- The Washington Times - Monday, May 12, 2003

When a Baltimore County man called Comptroller William Donald Schaefer to suggest it was time for him to retire from public office, the man got a return call from the longtime pol himself.

Mr. Schaefer — who has contacted critics in the past during his years as mayor of Baltimore, governor and now comptroller — called Ron Collins’ house and, when he found no one at home, left this message on his answering machine: “I think you ought to retire, too.”

Mr. Collins said he called Mr. Schaefer’s office to complain about the comptroller’s remarks about former Gov. Parris N. Glendening during a ceremony April 29 when the fountain on the governor’s mansion lawn was turned back on.

“I will not have any disparaging remarks about him except I hate him,” Mr. Schaefer said of Mr. Glendening, a fellow Democrat who had turned off the fountain that was installed under the direction of the late Hilda Mae Snoops, Mr. Schaefer’s longtime friend and hostess at the mansion during his two terms as governor.

Mr. Glendening said he shut down the fountain because of restrictions he imposed on use of water during a drought. Mr. Schaefer insisted it was a form of revenge by the man with whom he had a long-standing feud.

Mr. Collins said he called the comptroller’s office to complain that he found the remark about Mr. Glendening to be disgraceful and left a message with his secretary that Mr. Schaefer should retire.

He said when he returned home Thursday, he found the comptroller had left this message: “Ron, Don Schaefer. Had a tough time catching up with you, but I finally tracked you down. I think you ought to retire, too. I just wanted you to know I found you at home and got even.”

Play the name game

The organizer of a recall drive against Salisbury officials said she has collected enough signatures to allow voters to decide in November whether to remove the mayor and City Council president from office.

“I know I’m way over” the requirements, said Brenda Cox, a Salisbury gas station owner who began collecting signatures in November.

Miss Cox said last week she plans to wait until September to file petitions that would allow a vote at the Nov. 4 municipal election on whether to oust Mayor Barrie Parsons Tilghman and City Council President Lavonzella Siggers from office.

Making the recall election coincide with the regular city election would save about $24,000, according to election officials.

Miss Cox said she also has enough signatures to force a recall for three council members, but she does not plan to file those petitions since the three officials will be up for re-election in November.

“The fact that there will already be an election held this fall provides the people of the city of Salisbury with an opportunity to decide the entire issue — not only concerning who serves in the expiring seats of the council, but for all of the current city leaders,” she said in a statement.

Miss Cox formed Citizens for a Professional Government in October when she became disillusioned with city officials because of a public feud over the fate of Police Chief Allan Webster. Council members who wanted to remove Chief Webster dropped a six-month probe in January.

Council members and Mrs. Tilghman also battled over control of a city fire station in another dispute that was settled recently.

The election board will have to check voter registration lists to make sure there are enough names of registered voters on the petitions.

By waiting until September, Miss Cox runs the risk that some voters will move out of town and that the number of signatures required will be increased if voter registration goes up.

But she said she also will keep collecting signatures at her gas station through the summer.

“It’s important not to just assume this is finished,” she said.

Feuding fellows

It’s one of the nastiest feuds in Maryland politics today — complete with accusations of treachery, coercion and self-enrichment.

Baltimore County Delegate Robert A. Zirkin portrays state Sen. Paula C. Hollinger as a ruthless politician who twists other candidates’ arms to force them to buy campaign materials from her husband.

Mrs. Hollinger depicts Mr. Zirkin as an ambitious young schemer with a chip on his shoulder and an eye on her Senate seat.

And to think that just six months ago, the two Baltimore County Democratic legislators were re-elected as part of the same 11th District “unity team.”

The 11th District has long been a Democratic bastion. But now county Republicans are watching the strife with growing interest.

Donkey politics

Al Sharpton said Thursday that both major political parties have taken black voters for granted, a slight his Democratic presidential campaign intends to correct.

Mr. Sharpton plans to travel the country this summer with the goal of recruiting 1.3 million new voters by January, in particular the hip-hop generation, the elderly and the poor.

He’s working with hip-hop record mogul Russell Simmons and Kedar Massenburg, president of Motown Records, to get popular artists such as Jay-Z or Run-DMC to come along.

