- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2005

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday criticized recent moves by the General Assembly’s Democratic leaders to block confirmation of dozens of appointees, kill his witness-intimidation bill and dismantle the Office for Children, Youth and Families.

Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, said some of the setbacks were the result of “pure partisan politics” and others mere “shenanigans” that lawmakers typically engage in during the last month of the legislative session.

He called on Democratic leaders to end the obstructionist tactics, regardless of their motivation.

The governor’s remarks at a Board of Public Works meeting were directed to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who has held up confirmation of 82 of the governor’s appointments, and Delegate Joseph F. Vallario Jr., the Judiciary Committee chair who killed the witness-intimidation bill.

Mr. Ehrlich said the senate president had blocked the confirmation process to protest the governor’s appointments to the state Board of Elections and the state Workers’ Compensation Commission.

“Obviously, there is a partisan issue here,” Mr. Ehrlich said. “The word needs to go out that the process needs to continue.”

Mr. Miller, a Democrat representing Calvert and Prince George’s counties, did not return a call seeking comment.

The governor also criticized the House Appropriations Committee for eliminating this week nearly half the jobs at the Office for Children, Youth and Families, including the special secretary position held by M. Teresa Garland, who has ties to the governor’s wife.

He said the treatment of Mrs. Garland was reminiscent of the Senate’s rejection of Lynn Y. Buhl’s nomination for secretary of environment in 2003.

He said both were “competent women” whose careers fell victim to partisan politics of the General Assembly.

The governor also called on Mr. Vallario to allow the witness-intimidation bill to advance out of committee, though he said Mr. Vallario’s opposition to the bill did not appear to be motivated by partisan considerations.

The bill would let prosecutors use witness statements in court even if the witness cannot appear in person because they disappear, change their stories or are killed prior to trial.

“My respectful request for Chairman Vallario is to allow the bill to come to a vote,” Mr. Ehrlich said. “If Joe Vallario kills witness intimidation this year, this issue will not go away. We will undoubtedly have another hideous incident where a family, an individual or a household is targeted by increasingly violent perpetrators.”

He said the bill has 118 supporters in the 141-member House.

“I would hope the chairman would not thwart the will of 118 members,” Mr. Ehrlich said. “The prosecutors need this additional tool to prosecute the worst of the worst.”

Mr. Vallario, a Calvert and Prince George’s counties Democrat, did not return a call seeking comment.

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