Jack Kent Cooke was prince by comparison

The Political Game

Football: A gentleman's agreement by the late Redskins owner falls apart with word that the team will move its summer home from Frostburg to Virginia.

May 30, 2000|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

IT'S AN ODD day when the powers that be actually long for the good old days of the late Jack Kent Cooke.

Remember that for years, Cooke and Maryland officials battled over his efforts to build a new football stadium here. Cooke, then in his late 70s and early 80s, could be blustery and unpredictable, always egotistical. But Maryland officials also considered him a man of his word.

In 1996, Cooke and his army of lobbyists negotiated a deal in which the state was to spend about $70 million to help Cooke build his stadium in Landover.

As part of the handshake agreement, Cooke agreed to move the team's summer training camp to Frostburg, in the district of the powerful House speaker, Casper R. Taylor Jr.

It was a huge shot in the arm for the depressed region and a coup for Taylor.

So it was a nasty blow last week when Cooke's successor as owner, Daniel Snyder, announced the long-expected news: The team was moving its summer home to its headquarters in Virginia to capture more revenue from fans.

The insulting part, officials said, was that neither Snyder nor his lieutenants called to apologize for or, at least, explain the decision.

"The Redskins are a major corporate entity that has every right in the world to make business decisions," Taylor said last week. "But I certainly can and do fault the bush-league manner in which they carried out this bush-league decision."

"However difficult Jack Kent Cooke was, he turns out to be a prince who honored his commitments."

A spokesman for Gov. Parris N. Glendening said the Redskins' decision could put a crimp in future dealings between the team and the state.

"Most people involved in long-term relationships remember the history of those relationships," said Michael Morrill, the spokesman. "In that respect, I guess we can consider ourselves once-burned."

Glendening, old friend to meet in Romania

Glendening will hook up with an old friend today in, of all places, Romania.

In the second week of his trade mission to Europe, Glendening will spend three days in Romania as a guest of the U.S. ambassador, former Maryland Del. James C. Rosapepe.

Rosapepe, a Prince George's Democrat like Glendening, was one of the governor's most vocal supporters when both were in Annapolis. In 1997, President Clinton appointed Rosapepe to the ambassador's post.

Glendening is scheduled to make several stops in Romania -- visiting a software business, having breakfast with business leaders and meeting with members of Romania's Parliament.

2 former lawmakers teaming up as lobbyists

The lobbyists are already thick as locusts in the state capital, but that doesn't stop political types from jumping into the fast-growing industry.

The latest to try are two former legislators who dipped their toes into the lobbying waters during this year's General Assembly session but are now going formal.

Former Democratic delegates Clay C. Opara of Baltimore and Gilbert J. Genn of Montgomery County have teamed up to form Entrepreneurial Advocates LLC. Both are lawyers and also plan to try cases together, Opara said.

Opara, 35, did not run for re-election in 1998 after serving less than three years in the House. Genn, 47, served three four-year terms before leaving the House in 1998.

The two will aim for a high-gloss operation, Opara said. "There are a sufficient number of hacks in Annapolis," he said. "We want to have a real professional lobbying operation."

Tripp ruling mellows Republican voices

Finally, a footnote on the collapse of the Linda Tripp prosecution.

Many Republicans shouted "conspiracy" when State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli pressed the case against Tripp for tape recording phone conversations with Monica Lewinsky.

Those cries came after 49 Democratic members of the General Assembly signed a letter in 1998 urging the Howard County prosecutor -- a Republican -- to open an investigation of Tripp. The Howard prosecutor deferred to Montanarelli.

Now, with the case thrown out, you don't hear too many Republican voices pointing out that the judge who issued the evidentiary ruling that gutted Montanarelli's case was a so-called liberal Democrat appointed by Glendening: Diane O. Leasure.

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