Governor sets goals for 2nd term

Aggressive spending, strict regulation implied in speech `We have only just begun'

Specifics expected in State of State address today

January 21, 1999|By Michael Dresser and Gady A. Epstein | Michael Dresser and Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

On a day marked by pomp, pageantry and a parade, Gov. Parris N. Glendening began his second term yesterday with a declaration that "we have only just begun" to address the challenges of education, the environment and civil rights.

Buoyed by his strong electoral showing in November -- a striking contrast to the slim margin by which he won his first term in 1994 -- Glendening delivered an inaugural address that was uncompromising in its liberalism.

"In the next four years, we will build more, invest more, do more to raise standards, expect more in our classrooms, and make teaching a more rewarding and more honored profession," the governor said.

"And if some complain about the cost of education, let us reply: The cost of ignorance is far greater!"

Absent were any references to limited government or tax reductions -- two themes that almost certainly would have been sounded if Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey had won November's election.

Glendening made few specific references to policy initiatives, reserving those for today's State of the State address.

Nevertheless, his words foreshadowed a willingness to spend aggressively and regulate strictly to achieve his goals.

Recalling the death from AIDS of his brother Bruce, who was gay, Glendening put lawmakers on notice that he will push hard to win passage of legislation banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

"One of my legislative battles this year will be in his name and his memory," the governor said in a departure from his prepared text.

Conservationists also could find much to cheer, as Glendening rejected "the excuse that we have to abuse the environment in order to grow the economy.

"Let every special interest know that this great common interest of ours is not for sale," he said.

Yesterday's inaugural was the culmination of a triumphal journey for Glendening, who not long ago was regarded as the most politically vulnerable incumbent governor in the country. At the ebb of his political fortunes, his approval ratings were lower than those of a governor who was under indictment.

As late as mid-October, GOP leaders were confident that Sauerbrey had the momentum, and that they would inaugurate their first governor in three decades. But the Republican dream faded, as Glendening rode a strong Democratic turnout to a surprising, 55-to-45-percent win.

As if to underscore his differences with the defeated Republican, the governor invited three prominent labor leaders, including AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, to sit on the podium built over the State House steps. Organized labor was one of the most active backers of Glendening's re-election effort.

House Minority Leader Robert H. Kittleman said "it would have been nice" if yesterday had been a day of celebration for Sauerbrey.

"It would have been an entirely different crowd. But that's not the way it is, and we live in the real world," the Howard County Republican said. Kittleman added that he was struck by "the pro-labor, anti-business slant of it all."

Sticking to the script

The inauguration ceremonies followed a script that has changed little over the years.

Shortly after noon, a red-robed Chief Judge Robert M. Bell administered the oath of office to Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in a Senate chamber packed with members of both houses. Townsend was accompanied on the podium by her husband, David Townsend, their four children and her mother, Ethel Kennedy.

After the oath, Townsend signed the book in which the names of Maryland state officials are inscribed. "I signed in the right place this year," she said -- a reference to a slip-up during the 1995 inaugural when she signed on the governor's line.

Minutes later, Glendening was whisked into the chamber to take the oath, with his wife, Frances Anne, and their son, Raymond, by his side. After the swearing-in, the two houses adjourned to a nearby plaza under a misty rain. Glendening's luck held out, as the rain stopped just before he started his address.

The intermittent rain might have discouraged some locals from attending the outdoor inaugural ceremony, but Annapolis resident Pamela G. Barnes came with her baby girl Zoe and Bernese mountain dog Dyka.

"I actually came down for Zoe, hoping to hear the music and some of the speeches, but I don't think she's going to wake up," Barnes said, looking down at the 1-year-old, who was lying in her carriage, bundled in fleece.

Barnes said that since becoming parents, she and her husband have become more attuned to the issue of education, which Glendening has stressed as a priority.

The governor's speech won rave reviews from fellow Democrats. House Speaker Casper R. Taylor said he was gratified that Glendening, with whom he has been on good terms lately, ended his "wonderful" speech with a reference to "one Maryland" -- a theme Taylor also has sounded.

A leading Republican legislator, House Minority Whip Robert L. Flanagan, said Glendening's address "certainly raised some important issues.

"What the governor needs to respond to is the need not only to spend more money for education, but to actually reform education and raise the quality of teaching," he said.

Among the governor's special guests was his grandfather, Jerry Church, who flew up from South Florida with his wife, Mary.

Church, a retired nurseryman who is about 90 years old but won't give his age, had nothing but nice things to say about Glendening the man but called some of his policies a little too liberal.

"Parris is a much bigger man than I am," Church said. "He accepts some things I can't. But that's generational."

Sun staff writer Thomas W. Waldron contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 1/21/99

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