Words to the wise: Be careful what you wish for

Friday, May 19, 2006






Told that Brian Frosh is considering a run for attorney general, Gov. Bob Ehrlich threw his arms in the air and declared victory.

He joked that he would cut a $2,000 check to Frosh if the chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee leaves to run for AG.

Ehrlich has made it clear that he would love to see Frosh somewhere other than the Maryland General Assembly. Frosh has been a persistent Ehrlich critic on multiple fronts, including the months-long investigation into the governor’s personnel practices.

‘‘Who would Mike Miller give his dirty work to?” Ehrlich asked.

Told about the guv’s reaction, Frosh laughed. He would be ‘‘delighted” to take Ehrlich’s cash, he said, and even offered the governor a re-election discount.

‘‘Maybe the governor would give me $1,000 for my re-election,” Frosh quipped, noting that he hasn’t made up his mind about either race.

For the record, Ehrlich has been none too pleased with the work of Joe Curran, who as AG is the governor’s elected lawyer and just happens to be Martin O’Malley’s father-in-law.

If the relationship between Ehrlich and Curran was uneasy, imagine one between a re-elected RLE and Frosh.

— Thomas Dennison

A choice of Spitzers

Speaking of the AG race, Doug Gansler and Tom Perez have both been described as the second coming of Eliot Spitzer, the hard-charging ‘‘People’s Lawyer” who has made national headlines for going after Wall Street and big-business corruption as New York’s attorney general.

It was House Majority Leader Kumar Barve who told The Washington Post this week that Gansler is Maryland’s Spitzer.

Back in January, former Prince George’s County delegate Rushern Baker told us Perez is ‘‘our answer to Eliot Spitzer.”

— Thomas Dennison

Time out

Mac Middleton had a schedule to keep Friday night at Charles County’s annual Truman-Kennedy dinner, so as Roy Dyson took the mike to toast Paul Sarbanes, the emcee reminded his Southern Maryland colleague to keep his remarks short.

‘‘He says two minutes, two minutes, two minutes,” Dyson growled to the roomful of Dems. ‘‘Have you ever seen Mac stick to two minutes?”

Dyson didn’t stick to the time limit. Later, Middleton jokingly threatened to cut off labor representative Joslyn Williams if he exceeded his allotment.

‘‘Not unless you want a strike here tonight,” Williams responded to laughter.

Even the guest of honor was guilty of milking the clock, talking for 30 minutes after initially promising to keep it short.

‘‘I’m a great believer that every event should end on the same day it begins,” Sarbanes said.

— Alan Brody

All the angles

Long before Sarbanes became a political fixture, someone had to teach him the ropes.

Enter Louis Goldstein. Sarbanes recalled traveling with the former comptroller one time in Calvert County when Goldstein waved at an empty field and large barn as though he were greeting a legion of fans along a parade route.

‘‘Did you see that barn in the middle of the field?” Goldstein told the mystified Sarbanes. ‘‘You never know who may be on the inside looking out.”

— Alan Brody

It’s important to us, too

Even Hollywood considers Maryland’s 3rd congressional district race important.

In the second-to-last episode of NBC’s long-running political drama ‘‘The West Wing,” White House Communications Director Will Bailey (played by Joshua Malina) interviews for a job with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee when the Baltimore-area district now represented by Ben Cardin is mentioned as key in the Dem battle to take back the House.

No word on how many resources the real DCCC is pumping into the Maryland 3rd — or which Republican the show’s writers had winning a congressional seat in Baltimore.

— Alan Brody

Room for one?

Last week, when Jolene Ivey announced her House campaign in the 47th District, who should show up to introduce her but one of the incumbents, Doyle Niemann?

Niemann said a few kind words at the backyard barbecue, stopping just short of a formal endorsement.

What gives?

Turns out all but one of the District 47 legislators are running together this year. Niemann said Rosetta Parker is being left off the slate because of some disagreements the rest of the District 47 team has had with her, such as her initial resistance to a measure limiting a liquefied natural gas facility in the area.

That seems to leave room for one ...

‘‘I don’t have any problem with admitting that [Ivey is] eminently qualified to be a delegate,” Niemann said.

The team has not decided whether to endorse Ivey formally yet, but he added, ‘‘She’d make a good delegate.”

Parker said she’s not threatened by Ivey, but was a bit dismayed that news of her being dumped from the 47th ticket reached the public before it reached her. Maybe she and Joan Stern can form a caucus.

— Judson Berger

We’re back to normal

On Wednesday, MoCo exec and gubbie wannabe Doug Duncan dropped by the Rockville courtroom where accused sniper John Allen Muhammad is on trial for killing six people in Montgomery County in October 2002.

Afterward, Duncan talked with reporters.

‘‘He is a very evil, a very calculating, a very manipulative person,” Duncan said.

He was referring to Muhammad, although we won’t be surprised if he recycles the line later in his campaign.

Elsewhere at the Montgomery County Courthouse, folks were apparently oblivious to Muhammad’s trial.

Vanessa Nino, a teacher at Twinbrook Elementary, and Justin Mills, a soldier, waited on a bench on the first floor of the courthouse for their 3 p.m. civil marriage ceremony. She wore a white gown and held a bouquet. The groom-to-be wore his Army dress uniform. Their parents waited with them.

‘‘He proposed in November right after Thanksgiving,” Nino said.

With Mills home on leave before shipping out to Iraq later this year, the two decided to go ahead and get married now.

As they walked into the courthouse, the couple asked why all the news cameras were set up near the entrance.

Told the sniper trial was going on, Mills said, ‘‘I didn’t know he was here.”

— C. Benjamin Ford

Signs of conflict

Sports fans might be familiar with Rollen Stewart, the man responsible for all those ‘‘John 3:16” at ballparks during the 1980s.

