Governor to get award for gay-rights support

The Political Game

July 04, 2000|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

THE GOVERNOR continues to cement his reputation as a good friend to the gay and lesbian community.

Friday night in New York, Gov. Parris N. Glendening will receive the Allies for Justice Award from National Lesbian and Gay Law Association. The association is an affiliate of the American Bar Association, and the award is being presented during the ABA's annual convention.

Glendening was the first Maryland governor to lobby for a civil rights measure for gays and lesbians when he made it a priority during last year's General Assembly session.

The governor even took the unusual step of appearing before a House committee to testify for the measure, telling lawmakers about his gay brother who died of AIDS. The bill cleared the House of Delegates but was killed by a conservative Senate committee.

Bowing to political reality, Glendening did not sponsor the bill this year. Even so, gay activists remained impressed with his efforts.

"Just knowing what Governor Glendening has done to advance civil rights in Maryland - particularly putting his neck on the line and testifying on the anti-discrimination bill - really impressed me," said Mark Scurti, a Baltimore lawyer who nominated Glendening for the award.

Past recipients include Detroit Mayor Dennis W. Archer and Harvard University law professor Laurence H. Tribe.

Glendening is scheduled to attend Friday night's award ceremony in New York and speak to a gathering of more than 300 people.

He has not said whether he will push the gay-rights bill in the 2001 legislative session.

It seems unlikely that he will make a major effort, because the Senate committee that would consider the bill remains unchanged.

He's no police officer, but he battles crime

Ocean City Mayor Jim Mathias may have gone a little overboard in his effort to keep things peaceful in the resort city.

On a Saturday night last month, the mayor turned on a red emergency light in his car to stop two motorcycle drivers who were drag racing on Coastal Highway. The mayor instructed the men to wait until police arrived and lectured them about endangering their female passengers.

A few days later, Ocean City's police chief informed Mathias that technically, he shouldn't be using the emergency light because he isn't a police officer.

Mathias was given the flashing red light (not a blue police light) by the resort's public safety director to make sure the mayor could get to the scene of emergencies quickly.

Mathias seemed chagrined by the story, which appeared first in the Salisbury Daily Times, and said he would leave the light off. "I'm not going to assume the position of a self-sworn police officer," he said yesterday.

You may recall the mayor brought his crime-fighting efforts to Baltimore in March. After spending the day helping to clean up an eyesore in East Baltimore, Mathias tailed a man he had seen spray-paint graffiti and phoned police.

Van Hollen draws crowd at Owings Mills event

State Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr. ventured out of his home base in Montgomery County to raise money in Owings Mills last week. The party attracted much of the state's Democratic Party elite, eager to toast one of the legislature's brighter lights.

Glendening, for example, praised Van Hollen for helping rescue his gun-safety bill during this year's General Assembly session.

On hand was a diverse crowd that included liberal activists such as Vinnie DeMarco, who has worked with Van Hollen on anti-smoking and gun-control issues.

Also there were many of the top corporate State House lobbyists, some of whom have battled with Van Hollen and advocates like DeMarco on issues such as raising the cigarette tax.

"Businesses are nervous," explained one lobbyist.

Van Hollen seems to be on the short list of possible running mates for Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in the 2002 gubernatorial race.

His politics may not thrill many of the lobbyists' clients. But if you're a corporate lobbyist, it makes political sense to write a check to Van Hollen's campaign account in hopes of keeping the lines of communication open - just in case.

Fraud trial could be site of political reunion

From the Small World Department:

In the federal mail-fraud trial of state Del. Tony E. Fulton and lobbyist Gerard E. Evans, one name has come up several times: that of former state Sen. John A. Pica Jr.

Pica works for Baltimore lawyer Peter G. Angelos. The law firm's interest in legislation targeting paint companies has been a recurring topic during testimony.

It is possible that Pica will be called as a defense witness. If he is, it will mark a political reunion of sorts.

Richard D. Bennett, Fulton's lawyer and head of the Maryland Republican Party, ran against Pica for state Senate in 1982. Pica stomped Bennett by a margin of nearly 2-to-1.

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