- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 1, 2002

The effrontery of Maryland's tax-and-spend Democratic governor, Parris N. Glendening, seems to know no bounds. As reported in this newspaper by Associated Press reporter Tom Stuckey, Mr. Glendening prefers a taxpayer-financed $4.9 million King Air 350 private plane to commercial aircraft when attending such state functions as the NCAA basketball tournament or the Orange Bowl just two of the sports events Mr. Glendening jetted to on the taxpayers' dime.

Of course, the governor and his allies insist that the plane is there for the use of the Maryland State Police to "extradite prisoners" from other states, but the fact is that the plane has also been used at least half-a-dozen occasions as Mr. Glendening's private toy. Since the King Air 350 was put into service in October, after a last-minute appropriation request for its purchase, the governor has taken six flights, including the two sports junkets. Wonder how Maryland taxpayers feel about having to send in their hard-earned money funds that would otherwise be used to pay down mortgages, household bills, save for their children's futures, etc. so that Mr. Glendening may be spared having to rub elbows with the masses on commercial airplanes.

"I personally consider it an inappropriate use of any state-owned vehicle," said House Minority Leader Alfred Redmer, Baltimore County Republican, of the jet-setting governor's sports-trip junkets. No argument here.

Besides, Maryland already owns an airplane a perfectly serviceable King Air C-90. It just isn't the latest and swankiest thing available. At the time of the last-minute appropriation request, Delegate Richard LaVay criticized the governor's claim that the older plane was "unreliable" and due for retirement by noting that "a well-maintained 20-year-old plane is virtually brand-new." That was a reference to the fact that such critical components as engines and other parts are fastidiously kept up and rebuilt/replaced as necessary under strict Federal Aviation Administration requirements.

Finally, it should be remembered, the governor wheedled through the appropriation to acquire his gilded bird at a time when the state budget is "desperately in need" and the governor has urged new and higher taxes to provide for these "needs." But $4.9 million for a luxury private jet? No problemo.

That Mr. Glendening can look Maryland taxpayers in the eye as he jets around the country, burning up the savings of working families for their children's future, of ordinary people just trying to make ends meet, is a galling reminder of the arrogance of power.

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