Supporters say they'll keep up the fight 'It's about money, power, politics and race,' Haysbert declares

January 13, 1998|By Craig Timberg and Robert Guy Matthews | Craig Timberg and Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Rafael Alvarez, Jonathan Weisman, Ivan Penn and C. Fraser Smith contributed to this article.

In an article Tuesday, Sen. Verda F. Welcome was misidentified as the first black person elected to the Maryland Senate. In fact, Welcome was the first black woman elected to the Senate. The first African-American elected to the chamber was Harry A. Cole in 1954.

The Sun regrets the errors.

News that state Sen. Larry Young will lose his General Assembly leadership positions and possibly his Senate seat angered his supporters yesterday, but they vowed to fight on to keep Young in the Senate.

"Fighting for his seat is the key now," said Raymond V. Haysbert, a prominent Baltimore businessman and chairman of The Committee for Truth and Justice, a coalition of Young supporters.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Haysbert called yesterday's decision upsetting but unsurprising. He also compared the case to the O. J. Simpson double-murder trial, in which a chasm separated the views of white and black people. He said the damage to racial harmony in Baltimore could be lasting.

Of Young's case, Haysbert added: "It's about money, power, politics and race. Not necessarily in that order."

Many Young supporters declined to comment yesterday, waiting instead for the first public remarks from Young, expected today.

Young plans to meet with advisers at Total Health Care on Division Street in West Baltimore at 7 p.m., said Del. Clarence M. Mitchell IV, a key Young supporter; a public statement may follow.

By the end of next week, a Senate vote will determine whether Young gets to keep his seat.

"It's safe to say the senator still has his supporters," said Mitchell.

One of Young's chief supporters, the Rev. John L. Wright, a Howard County minister and president of the United Baptist Missionary Convention of Maryland, said yesterday that Young should not be expelled from the Senate.

But Wright did agree with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller's decision to remove Young from the chairmanship of a powerful health subcommittee and the chairmanship of the executive nominations committee.

"As soon as Larry Young makes two or three mistakes they are out to kill," Wright said.

One concern from area ministers is that the investigation into Young's financial dealings and ethical violations may be the result of a double standard.

"There is a double standard in the community, in the country, in the state and in the state government," Wright said. "We just can't do what the white folks do. Whatever is good for Senator Larry Young should be good for the white folks."

Rodney A. Orange Sr., president of the Baltimore chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, praised Del. Kenneth C. Montague Jr., the presiding officer of the ethics committee, as "above board."

"People were not willing to base their judgments solely on the reports in the paper," said Orange, "but the ethics committee ruling has changed that: It seems that Senator Young knew what he was doing and failed to act properly."

Mary Sue Welcome, a local businesswoman and daughter of Maryland's first black state senator, the late Verda Welcome, said she was surprised the committee reached a decision so quickly, after about a month of work.

Legislative leaders had asked the ethics committee to report its findings before the General Assembly session begins tomorrow.

"There's something to be said that justice is swift. But sometimes injustice is swifter," Welcome said.

Del. Talmadge Branch, an East Baltimore Democrat, said Young has been an asset in the General Assembly:

"He's been a good legislator, aside from these charges. I hate to see this happen to him. He's been around for a long time, so why would he do these things? I think the people in the 44th District still need him."

But Maryland's Republican Party praised the ethics committee and its recommendations.

"Maryland has too long been in the grips of the 'old-boy network' that is only interested in perpetuating its own power and feathering its own nest," said Ellen R. Sauerbrey, a GOP candidate for governor.

Pub Date: 1/13/98

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