Prince George's County House delegation Chairman Carolyn J.B. Howard (D-Mitchellville) said last week that she plans to call a special meeting of the delegation in October to decide who should lead it when the 2005 General Assembly begins in January.

Howard said she has heard "rumblings" that members of the delegation want to oppose her, and she welcomes the challenge.

"I'm seeking to remain chair," Howard said. "And I think if I have done the job the delegation has wanted me to do, then I should be chair again."

One of the names Howard said she has heard is Del. Melony G. Griffith (D-Suitland).

Griffith has made no secret of her desire to lead the delegation.

During an event this year, Griffith gave her colleagues notice of her intentions.

"I have met with and spoken with many of you and am excited about the opportunities we have to take the delegation to the next level," Griffith said in the letter. "The time that we have between now and our 2005 session is limited, and I hope that we will maximize it."

Griffith said it is time for the delegation to discuss how it wants to deal with several issues that are expected to surface in the upcoming session, including the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, Prince George's Hospital Center, legalized gambling and the county's education system.

"A proactive delegation will be more successful in Annapolis," she said. "A reactive delegation may still be successful, but not as successful and not as prepared to craft policy and gain resources from the state."

Griffith said she has been waiting for a meeting to be called to determine leadership.

Typically, during an off-election year for legislators, the meeting takes place in July, former delegation chairman Rushern L. Baker III said.

Where there is no set time to hold the elections, Baker said, holding the election in the summer gives leadership, including subcommittee chairs, an opportunity to pull together an agenda.

"The problem with October is there are bills to submit in the middle of October," Baker said. "It just gives very little time to prepare for the upcoming session."

Appointments Under Fire

In a recent letter calling for the removal of two appointees made by County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), a group of community activists question how the controversial selections fall in line with Johnson's push to improve Prince George's County's image.

Johnson announced this month that he had selected Keith Washington as his deputy director of homeland security.

Washington, a police corporal who was temporarily suspended in January after an off-duty scuffle, is facing an internal investigation. Washington's selection came the same week that Johnson named Lt. Col. Darrell Odom as acting fire chief, replacing Ronald D. Blackwell, who stepped down to take a similar position in Anne Arundel County. Odom has three arrests and one conviction for simple assault in his past.

"We do question the county executive's judgment in naming these individuals to such highly visible posts in county government, however, particularly since the appointments appear to be inconsistent with the image that County Executive Johnson purports to project for Prince George's," the letter says.

Jim Keary, Johnson's spokesman, said he could not comment on the letter, which was sent to members of the County Council, Johnson, the Greater Prince George's County Business Roundtable, the county's Black Chamber of Commerce and several state legislators.

According to the letter, sent by members of the Greater South County Coalition for Absolute Progress, a resident who spoke during last month's hearing on National Harbor about the county's car theft problem was later approached by the county executive for "raising negative issues at a time when the county was trying to project a positive image."

The letter writers said: "Given such image-consciousness, we remain dumbfounded by these recent appointments . . . We urge the council to consider the message it would send to residents, the business community and surrounding jurisdictions if these appointments stand."