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Q&A With Gov. Parris N. Glendening

Tuesday, October 26, 1999

"Levey Live" normally appears each Tuesday at noon Eastern time. It's your chance to talk directly to to key Washington Post reporters and editors, local officials and people in the news.

Today's special session is being held at 1:45 p.m. EDT this week only.

Bob Levey
Bob Levey
Craig Cola/washingtonpost.com

Bob's special guest today is Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening (D). Previously an educator and author specializing in government and politics, Glendening was elected to his state's top office in 1994. Prior to his election, he served for 20 years as a local elected official in Prince Georges County, Maryland.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening
Gov. Parris N. Glendening

Please submit your questions for Gov. Glendening on issues ranging from education, development, traffic and his latest proposal for gun control--or whatever concerns you. You may submit questions now and during the Live Online hour.

Here is a transcript of today's session:

Prince George's County, MD: A lot of people are saying that the decisions you're making for Maryland now are only tied into your national aspirations. Your comments?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: I don't know anything about these comments on national aspirations I have 3 1/2 years to be a great governor, but on a more serious note, the issues I have been fighting most aggressively for are issues I have cared about all my life: education, the environment, and creating a sense of fairness and inclusion in our society. If these serve as a basis for future activities, great.

Bob Levey: You took a lot of heat (so to speak) when you insisted on water restrictions in Maryland during the drought. But the restrictions seem to have worked (16 percent drop in consumption). Have consumption rates stayed down despite the monsoons of the last two month?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: The whole story with the drought was very interesting. We went from a state of an emergency for drought for water shortage to an emergency for water flooding. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people think we no longer have water conservation challenges. I was pleased to see the great cooperation of the 16 percent drop in consumption. It is hard to measure whether the consumption has continued to be low because we have had such wet weather. More importantly, however, we should recognize that water is a precious natural resource, and that conservation must be a regular part of our life even with normal rain patterns. We will be issuing some recommendations on this in the next several months.

Falls Church, VA: Although you and Gov. Gilmore are of opposing parties and no doubt disagree on many issues, I've noticed that you both agree on keeping casino gambling out of your respective states. Is that an issue you both have coordinated efforts on or do you each make your own policy in that regard?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: TO To the best of my recollection, I have never discussed this with Governor Gilmore. However, I know it is an ongoing discussion with governors in many of the states. My opposition comes from several sources, most importantly, it drains money from the community, and it is the poorest communities that are most hard hit. I would rather have the kind of economic activity that offers a better f future for the poorer members of our society.

Bob Levey: Your lieutenant governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, is doing excellently in early polls. Will you support her if she runs for governor?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: Bob, thank you for your kind observations about our Lt. Governor. She's doing well in th polls, because she's doing a great job as Lt. Governor. I know most of the other governors and Lt. Governors and I can tell you we have one of the most hardest working and visionary Lt. Governors in the country. Her leadership in bringing the crime rate down, as well as with economic development, is one of the best in the country. I think it would be appropriate to withhold endorsements until she actually declares, but at that time, you could probably understand where my natural inclinations are.

Oxen Hill: Does the Governor have the power to exile Peter Angelos and han the team over to someone who knows what they are doing?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: From a strictly technical sense, based on careful legal review and constitutional analysis, none of the Governors have the power to exile anyone. Although I am surprised that this suggestion has come up from a number of different sources. On a serious note, as a fanatical Orioles fan, we spent the last couple of evenings watching the NY Yankees with dismay. I wish Mr. Angelos and the rest of the team well, and want to go to the World Series as Governor, and watch the Orioles win.

