State Digest

STATE DIGEST

December 09, 2006

Maryland

O'Malley soliciting donations for ball

Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley is soliciting donations of up to $25,000 to finance his inaugural ball - $5,000 more than the maximum amount Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. asked for as he planned his celebration four years ago.

Ehrlich, a Republican, raised $1 million for his 2003 inaugural ball. Rick Abbruzzese, a spokesman for O'Malley, could not say what O'Malley's party would cost, but said the private donations helped keep admission prices from getting too high. O'Malley, a Democrat, will charge $75 - $25 less than Ehrlich - for the Jan. 17 event, which will feature multiple bands and choirs.

Donors to the ball will not be currying favor with O'Malley's administration, Abbruzzese said.

"They should not expect anything in return except to help put on a great celebration for the people of our state," he said.

"The inaugural celebration will include world-class entertainment, free food and free beverage and really is a way for us to say thank you to the thousands of families and individuals who helped during the campaign."

But government watchdog groups were more suspicious.

"This is another opportunity for corporations and other special interests to cozy up to the incoming governor," said Mary Boyle, a spokeswoman for Common Cause Maryland.

"It raises the age-old question: Is someone contributing $25,000 to Martin O'Malley's swearing-in bash to buy influence?"

Following established practice, O'Malley has set up a tax-exempt corporation, the Maryland Inaugural Committee Inc., to raise money for the event.

The corporation is not required by law to disclose its donors, but O'Malley intends to make all the contributions public, Abbruzzese said. Ehrlich did the same.

John Reith, Ehrlich's finance director, said Ehrlich's Democratic predecessor, Parris N. Glendening, raised money for his inaugural events the same way.

"We basically followed the Glendening model, because we knew we wouldn't get into trouble that way," Reith said.

Associated Press

Maryland

O'Malley names chief legal counsel

In the latest sign that Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley is taking his top Baltimore officials with him to Annapolis, he named City Solicitor Ralph S. Tyler yesterday as his administration's chief legal counsel.

"Ralph Tyler has been a tireless advocate for the people of Baltimore and the State of Maryland," O'Malley said in a statement. "He will play a key role in providing counsel, and assisting in policy and personnel decisions as we move our state forward and improve the quality of life for Maryland families."

A veteran of the state attorney general's office, Tyler represented Maryland's Department of Human Resources. He also served as chief of litigation, according to a biography provided by O'Malley's transition team.

Tyler, 59, has a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois, a law degree from Case Western Reserve and a master's of law from Harvard University.

Jennifer Skalka

Chesapeake Bay

Congress OKs John Smith Trail

A national historic trail tracing Captain John Smith's travels through the Chesapeake Bay region almost 400 years ago has received final approval from the Senate.

The bill, created by Maryland Sen. Paul Sarbanes and Virginia Sen. John Warner, would be the nation's first trail entirely on water.

"This trail will help bring history to life and will serve to help educate visitors about the new colony at Jamestown, John Smith's journeys, the history of the 17th-century Chesapeake region, and the vital importance of the Native Americans that inhabited the bay area," Sarbanes said.

Smith traveled about 3,000 miles in a 30-foot shallop, ranging from Jamestown, Va., to Smith Falls on the Pennsylvania border with Maryland, Broad Creek in Delaware, the Potomac River and Washington.

Associated Press

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