There are always rumors that Gov. William Donald Schaefer's staff is beset with conflict, especially between the loyal workers who came to Annapolis from Baltimore City Hall and the newcomers who joined up after Schaefer was elected.

But things apparently are getting out of hand. From a press release, dated Dec. 18:

"A. Frank Carven III has been appointed special assistant for Public Safety and Corrections with primary responsibility for matters concerning hate, violence and extremism in the office of Governor William Donald Schaefer."

All the nattering nabobs of negativism in the State House press corps are looking forward to the feud between Gov. Schaefer and his successor in Baltimore, newly inaugurated Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

But last week brought the first time in the spotlight for the two, and the meeting can only be described as disappointing.

Schaefer called Schmoke "Mayor," rather than some of the colorful nicknames he has used in private, and invited Schmoke to share his thoughts on the state's proposed $290 million light rail project that will link Glen Burnie and Baltimore County with the new stadium complex in downtown Baltimore.

"I applaud you for your boldness, your creativity, your leadership in this particular matter," Schmoke replied. He also said he wanted to work with Schaefer to find a way to finance a dome for the proposed new football stadium, if that was the only way to lure the St. Louis Cardinals to Baltimore.

Schaefer listened in surprise, his eyes bulged and he rolled his head back and forth, looking at the ceiling. "I noticed the dove of peace," he said.

In one way, it was an unlikely setting for a fund-raiser for Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, one of the Democrats Grapevine items were compiled by staff writers Jo-Ann Armao, Robert Barnes and Lisa Leff. seeking his party's presidential nod. After all, the Potomac manse where about 250 well-known and well-heeled Democrats turned out to meet Dukakis last week is the home of a man who is a registered Republican.

Bill Dockser, president of a Rockville real estate and development firm, worked for the election of Richard Nixon and served in the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Nixon years.

So, how come the hospitality for Dukakis?

"I believe in him. I matured," Dockser said. Plus, he said, "I grew up with him." The two were boys together in Brookline, Mass.

And, wasn't it great, said Dukakis, that his friend did so well and managed to get "this modest bungalow," a joking reference to the palatial setting that includes a fountain and atrium-like entrance.

Dockser retorted that Dukakis got the fame, while he got the fortune. "And it takes both to win the presidency," Dukakis said.

According to Lanny J. Davis, Democratic national committeeman, who was cohost at party, the event raised $25,000 in hand and another $15,000 was promised.

The Howard County Public Library system reached another milestone last Friday at 10 a.m. when the number of books checked out this year hit the 2 million mark, the highest ever. Columbia resident Jennifer Wang and her two children, Theresa and Dean, were the record-making card holders.

Greeting Wang and her armload of kids books, a novel and a videotape at the balloon-decked circulation desk were County Executive ELizabeth Bobo, County Council Chairman Ruth Keeton, Kenneth Jennings Jr. from the library board of trustees, and library director Marvin Thomas.

Thomas said he calculated the moment using circulation figures from the first 11 months of this year and last December.

He acknowledged that the actual 2 millionth item probably left the library closer to 4 p.m., "but Ms. Bobo's schedule was tight at that time."