The administration of Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D) is taking issue with a claim by Gov. Parris N. Glendening that a school being constructed in the Largo area came about as a result of a meeting between the governor and community leaders.
Glendening (D) told The Washington Post in an interview last week that he had pledged last summer to provide the necessary state funds to construct the Perrywood Elementary School. He made the election-year promise at a lunch meeting at Levi's Barbeque in Oxon Hill with County Council member Ronald V. Russell (D-Mitchellville) and civic activists, both Glendening and Russell recalled.
"Out of that meeting in that little restaurant came that new school," Glendening said, adding that Russell was largely responsible for bringing the need for a school to his attention and to the attention of county officials.
Glenda Wilson, Curry's chief of staff, didn't much like the implication that Glendening was taking credit for a school in Curry territory. She called last week to complain and to offer the Democratic county executive's version of events.
She supplied 16 pages of "evidence" that shows that since at least 1997, the Perrywood school was on the county's wish list to be built. In a letter dated Dec. 8, 1997, Curry advised Yale Stenzler, the state's director of school construction, that Perrywood was being proposed as a park-school. Curry created the park-school concept as a way to share costs between the county and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission by attaching community centers to new schools.
Her records show that neither the state nor the county provided funding for the school until fiscal 1999, when both chipped in planning money. The state and the county budgeted construction funds for the project in fiscal 2000. Those budgets were approved in the spring.
Guns 'n Money
Gov. Parris N. Glendening last week took the first steps toward framing next year's highly charged debates on guns and money in the General Assembly.
Glendening (D) is calling for so-called smart gun legislation, trying to ensure that eventually all handguns sold in Maryland have technology that allows only their owners to fire them. And the governor and top legislative leaders said something has to be done to generate more money for the state's transportation needs. The state's transportation trust fund is running short of dollars. It is funded by Maryland's 23.5 cent-a-gallon gas tax and pays for road construction, mass transit, the Baltimore Port and Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
So in recent weeks, Glendening has appointed two task forces to grapple with those issues.
The gun task force will be chaired by Col. David B. Mitchell, state police superintendent. The gubernatorial appointees include: Capitol Heights Police Chief William Harrison, Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler, Allegany County Sheriff David A. Goad, Prince George's County police officer and state Fraternal Order of Police legislative Chairman Anthony M. Walker, Johns Hopkins University Medical School Professor Emeritus J. Alex Haller Jr., former Prince George's County sheriff James V. Aluisi, Maryland State Teachers Association Vice President Patricia A. Foerster and Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse board President Neil A. Meyerhoff.
The task force on whether to raise the gas tax or find some other revenue source is blithely called the Commission on Transportation Investment. It has 30 members, including several top legislators, representatives of the trucking industry and local officials. It began meeting this week. Already, some top Democrats are saying privately that they may not support a transportation tax hike in such times of plenty.
Montgomery Upset at Shutout
Montgomery County residents hate feeling left out of a big policy debate. So they are none too pleased with the way the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission is handling the discussion over whether it should become a private utility.
The first of two public hearings was held last week in Prince George's County over whether a potential $3 billion sale of the water and sewer agency would be a boon or bust for its 1.6 million customers. The second hearing is scheduled for Aug. 20--also in Prince George's.
State Sen. Jean W. Roesser (R-Montgomery) is complaining that Montgomery will not be the site of any public debate, something she has been hearing about from constituents in northern Montgomery.
The WSSC is run jointly by Montgomery and Prince George's, so Roesser and many neighborhood residents say that the county should get a hearing date also. The WSSC must forward its privatization report to the General Assembly by Sept. 1. State legislators will make the final decision on whether to put WSSC on the block.
Staff writer Scott Wilson contributed to this report.