Upper Marlboro, Md: Gov. Glendening. It's a pleasure. A few years ago you could by live crabs off a truck on the side of the road at a great price in PG county. Now they are no longer allowed to do that. Therefore, the seafood stores can now charge a hefty price. Why the change?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: Speaking as someone who loves summer afternoons, hot Maryland Crabs, and cold refreshment, I understand your reason for your question. The decision was purely a local, that is Prince George's County, zoning decision. However, I do understand part of the debate because it was before us when I was on the Prince George's County Council. There were concerns about health problems, since, unlike restaurants and stores, these trucks are not inspected, and we know that bad crab meat can be very dangerous. In some locations, there was local transportation safety issues. While I have not talked with any council members since the regulations have changed, I can assume that these were major considerations. If you have any tips on where to get any good and reasonably inexpensive crabs, please email again.

Mt. Rainier: I was disappointed that you feel banning handguns is not possible. I feel we have so much further to go as a state and a nation in controlling our private arsenals. Still, I am pleased at how hard you have fought the gambling industry, and how hard you fought -if unsuccessfully- for equal rights for gays. Thank you. [edited for space]

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: Thank you for your very kind comments. We do anticipate a very difficult fight in the Legislature this January as Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and I submit legislation to require new guns to be child-proof safety guns. This would mean that a gun may only be fired by an authorized owner and it would prevent accidental shootings in the home, it would prevent murder with stolen guns, it would prevent guns from being illegally sold on the secondary market, and it would prevent police officers from being shot with their own guns in a struggle. This will be a significant step forward, and we hope, followed by other states throughout this country, and we certainly urgent their support on this measure. We will be fighting for strong anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation!

Richmond, VA: Are there any lessons to be learned by the Democratic Party of Maryland, by what is happening in my home state of Virginia right now -A formerly one party -Democratic- state on the cusp of becoming a competitive two party state-?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: We were pleased on the last election to have a significant democratic victory. Not only Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and my significant win, but also we picked up major seats at the local level and in the Legislature. I believe this was done not only because we showed ourselves to be fiscally responsible, and because our economy is doing so well under Democratic leadership, surpassing surrounding states, but also, because we fought for the basic values of the Democratic Party. In particular, we made education our number one priority, we made Maryland a national leader in environmental protection and fighting sprawl, we successfully beat back the gun lobby and casino interests, and lastly, we believe in a fair, just, inclusive society for everyone regardless of race, gender, economic class, or sexual orientation.


Gov. Parris N. Glendening: Shhh,, because it's a new keyboard.

Bob Levey: You will soon become head of the National Governors Conference. What will your agenda be? Will you have to trim your sails because the majority of American governors are Republicans?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: The major focus for my chairmanship will be education -- particularly higher education. The economy that is emerging right before our eyes is a knowledge-based economy, and how well we do in education will determine not only the future prosperity of the individual states, but also will help liberate the potential of every individual. Secondly, I would like to use that forum to further promote our environmental agenda, particularly the control of sprawl that is eating up all of our forests and open land across this country. In regard to trimming our sails, you never step aside when what you are fighting for is right. I know that fighting for education and the environment is the right thing to do. More importantly, MOST of the Republican Governors also are supportive of our education and environmental initiatives. They knew who I was and what my priorities were when they asked me to chair first as vice-chair this year, and next year as chair.

Ellicott City, MD: Mr. Glendening,

I'm hoping you could comment on your decision to completely abandon the ICC in Maryland, one that many -most?- people in the area feel is sorely needed. I live near route 100 and commute to downtown Silver Spring each day. On a normal day, it takes 1 hour to 1:15. Some days, it takes up to 2 hours...for just a 25 mile trip! Mass transit is not the answer...busses are stuck in traffic just as long, and it's too expensive and time consuming to take the train into DC and back out of the city.

The ICC would greatly relieve pressure around I-95 and the north side of the beltway. It seems as if the decision is mainly political in nature.

