- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2002

ANNAPOLIS Five Democratic state lawmakers say they will sue Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening to stop the implementation of his legislative-redistricting plan.
State Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr. and the three House delegates in his Baltimore County district John S. Arnick, Joseph J. Minnick and Jake J. Mohorovic Jr. will file a lawsuit Monday against Mr. Glendening, a fellow Democrat, said Mr. Stone's secretary.
In addition, state Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV of Baltimore will file a separate suit against the governor, said Zachary McDaniels, Mr. Mitchell's chief of staff. The three delegates in Mr. Mitchell's district Verna L. Jones, Ruth M. Kirk and Jeffrey A. Paige, all Democrats have not joined the suit.
The lawsuits will charge that Mr. Glendening violated the legislative process and a law that required him to submit his redistricting plan Jan. 9. The plan, which became law yesterday, will be used to elect all 188 members of the General Assembly.
Mr. Glendening made changes to the plan that was delineated in a joint resolution submitted to the House and Senate Jan. 9.
The resolution was reprinted on Feb. 13, but backdated to Jan. 9, said Mr. McDaniels.
"There are some real ethics problems here," said Michael Steele, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.
Mr. McDaniels said Mr. Glendening's changes came out after Feb. 12, the day Mr. Mitchell and Martin Luther King III, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, stood yards from the governor's residence and announced they had found errors in his plan and would challenge it in court.
"We find the timing very suspicious," Mr. McDaniels said.
Any change in the plan would open it to amendment and that is why the governor tried to slip by a reprint, Mr. McDaniels said.
"They knew it would be a free-for-all," he said.
"It's just another example of trying to design certain political scenarios for annihilating Republicans and Democrats who don't tote their water," said Mr. Steele, who has been trying to persuade Mr. Mitchell to join the Republican Party.
Glendening spokesman Mike Morrill said computer software used to draw the plan created some errors including putting some census blocks in more than one district. But he said the errors were limited to the list used to draft the joint resolution.
Mr. Morrill said the district maps generated were accurate and the software manufacturer sent a letter reporting the bugs. Attorneys for the Glendening administration said the actions were valid, he added.
Mr. Steele said his party also will challenge the redistricting plan and is considering a wider range of grounds for a lawsuit.
State Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus, Somerset Republican, said he planned to file suit in the state Court of Appeals asking that lines be redrawn on the lower Eastern Shore to restore communities that have historically been linked in a single legislative district.
Mr. Stoltzfus said the district that wanders through five counties from Smith Island northward into Caroline County in Mr. Glendening's plan violates constitutional requirements that districts should be compact, follow natural boundaries and not unnecessarily divide communities.
Mr. Mitchell, who is black and represents a historically black voting district, has denounced Mr. Glendening's redistricting plan as racist and has threatened to leave the Democratic Party. Under the plan, Mr. Mitchell would compete against state Sen. George W. Della Jr., a white Baltimore Democrat, in a newly drawn district.
Mr. Stone, who is white, also has denounced the redistricting plan, saying it would divide communities and disenfranchise minorities to protect favored incumbents in the Democratic and Republican parties.
Challenges filed in state courts will go directly to the Court of Appeals, said Robert Zarnoch, an assistant attorney general.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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