Former majority leader heads ethics commission

The Political Game

Study: A state panel forms to examine the practices of legislative lobbyists.

August 17, 1999|By Michael Dresser and Gerry Shields | Michael Dresser and Gerry Shields,SUN STAFF

DONALD B. Robertson, a former majority leader in the House of Delegates, will chair a commission created to study the ethical practices of Maryland's ever-expanding corps of legislative lobbyists.

The former Montgomery County delegate -- regarded as a champion of good-government laws during his General Assembly career -- was named to head the Study Commission on Legislative Ethics by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

The panel was set up by the General Assembly this year at Taylor's suggestion after a series of reports of cozy dealing between paid lobbyists and members of the legislative and executive branches of government. Lobbyists had escaped the scrutiny of a similar commission looking into legislative ethics in 1998.

The group will examine the law governing lobbyists and consider adopting a code of ethics.

Robertson, a Democrat, served in the House from 1970 to 1989, including eight years as majority leader and two as speaker pro-tem.

Former Baltimore Sen. Julian L. Lapides, a well-known ethics hawk during his long legislative career, called Robertson's selection "an excellent appointment."

"He was always an extreme straight arrow and did a great deal on ethics legislation when he was in the General Assembly," Lapides said.

Townsend resumes political life on Shore

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who cut back her schedule after the death last month of cousin John F. Kennedy Jr., will return to her normal whirlwind pace this week.

Starting tomorrow, Townsend will have a full schedule of activities on the Eastern Shore, where the Maryland Association of Counties will hold its convention this weekend.

The summer MACO conference in Ocean City is a traditional showcase for just about everybody in Maryland politics. Townsend, considered a strong gubernatorial candidate for 2002, will be bouncing from event to event until Saturday.

Among the events is a Thursday reception held in part by three county executives who are potential rivals for the Democratic nomination -- Wayne K. Curry of Prince George's, Douglas M. Duncan of Montgomery and C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Baltimore County.

The lieutenant governor also has scheduled the first high-profile fund-raiser of her presumed campaign. An invitation to the $1,000-a-ticket dinner at Della Notte restaurant in Little Italy bills it as "an evening of fine dining and casual conversation with our lieutenant governor."

And that isn't cheap talk.

With police escorts nearby, candidates take on crime

Baltimore's mayoral candidates have been standing in rough neighborhoods talking about getting tough on crime -- with police escorts.

Two police cars were parked at the corner of West Fayette and Monroe, across the street from a recent news conference by City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III. Patrol cars also were on hand when Northeast City Councilman Martin O'Malley announced his mayoral bid last month at Harford Road and The Alameda.

Officers appeared throughout the "Walk Through Baltimore" route taken by mayoral candidate Carl Stokes. Stokes chose Garrison Boulevard between Gwynns Falls Parkway and Wabash Avenue because of the rise in drug dealing and prostitution there.

Although candidates haven't requested police support, police spokesman Robert W. Weinhold Jr. said officers have been assigned whenever candidates have notified them about the events.

The police are sent because the news conferences tend to attract crowds, Weinhold said. Police believe their presence can prevent any problems, he said.

Pub Date: 8/17/99

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