A big payday for Mitchell shows Ehrlich is all heart

This Just In...

February 14, 2003|By DAN RODRICKS

COMPARING PARRIS Glendening and Bob Ehrlich on just one aspect of governance - how they treat the indigent - I must say Ehrlich, the Republican, is head and shoulders above Glendening, the former Democratic governor and alleged liberal.

I mean, look at it:

One of the first things Glendening did after becoming Maryland governor in the winter of 1995 was scrap a program that made modest monthly subsidies to poor and disabled men, calling it welfare the fifth wealthiest state in the nation could no longer afford.

Now, look at Ehrlich:

A month in office, and he gives Clarence Mitchell IV, the former state senator who filed for bankruptcy last month, a $92,000-a-year job with the state.

That, my friends, is compassionate conservatism.

Next time someone starts giving Democrats all the credit for taking care of your tired, your poor, your down-and-out, just remember: It was Parris the Goob who cut the Disability Assistance and Loan Program, and it was Bobby Governor, the Newt Gingrich Republican, who took care of Clarence Mitchell IV.

C4 must be pinching himself. It's like he stumbled off the tour bus with a pocketful of quarters and hit big on the slots.

Just last month in federal bankruptcy court, he listed assets of $50,000 and debt of about $500,000. He filed for Chapter 7.

A few months before that, he lost his bid for re-election. Before that, he was reprimanded by the state Senate for a breach of ethics.

So there had been this awful downward trend in the man's life.

But don't worry, be happy - along came Bobby Governor to give this failed politician and former bail bondsman $1,400 a week to run something the state didn't even have until, like, last night at 6 o'clock - the Office of Urban Development.

I'm tellin' ya: Compared to Glendening, this governor's a big teddy bear.

Ehrlich certainly has changed from his days as a loyal foot soldier in the Congress of Gingrich and his "Contract With America." A major part of the Republican manifesto back then was a rollback in federal relief for the poor - an effort to break the cycle of dependence on government.

Creating a $92,000-a-year job for C4 shows you just how much Ehrlich has moderated his views.

But surely I jest. This has nothing to do with ideology.

This is pure political payback, Ehrlich rewarding Mitchell for turning away from the Democrats and supporting him in the general election.

It kind of fits with Ehrlich's pro-gambling stance: C4 took a chance, he backed the winner, he gets the payoff. America, what a country!

But one must ask: What did Mitchell really do to deserve such a political valentine?

I mean, he didn't exactly "deliver" Baltimore for the Republican in the general election.

Bobby Governor won statewide, but the score in Charm City was Kathleen K. Townsend 120,070, Ehrlich 38,838.

So Ehrlich is being overly generous here.

Maybe gullible, too.

"I think he is very well respected in many quarters of the city, particularly West Baltimore," the governor said of his new bud.

Earth to Ehrlich: Mitchell lost the last election to Verna Jones. The margin was 2-1. It was in the 44th District. The 44th District is "particularly West Baltimore."

If Ehrlich wanted to repay Mitchell for supporting him in the gubernatorial campaign, fine. A Whitman's Sampler would have been sufficient.

A $92,000-a-year job for make-work at taxpayers' expense?

I'm confused.

I thought Republicans were trying to break the cycle of dependence on government.

Here's an idea: The governor calls on one of his rich backers to give C4 a job. Yeah, it's time to privatize patronage.

Taking a toll in Conn.

I knew I was onto something when I suggested state-owned and -operated slot machines at Bay Bridge toll booths - only what we have here seems to twist the idea around: Legislators in Connecticut have proposed putting tollbooths at the entrances of the state's two Indian-owned casinos.

According to a published report, the legislation would impose a $10 toll on patrons leaving Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino and generate an estimated $200 million in annual revenue to the state.

You see what this is? A state unhappy with its take, trying to find a way to get more off the gambling public. That's why I say Maryland should own the slots outright - if we must have them - take what it wants and eliminate all the other money grabbers standing between the "ka" and the "ching."

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