Computer upgrade eases O'Malley-Franchot friction

December 04, 2008|By Gadi Dechter

Bi-monthly Board of Public Works meetings have been sparring grounds for Gov. Martin O'Malley and Comptroller Peter Franchot, but yesterday the sharp-tongued tax collector issued rare kind words for his political rival from Baltimore.

"I ... want to salute the governor," Franchot said.

The reason for Franchot's decorousness: O'Malley was voting to approve an $87 million software upgrade that the comptroller's office says will yield hundreds of millions of dollars in uncollected taxes.

A month ago, the O'Malley administration refused to bring the contract before the board, composed of the governor, the comptroller and state Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp.

At the time, Franchot and O'Malley were on opposite sides of a contentious slots campaign and the comptroller's office criticized the delay as "highly irregular." O'Malley administration officials countered that local governments had not been informed of the cost to them.

In a Dec. 1 letter, the legislative director of the Maryland Association of Counties thanked O'Malley for his intervention, saying that it had prompted a deal that made the upgrade more affordable for local governments.

Franchot echoed that sentiment yesterday, saying that "the governor's engagement was instrumental in negotiating an even better deal for the counties."

O'Malley was less effusive with praise for Franchot yesterday, saying only that the new software implementation was a "much better result for everybody."

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