...Feeding the wrong people

Priorities: Governor has money to invite lawmakers to a hospitality tent but not enough to feed hungry.

May 20, 2000

MARYLAND'S 188 legislators will not go hungry or thirsty during today's race thanks to Gov. Parris N. Glendening's generosity. It's too bad that same spirit didn't prevail when advocates for the hungry asked the governor to double the state's emergency food aid to $1 million.

Under a new state ethics law, legislators no longer can accept freebies from the Maryland Jockey Club. Many of the state's lawmakers, who have a habit of depending on the generosity of others for entertainment, food and drink, complained about being excluded from Preakness fun. So, the governor, seeking to be as inclusive as possible, included them among his 1,200 invitations

Maryland residents who run out of food apparently don't merit the same consideration. Even though the state has the lowest poverty rate in the nation, and the governor increased spending on the poor by $80 million this year, more people are showing up at food pantries and soup kitchens this year, according to a survey last September by the Center for Poverty Solutions.

Food pantries reported a 47 percent increase in distribution compared to the previous year, and soup kitchens said they were feeding 14 percent more people.

There's nothing wrong with the governor's notion that lawmakers should get to know the people who invest in the state by mingling with them at the state's premier economic developing marketing effort. But it's a shame he couldn't locate a modest sum to attend to the needs of those Marylanders who can't afford to provide their own food and drink.

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