Comptroller Annoyed

The Political Game

Panel: Once upon a time, the governor had his way at Board of Public Works meetings. Then William Donald Schaefer was elected.

June 29, 1999|By Thomas W. Waldron and Gerard Shields | Thomas W. Waldron and Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

IN THE OLD DAYS (THAT is, before William Donald Schaefer returned to Annapolis as state comptroller,) the governor of Maryland pretty much had his way at the Board of Public Works.

If another member of the three-person board -- either the state treasurer or comptroller -- had a problem with an item up for approval, the governor would quietly smooth things out beforehand, out of public view.

But with Comptroller Annoyed on the board, it's almost a given that Gov. Parris N. Glendening will run into at least one problem at every meeting.

Lately, Schaefer has been spitting mad about Glendening's proposal to raise Lottery Director Buddy Roogow's salary by almost $5,000 to $108,000. Schaefer has found an ally in Treasurer Richard N. Dixon, who also is not a big fan of the governor's.

Faced with their opposition, Glendening administration officials have had to withdraw the proposed raise at each of the past two board meetings.

Last week, with Glendening on vacation and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend running the meeting, Schaefer and Dixon again stopped the Roogow raise, as well as pay boosts for five other administration officials.

Schaefer is said to be angry about a recent letter from Roogow boasting of his accomplishments turning around the agency. In particular, Roogow mentioned that the agency's previous director's illness had led to "fragmented leadership."

That reference to former Director Lloyd W. Jones, a longtime Schaefer friend who died of cancer in 1996, was apparently too much for the comptroller.

The curious thing about the spat is that Roogow worked for Schaefer when he was governor, as director of operations.

While they were blocking raises for administration officials, Schaefer and Dixon made sure the board approved a hefty $76,049 salary for Schaefer's new communications director, former Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. official Paul G. Edwards. That approval occurred over the objections of the legislature's fiscal analysts, who said comparable positions in state government pay between $51,000 and $66,000.

As for the Roogow raise, the administration is assessing its plans, a spokesman for Glendening said.

Money for nothing? Not in Taylor's case

House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. presided over his annual $250-a-head fund-raiser last night, pulling in as much as $150,000.

What's the money for, Mr. Speaker?

"I don't know," said Taylor. "I wish I had the answer."

Taylor, a Cumberland Democrat, would love to be governor, but knows his conservative views on issues such as abortion would hurt him in a Democratic primary.

In any case, Taylor, 64, knows it's politically prudent to have money in the bank while he weighs his options for 2002.

"I just want to stay competitive and stay in the game and prepare for the future three years from now, whatever the future holds," Taylor said.

An O'Malley by any other name . . .

Talk about the luck of the Irish.

One of Baltimore City Councilman Martin O'Malley's chief hurdles in winning the Sept. 14 Democratic mayoral primary will be extending his name recognition beyond his Northeast district. O'Malley may gain some help from NBC television, which is premiering "The Mike O'Malley Show" in the fall.

Commercials blaring the O'Malley name are airing and are expected to intensify just in time for September, which is both the new television season and the height of the Democratic primary campaign.

O'Malley the councilman said he hasn't seen the commercials, but his brother Peter relayed the good news. Leaving a recent fund-raiser, O'Malley heard one East Baltimore supporter yell: "Go get `em, Mike O'Malley!"

Appearing July 16 at a blank space near you

Call it the case of the disappearing political signs.

Hundreds of campaign signs posted by City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III and Democratic rival Carl F. Stokes came down last week after a City Paper report about a little-known election law that prohibits such signs until 10 days after the July 6 filing deadline for candidates.

Bell had peppered vacant buildings along North Avenue, choosing the multiple-sign strategy.

Stokes had carefully placed larger signs throughout the city.

Despite a $25 minimum fine for each violating sign, Bell placards remain throughout the city. A spokesman said the campaign retrieved as many as it could.

He also said the candidate may be able to keep the "Bell For Baltimore" signs up because they don't list him running for a specific office.

Expect the signs to return after July 16.

Pub Date: 6/29/99

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