Portrait of the late Sen. Verda Welcome is centerpiece of tribute


The late Verda Welcome's battle for civil rights goes on in the posthumous honors accorded her and even in the preparation of those honors.

Today, a portrait of the senator will be unveiled in Annapolis. And the painter, Simmie L. Knox, will thereby become the first black artist recognized by the Maryland Commission on Artistic Property.

The tribute at 4 p.m. to Mrs. Welcome, who died last year, will observe a life of achievements that began when she was a teacher in Baltimore public schools. She went on to serve in both the House of Delegates and the Senate for a quarter-century.

She was a leader in the struggle to open public facilities for all citizens, worked toward the goal of equal pay for equal work for women, and urged support for black hospitals and universities.

The governor, leaders of the General Assembly and its Black Caucus, and Senator Welcome's daughter, Mary Sue Welcome, are scheduled to participate in the program in the Calvert Room.

Other portraits by Mr. Knox, a 54-year-old painter and teacher, include the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.


Sorry, wrong number!

Or was it?

Ever since the State Lottery Agency started printing its Gambling Hotline number -- for people seeking help with gambling habits -- on promotional material and lottery tickets, the number of phone calls has soared.

In the year before advertising started in fiscal 1989, the hot line received only 989 calls. A year later, after advertising, there were nearly 12,000.

An emergency grant of $9,000 had to be issued, and the budget request for this year was increased by $9,400.

But this was no smashing success for advertising. Only 1,324 of the nearly 12,000 calls were by people seeking help for their gambling problems. Everybody else was calling to learn winning numbers.

As a result, the Senate's Budget and Taxation Committee has asked that the State Lottery Agency and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene revise the strategy for promoting the hot line.

The committee expects to have a report on the matter by Oct. 15.

Senate Minority Leader John A. Cade, R-Anne Arundel, had a pretty simple solution that didn't require any months-long study.

"Take the number off the damn tickets!" he told his colleagues.

"You put the number on the ticket, and you have all these people calling to see if their number won. . . .

"I admit there must be something wrong if 90 percent of the people are calling to say: 'Hey, what was the number?' "


Actually, the cry is three-point-five -- $3.5 million, that is.

Last Thursday's Legislative Follies (also called The Unfavorable Report and The Mother of All Follies) featured a walk-through by Delegate Caspar R. Taylor, D-Allegany.

Mr. Taylor, a golf bag slung over his right shoulder, looked a bit lost.

What could be lost is Mr. Taylor's dream economic development for Western Maryland in the form of a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course at Rocky Gap State Park. The project, supported by a $7.5 million commitment from the state, will not go forward -- unless Mr. Taylor finds $3.5 million in private funds by the end of the legislative session.

The Cumberland delegate said late last week that he remains hopeful the money will arrive so that construction can begin this spring. He said there could be an announcement as early as the beginning of this week -- but then, he added, mixing his metaphors, "The thing will probably go right down to the wire."


During discussion of a bill that extends the right of a person to sue for damages as the result of a "latent disease," Delegate Joel Chasnow, D-Howard, offered a chilling view of the environmental hazards around us.

Searching for an aptly dramatic illustration of the threat, he gestured toward the portrait-covered marble walls of the House chamber.

"Gaseous emissions from certain former speakers," he said, could even then be descending upon the legislators -- and the effect could be delayed for decades.

The House members laughed -- all except the current speaker, R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Kent, who murmured something about how these emissions might actually cause hair loss.

Soon after that warning, the bill won preliminary approval.

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