Choosing a chip off the old bloc Appointment: Del. Thomas E. Dewberry of Baltimore County rises to a position among the senior House leadership, as the choice to succeed Elijah E. Cummings as speaker pro tem.

The Political Game

June 04, 1996|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

THOMAS E. DEWBERRY, who has represented Baltimore County in the House of Delegates since 1989, gets to try on the mantle of senior House leadership.

House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. tapped Dewberry as speaker pro tem last night after a daylong meeting with House leaders.

Technically, Dewberry, 45, a lawyer who is a senior hearing examiner for the Public Service Commission, still must be elected to the post by the full House when it meets in January. But his "nomination" by Taylor is tantamount to an appointment.

Until his election, Dewberry will serve as a key adviser to Taylor and sit in on all senior leadership decisions.

He is replacing Elijah E. Cummings, the former city delegate and speaker pro tem who was elected April 16 to Congress from Maryland's 7th District.

"It's a totally new role and challenge," Dewberry said.

"It's a heck of an honor to be in a position like that and help to direct traffic for 140 people who have been elected from across the state."

Dewberry was the front-runner all along for the position, though the names of other delegates were floated.

Among them were Maggie L. McIntosh and Ann Marie Doory of Baltimore, Nancy K. Kopp of Montgomery County, and John S. Arnick of Baltimore County.

Dewberry's selection was as much a matter of geography as anything else.

With the exception of Arnick -- the House chairman of the joint Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee -- Baltimore County's representation in upper leadership has been pretty thin.

Of course, it also helped that Dewberry played a key role in putting together a coalition of political and community leaders in southwest Baltimore County -- the "Catonsville Bloc" -- that backed Cummings for the 7th District congressional seat.

In other House action yesterday, Del. Nathaniel Exum, a Prince George's County Democrat, was named to take Cummings' spot as chairman of the Economic Matters Committee's workers compensation subcommittee. Del. Van T. Mitchell, a Democrat from Charles County, will become vice chairman of the subcommittee.

Mayor appoints ally to zoning appeals board

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has made sure that one of his friends in South Baltimore will have a little pocket change for a while.

Schmoke has named Randolph M. Collins, a Federal Hill lawyer with links to Gov. Parris N. Glendening, to the five-member Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals.

Collins, 39, whose first hearing as a zoning board member is today, will be paid $8,062 a year -- not bad pay for two afternoons a month.

He is a lawyer with the Washington firm of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue and has been active in the community. He is a former president of the Riverside Neighbors Community Association, now the Federal Hill South Community Association. He is president of the South Baltimore Learning Center and serves on the board of Baltimore Reads Inc.

Collins ran for the House of Delegates in 1994, but was soundly defeated. He ran fourth in a five-candidate field in a bitter race for two open seats in South Baltimore's legislative subdistrict 47A.

(Ultimately, former City Councilman Timothy D. Murphy and Brian K. McHale, then the incumbent, won the two seats.)

But Collins had the distinction of being one of only a handful of city legislative candidates who received money ($5,000) from Glendening during that year's Democratic primary -- mostly owing to the help of Schmoke's political organization, which directed the election effort in the city.

Fiscal services director agrees to stay another year

It's official.

William S. Ratchford II, the fiscal wizard who heads the legislature's Department of Fiscal Services, will be staying for another year.

Ratchford, who announced last month he would take advantage of the state's early retirement plan, was asked to remain at the helm by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Taylor.

The 63-year-old Ratchford, who serves at the pleasure of the presiding officers, agreed to put off retiring until next June -- which means that he faces one last session of the Maryland General Assembly.

Pub Date: 6/04/96

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