- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 26, 2003

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley thinks Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is playing politics “in the smallest sense of that word” by asking the mayor to appoint Comptroller William Donald Schaefer to a city convention board.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, and Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, are potential rivals for the governor’s office in 2006 and Mr. Schaefer is a frequent and biting critic of the mayor. Mr. O’Malley indicated that he would not heed the unsolicited advice contained in a letter sent to him last week by Mr. Ehrlich.

“Oftentimes, Governor Ehrlich thinks he’s being calculating and cute, when to the more discerning members of the public his behavior appears petty and purely political in the smallest sense of that word,” Mr. O’Malley said in an interview with WBAL radio on Friday.

Paul Schurick, Mr. Ehrlich’s communications director, said the governor would not respond to the comments.

Matthew Crenson, a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University, called the request a poke in the eye “calculated to embarrass O’Malley.”

Baltimore political consultant Arthur W. Murphy said the letter put the mayor in an awkward situation.

Rejecting the governor’s suggestion would run the risk of further alienating Mr. Schaefer, a Democrat who has served as Baltimore mayor as well as Maryland governor. Putting him on the board of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association would give Mr. Schaefer another platform from which to criticize Mr. O’Malley’s performance as mayor, Mr. Murphy said.

Mr. O’Malley said in the radio interview that with the state facing such difficult financial problems, Mr. Schaefer can best serve the city by representing its interests on the Board of Public Works, “and I wouldn’t want to do anything that would distract him from that.”

Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell said the governor wrote the letter on Mr. Schaefer’s behalf after discussing the recommendation with the comptroller two weeks ago.

“The governor thinks [Mr. Schaefer] would be a phenomenal addition and is an excellent salesman for the city of Baltimore,” Mr. Fawell said.

Mr. Schaefer frequently criticizes the way Mr. O’Malley runs the city and considered challenging him in last month’s primary, in which Mr. O’Malley was nominated for a second term.

Christine Duray, a spokeswoman for Mr. Schaefer, said the comptroller’s desire to serve on the board “is not about a personal vendetta [he] has with any politician.”

• Betting on BWI

A Baltimore County state senator returned from a trip to Las Vegas with a suggestion: install slot machines at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Sen. Jim Brochin, Democrat, also thinks the Baltimore Convention Center and Rocky Gap State Park in Allegany County would be good places to put slots if they are legalized in Maryland.

Mr. Brochin said putting slot machines at BWI would be “a perfect answer to those people who object to slots on the basis that they take advantage of the poor.”

Coast Resorts, which operates 1,250 slot machines at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, said they generate about $25 million a year in revenues. The company keeps 30 percent, and the county gets the rest of the money.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s bill to put slot machines at horse-racing tracks passed the state Senate last year, but was killed by the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee is conducting a study on whether the state should expand gambling and where slot machines should be located if they are legalized.

• This will cost you

A Baltimore man says Mayor Martin O’Malley hasn’t lived up to a promise to curb the city’s homicide rate, so he’s suing the mayor — for $1.

Walker Gladden filed the suit in District Court, saying he is asking for the tiny amount in damages because it’s not a money issue.

The mayor or one of his representatives is expected to answer the suit in District Court on Nov. 14.

There have been 211 homicides in Baltimore this year, down from 214 this time last year.

• This column is based in part on wire service reports.

• Scaling back

Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Clerk Robert Duckworth promises to push for smaller government and lower taxes if he is elected to Congress.

“I believe in limited government,” said the Republican, who announced his decision last week. “Our incumbent is part of the spend and spend and spend some more and taxation philosophy.”

Mr. Duckworth, 63, is seeking a seat in the 3rd District, which is represented by U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a nine-term Democrat who is seeking re-election.

The district zigzags from Baltimore County, through Baltimore city and into Howard and Anne Arundel counties, with more voters in the latter than any other jurisdiction.

Elected as court clerk in 1994, Mr. Duckworth faces a primary challenge from Delegate David G. Boschert of Anne Arundel County.

Cardin spokeswoman Susan Sullam said the congressman has been active in the county, and that charges of excessive spending are unfounded because the deficit-reduction group Concord Coalition had named him to its “deficit-hawk honor roll” for two consecutive years.

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