Ehrlich names Madden to post

Former senator to lead Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Commission

Environmentalists praise choice

Government agency oversees bay development with $2.2 million budget

April 22, 2003|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

In a move that won praise from environmentalists, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. named former Senate Minority Leader Martin G. Madden yesterday to lead a key commission that oversees development close to the Chesapeake and Maryland's coastal bays.

Madden, a moderate Republican from Howard County, will assume the chairmanship of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Commission on May 1.

The governor praised Madden's "proven record of leadership on important environmental issues."

"I look forward to working with him to implement balanced, common sense solutions that protect our most vulnerable shorelines," Ehrlich said.

Madden, 53, earned a reputation during his 11 years in the General Assembly as one of the more reliable pro-environment votes in the Republican ranks.

Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a leader of environmental forces in the Assembly, hailed Madden's appointment as "rare but welcome good news" from the Ehrlich administration.

"He's somebody who can be expected to do a good job," the Montgomery County Democrat said. "He's an honest guy who I think has a record of support for environmental issues."

Frosh and Madden found themselves on opposite sides during one of the most contentious issues of the legislative session that ended early this month: Ehrlich's nomination of Lynn Y. Buhl as secretary of the Department of the Environment.

Madden, who has been serving as special assistant to the governor since January, was in charge of rounding up votes in favor of Buhl. Frosh, backed by most leading environmental groups, led the successful effort to reject her nomination.

Susan Brown, executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, compared Ehrlich's decision favorably to his choice of Buhl.

"This is a promising gesture to see that he's recognizing that there are Republican, qualified candidates in the state that have a record of protecting the environment," Brown said.

Chuck Fox, vice president for external affairs of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said the group was "encouraged" by Madden's appointment to what he called an important post.

"The commission absolutely has clout and the chairman has a lot of clout within the commission," Fox said.

The 29-member commission, part of the Department of Natural Resources, was created in 1984 during the administration of Gov. Harry R. Hughes. Last year, its jurisdiction was expanded to include the coastal bays around Ocean City.

The agency, with an annual budget of $2.2 million, oversees development in areas within 1,000 feet of the Chesapeake, its tidal tributaries or the coastal bays. It has the power to approve or disapprove large-scale projects in that buffer area, as well as to review county growth plans for those areas.

The chairmanship of the panel is a full-time position. Madden's salary has not been announced, but his predecessor made $103,001. The job has been vacant since Ehrlich removed retired Judge John C. North II in January.

Madden had earlier expressed a reluctance to take a full-time government position. In September 2001, he announced he would leave the Senate, noting the demands of family life and his insurance business.

After Ehrlich's 2002 victory, the governor persuaded Madden to accept a temporary appointment on the governor's staff. Yesterday's announcement gives him a permanent role in the administration.

"It's a great honor - particularly with a new administration - to be asked to participate. It's very difficult to decline the governor," Madden said.

First elected to the House of Delegates in 1990, Madden won a 1994 Senate contest in a Democratic-leaning district that included parts of Howard and Prince George's counties. He became minority leader in 1998.

After the announcement yesterday, Madden showed a reporter passages from a book in which early English settlers described the bounty of the Chesapeake - 7-foot-long sturgeon and oysters 13 inches across.

"It is important to know how truly magnificent our great bay once was," Madden said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.