- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ANNAPOLIS — Democratic lawmakers say Gov. Martin O’Malley is a work in progress and that problems he faced as Baltimore’s mayor have followed him to the State House.

“This is a totally different dynamic for him,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Southern Maryland Democrat. “You need more than charm or good looks. You need to have some substance in your discussions and people need to be reasoned with.”

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, is at odds again with black lawmakers and civil rights groups after proposing legislation for the 2008 General Assembly session to authorize police to collect DNA samples after an arrest.

In 2006, while he was mayor, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a joint lawsuit against Baltimore and Mr. O’Malley for thousands of arrests that they said were illegal.

“It’s symptomatic of his style, which is governing his short-term gratification for short-term results,” said Delegate Jill P. Carter, Baltimore Democrat.

She opposed Mr. O’Malley’s policy in Baltimore that critics said rewarded the quantity rather than the quality of arrests, and is among the state lawmakers who amended his DNA proposal.

Mr. Miller said Mr. O’Malley was used to dealing with a 15-member City Council but now must struggle with 188 state lawmakers, including a small but forceful Republicans caucus.

Mr. O’Malley’s firing of Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark in 2004 resurfaced last week when the state’s highest court ruled that the action was illegal.

Mr. Clark’s attorneys said Monday that their client was fired while investigating top O’Malley aide Sean Malone, now a deputy legislative officer for the governor. They are seeking to depose the governor in their lawsuit against the city.

“All avenues of discovery are expected to be pursued,” said Clark attorney Stuart Simms.

Mr. O’Malley also brought to Annapolis a strained relationship with state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.

Mrs. Grasmick tried to take control of 11 failing Baltimore schools while Mr. O’Malley was running for governor in 2006.

Early in the General Assembly session this year, Mr. O’Malley spoke about a plan to oust Mrs. Grasmick, but in February, he called an unexpected news conference to publicly make peace with her.

He dismissed the idea that past political missteps have influencing his ability to govern the state.

“I haven’t seen it affecting us at all, nor do I see the two related at all,” he said Monday.

Miss Carter agreed.

“It’s not affecting him at all,” she said. “He keeps on winning.”

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