that is known as public education in Baltimore.

Most Courageous Performance: Del. Michael Busch of Annapolis, who spoke up and helped enact stadium legislation in the face of virulent editorial attacks from his hometown newspaper. Though threatened with political annihilation, Mr. Busch voted for what he believed was best for Maryland, which is how good legislators ought to act all the time.

Best Performance by a Relative Newcomer: Douglas M. Duncan, Montgomery County executive, who got more in Annapolis by negotiating than by denouncing. He had a wonderful session: More school construction money, road money and funds for a convention center.

He did it without antagonizing anyone.

Worst Overall Performance: Kurt L. Schmoke, mayor of Baltimore. He staggered out of Annapolis with his reputation in tatters. Only through the good graces of the governor, House speaker and city legislators did Baltimore manage a modestly successful session. Mr. Schmoke proved ineffective on the stadium votes, the school-aid controversy and the convention center brouhaha.

The legislative verdict on Mr. Schmoke: Nice man, but he doesn't know how to run a city.

Dumbest Performance: Sen. Royden Dyson of Great Mills. You'd think a former congressman would know better. He sought millions to help St. Mary's County cope with an influx of 5,000 flight-test personnel. How? By denouncing the leadership-supported stadium projects, then making a bush-league play -- voting against the state budget. His punishment: a $400,000 cut in aid to St. Mary's.

Is it any wonder he's no longer in Congress?

Martyrdom Award: To the entire Montgomery County senate delegation, which opposed the stadium projects with such vehemence their colleagues will long remember the insults. Once again, the delegation proved its ineffectiveness and isolation from the rest of Maryland. Playing to voters' emotions is all that counts for these legislators.

They give parochialism a bad name.

Barry Rascovar is deputy editorial-page editor of The Sun.

Pub Date: 4/14/96

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