Oh, and could you look after the kids?


October 25, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

A copy of Kendel Ehrlich's private schedule came across my fax the other day, with all the stuff you'd expect to fill a busy first lady's day. A speech. A visit to the Ronald McDonald House. A dinner. And in between, some notes showing which state employees were baby-sitting the kids.

From 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. one day - Monday, May 2, 2005 - it says "House coverage," meaning Government House staff watched the Ehrlichs' two young sons. The next day, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., it says, "Liz covering." That meant Ehrlich's scheduler, Liz Strand, was on kid duty.

I phoned Strand to ask about it, and she directed me to the first lady's spokesman, Derek Fink.

Fink questioned whether the schedule was authentic, but after I faxed it to him, he conceded that it was.

"On very rare occasions, staff has volunteered their time to watch the children," he said. "One thing with this staff is that they are very close to the family, especially with Josh. Josh was born in the middle of the administration. He even calls some of them `uncle' and `aunt.' The staff has been meticulous about using their comp time or lunch time, staying after work or coming in early. But never have they ever watched the children on state time."

So did the staff actually punch out while they were watching Josh and Drew? Only time - and my Freedom of Information Act request - will tell.

Only the best of intentions

Among those NOT invited to the opening of the Route 43 extension this week: U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, who pushed for the project as Baltimore County executive. Current County Executive Jim Smith took it upon himself to alert Ruppersberger to the event - and even called him to the podium when it was his turn to speak.

"Dutch, I'd be honored if you'd join me at the podium," Smith said, no doubt surprising the state transportation officials who'd arranged the event. I'm told Ruppersberger jumped at the opportunity and made a few remarks.

State transportation spokesman Jack Cahalan said there was no intended snub. He said the state had to limit the number of speakers because the project dates back to several previous county executives, governors and transportation secretaries.

"If everyone had been given the opportunity to speak, we'd still be there," he said. "You have to make hard decisions, and you make them with the best of intentions and you hope people understand."

But Ruppersberger was still puzzled that he didn't at least get an official invite, said spokeswoman Heather Molino. (Cahalan said that Ruppersberger was on the list to get one and that the department sent him information about the event after his staff inquired about it.)

"Dutch was just very surprised," Molino said. "The only way we knew about it was Jim Smith called and said, `You should come.' And we said, `Come to what?'"

Connect the dots

It's not easy raising green. That's why the University of Maryland enlisted the star power of Kermit the Frog when it launched its $1 billion capital campaign last week. Kermit's creator, Jim Henson, attended the school. The Muppet appeared with UM President Dan Mote at a news briefing and a gala. ... News release from Lt. Gov. Michael Steele's office, announcing a food drive: "This year's goal is to serve 40,000-45,000 Thanksgiving meals but [the Bea Gaddy] Center is starting out with a "bare panty" and needs all the help it can get to achieve that goal." I think they meant "bare PANTRY." ... Another blooper, from Steele's campaign staff, which e-mailed invites to yesterday's lunch with Fox's Sean Hannity but neglected to mention that it was a fundraiser. A couple of hours later, "Steele Workers" got a second e-mail, with this in the message field: "Corrected: Sean Hannity Event - $1,000 per person."

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.