An item in the Annapolis Watch in...


An item in the Annapolis Watch in yesterday's Evening Sun incorrectly described Gov. William Donald Schaefer's recognition of dignitaries in his State of the State Address last week. Schaefer did, in fact, recognize Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg. The Evening Sun regrets the error.

Blank looks travel by relay at Schaefer's zoo zinger

Gov. William Donald Schaefer's State of the State address was so well organized that almost everyone figured his staff would be able spell out his proposals in detail.

And, at a briefing after the address last week, a group of th governor's top aides did explain how much this tax would rise, or why the governor decided to propose that tax instead of something else.

But, when the conversation turned to Schaefer's plan to conver the Baltimore Zoo into a state park, the collective response was a blank look.

The governor's chief lobbyist shrugged and turned to the deput budget secretary, who turned to the chief of staff, who turned to executive aide Daryl C. Plevy.

"Uh," Plevy stammered, "this one is a new one and we're no sure."

Schaefer had once again unloaded a proposal in public without bothering to tell his staff what it was all about.

The unmentionable

Before Governor Schaefer began his State of the State address, he recognized the dignitaries -- the House speaker, the Senate president, the chief judge of the Court of Appeals, and so on -- until he had mentioned everyone who was anyone.

Everyone except Mickey.

Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Mickey Steinberg, a favorite among legislators has attained the rank of unmentionable with Schaefer. Steinberg seemed to getting a payback for slights, real or imagined, that he inflicted on his boss.

Schaefer is still angry because Steinberg refused to join th Schaefer assault team pursuing higher taxes last year. Schaefer intimates say Steinberg promised and then reneged on a commitment to be the point man on taxes. Matters have not improved since then.

So, when the governor began his speech last week, otherwis remarkable for its conciliatory tone, he neglected to mention his lieutenant.

When the governor finished, Steinberg rose to applaud with th rest of the crowd in the House of Delegates chamber. But his hands seemed to be moving in slow motion, never quite making contact.

"Look," said one observer. "There's an air cushion between Mickey's hands."

"The sound of hands not clapping," said another.

New target for the knives

It's hard to hear in a crowd, particularly when thousands are talking and chanting. That was the case outside the State House Wednesday night, when folks jammed onto Lawyers Mall to protest budget cuts, among other things.

The Maryland State Teachers Association, worried about the possibility of more cuts in education funding, was one of the rally's organizers. Many protesters began chanting the union's slogan, "These cuts won't heal!"

An Annapolis-area teacher looked puzzled as she tried to make out the words.

"Let's cut Bobby Neall?" she asked a friend.

It probably made sense to her. Neall, the Anne Arundel County executive, made the teachers' hit list last fall when he championed a temporary state budget clause that gave county officials the power to reduce education spending.

Those "lost session":

Call them the "lost sessions" of the Maryland General Assembly: the 400th, 401st, 402nd and 403rd sessions that magically appeared between October and last week.

Here's the arithmetic. When the legislature last adjourned in October, it ended its 399th session. When it convened again last week, it started its 404th.

So says state archivist Gregory A. Stiverson, who's in a position to know.

The recent discovery of an unrecorded session held in 1876 bumped up the count by one, he said in a Jan. 7 letter to the Legislative Reference Library.

While they were reconsidering history, the archivists decided to count three previously excluded conventions held between 1774 and 1776. Earlier historians refused to count them because of questions about whether their members were properly elected.

Now, however, "we feel more comfortable with the all-inclusive approach," Stiverson wrote. "Historians are masterful and tenacious nitpickers."

Imported waste:

There's always talk about waste in state government, but little agreement on how much gets wasted. Now there's an official tally of how much garbage the General Assembly produces -- 158 tons.

Actually, that's only the amount of paper that government offices in Annapolis recycled last year, according to Sen. Gerald W. Winegrad, D-Anne Arundel.

Winegrad told his fellow senators opening day that 87 percent o the legislature's paper products were recycled. If we can do it, so can private offices, the senator argued. And he reminded his colleagues that almost all paper and cardboard items are recyclable.

In fact, not all the recycled paper came from the lawmakers. " bring my cereal boxes and magazines from home," Winegrad admitted.

Awaited another shoe:

Sen. John W. Derr, R-Frederick, was determined not to be carried away by the prospect of a thaw in the five-year freeze in relations between legislative and executive branches.

During his State of the State speech, Governor Schaefer extended the conciliatory gestures he has been making over the last few months.

Several legislators were euphoric.

Sen. Clarence W. Blount, D-City, wondered if there was a ne era and, if so, would it last?

"Nobody can answer that," Derr said. "There could be anothe explosion in a couple of days."

It's jury time:

When does a member of the legislative branch of government suddenly become a servant to the judicial branch?

For Del. Martin G. Madden, R-Howard, that time could come early next month, when he has been summoned to the courthouse in Ellicott City for jury duty.

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