Carroll leaders return fire on governor for critical speech

County officials say Glendening was unfair, won't meet about needs

June 14, 2000|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Stunned by what they called unfounded criticism from Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Carroll County commissioners and state legislators returned fire yesterday.

"His comments show how out of touch he is with Carroll County," said Del. Carmen Amedori. "He has no idea what is going on here and has not responded to our numerous attempts to talk to him. As much as he thinks he knows, he really knows much less."

The breakdown in communication has descended to snubs from the governor, said Sen. Larry E. Haines, leader of Carroll's all-Republican delegation.

"The governor has not been open in communication and cooperation with elected officials here," Haines said. "He has refused to sit down with us and, at times, even to recognize us."

In his address to the Maryland Municipal League convention Monday, the governor recognized Carroll. But it was for South Carroll's water shortages and the county's air pollution. Carroll has consistently resisted Smart Growth, Glendening's pet initiative to control sprawl, he said. In a speech peppered with praise for many, he singled out Carroll, blaming its problems on poor leadership.

"This is not the first time he has criticized us, and we'll survive," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell, who added that he wanted "to stay above the fracas" and would not comment further.

Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier read the speech yesterday and was smarting from it. Her feelings appeared to be hurt and she hesitated to speak. "The market dictates what people like, and people are moving here," she said.

Carroll, the first county in Maryland to establish agricultural zoning, ranks among the highest nationally for farm acreage preserved, Haines said. Carroll's bucolic vistas are startling contrasts to the congestion that marks Prince George's County, he said. Glendening, a Democrat, served three terms as county executive there before becoming governor in 1994.

"P.G. is just the kind of metro area people are fleeing from when they move to Carroll," said Haines. "Carroll County has set standards for quality of life throughout the state."

Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge, who attended the league's millennium celebration in Ocean City yesterday, called the governor's remarks unfair and unwarranted. Gouge said she was particularly offended by Glendening's comment on Carroll's air pollution, which, many experts have said, emanates from areas as far as the Ohio Valley.

"If he really thinks air pollution is coming from Carroll County, then he should give us a bypass road," said Amedori. "You have bumper-to-bumper traffic standing still on Route 30."

Glendening called Carroll "a before picture in a Smart Growth ad: polluted air, chronic water shortages, congestion and sprawl."

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