In recent weeks, the Montgomery County Council has had its own sign-waving attendee as it has debated how to relieve overcrowding in the Churchill school cluster in Potomac.

Fran Maane, mother of a second-grader and a kindergartner at Seven Locks Elementary School, sat in the back rows of the meetings using computer-printed signs attached to a clipboard to provide commentary on the proceedings.

One sign read ‘‘Rebuild Seven Locks at Seven Locks,” the option supported by Seven Locks parents throughout the controversy.

Others read ‘‘Thank You,” ‘‘Good Point” and ‘‘Not Accurate.”

During Tuesday’s meeting of the council’s Education Committee, Chairman Mike Subin interrupted his own comments and, looking at the back of the room, said, ‘‘No.”

In the back row, Maane sat waving a sign asking ‘‘Are we having fun yet?”

‘‘No, not yet,” Subin said. ‘‘We are paying attention.”

On Wednesday, the council decided to modernize Seven Locks, but also to provide most of the overcrowding relief for the cluster by building a larger Bells Mill Elementary.

Maane held aloft a sign that listed 2008 enrollment projections for each school in cluster.

Just before the vote, Councilman Tom Perez joked about ‘‘the peanut gallery.”

Perez said the council needed to remember to ‘‘put money in the budget to have someone in the back to provide continuous editorial feedback on what is happening.”

He explained to school officials who were seated with their backs to the audience, including Superintendent Jerry Weast, what they were missing.

‘‘I’m not laughing at you, Dr. Weast,” Perez said.

Maane waved a sign expressing the sentiment of many Churchill cluster parents, who have become fixtures at council meetings in recent weeks.

‘‘I need a reserved parking space,” it read.

— Sean R. Sedam

In, and speaking out

Chris Van Hollen and an already announced Republican challenger, Daniel Zubairi, have drawn opponents in the race to represent Maryland’s 8th Congressional District.

Chevy Chase lawyer Deborah Vollmer, who vied with Van Hollen in the 2002 and 2004 Democratic primaries, is in the battle again, mostly to bash Van Hollen for votes that support — or underwrite, at least — the war in Iraq (www.deborahvollmer.com).

Visitors to Rockville lawyer’s Jeff Stein’s Web site (www.jeffsteinforcongress.com) have to look long and hard to learn that he is a Republican or even see Stein’s mug (kudos for the unpolitician-like, it’s-not-about-me move, fella).

The first faces on Stein’s site are the founding fathers, and Stein, who’s making his first electoral bid, says America’s ‘‘independence has been sacrificed to corporate profits and global interests.”

— Margie Hyslop

First out

MoCo exec candidate Chuck Floyd has drawn first television blood with a commercial running on several cable stations.

The Republican’s 30-second spot targets development issues, specifically in zoning violation-ridden Clarksburg. The spot shows the candidate surveying the construction in the area.

‘‘They call this planning? No oversight. No accountability. The only thing they planned on was not getting caught,” Floyd says.

Floyd said the ad is the first of many that he and his campaign team have completed and will release over the next few months.

Will we see any jabs at his three opponents?

Nope, it’s all about the issues, he said.

‘‘We are delivering a positive message on topics like development, taxes and processes of county government that have been perverted by the current administration,” Floyd said.

— Janel Davis

Web of politics

Shukoor Ahmed, who’s running for the House of Delegates in District 23, says he is unsure whether he will use his Web site, www.cityofbowie.com, to further his campaign.

‘‘I’m still figuring it out,” he said.

Ahmed, who has twice run for the House, filed last week. He’s the CEO for software development company V-Empower Inc., and shortly before last fall’s Bowie city elections, he launched his cityofbowie.com Web site.

The sleek site, not to be confused with the official city Web address (www.cityofbowie.org), initially included basic city facts, election information and even a page for bloggers.

But now, it could have a different destiny. Though Ahmed said he is still reconsidering the purpose of the politically neutral site, he has already planned a separate campaign site, www.shukoor.com.

Bowie City Hall, which had previously taken exception to the site’s similarity to the government’s Web page, calls it a vehicle for confusion.

‘‘We have concerns about this site right now,” said Bowie communications coordinator Una Cooper. ‘‘I think it could cause more confusion.”

— Judson Berger

Forearmed is better

Prince George’s County Council candidate Vernon Hayes, who isn’t shy about sending out press releases admonishing the administration, has asked County Exec Jack Johnson to provide county police officers to guard the county’s Diebold voting machines during the Sept. 12 primary.

Hayes claims that because design flaws have made the machines vulnerable to tampering, officers will be necessary to prevent fraud, particularly during the early voting period.

— Judson Berger

All politics is local

Gen. Michael Hayden, the NSA director in line to become CIA chief, had a brief — and numerically challenged — appearance before the Maryland House of Delegates four years ago.

Hayden took the House podium to receive a proclamation noting the NSA’s contributions to Maryland prosperity. In his remarks, Hayden said he was accepting the honor on behalf of the 30,000 people who work at the agency.

NSA previously had shielded the size of its work force even though Anne Arundel County planners wanted the number to help design highways and other services for what is presumed to be the county’s largest employer.

In his remarks, Hayden joked he had declassified the number three weeks before.

But not really.

Reporters got calls from the NSA press office saying the declassified number really was the 15,000 civilians working at the campus, near Odenton. The total work force remained under wraps.

Those press folks asked reporters if they could refrain from quoting Hayden accurately, even though the remarks were heard by the 141 members of the House, assorted aides and a dozen reporters. The presentation was videotaped for Maryland Public Television and recorded for the General Assembly Web site.

Secret’s out.

— Douglas Tallman