Copeland to be pushed from nest?

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June 14, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Is somebody trying to push Baltimore schools chief Bonnie Copeland out of her job? That's the story people inside and close to the school system are telling The Sun's Sara Neufeld and Liz Bowie - that some board members think her leadership has been weak and will ask her to resign or be fired.

What does Copeland say?

"I have not resigned, and I do not know where these things come from," she told Bowie.

Is she going to resign? Bowie asked, in case there was some word-parsing at work. Copeland replied that ever since she took the job - on an interim basis in July 2003, and officially since November of that year - there have been rumors that she was on her way out.

"I am a tough old bird," she said.

More intriguing, perhaps, was the non-denial denial from school board Chairman Brian Morris: "I'm not prepared to comment on that one way or the other."

An electric start for newbie legislators

Nothing like being the new guy at work, muddling through that where's-the-bathroom, do-I-dial-9-to-get-an-outside-line phase, hoping to get a clue before the boss expects some real work out of you. Just ask the two newbies in Maryland's House of Delegates. John Olszewski Jr. and James Mathias Jr. were sworn Monday and immediately thrust into a special session on the highly technical, highly charged issue of BGE rates. Baptism by electricity.

Olszewski, a 23-year-old teacher who gave his final exams Monday morning, was sworn in at 1:30 that afternoon. His parents, two brothers, grandparents and other relatives hoped to take him out to lunch afterward, but they had to celebrate without the guest of honor. Olszewski had a 2 p.m. briefing with Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and City Solicitor Ralph Tyler.

"He said, `Well, you guys are going to have to get a bite to eat. We've got a briefing on the BGE issue,'" said his father, Baltimore County Councilman John Olszewski Sr.

As of yesterday, John Jr. still didn't have a computer in his new office. But he had already signed a petition calling for the special session, met with the Democratic caucus, attended committee hearings and even hit an evening community meeting back in his Dundalk/Essex district.

"They threw us right into the fire, didn't they?" he said. "It's kind of seat of your pants, hold on for the ride."

Mathias, 54, already knew his way around Annapolis, having been mayor of Ocean City for the past 10 years. But he still had that "lost in space" feeling, as much because he was giving up a great gig as starting a new one.

Monday morning, he turned in the keys to City Hall and - maybe with more regret - the keys to his city car. That left Mathias, his wife and his learner's-permitted 15-year-old son with the family fleet, which includes a 1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, a 1992 Volvo with 230,000 miles on it and a 2004 Suburban. The newly minted Annapolis commuter scored the Suburban, the only vehicle deemed reliable enough for more than a trip to the boardwalk. Mom and son, relegated to the ancient Volvo, barely made it home from a short trip Monday morning.

Later that day, after Mathias was sworn in and his resignation became effective, there was HR stuff to work out in Annapolis and Ocean City. "I get paid every two weeks, right?" he asked as he signed some paperwork. "`No, sir.' Every week? `No, sir.' How frequently? `Once a month.' Oh, I could just see it in my wife - `No car, getting paid once a month. This was a good decision.'"

Not that there was any turning back. Mathias was copied on a message that alerted City Hall's payroll office to take him off the rolls. The subject line on his BlackBerry: "Terminate Mathias."

Way outside the Beltway

Karl Zinsmeister, President Bush's new domestic policy adviser, has had some choice words for politicians and the city most associated with them, The Washington Post reported yesterday. "He finds Washington so distasteful that even for his new job he plans to move his family no closer than Baltimore," the paper said.

Is this charmer really getting in on Charm City? White House spokeswoman Dana Perino confirms that Zinsmeister, former editor in chief of The American Enterprise magazine, expects to be settled with his family somewhere in Baltimore by fall.

It's no `West Wing'

Guess who turned up on myspace.com? Sean MacHenry, a recent Roanoke College grad and Doug Duncan campaign worker, who writes: "i dont know if its like this in every state, but the whole campaign is a cartoon. running around trying to obscure unflattering statements, crashing press conferences and events and the silly maryland moment politics blog in the washington post ... probably only read by duncan and omalley staffers, like myself. meanwhile, the menial labor i have been assigned daily is grinding my finely tuned genius brain to a dull `regular' intellect. i've lived in aaron sorkins white house for too long."

Reached last night via his myspace e-mail, MacHenry told The Sun's Nicole Fuller, "No comment."Says campaign spokeswoman Jody Couser: "Sean is an intern on the campaign. Maybe he is trying hard to impress someone through his myspace post."

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