Miller message: No `bellyaching'

The Political Game

Critic: The state Senate president tells the Montgomery County executive to `hold down the rhetoric' and to stop `crying' over unfulfilled campaign promises by the governor.

January 26, 1999|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF

MESSAGE FROM Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller to Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan:

"Quit bellyaching."

Miller offered his advice on WAMU-FM's "Public Interest" with Kojo Nnamdi, an hourlong talk program devoted yesterday to Maryland government and politics.

Asked to comment on Duncan's contention that campaign promises by Gov. Parris N. Glendening have not been kept, Miller said Duncan was grandstanding.

"Duncan's a show person," he said. "He's tall and gregarious" and enjoys the spotlight. But, Miller suggested, he's gotten a bit carried away lately.

"He should hold down the rhetoric," said Miller, a sometime supporter of Glendening.

But didn't Glendening promise Duncan four years of funding for new classroom teachers?

Oh, sure, said Miller, and he'll probably get it. But in the meantime he should "stop bellyaching and crying."

Miller is an equal opportunity critic, and he concedes that Duncan probably has a point, if only a minor one. He might well have complained, said the Senate president, about the Glendening's lack of funding for a new Metro line -- which he also sort of promised -- or about Glendening's lack of ardor for the Inter County Connector, a superhighway planned -- but recently shelved -- for the traffic-threatened northern half of Montgomery between Interstates 270 and 95.

But all such complaints about the governor's changing his mind, breaking his word, going back on promises and the like should be suspended, Miller suggested.

He said he has known Glendening for many years, spanning Glendening's 12-year tenure as Prince George's County executive and his first term as governor. One might experience occasional "ups and downs," Miller said, but in the end things tend to work out.

Said Duncan: "I love Mike Miller. He calls me all kinds of names, and then he comes through for me and my county."

Miller also offered these views:

No one should give up on accelerating implementation of the income tax cut during this General Assembly. Though Glendening opposes it, Miller acknowledged, the governor opposed it in earlier years, and came around to supporting it.

Asked to predict the status of Maryland government with the official return yesterday of former governor -- now comptroller -- William Donald Schaefer.

"Wild times," Miller said. "Very unpredictable. Mood swings. When he's upset, you'll never know what might happen." Two articles in yesterday's newspapers, he said, had the former governor and former mayor of Baltimore alternately calm and exercised.

Hang on, in other words.

Now, a drum roll, please for names on public buildings

Now that the Ravens stadium will be named after PSINet, Marylanders may turn their attention to other pressing news of the naming variety.

Treasurer Richard N. Dixon's name, for example.

Though he has been the target of giggles -- after suggesting his name appear writ large on buildings constructed while he was treasurer (including the stadium) -- Dixon's interests are by no means unique.

Visitors to the Maryland Court of Appeals Building will have noticed that former Chief Judge Robert C. Murphy is memorialized across the front in letters approaching 2 feet high and bright gold in color.

Dixon has said he will make the matter of his name's prominence go away, meaning presumably he won't raise the matter again.

As it turns out, though, he has a few allies. Some of these kindred souls are members of the House Appropriations Committee, the same panel where Dixon distinguished himself when he was a delegate from Carroll County.

Realizing that Dixon was coming before them last week, several members arranged a special welcome. "Now Testifying," proclaimed a banner raised in the hearing room, "RICHARD N. DIXON."

To demonstrate that he took it all in good fun -- or because it represented his concept of ideal signage -- Dixon reportedly took the banner with him and installed it in his office. Maybe that's what he meant by making it go away.

Some more ways of getting the Dixon name around

Or maybe not. Maybe he just has some new ways of generating name recognition.

At his swearing-in last week in the House of Delegates chamber, flanked by Glendening and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Dixon told lawmakers he had been hearing rumors of a Townsend-Dixon ticket in 2002.

An intriguing idea had occurred to him and others, he said: Match a moderately liberal Kennedy with an African-American conservative from Carroll County. But Dixon couldn't leave it at that.

"I think I like the ticket the other way around," he said, with a wry smile. Dixon said later his comment was a joke.

"I like the job I have," he said.

And doing pretty well at it, said his new partner, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer. As he was sworn in yesterday, Schaefer recognized many allies, friends and associates, including Dixon, whom he referred to as "the best treasurer in the United States. If you don't believe it, just ask him."

Pub Date: 1/26/99

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