At last month's meeting of the Maryland State Racing Commission, Commissioner Ann Mahoney, the only woman member of the board, called for a state audit of the Racetrack Improvement Fund, claiming the commission was acting illegally.
Her four colleagues on the commission made some restrained remarks at that time about her opinion and directed James Callahan, the commission secretary, to ask for an opinion from the Maryland attorney general.
Yesterday the commission met again, and this time the remarks were not restrained, since the attorney general's office found in an opinion paper that the commission had acted legally with regard to the Improvement Fund.
Commissioner J. Neil McCardell demanded a public apology from Mahoney. Chairman Robert W. Banning said he was "greatly offended by the innuendo that this commission has acted in anything but a proper manner. Mrs. Mahoney obviously does not know how to work with her fellow commissioners. She's entitled to her opinion, but her method of presentation leaves much to be desired."
Mahoney refused to back down, attorney general's opinion notwithstanding.
"I have never seen any evidence of any competitive bidding, as I understand the law requires," she said. "We are asked to make decisions at closed meetings with no minutes taken.
"Right now, the Improvement Fund which allows the tracks to receive one-half of 1 percent of the handle, has been tapped for at least five years from now. The money we approved for track improvements last month won't be generated at least until 1984."
On equal housing for women, Mahoney said, "There was a closed, impromptu meeting at Pimlico early last month. At that time I asked why, if we okay all of this money for the Improvement Fund, we can't approve some money for equal housing for women on the backstretch.
"Rosalie Abrams, Democratic senator from Baltimore, has expressed interest in this matter along with congresswoman Marjorie Holt. When I insisted that we do something, one of my colleagues said we couldn't dictate to the tracks how to spend their money.Of course, especially in this case, I disagree."
Commissioner Robert W. Furtick remarked, "She (Mahoney) is working under the impression that the laws are still in effect from some 30 years ago when her husband was the chairman of the commission. Those laws have been changed. Somebody should tell her that."