It almost seemed as if William Donald Schaefer arrived looking for a fight. The state comptroller, whom everyone still calls "governor," took his seat next to Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D), his successor in the top job, at the Board of Public Works meeting last week with a dour look on his face and a hankering to mix things up.
Just a day earlier, Schaefer (D) had called Glendening "inflexible" for waiting too long to revisit statewide mandatory restrictions on water use. And at the first logical opportunity to talk about water, Schaefer did: It happened when a hapless official from the Maryland Department of the Environment stepped forward to address the board.
"I want to know if there is enough water in Baltimore and Anne Arundel County to lift these restrictions?" Schaefer quizzed the official, as Glendening looked on uncomfortably.
"I'm the budget director," the man said. "But I could call our secretary and get that information to you later today."
"Could you call now?" Schaefer said as the official departed to make the necessary phone calls. "I'd like the information now. Can anyone tell me whether there is enough water in Baltimore?"
He glanced pointedly at Glendening, who stared ahead. (Later the same day, Glendening lifted the mandatory restrictions in favor of a voluntary call for conservation.)
But things really heated up when Schaefer, out of the blue, asked transportation officials a bizarre question: Where was the bus he used to use as governor to zigzag across the state? He needed it to take some people to Western Maryland.
The garishly painted bus was emblazoned with the words "Do It Now," a motto better suited to the populist big-city mayor than the policy wonk who succeeded him as governor. So Glendening sold it. "I didn't care for it," he told Schaefer.
"He sold my bus?" Schaefer muttered, like a boy who lost a ball. He asked the governor to provide him with another bus for an upcoming trip. "And I want it painted," Schaefer added to laughter, though he wasn't really joking.
A Trio for Townsend
Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D), considered the early front-runner for governor in 2002, is clearly trying to put some distance between her and her possible rivals by staking an early claim to money.
Tomorrow, guests will pony up $1,000 a person for a Baltimore fund-raiser. That's a hefty amount this far before the election. The dinner at the Della Notte restaurant in Little Italy is being put together by a consortium of labor and business leaders, including locals of the United Auto Workers, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and a coalition of firefighter unions.
"They came to us and said we want to do this," said Townsend's finance chairman, Jeffrey Liss. He said the organizers came up with the dollar amount.
The dinner is the middle event of a trio of high-profile fund-raisers for the lieutenant governor this summer.
In July, Townsend celebrated her 48th birthday with a $10-a-person fund-raiser at the Baltimore Zoo that attracted more than 3,000. That was intended to be more of a show of her grass-roots support than a money raiser.
But the $1,000-a-person dinner is expected to generate real cash. Liss declined to predict how much.
The third fund-raiser will be Sept. 18. That one is thrown by her mother, Ethel Kennedy, wife of the late Robert F. Kennedy, at the family's home at Hyannisport, Mass. It's the fourth year Ethel Kennedy has held an event for her daughter on Cape Cod at the compound that is so part of the family's heritage. Last year's attracted about 60 people, mostly longtime supporters of the Kennedy family, Democratic female activists and a contingent of Marylanders. Liss said he does not know how much money will be raised.
"It's for key supporters who've been significant in their support and who will be in the future," he said. There is no fixed contribution requested. Maryland law--which applies no matter where Townsend raises her money--limits individuals to giving a single candidate no more than $4,000 during a four-year election cycle.
This early focus on cash hasn't been lost on two of Townsend's possible rivals for the Democratic nomination, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan and Baltimore County Executive C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger III. They've both filed voluntary campaign fund-raising reports in recent weeks. Duncan has about $226,000 on hand. Ruppersberger has about $800,000.
Big Names See the Boss
It was a regular convention of political bosses at the Boss's opening night in Washington last week. The governor of Maryland, the mayor of Washington, the county executive of Montgomery County and the vice president of the United States all attended Bruce Springsteen's first-night show at MCI Center.
For Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) it was an encore performance 22 years after he first saw Springsteen, who is a little older than Duncan. "I was exhausted just watching him," Duncan said.
For Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) it was a night out with his wife, Frances Anne, who is the true Springsteen fan of the family. The two dined at a nearby steakhouse, seemingly leaving politics far away for a night. But before the dinner plates were cleared, the couple was invited to join Vice President Gore in his backstage suite before the concert started.
"We talked about [Springsteen's] records, what CDs we have," Glendening said.
The governor became a Springsteen buff along with thousands of others in the mid-1980s with the release of "Born in the U.S.A." His wife's affection for Springsteen's music predates his (the couple also have "Born to Run"). Glendening said he often listens to the Boss getting ready for work.
But the governor may not have attended the show if it hadn't been for his spring business trip to Rome. Discussing his next-day schedule with aides one evening, Glendening suggested adding a dinner meeting that would require staff support. There was a pause, then several advisers advised the governor to rest that night. When he asked why, he was told Springsteen happened to be in Rome and they had tickets.
"I said, 'Okay, I'll tell you what. The next time he's going to be in the Washington area, let me know and I'll forgive you,' " Glendening said.
Double-Dipping Out in Arundel
Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens (D) has taken a stand against double-dipping, that venerable practice in which government employees retire from one job to collect their pension only to then take another job in the public sector.
She vetoed a bill, promoted by Sheriff George F. Johnson IV (D), that would have allowed retired county police officers to collect their pensions while working for the sheriff's department or the state's attorney's office.
"We do not want to encourage our experienced police officers, who are eligible to retire, to retire just so they can become employed by the sheriff's office to collect two checks from the county," Owens wrote in a letter to the council Aug. 27.
Johnson had pushed the bill as a way to save the county money, one county law officer said. By hiring already qualified police officers, the sheriff's department would save itself the cost of putting new deputies through the 18 to 21 weeks of state training required for all new law enforcement officers.
The bill was opposed by Anne Arundel NAACP chapter President Gerald Stansbury, who said that it would impede the county's efforts to hire minorities. Stansbury met with Owens the day she issued her veto and made his case. But spokesman Andrew C. Carpenter said Owens already had made up her mind.
"The impact on hiring wasn't her biggest problem," Carpenter said. "The biggest problem was that the bill created a special class of county jobs. She didn't think we could afford it."
Staff writers Jefferson Morley and Angela Paik contributed to this column.