- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

ANNAPOLIS — Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has put a hold on consideration of all of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s pending appointments, escalating the battle between the legislature and the governor over the administration’s hiring and firing practices.

The Executive Nominations Committee delayed action on 82 appointments yesterday, and Mr. Miller said he doesn’t know when they will reach the Senate to be confirmed.

“It could be a permanent hold on all these nominees,” he said.

The Senate president blamed the delay on the governor’s failure to appoint members to two Democratic slots on the state election board that are acceptable to Democratic leaders.

“All we’re asking is appoint Democrats that are, in fact, Democrats,” said Mr. Miller, Calvert and Prince George’s Democrat.

Lawrence Hogan, Mr. Ehrlich’s appointments secretary, described Mr. Miller’s actions as “childish and unfair.”

“All kinds of people who are volunteering for public service are caught in the crossfire here because Mike Miller had a bad day and didn’t take his medicine,” Mr. Hogan said. “Mike Miller is holding them hostage. I guess we have to go from here and see what he does.”

With less than a month left in the 2005 session, Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, Anne Arundel Democrat and chairman of the Executive Nominations Committee, said about 180 of Mr. Ehrlich’s nominees have not been confirmed by the Senate, including the 82 put on hold Monday night.

He said Democrats have approved 1,000 nominees since Mr. Ehrlich took office in 2003 and rejected only one, Lynn Buhl, the governor’s first choice to be secretary of environment.

The election board, by law, includes three members of the party that holds the governor’s office, currently the Republican Party, and two members of the minority party. Mr. Jimeno said when former Gov. Parris N. Glendening appointed a Republican not acceptable to Republican leaders, he and Mr. Miller intervened to have a person appointed who had the support of Republicans. He wants the Ehrlich administration to do the same thing.

“This is a normal, legislative process of using the leverage that we have,” Mr. Jimeno said. “It will be resolved. We’ve had all in all three years of a good relationship” with the Ehrlich administration.

Mr. Ehrlich appointed former state Delegate Frank Boston of Baltimore to fill one of the Democratic slots last summer. He has been meeting with the board as an interim appointee, but has not been voted on by Mr. Jimeno’s committee.

Mr. Hogan said the second vacancy has not been filled because the Senate has not acted on Mr. Boston’s appointment, which Mr. Jimeno said was made by the governor without consulting with Democrats.

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