Maryland's state senators learned back in their chairs and hissed this afternon when Louise Keelty, Gov. Harry Hughes' appointments secretary, entered their chamber to deliver the green bag -- an annual batch of nominations to state boards that the senators feel is compiled without enough of their guidance.
After the demonstration, however, the reaction to Hughes' second green bag ranged from pleasure to mild regret -- with the one major exception being the Senate's majority leader, who ironically rose to defend Keelty when the hissing began.
Sen. Rosalie Abrams (D-Baltimore City), who praised Keelty on the Senate floor for "working hard . . . in a tough job," said late this afternoon that she might attempt to block the appointments in her district because several persons she pushed for jobs have been ignored.
According to Hughes' aides, Abrams was angry about the appointment of Nancy Erwin, the wife of a top deputy to Attorney General Stephen Sachs and a resident of Abrams' district, to the Board of Building, Savings and Loan Association Commissioners.
Abrams, the aides said, challenged the proposed appointment to both Keelty and her assistant, Kevin Maloney, and said she might not back Erwin in the Senate, which must approve all of the green bag appointments.
"It was not Nancy Erwin per se," several other appointments I have recommended that have not been made. I may have to hold up all the appointments from my district, or a couple of them."
Despite Abrams' irritation, most senators said they were satisfied with the 93 appointments in the green bag Yesterday, which included the naming of former acting gov. Blair Lee III to the University of Maryland's Board of Regents, and several other reappointments of politically popular and well-connected citizens.
Hughes managed to avoid potential confrontation with the legislature by reappointing a popular former Baltimore City delegate, Charles Krysiak, to the state workmen's compensation panel, and renaming the architect of Prince George's Democratic political organization, Peter O'Malley, to the university board of regents.
"Besides Krysiak and the regents board, there wasn't much in the green bag," noted Baltimore City Sen. Joseph Bonvegna, who has often been frustrated by Hughes' neglect of the state's long tradition of political patronage. "I have no problem with it."
Several senators said they had resigned themselves to Hughes' system of making many of their own judgements on green bag appointments, rather than clearing them with the senators in the style of past governors.
"I'm happy with the appointments," said Sen. Harry McGuirk (D-Baltimore City). "I think many of the senators have accepted the fact that if somebody we know wants a job, they have to send in a resume and let them decide."
"We didn't ask for anything" added Prince George's Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller, 'and we didn't get much of anything."
The senator's reaction to the appointments was also muted, in part, because of what they said was an improvement in communications between Keelty and their offices.
In the past, Kellty -- who has already announced that she would leave Hughe' staff sometime after the legislative session -- has sometimes neglected to inform state senators about appointments she had decided to make in their own districts. In one case, Prince George's senators were so irritated by such an oversight that they marched into Hughes' office to complain.
This year, Keelty and Maloney, at Hughes' urging, divided up the list of senators at the beginning of this week and called each one to solicit their opinions on the planned nominations. Vehement objections, they said, were taken into account.
In some cases, senators found that they had gotten exactly what they wanted. Sen. Edward Conroy (D-Prince George's) was delighted to have one of his aides, Joseph Aiello, appointed to a nonpaying job on a state veteran's commission.
And Senate Minority Leader Edward Mason (R-Cumberland), who rose on the Senate floor to praise Hughes for consulting Rebublicans on appointments, had a friend and constituent named to a community college board in Mason's home county.
Despite these favors, many of the appointments reflected the independent judgment for which Hughes' administration is both praised and cursed. One of the university board of regents appointments, for example, went to Constance Stuart of Port Tobacco, who was onece press secretary in the White House to Pat Nixon. "We got her name almost a year ago from the alumni association," Keelty said, "and haven't been in contact with them about it since."