All in the family Nepotism, cronyism: Parole commission needs quality, not sons and allies of politicians.

July 17, 1996

THOMAS V. MILLER III should feel at home in his $56,000 a year job as a parole commissioner. The panel is loaded with folks who got there because of family or political ties. Tom Miller, the son of the powerful Senate president, is no exception.

At age 29, Mr. Miller is considerably younger and less experienced than other commissioners. That didn't bother Bishop L. Robinson, the public safety secretary who made the appointment, or Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who gave the O.K. Why worry about years of hard-earned correctional expertise when you can do a favor for the Senate president?

There's nothing new here. Commissioner Michael C. Blount got his job because his dad is Clarence W. Blount, the Baltimore senator who chairs a Senate committee. Commissioner E. Farrell Maddox got his job because he was one of the few eastern Baltimore County pols to endorse Mr. Glendening in 1994. Commissioner Dan D. Zaccagnini got his job because of links to Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

Mr. Robinson puts on a good front that Tom Miller's family ties didn't influence his appointment. Why it never occurred to him that Senate President Thomas V. Miller Jr. might feel kindly toward the secretary and the governor if young Tom got the job. Of course not.

This is the worst kind of politics. It is the sort of "I'll rub your back if you'll do me favors later" mind-set that convinces people Maryland public officials are less than honorable.

Had his last name been Mills and his dad laid bricks, Tom Miller wouldn't have been given much consideration. No, he's on the commission because of Dad, as is Michael Blount. For Messrs. Zaccagnini and Maddox, it's the gubernatorial ties that count.

This is not a meaningless job. Members make important decisions on the early release of inmates and on disciplining parolees. Tom Miller has a limited background in corrections. The state and its citizens deserve better.

Cronyism and nepotism are alive in the Glendening administration. It is another embarrassment for the governor. Mr. Glendening keeps telling us he's a new kind of governor, with high standards. That's not what the Miller appointment shows. It's politics as usual.

Pub date: 7/17/96

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