NOT THAT MARYLAND needs a governmental emergency right now, but were one to occur, who would run the state? The way Gov. Harry Hughes has left things--and he has left, you should know, on an industrial-promotion tour of Germany and France--the answer may not sit all that well. It is reminiscent of the one about the voice on the loudspeaker of an airliner in extremis : "Ladies and gentlemen, we're experiencing some difficulty in flight, but try to remain calm. This is your captain speaking--by recording . . . 'cording . . . 'cording . . ."
All right, you say, but at least the state has a lieutenant governor in a position to take over. Wrong. Harry Hughes and Samuel W. B ogley III may have come in on the same ticket, but that ticket, like Mr. Hughes, has split--leaving much to chance and little to Mr. Bogley should the authority of an acting governor be needed. As it stands, Lieutenant Gov. Bogley has been denied the powers of acting governor during the absence of Mr. Hughes. Instead, the governor's chief of staff, whom nobody elected, is running the state government.
There is an official, paper-thin explanation, to the effect that Mr. Hughes is transacting state business on this trip. No question; but the whole purpose of creating the job of lieutenant governor in 1970 was to have some elected state official on the home front on whom authority would be conferred temporarily to act on the governor's behalf.
At that time, of course, neither the legislature nor the voters who approved this arrangement could have known how chilly and awkward the relationship between Mr. Hughes and his lieutenant would become. And only now, more than ever, is it pathetically clear from the conduct in office of these two gentlemen that neither is what you would term a high-profile, take-charge administrator.
Nevertheless, the refusal of Mr. Hughes to entrust emergency powers to the state's lieutenant governor is irresponsible.