Did Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R) snub the Prince George's County chapter of the NAACP? Or did the group's annual event get started so late that the lieutenant governor could no longer fit it into his schedule?

The answer depends on whom you talk to.

The county chapter had been trying for years to get Steele to speak at its annual dinner. Some have wanted Steele, one of the country's most popular black Republicans, to address the group. Others in the oldest black civil rights organization clearly have not.

This year, instead of having Steele speak, the members made a compromise: They would name him honorary co-chair of their annual Freedom Fund dinner, held recently at Martin's Crosswinds in Greenbelt.

The only thing the NAACP and a Steele representative agree on is the fact that the lieutenant governor agreed to make an appearance at the event between engagements.

But Steele never appeared.

Robin Williams, a member of he NAACP board, said she felt Steele snubbed the NAACP, just as President Bush has declined invitations to speak at the organization's national events.

"It shows a total disrespect to the organization," Williams said. "Is this the Republican way, to just not show up to our events?"

A spokesman for Steele called the remark politically motivated and "out of bounds."

"Anyone who knows Michael knows his commitment to the NAACP," the spokesman said. He said the lieutenant governor's office was unaware that he was the honorary co-chair of the event. He agreed to drop by during the reception, between 5 and 6 p.m. that day.

"He had a narrow window of opportunity," the spokesman said. "It's just unfortunate that anyone would play politics on this issue."

Johnson's 'Family Ties'

Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) used his remarks at the county's Municipal Association legislative dinner last week to praise the county's delegation for the work they did for the county last year in Annapolis.

"We brought back more money than any other jurisdiction in the state of Maryland," Johnson told the crowd, which included Baltimore mayor and gubernatorial candidate Martin O'Malley (D), Sen. Gwendolyn T. Britt and Del. Justin D. Ross.

Johnson said he and members of the delegation may not always agree, but they've been successful because they've learned to put their differences aside.

"Like a family, in order to be effective, we must be united," he said.

Johnson later said that he plans to make few changes to the county's legislative agenda next year. "I don't think it will be much different," he said.

The top issues: crime, Prince George's County Hospital Center and education.

Changing the Playlist

Some say the music played during campaign events subliminally sends a message.

Sometimes it's a blend of patriotic brass-band standards. Other times it's the thumping sounds heard during sporting events.

Whether you've been to a political event or watched one on television, you've heard them: "Celebration" by Kool & The Gang or "Born in the U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen.

Even Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton took on Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" when he announced his candidacy for president.

So it's not surprising that some attendees at Del. Peter Franchot's recent announcement to run for state comptroller were trying to figure out what to make of Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" blaring from the speakers before Franchot's announcement.

"Do you think that has something to do with Schaefer?" one attendee asked, rhetorically. Franchot's opponent, William Donald Schaefer, the former governor, is 84, and planning to run for reelection.

After Franchot's speech, "Celebration" began to pour from the speakers.

"Now that's more like it," one attendee said.