Drinking at the public trough?

Montgomery County school board members have agreed to continue using public funds to buy liquor for gatherings they host.

"Do you think that at an adult function we should serve ice cream?" asked board member Marian Greenblatt in voting against a resolution by colleague Blair Ewing that would have blocked use of public funds for alcoholic beverages for board parties.

"You don't have to buy liquor for people in order to talk to them," argued Ewing, who found himself alone on the issue this week after 30 minutes of debate.

The board has spent $800 on liquor since mid-1979 to serve at receptions for Maryland legislators, gatherings at conferences of national associations of educators and to honor colleagues. That's too much, Ewing said.

"There are no lushes on the school board," protested board member Suzanne Peyser, one of two members who abstained from the vote. Ewing said he introduced the resolution because he was concerned about the public's perception of the purchases.

"We are dealing in a sophisticated, adult world. These are lobbying efforts when one has a chance to mingle," said board president Carol Wallace, one of the three board members who voted to continue the purchases. "I can't see us serving tea or punch to state legislators."

After 14 years of supervising elections in Montgomery County, Marie Garber is hanging up her sample ballot.

Elections administrator Garber resigned yesterday, writing county officials that, "For me, after 14 years, it's time for a change."

Garber says she has things to take care of at home. "There's 14 years of accumulated neglect, which I'm now admitting to," Garber said. "You know the superwoman myth?"

Besides, at age 58, "If I'm ever going to do something different, I better get to it."

Maybe it was the way she said, "I do."

U.S. District Court Judge Oren R. Lewis stopped proceedings in his Alexandria courtroom yesterday to make an unusual announcement. It came in the middle of a contempt hearing as the 78-year-old jurist was about to sign a restraining order.

Before signing, Lewis paused and asked his clerk the date. Told it was Aug. 12, Lewis grinned.

"My, my," Lewis said, "this is an important day in my life."

After attorneys had stopped shuffling their papers and a crowd of onlookers had come to rapt attention, the judge, whose stern demeanor has earned him the nickname "Roarin' Oren," said: "Today's my 56th wedding anniversary."

No comment from Lewis as to why the restraining order reminded him of his marriage.

Over in Baltimore, they won't even let you give money away.

The manager of a fast food outlet in Charm City ejected one of his customers this week for giving out $50 and $100 bills to other patrons.

"He wouldn't even let me finish my strawberry milkshake before telling me to leave," complained Roland Sylvester Crowther, who allegedly distributed $3,000 to burger munchers at a Gino's Tuesday. "And I gave the guy $150, the bum."

Manager Jim Lofti asked Crowther to stop flashing the wad, he said, because he feared it might be forcibly taken from him. "People didn't know how to react," Lofti said.

From others, however, Crowther got a warmer reception. "Without a doubt, this is the best thing to ever happen to me," said cab driver George Copes, who picked up a quick $500 driving Crowther to other restaurants and bars. "The guy isn't crazy," Copes opined. "He's just one of those happy-go-lucky guys."