I resolve that they should shape up

January 01, 2008|By JEAN MARBELLA

Here's my problem with New Year's resolutions: I don't want to change. What I really want is for other people to change.

Just being honest here. And truth be told, isn't it more fun - it's certainly easier - to improve other people than one's own self? In this self-serving spirit, here are my New Year's resolutions, for everyone but myself:

Gov. Martin O'Malley and State House Democrats: To declare victory, move on.

Is there any reason to keep squabbling with state education chief Nancy Grasmick? Yes, she tried to grab control of a bunch of city schools when O'Malley was Baltimore mayor (but she was blocked from doing so by the Democratic legislature). Yes, she was allied with Bob Ehrlich, the previous and Republican guv (whom O'Malley defeated in the last election). And yes, the state school board, still dominated by Ehrlich appointees, was guilty of overstepping by renewing her contract almost seven months before it would expire (and by which time O'Malley will have packed it with his appointees).

See a pattern here? O'Malley and the Democrats tend to prevail.

But instead of letting time take care of things, legislative leaders are vowing to spend some of the upcoming session finding a way to either overturn the board's decision or change the way the state school superintendent is hired and fired.

Great, just what we need: to take a position that purposely is shielded from politics - or as much as that's possible - and politicize it.

State House Republicans: To accept defeat, move on.

This lawsuit over the special session? What's the point?

GOP lawmakers were none too pleased to be dragged into special session, especially since the purpose was to commit that most mortal of political sins: raise taxes. Long sessions stretching into the wee hours, backroom deals that they weren't a part of, all sorts of sudden, whiplash-inducing, last-minute changes on which services would be sales-taxed - Health clubs, out! Landscapers, in; no, out! Computer fixers, in! - who can blame them for being unhappy?

But that's the way it works - you either have the votes, or you don't, and the Republicans didn't.

Now, though, they've filed suit to invalidate the session, citing something in the Maryland Constitution that says each chamber of the legislature has to get the approval of the other before adjourning for more than three days. The suit says this clause was violated when the Senate broke for five days during the session without properly getting the House's approval.

The Republicans already get to be on the popular side of this issue - the anti-tax one that has many Marylanders enraged and vowing to remember next election year. Why go to court on top of that?

Mayor Sheila Dixon: To come clean.

Dixon's pledge for a cleaner city should start closer to home, and office.

Last year ended with yet another Dixon associate, Ronald Lipscomb, in the crosshairs of the state prosecutor's office. He's the president of Doracon Contracting, whom Dixon has helped in the past - such as in securing city land and tax benefits to develop the east-side housing complex Frankford Estates.

While it's unclear why its offices were raided, Doracon has hired as a subcontractor the now-infamous company Utech, which has had its own share of troubles. Utech employed Dixon's sister, Janice, at a time when Dixon was president of the City Council and voted to award city contracts; its owner, Mildred Boyer, has been indicted on charges of theft, lying on loan documents and filing false tax returns. And then, there's Dale Clark, Dixon's former campaign chairman, who has been charged with failing to file state income tax returns related to money he earned doing work on the council's computers.

All very suspicious and, with Dixon not saying much except to call the investigations a "witch hunt," suspicions tend to grow.

Archbishop Edward F. O'Brien: To make an act of contrition for exiling the Rev. Ray Martin from the three South Baltimore Catholic churches.

Just a month after a warm and welcoming installation ceremony put him in charge of a half-million area Catholics, Baltimore's new archbishop got off to the worst start in recent memory. (Oh, wait, make that the second-worst - I just remembered the Orioles' 0-21 start to the 1988 season.)

O'Brien fired Father Martin and made him apologize for "bringing scandal" to the church. His crime? Allowing an Episcopal priest to participate in a Catholic funeral and hiring a maintenance man with a criminal background. O'Brien might start by looking up the word scandal, under which should be the fact that the church allowed countless priests who had sexually abused children to remain in the fold long after their crimes were known.

Speaking of the Orioles: Where to begin? Even with the extra day that a leap year brings, we're still talking a mere 366 days to fix a team that has had 10 consecutive losing seasons.

Find a shortstop. And a closer. And a power hitter. How about a better steroids dealer - you know, the kind who sells the stuff that makes you better, not worse.

Dump that loser who can't find anything decent to do on the town at night, or, apparently, in his hotel room on the road. Stop raising ticket prices until you start winning. Get a ...

Oh, forget it. We're talking resolutions, not miracles.

The Ravens: Two words, Bill Cowher.

jean.marbella@baltsun.com

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