That was then - this is now

The Baltimore Sun

The governor and his top officials travel to Salisbury for a Cabinet meeting, and do you think his political foes offer an attaboy for schlepping all that way, for reaching out to the lower Eastern Shore?

No, the opposing party calls it a "fake" Cabinet meeting, one that, by wasting taxpayers' money, was actually "defrauding the working families of Maryland."

"They bring in legions of state government staffers and cabinet officials, sacrificing a day of work for a day of shameless self promotion," says the news release from the Maryland DEMOCRATIC Party.

The release was issued in August, on the occasion of Bob Ehrlich's Cabinet meeting in Salisbury.

The Dems didn't issue a similar release this week, after Martin O'Malley & Co. took its show to the Shore. But a headline on an unrelated story posted on the party's Web site yesterday did seem to speak to the matter: "What a Difference a Year Makes."

To be fair, O'Malley did conduct a real Cabinet meeting in Salisbury, and the Cabinet members also met separately with their local counterparts, The Sun's Andy Green reports.

Green didn't make it to Ehrlich's Salisbury meeting, but he attended the one staged in Bel Air and said that no actual business was conducted. The Cabinet just walked in, talked up the boss, gave out awards to students and called it a meeting.

If you find out who runs the schools, please tell us

Philadelphia's likely mayor-to-be was so impressed with Baltimore's CitiStat during a visit here last week that he said he'd like to set up something like it in the City of Brotherly Love. But Michael Nutter seemed less taken with the way city schools are governed, The Sun's John Fritze reports.

"You mentioned this partnership," Nutter said at a meeting just before the CitiStat presentation, prompting chuckles in the room.

"Who's in charge of the schools in Baltimore?" Nutter asked a few minutes later.

"It's a partnership," responded City Councilwoman Helen Holton.

"What does that mean?" Nutter asked.

Somebody tried to explain the whole city-state set-up. You know, the system that puts everyone - and no one - in charge. Understandably, Nutter didn't seem to get it.

You take fame where you can find it

John Pica has not always been an O'Malley man, particularly in 1990, when Pica was a state senator and the future governor was a pipsqueak challenger who came within 45 votes of ousting him.

But Pica, who will introduce the governor at a Harford County fundraiser tonight, says he has nothing but high hopes and respect for O'Malley now.

If the Gov makes it all the way to the White House some day, Pica figures he could rank a historical footnote. He's the only guy, at least so far, to beat O'Malley in an election.

Says Pica: "He has the capacity to make me famous."

Connect the dots

Maybe fishing and crutches are a better mix than you'd think. O'Malley is off crutches - two to four weeks earlier than expected - and he credits last week's sedentary fishing vacation in New York for helping his stress fracture heal. He's still limping a bit, Andy Green reports. ... At a news conference in Salisbury, O'Malley found a new way to make that old let's-make-our-tomorrows-better-than-our-today pitch: "Nostalgia is overrated. It's not what it used to be." Green said it was not clear if the Gov was joking or just channeling Yogi Berra. ... Todd Evans, the Baltimore filmmaker who won a junker VW bus used in Little Miss Sunshine, has made some progress with contest organizers who had promised a "newly restored" vehicle worth $20,000. Fox Home Entertainment has told Evans to get an estimate for whatever repairs are needed to make it roadworthy. He had it towed to Raspi's British Imports in Edgewood last week. No word yet on whether Fox will lower the declared prize value on IRS forms, which has saddled Evans with a $7,000 tax bill for the car. ... On WAMU's D.C. Politics Hour last week, the Washington Examiner's Jonetta Rose Barras was going off on the district's new schools chief, Michelle Rhee. (In a city long accustomed to African-American school leadership, Rhee has been a controversial choice because she is Korean-American. She's also young - 37 - and has just three years of classroom experience.) Co-host Kojo Nnamdi asked whom Barras would like instead, The Sun's Nicole Fuller reports. Her one-word response: "Alonso." As in Andres Alonso, Baltimore's new school chief (who, by the way, is Cuban-American). Well, if it doesn't work out in Charm City, Andres. ...

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