Sen. Jack Cade, a mountain of a man who represents Anne Arundel County here, gave out the orders to his 16-member county delegation this week like a general commanding his troops; go through the books of proposed bills, find the Hughes administration's pet projects, and figure out ways to sabatage them.
His colleagues, Democrat and Republican alike, nodded in agreement and set immediately about the task. One county delegate noted that a key administration bill would be coming to his committee later in the week. "Lord," responded Cade. "You don't want to vote on that one for a long, long time."
In this session of the Maryland Genereal Assembly, the politicians of Anne Arundel have emerged as a band of angry rebels. They are angry at the state, and at Gov. Harry Hughes in particular, for using their county as the repository for all the unpleasant stuff the more powerful delegations from Balitmore and suburban Washington do not want.
"Anne Arundel has become the dumping ground for everything from hazardous wastes to prisons," groaned Del. Elmer F. Hagner Jr., delegation chairman for the county, which runs along the Chesapeake Bay between the two metropolises.
This year the governor's proposal to build yet another prison near the spawling complex of jail facilities already clustered around the Howard-Anne Arundel line was just too much for the county delegation to bear. The legislators also fear that another Hughes bill introduced this session will make the county -- already the home of two toxic waste disposal sites -- the favorite dumping ground for all of Maryland's hazardous wastes.
Although Hughes has tried to placate them on the prison issue, and his aides insist that the hazardous waste bill will actually help their county, the Anne Arundel legislators remain steadfast in their opposition. And the gallows humor that floats all about them does nothing to help their mood.
"They're SO convenient for dumping," one lobbyist joked the other day. "You can reach them by land, by sea, by truck and by rail. They're just too easy."
At a hearing last week, as Anne Arundel officials waged a deadly campaign against the administration's bill to give the state total control over choosing hazardous waste disposal sites, one delegate cracked: "But I hear your soil in anne Arundel is just right for PCBs, hazardous wastes and prisons."
Amidst the ensuing laughter, even the lone Anne Arundel delegate on the committee, Gerald Winegrad, had to chuckle, too. "It was funny," he said, "in a tragic sort of way."
His colleague, Philip C. Jimeno (D-Anne Arundel) is concerned that prisons and toxic waste sites are put "in the place of least resistance . . . and we're not gonna be that place anymore."
Cade, a Republican who has been named by delegation chief Hagner to plan strategy for the fight, said: "We'll do whatever we can to make our presence felt, and when you're a small delegation that means guerrilla warfare."
But even as they launched their first attacks, the county's 12 delegates and four senators found out just what hell war can be.
In a subcommittee meeting last week, Sen. Erle Schafer (D-Anne Arundel) popped Maalox antacid and tried to decide how to vote on a mass transit proposal that would cost his county $300,000 annually but help out Sen. Edward J. Mason, a western Maryland colleague who might be counted on for some friendly votes on the prison issue.
"A lot of important things hinge on this vote," Mason told Schafer. But after a weekend's delay, Schafer voted against the Mason Plan.
Still, Schafer told his county colleagues, there was a way he could save the situation. "I don't think Mason's proposal has a chance in full committee. If I can make sure of that," Schafer told his colleagues, "I might be able to hold my nose and vote for it."
Hagner calls this legislative strategy "a political game thing . . . a matter of horsetrading."
Lest any of his delegates forget their roles, Hagner has sent each a note saying: "Be especially watchful for administration bills that we could slow down until we resolve the prison issue."
Other delegation members mention Hughes' proposed Memorial Statium renovation package and his beloved bill to bail (out Baltimore's Peabody Institute as possible candiddates for the game of sabotage.
But Del. Robert Neall (R-Anne Arundel) tried to downplay this aspect of the war, saying that the delegation might slow down "things he [Hughes] wants, but not things that directly affect the entire state."
His counterpart across the State House hall in the Senate, however, was fighting mad.
"Goddamn, it is rebellion," Cade said. "We have always gone along and believed in a constructive working relationship between the legislature and the executive, but this time the executive is being irresponsible . . . to try to put another prison in Jessup."
Huges has told the delegation that the proposed prison would not add to the area's inmate population, but instead would be used to replace other antiquated facilities. Those assurances, according to Cade and others, are not enough.
"We're going to make our presence felt so the governor doesn't think we're going to roll over for this one," Cade warned. "And the only presence they understand down here are votes."