If the ICC is not built, traffic will continue to worsen. Something must be done. Please justify cancelling the ICC, and what your plans are to improve traffic in the area.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: Thank you for your question about the ICC. This has been am issue that has been fought and debated for the last 50 years. In the state of Maryland alone, has spent $61 million studying this issue over those 50 years. It is clear that federal agencies will never approve this highway, and it is clear, therefore, that we are wasting our time by not getting on with other alternatives. I have major reservations that building new superhighways in our urban areas will be the solution to transportation any time in the future. Instead, we are focusing on better land use to stop sprawl, a significant improvement in the existing highway system, as well as a dramatic increase in mass transit alternatives. In my role as incoming chair of the National Governor's Association, I have observed that other states are rapidly reaching similar conclusions. Instead, we are moving forward next spring, on 31 major improvements in that immediate region that will make a difference to your drive on a daily basis. This is a much better approach than another 50 years of study.

Bob Levey: You've put a lot of political muscle behind the idea of "smart guns" (they could be fired only by the owner). I can't imagine why anyone--even a gun enthusiast--could oppose this. But evidently some people do, bitterly. Who are they, and why do they not like your proposal?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: Quite honestly, I cannot understand how any rational person would oppose this either. If someone could listen to the stories of human tragedy and suffering that Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and I have heard, I am sure they would take a different approach. Stories of young children accidentally shooting siblings, stories about innocent family members being killed with stolen and illegal guns, and stories about suicide. Our bill is simple and straight forward and simply says, after a certain time period, you can no longer sell guns in Maryland unless they are child proof, safe guns. We demanded changes in technology in the automobile industry, and got air bags. We demanded this of the pharmaceutical industry when we got child proof medicine caps, and we should demand this of the gun manufacturers. It is, quite candidly, time to tell the gun manufacturers, "Stop killing our children!"

Rockville, MD: Governor, are you in favor of some sort of federal legislation to end the "economic civil war," as the Baltimore Sun put it recently, in which Maryland and other states are blackmailed into bidding against each other for corporate relocations and expansions, and often lay out millions in public money just to keep a company from leaving?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: Yes. The current system of economic incentives has gotten completely out of control; with companies even threatening to move just to pick up additional tax subsidies. I believe there is a place for some rational policy incentives, such as, encouraging investment in older communities, or in economically disadvantaged communities, or trying to promote certain types of industries such as the emerging bio-tech industry. I think Congress ought to pass legislation that should outlaw what has become routine economic warfare among the states. This must be done on a nationwide basis. We have already indicated our support for a couple pieces of legislation that is trying to do exactly that. Under the current system, the real losers are the taxpayers.

Bob Levey: Any comment on the suggestion by the University of Maryland that the state build a light-rail line linking Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrollton?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: As part of both our Smart Growth/anti-sprawl policy, and as part of our policy to double mass transit ridership by the year 2020, I think additional mass transit lines, are absolutely crucial. We'll be including money for the extension of the Addison Road line to Laurel in the budget that I submit to the Legislature in January, and also, study and planning money for possibility of a line from Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrollton. This line seems to make a lot of sense -- connecting some of our major residential and employment sectors, and I am very excited about the possibility about moving that forward.

Crownsville, MD: Hi,

What are we doing as a state to attract more high-tech companies to Maryland? My impression is that the majority of high-tech companies that are coming to this area are choosing the Northern Va. area over Maryland. We have the advantage in housing prices and traffic congestion -or lack thereof-, so why can't we do better?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: Thank you for your concern. The Maryland economy is doing extraordinarily well. Right now exceeding all of our surrounding states --- including Virginia. As you may be aware, our unemployment level is at the lowest it has been in 2 decades, welfare rolls are down 65%, and even as we reduce the income tax by 10 percent, and reduced 20 other taxes, returning $2.2 billion dollars to the economy, we still ended up with a $617 million surplus. That is obviously a very strong, competitive economy. Specifically, in terms of the future, we are investing, including much of the surplus, in education. The economy is increasingly a knowledge-based economy, and the more and better we do in education, the more we will position ourselves for continued prosperity in the next century.

Columbia, MD: Hi!

