Taxpayers criticize panel's spendingA taxpayers' group is...


Taxpayers criticize panel's spending

A taxpayers' group is criticizing a state commission's $500,000 expenditure for a consultant to help it uncover wasteful state spending.

"We're going to spend money to see if we can save money? I can't imagine why it would cost that much," said Robert Schaeffer, vice president of the Maryland Taxpayers Association.

The Governor's Commission on Efficiency and Economy in Government, formed last year, awarded the $500,000, seven-month contract in May to the national accounting firm Peat Marwick.

The panel chairman, former C&P; Telephone Co. chief executive J. Henry Butta, said savings identified by two Peat Marwick studies will far exceed the pact's cost. The commission, he said, already has recommended savings of as much as $160 million.

The U.S. Senate approved $8.8 million yesterday to buy privately owned land at a civil war battlefield in Frederick County.

Monocacy National Battlefield is where 6,000 Union troops held off 14,000 advancing Confederates July 9, 1864, enabling Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to strengthen the capital's defenses and ward off the Confederacy's last attempt to bring the war to the north.

The National Park Service owns or has obtained easements for about 1,000 acres and is still seeking to buy 600 acres within the park's boundaries. The measure now goes to a conference committee.

Baltimore City:

W. B. Doner & Co. has won a Bronze Lion of Excellence from the Cannes Film Festival for a televised public service announcement urging the public to take advantage of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

The 60-second commercial -- in which an average Joe goes tries in vain to borrow something for a couple weeks from book and record stores and people on the street -- aired in February.

"The Pratt provides knowledge for nothing," said Doner executive Jim Dale of the commercial's thrust. The Pratt is about to ask local stations to begin running the commercials again to kick off the new school year.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke accepted the award with Pratt director Anna Curry ceremony.

"Generally, I don't think that the public views the Pratt as the same kind of cultural asset as the symphony," said Mr. Schmoke. "Even though we're fighting changes in lifestyle -- people just aren't reading books the way they used to -- the library is just as important, if not more."

Anne Arundel County:

The National Education Association has endorsed Rep. Tom McMillen for Maryland's 1st District congressional seat.

The teachers' union picked the three-term Democrat over Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, a Republican and former teacher. Because of redistricting this year, both incumbents were placed in the same congressional district.

Baltimore County:

Callers made the "County Connection" with Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden yesterday, as he joined WBAL's stable of radio talk show "regulars," which includes the mayor and the governor.

"It was nice healthy discussion," the executive said as he emerged from the WBAL Radio studio. "In the first two calls, one was worried about spending and the other was requesting more spending [on county services]."

Mr. Hayden, who called the show "a good opportunity to find out what people are feeling," took seven calls from 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. during the Ron Smith Show.

Callers asked about the impact of Mr. Hayden's decision to increase the piggyback income tax from 50 to 55 percent of the state income tax, and why the opening of a special drunken-drivers jail was again being delayed, this time until March.

One caller demanded to know why the law banning smoking in retail establishments goes unenforced, while another complained about the condition of the Diamond Ridge Golf Course in Woodlawn. Mr. Hayden promised to check both complaints and report back.

Plans are for Mr. Hayden to appear on the second Wednesday of each month.


A man received first- and second-degree burns over 70 percent of his body yesterday when he triggered a small explosion while cleaning his kitchen stove with gasoline, Baltimore County police said.

The victim, John Minko of the first block of Cherry Hill Road, came running out of his house on fire after the explosion shortly before 2:10 p.m., police said.

Neighbors assisted in putting out the fire and Mr. Minko, 73, was flown to the Francis Scott Key Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition today.


Baltimore County will begin curbside recycling for mixed paper products Aug. 27 in three neighborhoods in Dundalk and in the Old Court section.

This expansion will add 3,700 residents to the county's curbside recycling program and bring the total number of households served countywide to 46,600. The county hopes to provide curbside collection of mixed paper and yard waste to 155,000 residents by January 1994.

The Dundalk neighborhoods affected include Charlesmont, Gray Manor and North Shire. The Old Court Road area lies between Winands Road and Interstate 795. Residents in the expansion areas will receive brochures explaining the program.

Mixed paper products include newspapers, magazines, phone books, mail, writing paper and cardboard. Residents are asked to place the material in paper grocery bags or use non-plastic string to tie the paper in bundles weighing no more than 30 pounds.

Howard County:

Federal investigators said yesterday a pilot and his wife who died in a plane crash in the Syracuse, N.Y., area while returning to their Ellicott City home last year used cocaine before the accident.

A report by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the levels of cocaine byproducts found in blood samples taken from pilot Kenneth Jahn indicated the "high probability that poor decision making and subsequent behavior . . . was in part a function of cocaine ingestion."

The report by Dr. Fred Hyman also indicated much higher levels of benzoylecgonine -- a chemical created as cocaine breaks down -- in blood taken from Mr. Jahn's wife, Margaret.

The Jahns' twin-engine Beechcraft crashed in a field Feb. 7, 1991. The couple's 7-year-old son survived.

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