Schaefer, Glendening Trade Jabs
By Daniel LeDuc
The bell rang yesterday for round one in the widely anticipated bout between Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, but as political pugilism goes it was a quiet fight.
Schaefer (D) was in old form during a meeting of the three-member Board of Public Works, on which both men sit. The former two-term governor grilled a state Department of Transportation aide on why there was not going to be a bypass around Brookeville, in Montgomery County, where residents have been clamoring for relief to traffic congestion. "I'm not interested in smooth talk," Schaefer said. "I'm interested in solutions."
Glendening (D), who scrapped the bypass, rallied to the aide's defense, and Schaefer turned on him -- and shifted subjects at the same time, demanding to know why the governor also had canceled plans for a police training center in Sykesville, in Carroll County.
"Didn't you promise that?" Schaefer asked Glendening, who sat only inches away from him. "To make a promise . . . and then all of a sudden say no, that's not right."
Glendening, looking Schaefer in the eye, said, "There will be a training center, but it will not be at Sykesville."
Then, clang. The bell rang, ending round one, as the meeting was quickly adjourned so that Glendening, Schaefer and the Board of Public Works's third member, state Treasurer Richard N. Dixon (D), could attend the sale of $225 million in state bonds. "This may be the start of the honeymoon being over," Dixon said later.
The uneasy relationship between Schaefer and his successor as governor has been the buzz of Annapolis political fight fans, with many wondering just how long it would take for them to put on the gloves. Neither likes the other much, and few expected Schaefer to adjust easily to being a former governor.
The source of contention yesterday was the two projects Schaefer cited: the Brookeville bypass and the Sykesville police training center, which Glendening once supported but now says doesn't meet with his "Smart Growth" program to control development sprawl.
Dixon joined Schaefer in seeking to continue the projects, saying to abandon them now is "dumb growth." Although Schaefer and Dixon make up a majority on the board, which oversees all state contracts, Glendening as governor controls the money and has said he won't fund the projects. "I understand this decision doesn't please everyone," he said after the meeting. "It wasn't meant to please everyone; it was meant to prevent the sprawl."
Schaefer vowed there would be a rematch. "Go out and solve the problem -- that's what I did" as governor, he said afterward. "They're not going to do anything for Brookeville . . . and Sykesville unless I keep the pressure on."
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