The all-Democratic Prince George's County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly took a slap at Republican County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan today by approving a bill that would take away his power to appoint the members of a key local board.
The measure would shift the power to appoint the three members of the zoning appeals board to the all-Demoncratic County Council. The board considers granting variances to the zoning laws, and the appointments are considered major patronage prizes.
Ordinarily, approval by a county's delegation of legislation affecting only that county ensures approval by the full legislature. But the Prince George's delegation is divided, and some of its members have pledged to fight the measure when it comes up for a vote in the House of Delegates.
Hogan refers to the measure as a "ripper bill," a derogatory term meaning it would rip away his rightful power to make the appointments.
Discussion of the bill at a breakfast meeting this week led to an exchange of insults between Hogan and some delegation members, who were infuriated when he prodded them on the subject.
The division in the delegation came when many first-term legislators, with fiew ties to the county's regular Democratic Party, accused some of their colleagues of playing politics with state law.
Opponents of the bill include some who ran against the primary election ticket headed by former County Executive Winfield M. Kelly, Whom Hogan Defeated in the general election.
"Just because [for County executive] are we going to upset the balance of power and start tinkering with government? I guarantee you this bill wouldn't be in if Kelly won the election," said Del. Timothy F. Maloney at a tense delegation meeting Wednesday afternoon.
At the delegation's breakfast meeting with Hogan, Hogan declared he never would consider recommendations for appointments from either State Sen. Tommie Broadwater, the county's only black senator, or from Del. Frederick Rummage.
He would not deal with Broadwater, Hogan said, because the Senator had called him "insensitive to the poor," and a "racist."
Hogan said he still was angry at Rummage for an incident that happened several years ago in which Rummage for an incident that happened several years ago in which Rummage introduced a resolution in the House criticizing Hogan, then a U.S. impact aid that would have benefitted Prince George's County. Hogan maintaned that was not true.
The meeting ended with Broadwater calling Hogan a "liar" and "you ain't s---.'
At Wednesday's delegation meeting, Rummage stood and said "the merits of the bill notwithstanding," he intends to support any measure that would take appointive power away from Hogan.
"I don't think this is a political issue, but I am voting on it as if it were a political issue.Any time a public official makes a statement publicly as was said to Sen. Broadwater and me, I would go through the entire Maryland code and take away any appointment power from this man," Rummage said.
Maloney and other opponents of the bill have charged that the other Democrats in the delegation are trying to protect the job of Raymond Krasnick, one of Kelly's appointees to the board.
Krasnick's wife is the executive director of the Prince George's Democratic Party. Hogan has indicated to the County Council that he does not bill simply addresses the need for clarification in state law as to whether the county council or the executive has the power to make zoning board appointments.
"It didn't matter before" whether the council or the executive made the appintments, Devlin said, "but we've moved from the politics of consensus tthe politics of confrontation."