What is most interesting about the flap about former Anne Arundel County executive James Lighthizer's self-laudatory, $120,000 booklet {Metro, Jan. 25} is not that Mr. Lighthizer would commission such a booklet, but that anyone would be surprised by its publication. Clearly, it is but another example on a long string of self-serving actions. To cite but a few:

Shortly after his election as county executive in 1982, an investigation by Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Clark unearthed the story of Mr. Lighthizer's questionable investment in a Brooklyn Park shopping center development with a political ally; under pressure of public scrutiny, Mr. Lighthizer pulled out of the deal. Using taxpayers' funds, Mr. Lighthizer spent thousands of dollars to renovate his office and purchased two car phones for his county car. When asked about personal phone calls made on these phones, Mr. Lighthizer said he did not feel obligated to reimburse the county for these calls. Mr. Lighthizer supported a change in county law to lower from 60 to 50 the retirement age at which he, county administrators and members of the county council could collect their county pensions.

Mr. Lighthizer has what author S.J. Perelman called "that honeyed charm that he used so effectively to lull his victims." While part of the Lighthizer legacy is a certain measure of improvement in the fiscal management of the county, the dark side of that legacy is symbolized by the self-serving pamphlet.