Gov. Harry Hughes, surprising legislators for the second year running, presented a "Green Bag" to the General Assembly today that pleased even the politicians in Prince George's County.
Hughes' 1985 Green Bag is a green goatskin satchel that contained the names of 287 nominees to dozens of state boards and commissions, all of whom must be approved by the state Senate. The list drew generally favorable reviews from the senators, who jealously guard their patronage prerogatives; legislators in Prince George's are especially renowned for keeping a tight grip on the selections and for lambasting Hughes when he goes against their wishes.
For Hughes, who often has been excoriated for ignoring the political wishes of legislators, it was the second noncontroversial Green Bag in a row.
"The central committee made some excellent recommendations, and for the most part, it looks as though the governor followed that," said Del. Gary Alexander, chairman of the Prince George's County Democratic Committee.
"It proves one thing," said Sen. Sidney Kramer, chairman of the Montgomery County Senate delegation, "he's talking more to the senators."
But it wouldn't really be Green Bag day without at least one howl of protest, and today's came from Sen. Victor Cushwa (D-Washington), who promised an all-out effort to defeat a Hughes nominee to the state Public Service Commission.
Cushwa aside, Hughes' Green Bag, delivered this morning to the Senate by his appointments aide Constance Beims, provoked barely a ripple of interest. That may be because the list contained few of the meat-and-potatoes appointments that senators like to take credit for.
In contrast to some years, when the Green Bag has included coveted appointments to powerful boards such as the Workmen's Compensation Commission, today's list was dominated by relatively obscure posts. Senators rarely fight over the State Board of Waterworks and Waste Systems Operators or the Board of Airport Zoning Appeals.
"There's nothing really in there," said Sen. Arthur Dorman (D-Prince George's).
For Beims, the most difficult task in her month-long quest for an assortment of names with the right geographic, ethnic, sex and political appeal came yesterday, when she scrambled to find a Piscataway Indian for the Commission on Indian Affairs and a black veterinarian for the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.
The only complaint the Prince George's politicians could muster was that Hughes had failed to give the county a share of appointments commensurate with its population and Democratic voting strength.
"We're going to work that problem out in the future," joked O'Reilly. "We're going to run Mike Miller [chairman of the county Senate delegation] for governor."