Pork: It's what's not for dinner

Carroll County: Lawmakers would rather fight than maneuver for state aid for local projects.

April 16, 1999

FOR SEVERAL years, Carroll's state legislators have made funding for a new Agriculture Center their top priority in the General Assembly. This year, the county got $300,000 for the facility.

But it was a tiny victory in this year of celebrated treasury surplus: the county's request was for $950,000, after getting no state money for the project last year.

And that was all the bacon -- barely more than lard -- that the six-member county delegation brought home this year.

There was no $200,000 for Sykesville to plan redevelopment of the 138-acre Warfield property it is getting from the state. There was no legislative interference to force the state to complete a $53 million Maryland police training center near Sykesville; the governor wants to build half of the facilities elsewhere.

The real impact of Carroll lawmakers in this year's General Assembly was decidedly, and futilely, negative. Conservative Republicans in a Democratic legislature, they ranted, railed and voted against nearly everything, from higher cigarette taxes to homosexual civil rights to the state budget.

They were understandably angry with Gov. Parris N. Glendening for his apparent political moves to kill major projects in the county, including bypasses for Westminster and Manchester; he retreated from carrying out a similar threat against a bypass in Democratic vote-rich Montgomery County.

But Carroll representatives' excessive efforts to thwart the will of the legislative majority through parliamentary maneuver (and rabid rhetoric) alienated the fellow legislators they needed to combat the governor's thrust. There was little attempt at negotiation, compromise or accommodation.

Five of the six delegation members have served at least one term. It's not a question of experience, but of refusal to learn from it. Carroll County left Annapolis poorer because of it.

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