MARYLAND GOV. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. loves appearing in taxpayer-funded television ads that purport to show how hard he is working for the state. So let's take a look at just how hard he's been working this summer.
* Unveiled any major initiatives to fix the state's broken juvenile justice system, which he promised to clean up when he ran for governor three years ago?
* Put forward a coherent plan to deal with Maryland's $1 billion surplus?
* Laid out a long-term strategy to address the state's looming budgetary imbalance, which officials believe poses the risk of large and growing deficits two or three years from now?
No, no and no.
Then what has Mr. Ehrlich been up to? Rather than focusing on what's most challenging in the state, the Republican governor has stoked a partisan firefight between his administration and Democratic lawmakers. The lawmakers are preparing an investigation into the Ehrlich administration's personnel practices -- specifically, whether the administration has fired mid-level state employees because of their political views and in order to replace them with GOP loyalists. The lawmakers are worried that Maryland has liability in the firings; one worker has received a $100,000 settlement from the state. The legislative inquiry, though obviously tinged with partisanship, is legitimate; so are questions about personnel practices in Democratic administrations.
Rather than letting the investigation go forward unhindered, Mr. Ehrlich and his lieutenants have unleashed vituperation and abuse at the lawmakers. Another GOP target has been Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, a Democrat who is campaigning for governor. Mr. Duncan called on Mr. Ehrlich to cool the partisan attacks; a top aide to the governor, Paul E. Schurick, fired back: "He should mind his own business."
With all that hard work in Annapolis this summer, perhaps Mr. Ehrlich and his staff should just take a vacation.