Glendening plans to advocate for environmental community

Former governor says he is arranging two jobs, in Washington, Annapolis

The Inauguration Of Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

January 16, 2003|By Alec MacGillis and Tim Craig | Alec MacGillis and Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

As his successor was celebrating on the steps of the State House, outgoing Gov. Parris N. Glendening spent much of yesterday out of sight nearby unpacking his rented townhouse and looking forward to a future of advocating for environmental causes in two different capacities.

Glendening said he was lining up two jobs, one in Washington and one in Annapolis. He said he had finalized one contract and was close to another.

"I will be aggressively involved in the environmental community," Glendening said. "We will be very active, very aggressive on the environment."

Glendening declined to name the outfits he plans to work for, but an official at Smart Growth America, a coalition of environmental groups in Washington, said that organization is in negotiations with the Democrat.

The group has yet to settle on terms with Glendening but has had "discussions and thought put into how we can use his talent," said organization spokesman David Goldberg.

"Obviously, we've been very interested in the governor's national profile, his very strong association with successes in Smart Growth," said Goldberg.

The job prospects for Glendening's lieutenant governor - who was Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s Democratic opponent - are less clear.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said yesterday that she is considering several options but declined to comment on specifics. She urged reporters to check back with her in several weeks.

A somewhat solemn Townsend and one of her top assistants huddled in a room in the state Capitol while Ehrlich was being sworn in a few doors away in the Senate chamber.

When asked whether she had any regrets that she lost the election, Townsend replied, "That is between me and my heart. This is a day to look forward."

Glendening's plans for his future have been nebulous since last winter, when he dropped his bid to became the chancellor of the University System of Maryland after critics noted that the $375,000 position was being filled by regents whom Glendening had appointed.

A former political science professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, Glendening could have sought a return to teaching there. Instead, Glendening has turned to the environmental community, hoping to capitalize on his national reputation for leadership on Smart Growth.

State environmental leaders say the activities he is considering - either in connection with an advocacy group or on his own - include the creation of a political action committee to support Smart Growth candidates or a venture capital fund to pay for Smart Growth initiatives.

Jon W. Robinson, chairman of the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club, said the Smart Growth movement would benefit from either option.

"We still get outspent by developers and business interests, by a wide margin," he said. "Anything that would help bring more money to our side of the fray would be welcome."

Smart Growth America, whose paid staff consists of just five people, is still trying to determine how it would compensate Glendening, and what role he would have, Goldberg said.

"There's a lot to think about in meshing the interests of a former governor with 100-plus advocacy groups," said Goldberg.

Since the election, the relationship between Glendening and Townsend has soured.

On election night Glendening said Townsend ran one of the worst campaigns in the country. When asked yesterday whether she knew of Glendening's plans, Townsend said she no longer speaks to her former boss.

Glendening said he felt little regret about leaving office.

"It really is a sense of relief. ... I've known this day will come, and I've been counting the days off almost as equally as Bob Ehrlich," he said.

In fact, Glendening said, his term ended with a good omen: the discovery, by an employee cleaning the governor's mansion, of a large diamond earring he had given his new wife last year but had since been lost.

"To me, this must be an extraordinarily good sign," he said, pulling the earring out of his pocket.

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