Governor Glendening, since you're opposed to the ICC, -which I understand and agree with- what do you suggest be done to relieve congestion in the communities deluged by traffic and sprawl?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: Hi! Thank you for your support on the ICC decision. We are trying several approaches to deal with the issues of traffic congestion in existing communities, this includes improving existing roads and traffic management systems, significant investment in mass transit expansion, and changing the patterns of transportation from work to home. By the latter, we mean such things as giving incentives to companies to relocate in existing communities, so you do not have to drive to jobs, and programs such as "Live Near Your Work" in which we pay up to $3,000 in closing costs for people who buy homes close to their place of employment.

Bob Levey: Your gay rights initiative went nowhere in the legislature again this year. Is there hope for a better result next time?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: We were please with the extraordinary progress with what is called "gay rights" legislation. I tend to think of it on more basic terms, and that is none should be discriminated against for ANY reason including sexual orientation. For the first time in the history of the state, that legislation did get reported out of committee, and passed the Maryland House of Delegates by an overwhelming vote. We believe that we had a majority vote on the Senate floor, but one committee blocked the Senate from even considering this fair legislation. I will continue this fight for fairness and inclusion. As an interesting postscript, I was one of the co-sponsors of the bill that amended the Human Relations Code for Prince George's County that guaranteed full civil rights for everyone, including protection gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and transgenders. Not withstanding the hysterical cries of critics, western civilization did not collapse in Prince George's, nor has it in Montgomery or Howard County, or other jurisdictions with similar protections.

Colesville, MD: What do you see as the top issues the General Assembly will deal with come January?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: The main legislative issues in our legislative package, will be our budget that sees a significant additional investment in education, particularly in school construction, teacher recruitment, and higher education. Second, there will be great controversy I'm sure about our proposal to require all new guns to be child proof/Smart Guns. Also, we are proposing to use the first $1 billion of our anti-tobacco lawsuit to reduce smoking among children, and making a very significant investment in cancer research and cancer treatment. Some legislators are opposing this, and are suggesting we use the tobacco money for road construction or tax reductions. Just about every family I know, including my own, have suffered the loss of a family members because of Cancer. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I hope the Legislature will be supportive. Lastly, we'll be seeking to strengthen our Smart Growth/anti-sprawl efforts with a proposal we will call Smart Codes. These codes are designed to make it easier to invest in existing areas and existing buildings, instead of bulldozing forests and paving over farmland.

Bob Levey: Whenever I talk to a young person about careers, and I suggest public service, snickers come back. The kids think it's for chumps, ego cases and professional wrestlers. Do you think we'll see fewer good young people enter the field? If so, what can be done about it?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening: Bob, I think your observation is correct. That because of highly publicized focus on the misdeeds of a few individuals, as well as the strong competition from the private sector, not as money young people are considering public service as careers. I certainly hope this changes. Somewhat ironically, I was inspired as a young college student by Robert Kennedy, the slain father, of course, of my Lt. Governor. I do not often quote Republican leaders, but I think George Bush was absolutely correct when he called public service a "noble" profession. Our challenge is to get the best and brightest to go into public service. Most importantly, to go into teaching. When I meet with young people, which is several times a week, I often take a broad approach of saying we need the best of you to save the Chesapeake Bay as environmental scientists, we need the best of you working in our hospitals fighting Cancer, we need the best of you working with young people to keep our streets our safe, and most importantly, we need the best of you in our classrooms teaching. I do see more and more interest in young people as they ask me what kind of preparation is needed for these type of careers. I hope that we are again returning to a time when great public leaders like Hubert Humphrey, Martin Luther King, Jr., Adlai Stevenson, and Robert Kennedy, will inspire a new generation of the best and brightest to step forward for public service.

Bob Levey: Many thanks to our guest, the governor of Maryland, Parris N. Glendening. Be sure to join us next Tuesday, Nov. 2, when our guest will be another figure from Maryland politics--Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan. Don't forget the Friday version of our show, "Levey Live: Speaking Freely." It appears from 1 to 2 p.m. Eastern time.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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