“The Democrat and Republican parties have taken African-Americans for granted,” he said Thursday in Lexington, Va. “The challenge in 2004 for many of us is how we make sure that it’s not the case again.”

With the grave of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as a backdrop, Mr. Sharpton helped Washington and Lee University kick off its mock presidential convention, a student-run event that has picked the correct opposition candidate in 17 of the past 22 presidential contests.

The civil rights activist took the opportunity to bash President Bush for the war in Iraq and for failing to catch or clearly kill Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

“I don’t know why the Democrats aren’t questioning Bush over and over again about, ‘Where is bin Laden?’” Mr. Sharpton told the crowd of more than 300 outside Lee Chapel. “Bush will not be in charge of the missing persons’ bureau, because he hasn’t found anyone he’s been looking for, yet.”

He also challenged Mr. Bush’s domestic policy and proposed tax cut, which he said is guaranteed to throw the country into bigger deficits while still financing the rebuilding of Iraq. “What about the states we already occupy?” he asked.

He ended with a plea to fellow Democrats to return to party fundamentals.

“We’re a bunch of elephants running around with donkey jackets. If we stand for something, we can win,” he said.

Good vs. evil

Calling a Republican senator a Nazi could cost GOP Senate candidate Paul Jost a spot in the Senate Republican Caucus should he be elected, according to a heated letter state Senate Majority Leader Walter A. Stosch wrote last week.

A column in the Daily Press of Newport News on May 4 quoted Mr. Jost as using the term to describe Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle, Virginia Beach Republican. Mr. Jost said he made the comment as a panel of editors and reporters at the newspapers interviewed him.

“He is an evil man who shouldn’t be in office,” Mr. Jost said of Mr. Stolle. “He’s a Nazi.”

On Senate stationery, Mr. Stosch rebuked Mr. Jost in four paragraphs, saying the comment was “a reprehensible offense” and violates caucus bylaws that bar any member from “actions that discredit the caucus or any of its members.”

Mr. Jost is challenging Republican Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr. of James City County, an ally of Mr. Stolle. Mr. Stolle is unopposed in the June 10 GOP primary.

Both are among the 23 Senate Republicans who comprise the caucus and dominate the 40-member Senate.

“While we often disagree on issues, we must do so in an appropriate manner, and your comments about Sen. Stolle limit your ability to meet this very basic requirement of membership in our Caucus,” wrote Mr. Stosch, Henrico County Republican.

He said that should Mr. Jost win in the primary, “our caucus has asked that I inform you that you will not be permitted membership in our caucus.”

Mr. Jost said he apologized to Mr. Stolle in a handwritten letter.

“During a recent two-hour interview with editors and reporters from the Daily Press, I made some comments about you which were personal in nature and inappropriate and for which I apologize,” he wrote.

Mr. Jost said he was being asked about reports that he offered another Republican, Linda Wall, a job and to raise $50,000 for her campaign if she would drop out of the race for Mr. Norment’s seat and run instead against Mr. Stolle. Miss Wall publicly disclosed the offer.

“In the midst of defending myself, I overreacted and lashed out at you, and I regret that,” Mr. Jost wrote to Mr. Stolle.

Mr. Jost said he sent a copy of the apology to Mr. Stosch.

“I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t mean it literally, that he was a member of the German National Socialist Party.”

Toe in the water

Virginia state Sen. William T. “Bill” Bolling of Hanover County has formed a campaign fund-raising committee for a 2005 run for lieutenant governor, the first candidate statewide to make a push for the office.

Mr. Bolling, 45, a conservative Republican who has served in the Senate for eight years, said he will make a formal announcement on his candidacy later this year.

The creation of the fund-raising committee “enables me to take this effort to the next level,” he said in a prepared statement released last week.

“I am very encouraged by the response I have received in every part of Virginia, and I am confident that I can run a successful statewide campaign in 2005,” he said.

Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore is expected to be the Republican Party’s candidate for governor in 2005, although he has yet to form a gubernatorial campaign committee. Mr. Kilgore’s political action committee has raised more than $1.1 million toward the race.

Mr. Kilgore’s likely opponent will be Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who has raised $700,000.

Staff writer Jon Ward and the Associated Press contributed to this column.

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