O'Malley Nominates, With a Political Twist

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By Rosalind S. Helderman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 22, 2007

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) announced his annual "green bag" nominations last week, 145 proposed picks for various boards and commissions across the state. The title comes from a historical green satchel used once each year to bring the names from the governor's office to Senate, which must confirm the nominations.

Among the nominations of local interest, O'Malley named eight men and women to the Prince George's County Board of Elections, which is responsible for running voter registration, poll sites and the absentee ballot canvass. The board will hire an elections administrator to replace interim chief Robert J. Antonetti Sr., who has said he will step down at the end of June.

O'Malley renominated three regular and alternate members who have been serving, Olivia D. Vaughns, Francis J. DiSalvo Sr. and Carl R. Ruble. He nominated five new members: E. Kenneth Barksdale Jr., Kenneth Fox, Linda M. Houston, Theresa Bournes Roebuck and Patricia A. King.

When the governor is a Democrat, six of the eight regular and alternate members of the board are Democrats and two are Republicans. (That has been reversed for the last four years, while a Republican controlled the governor's mansion.) According to state rules, the local political parties are charged with endorsing and recommending potential board members to the governor.

An interesting wrinkle this year, according to one source, was that for the first time in recent memory, the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee's top-ranked endorsements did not exactly match the choices of county senators, who tend to get a lot of say in the process.

The source said the committee ranked both Lester W. Jones, a former school principal who had been serving, and Kurt Walter, a union plumber and member of the central committee, among its top choices. But O'Malley declined those two recommendations, choosing lawyer-physicist Fox and Houston, a lawyer and real estate broker, instead. Fox and Houston had been choices of senators.

"At the end of the day, the governor is a smart man," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the process. "He'd rather pick a fight with the central committee than with the senators."

Cleaning Out the Code

It will soon no longer be illegal to operate a bowling alley in Prince George's County on Sunday.

The little-known and little-enforced ordinance is one of several that the County Council is preparing to declare obsolete and strike from the county's code.

It's a process that council attorney Ralph Grutzmacher said must be repeated every few years. Most code sections that are clearly out-of-date (and perhaps silly sounding to modern ears) were removed at least a decade ago. But he said a few escaped that cut and probably will get the ax in the next few weeks.

They include a whole section of rules and regulations governing the transport of radioactive materials through the county. (That one came about when the council got wind of government shipments circling the Capital Beltway and cracked down, Grutzmacher said. The rules have since been superseded by federal regulations.)

Another section of laws slated to go include a series of guidelines intended to help independent and family-owned movie theaters as they bid for new releases from Hollywood studios to show on their screens. Independent and family-owned movie theaters? In this day of chains, who's ever heard of such a thing anymore?

And then there's the bowling alley regulation, which states that "no person shall operate any bowling alley, tenpin alley or duckpin alley for recreation or profit . . . on Sunday, after 2 p.m. and until 12 midnight."

Grutzmacher said the regulation hasn't been enforced in a long time -- no surprise to anyone who visits Parkland Bowl, Bowie Lanes or any other alley open on Sunday.

"This is just one of those that never seemed to go away," Grutzmacher said. "You don't engender respect for local law when you have laws that are never enforced."

Concert for Katrina Kids

Have you ever wanted to see a county councilman groove on the sax? Or a state delegate play a cow bell? How about high schoolers belting out blues, gospel and jazz?

County residents will get a chance to see it all this weekend, as the Colours Arts in Education Program puts on two concerts at Northwestern High School, featuring the group's own blues orchestra, as well as other student groups including the Northwestern High School Gospel Choir and Jazz Band.

Colours is an extracurricular program designed to help kids build leadership skills through the performing arts. Under the tutelage of adviser and Northwestern English teacher Jason Cook, the program includes students in grades 5-12 at eight county schools.

The group is now trying to raise $15,000 for fine arts groups that help kids on the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast. Tickets for this weekend's concerts are $10 apiece, with proceeds going to the project, Cook said.

At the end of each concert, there will be a "community jazz" session. Del. Justin D. Ross (D-Prince George's) has said he'll play a cow bell. He might be kidding.

But County Council member William A. Campos (D-Hyattsville) was definitely not joking when he told fellow council members a few weeks back that he will play the saxophone. Campos works with the group and has donated musical instruments. Cook, who gave a presentation to the council on the concerts, invited other council members to take the stage as well.

That prompted fellow member Tony Knotts (D-Temple Hills) to ask, "I'm wondering, to play, do you have to have skills? Because the way I play? It's the blues." His colleagues laughed at that, prompting Knotts to add, "I've got rhythm, though, that's for sure."

To which council Chairman Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant) responded dryly, "That's debatable."

The Colours concerts will take place at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and 7 p.m. Saturday at the Justice Auditorium at Northwestern High School, 7000 Adelphi Rd.


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