THERE CAN'T BE a corner of Maryland that hasn't been visited at one time or another by the ubiquitous Louis L. Goldstein, who has been tending the office of state comptroller since the '50s. Among his favorite stomping grounds is his home county of Calvert, where he recently showed up at a meeting of the county commissioners -- and therein hangs a tale of Politics, Old Maryland Style. Mr. Goldstein was seeking a zoning change that would benefit him financially; and he spared no words in making it plain to the commissioners just how kind his public service had been to the county over the years.

The land in question is a 55,000-square-foot lot just north of Frederick, where the McDonald's Corporation is seeking to buy the land for another restaurant (with Goldstein arches?). The planning commission had said no to a zoning change -- and the request for an overruling is now before the commissioners. But rather than Citizen Goldstein sending a lawyer to argue for it, Comptroller Goldstein showed up in person to mention all the favors he had done for the commissioners and the county.

Maryland has had too much of this public-position-for-private-gain politicking -- and Mr. Goldstein should be the first to know it.