- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2005

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. went to Baltimore last week to announce an anti-crime program.

With the Republican governor was Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony, who now showcases his basketball skills as a star of the Denver Nuggets in the NBA.

Not with him was Mayor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who now plies his trade thinking about running against Mr. Ehrlich next year.

It seems Mr. O’Malley wasn’t invited, although other Baltimore lawmakers were there.

“The mayor has been snubbed enough that we would not expect an invitation to an event like that,” O’Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said. “[But] it would have been nice for the governor to pick up the phone.”

Still, he said Mr. O’Malley welcomes the governor’s involvement in addressing crime in the city, which recorded 278 homicides last year, the highest number since 1999.

Mr. Ehrlich told reporters that the mayor was not excluded for political reasons. Promise.

“We are in Baltimore, but this is a program that will extend to every subdivision,” Mr. Ehrlich said.

“Every time there is a press conference in Annapolis and I am not invited, I do not whine,” he said.

• Roscoe running

U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett is seeking another term.

The Republican representative plans to hold a campaign kickoff luncheon today in Frederick featuring House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. The 78-year-old congressman from Frederick has served six terms from the 6th District, which runs from the state’s western border to the Susquehanna River.

The only other announced candidate for the seat in next year’s election is Democrat Andrew Duck, a military intelligence planner from Brunswick.

• Mayoral madness

Voters in Hagerstown, Md., awakening to the realities of growth in the resurgent city, will choose a mayor tomorrow from three candidates offering something new, something old or more of the same.

The candidate promising a “new vision” for the Hub City, Republican nominee Richard F. Trump, is also the most visible, thanks to one of the costliest campaigns the Western Maryland city of 37,000 has ever seen.

He and his slate of five Republican City Council candidates, aided by a political action committee, have reported raising about $64,200 through May 1 — nearly twice the $33,700 spent by all candidates in the 2001 election.

Mr. Trump said the money — including contributions from builders, bankers and business leaders — is needed to spread his message. “This is the most important election in the last 100 years,” he said.

Mr. Trump, 59, a publisher of real-estate advertising fliers and a glossy city magazine, is challenging Mayor William M. Breichner, a Democrat seeking a second, four-year term.

Mr. Breichner, 73, is a career public servant with a quiet, deliberate style honed during years as water department chief and city administrator. His first term as mayor saw marked improvement in the city’s long-suffering downtown, anchored by the opening of a University System of Maryland Education Center, and aided by installation of police surveillance cameras in crime trouble spots.

Mr. Breichner advocates moderate growth, while Mr. Trump favors aggressive annexation policies to maximize opportunities from the rapid residential development occurring just outside the city limits.

The growth is driven by home prices that are below those in Frederick and Montgomery counties, but increasingly out of reach for longtime residents of Washington County, where the median household income in 2003 was $45,550, compared with $52,314 statewide.

And Mr. Breichner is a traditionalist who wrangled with state wildlife regulators to keep mute swans — generally considered a nuisance species — floating on the City Park lake.

For the last two years, he has been fighting Washington County Hospital’s proposed move from the city center to a site outside of town — a plan Mr. Trump strongly supports and has made the cornerstone of his campaign.

“I believe the hospital belongs in the city, and I will always believe that,” Mr. Breichner said.

Voters have a third choice in former mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, a swaggering used-car salesman and retired correctional officer who Mr. Breichner defeated four years ago.

Mr. Bruchey lost to Mr. Trump in the March Republican primary by 70 votes out of 1,050 cast and is running as a write-in candidate supported by organized labor — a powerful force in a town rooted in railroads and manufacturing. Mack Trucks is a major employer.

Mr. Bruchey, 46, claims credit for the university center, because he fought for the downtown location as mayor.

On other issues, he walks a middle line. He doesn’t object to the hospital move but, like Mr. Breichner, says the hospital should pay all associated road and utility costs.

The existing facility could be converted to a veterans hospital or veterans home, Mr. Bruchey said, although he hasn’t asked whether the Veterans Administration is interested.

Either way, the proposal could win Mr. Bruchey some votes from veterans angered by Mr. Breichner’s failed plan to pay permanent tribute to Willie Mays, the baseball icon who made his minor-league debut in Hagerstown as a visiting player at Municipal Stadium in 1950 and wrote in his autobiography that he heard a racial slur as he walked onto the field that he had to stay in an all-black hotel, away from his white teammates.

Mr. Breichner said he persisted in the quest because “there was more to be gained by the issue, which is now, in all probability, lost.” He acknowledged the debacle would likely have an impact on the election.

There was less public outcry about repeated spills from the city sewage-treatment plant into Antietam Creek, a Potomac River tributary, under Mr. Breichner’s watch.

Mr. Breichner blames the overflows on the weather. “I didn’t cause it to rain,” he said.

But Mr. Bruchey said the second spill in August showed a lack of leadership. “When you know there’s a problem, you’ve got to fix it,” he said.

Mr. Trump said the incident exposed City Hall’s poor public relations: “I think they got caught with their pants down and didn’t spin the issue well.”

• Good for seafood

Owners of seafood businesses on the Chesapeake Bay are praising Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, for giving them a short-term solution to a shortage of foreign workers.

New restrictions on the number of visas that can be granted to foreign workers nationwide had threatened to cripple Maryland’s crabbing industry.

Miss Mikulski attached an amendment to an $82 billion Iraq-Afghanistan spending bill to alleviate the shortage.

She won the support of senators from other coastal states, and the bill sailed through Congress and is on its way to President Bush.

Chan Rippons, the owner of a crab-processing house on Hooper Island who appeared with Miss Mikulski at a press conference last week, said his business would close without workers from Mexico.

Jack Brooks, a co-owner of a Cambridge seafood processor, said Miss Mikulski saved thousands of jobs.

S.A. Miller contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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