Tydings makes plea to gain aid for UM's campus in city

THE POLITICAL GAME

Letter: The former senator says the mayor and legislators seem `uninterested' in school's plight.

March 11, 2003|By David Nitkin and Candus Thomson | David Nitkin and Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

FORMER U.S. Sen. Joseph D. Tydings has strong words for Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and the city's state lawmakers.

In an impassioned letter last week, the University System of Maryland regent argues against budget cuts for University of Maryland, Baltimore, which he says has lost $37 million in state funds over two years.

"I am saddened to note that, whereas the county executives and legislative leadership of Prince George's and Montgomery counties are actively involved in fighting against similar budget cuts aimed at the University of Maryland College Park, Bowie State, Shady Grove Center and UMUC [University of Maryland University College]," Tydings writes, "the executive and legislative leadership of Baltimore are sadly and strangely silent and seemingly uninterested in saving the second-largest employer in Baltimore City from far more dangerous budget cuts.

"UMB is the founding campus of University of Maryland and the University System of Maryland," the letter continues. "It is the source of the majority of the state's practicing physicians, dentists, pharmacists, baccalaureate and graduate nurses and social workers, and a plurality of its practicing attorneys.

"Without this institution and the professionals who are trained here, the quality of life and economy in the Baltimore region would `free fall.'"

Tydings said his letter was intended to be a "wake-up call," and he called on O'Malley "to convene an immediate emergency meeting of the Baltimore City delegation to review and discuss the contents."

O'Malley wrote back the next day, saying he hopes Tydings was "equally concerned about the proposed cut to local governments, including a transfer of $102 million from local highway user revenues and a proposed $92 million intercept of local income tax receipts."

The mayor said he wants Tydings to help urge Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to "find revenue enhancements that will continue the investment in our people, our city and our state."

In an interview yesterday, Tydings said the O'Malley administration has been helpful since receiving the letter, but not as active as he had hoped.

"I wanted him to get involved and in the middle, but he said, `We have too many other things going,'" Tydings said.

Tydings said he only realized in the past two weeks how serious the UMB budget situation is, and that he doesn't think other regents or city officials know it. "The more I dug, the worse it looked," he said.

@SUBHEDWhile Ehrlich talks slots, Miller buys a shotgun

While the governor readied for his late-night news conference on slots Wednesday, his chief legislative ally on the bill, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, was buying a shotgun.

But the firearms purchase had nothing to do with enforcing loyalty. Miller attended the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen's Foundation annual fund-raiser at Loews Annapolis Hotel, bidding against lobbyists, hunters and other lawmakers for about two dozen items.

He passed on a mink coat, the Bahamian beach house and the fishing trip with state Sen. John C. Astle. At $800, Miller was high bidder for a limited-edition 20-gauge shotgun - No. 49 of 100 - produced for Quail Unlimited.

Miller said he bought the firearm with his daughter's boyfriend in mind. Not as a matrimonial persuader, he insisted, but as a gift to the young man.

@SUBHEDCurran's deputy leaves AG's office after 16 years

A switch in governors has brought a high-ranking change in Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.'s office.

Carmen M. Shepard, who had been with the attorney general's office for 16 years and was Curran's deputy for six years, quietly left her post in December for a litigation job with Buc & Beardsley, a small District of Columbia firm.

"I think I had given him every new idea I had," said Shepard, who played a leading role in the state's tobacco litigation and other issues. "I was sort of fresh out of ideas. It seemed right, with a change of administration, that there should be a new person to begin that relationship [with the governor's office]."

@SUBHEDFreshman legislator makes his point on the slots issue

During a recent budget hearing, Del. Doyle L. Niemann, a freshman Democrat from Prince George's County, offered compelling logic to rebut Ehrlich's claim that the November election was a mandate for slots.

"I've heard the governor talk about there being a referendum during which the people spoke for slots," Niemann said. "If that's the case, the governor has it all wrong. The people around Ocean Downs voted for slots, because they voted for the governor. And the people of Laurel, Pimlico and Rosecroft voted against slots."

Budget Secretary James C. "Chip" DiPaula, Ehrlich's former campaign manager who was on the witness chair when Niemann spoke, conceded the point.

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