Order of rockfish -- hold the lesions


March 22, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

"Some days it's good to be governor," Robert Ehrlich was saying yesterday, as he dined on a type of fish that consumers are suddenly scared to eat. He was also stomaching the presence of 20 reporters in his home kitchen, where they could eye his kids' sippy cups and analyze his refrigerator magnets.

Ehrlich was acting as a sort of royal taster in reverse, giving a high-level thumbs-up to the embattled rockfish as a signal to the masses that it's OK to dig in.

He was trying to put the kibosh on a recent Washington Post report that nearly 75 percent of rockfish in the Chesapeake Bay have a disease that causes skin infections in humans. State officials dispute that figure - researchers say it's up to 69 percent - and contend that even infected fish are safe to eat when thoroughly cooked. (They do recommend tossing any fish that are obviously diseased, however.)

So Ehrlich invited the press into the Government House kitchen at lunchtime to prove he wasn't going to let loose talk of lesions and sores spoil his appetite. He put the rockfish where his mouth was.

"Very tasty," Ehrlich declared to the TV cameras and reporters, crammed in so tight that some stood on his kitchen chairs to get a view.

And then the governor went on with a day that, one assumes, could only improve.

The future on the refrigerator

Back to the Ehrlichs' refrigerator magnets:

There's the overtly political one you'd expect on a governor's fridge: a black-and-white "We BELIEVE in Bob" number, a play on his nemesis' municipal slogan.

And then there's something more offbeat: "Madame Fortune," a tiny, 3-D model of a carnival fortuneteller. "Ask your questions," it says. There's a button you can press to make her speak.

I can only assume Ehrlich has asked, "Am I gonna win a second term?" Her answer, at least to me: "It's in the cards."

Pony up and then clear out

It takes chutzpah to be in politics. You've got to mouth off about important people in big jobs. And you've got to ask people for money.

Usually, the bigwigs a particular politician slams aren't the same ones he's hitting up for cash. But there was Martin O'Malley last week calling on Public Service Commission Chairman Kenneth Schisler to resign - days after his campaign asked Schisler to pony up $1,000 for the mayor's gubernatorial campaign.

"Dear Kenneth," reads a March 10 letter sent to Schisler's PSC office. "Please join us for a special `Lawyers for O'Malley' fundraiser. ... Martin O'Malley's campaign theme is "Moving Maryland Forward."

Three days later, O'Malley was sounding another theme: Moving Schisler Outward.

The mayor called a news conference near the PSC headquarters and demanded Schisler's resignation over Maryland's soon-to-soar light bills, saying that the "watchdog agency" had been turned into a "lapdog for special interests.

While we're on dog metaphors, I thought you weren't supposed to bite the hand that feeds you.

They should have known better

If you're thinking a couple of wet-behind-the-ears campaign volunteers were behind that letter, think again. It was written by the co-chairmen of O'Malley's "Lawyers for O'Malley" initiative: Benjamin Civiletti, Jimmy Carter's attorney general, who's said to be America's first $1,000-an-hour attorney; and Stephen Sachs, formerly Maryland attorney general.

Shaken, shafted and shellacked,

A reader offers his take on what rate-hiking BGE is doing to consumers: "We've been Shattucked."

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