Groups pull ad assailing Ehrlich on preservation

March 17, 2005|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,SUN STAFF

Environmental groups have pulled a radio ad criticizing the Ehrlich administration for cuts to land preservation programs after the governor's office complained about the spot.

The ad, which began airing last week, speaks of a boy playing baseball in a park. "But it may not be this way long," the announcer says. "The governor has tried to sell public land to developers behind your back."

Partners for Open Space, a coalition of environmental groups trying to restore cuts to land preservation funding, paid about $30,000 to run the ad for two weeks. It was scheduled to continue until tomorrow, but was pulled four days early.

"The governor's office was not happy with the ad," said Kim Coble, Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "The coalition made a legislative, strategic decision to pull it."

Paul Schurick, Ehrlich's communications director, confirmed that he called several environmental organizations to complain about the ad and ask them to take it off the air.

"When these ads said that the governor tried to sell land to developers behind your back, it's absolutely false," he said. "No one ever tried to sell land to developers. The administration received an unsolicited proposal from someone, and that proposal was put through a very lengthy and open vetting process."

Coble said the decision to pull the ad was unanimous but that the coalition didn't see itself as caving in to pressure. Rather, the group felt it had achieved its goal of building momentum for efforts to restore open-space funding.

"We didn't want the issue to be about the ad," she said. "We wanted the issue to be about the legislation."

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