Little Hannah bests the Boss

The Baltimore Sun

No wonder Sen. President Mike Miller couldn't reach Sen. Jim Brochin to give him the bad news.

The night before the General Assembly session began, Brochin stuffed his ears with plugs and switched his cell phone off. Not that Brochin could have heard the ringtone anyway, what with all the racket at the Hannah Montana concert.

The 43-year-old Towson Democrat spent Tuesday night in a sea of shrieking tweens, among them, Brochin's 9-year-old daughter, Katherine.

But don't let the chaperone duty and earplugs fool you. At the risk of alienating the classic rock vote, Brochin said that Montana is better in concert than Bruce Springsteen - at least the aging Bruce. (We'll see how well Montana's vocal cords are holding up when she's AARP material.)

"It's actually pretty good," Brochin said of Montana's music, which he could hear just fine through the earplugs. (He made his daughter wear them, too, to save tender eardrums.)

"I saw [Springsteen] 20 years ago in college, then two years ago. Two years ago, he was just screaming."

How could Brochin possibly come back to Earth, much less the dreary business of legislating, after that better-than-The-Boss experience? All he had to do was play his messages late that night upon returning home. The Senate president had left one about Brochin's new seat assignment in the Senate chamber.

The gist, according to Brochin: This is Mike. Just wanted to let you know you're going to be sitting one row back, next to E.J. Pipkin.

The second-term senator's new seat is in the last row, where freshmen usually sit. (Under Senate Rule 115 (b), members are seated in order of seniority.)

Payback for vocally opposing the governor's tax package in last year's special session?

"Let's just say this: independent thought is not encouraged," Brochin said.

Miller did not return a call seeking comment.

Maybe Brochin could win him over by singing a couple Montana hits, say, "Nobody's Perfect" or "I Got Nerve."

Math gets fuzzy in Annapolis

So Martin O'Malley went to Ireland twice in six months and it cost his state - the one just slammed with $1.3 billion in new taxes - $17,484.75.

Or did it? The financials are surprisingly fuzzy from Governor Stat.

As mayor, O'Malley had real-time data on how many quarters were in his newfangled parking meters. Number of unfilled potholes? Dollars spent on police overtime? All just a mouse click away.

Now O'Malley is governor, and the cost of two short trips comes with an asterisk.

The administration has not come up with an exact figure for what it cost to send two state troopers to Ireland with O'Malley in October. It has determined the security detail for his April trip cost $4,880.63. The security cost for the second trip is listed as $4,800, but with a pesky little star.

"The Maryland State Police could not provide exact figures for this trip, however, it was advised that the expense was comparable to the previous trip," says a note at the bottom of the calculations provided to inquiring Sen. Allan Kittleman.

Why couldn't state police come up with an exact number this time?

The short answer: state government is still a bureaucracy. The long one: the troopers filed their expense reports, but somebody in the executive branch still has to sort out which portions to charge to the governor's office versus the state police, consider complicated State Department per diems, then hand it all over to the comptroller's office. A lollygaging overseas hotel bill has added to the fun.

"It's a bookkeeping process," state police spokesman Greg Shipley said. "We will get, ultimately, that final accounting."

Connect the dotsFormer Del. Don Murphy was supposed to be at a breakfast fundraiser Monday for state Sen. Janet Greenip of Anne Arundel County, but he was in New Hampshire campaigning for John McCain instead. That excuse wasn't a great one, since Greenip is a delegate for Mitt Romney. But Murphy made amends after Romney happened to stop by the New Hampshire diner where he was breakfasting. "I'm supposed to be at a fundraiser for one of your supporters," Murphy told the former Massachusetts governor. "I either need a note from home or maybe you could call." Romney was game, and spoke to Greenip for about two minutes on Murphy's cell, wishing her well with her event. ... Look out, Womble. There's a new private-sector spinmeister on the loose: O'Malley communications director Steve Kearney is leaving to launch his own PR shop with Damian O'Doherty, former aide to Baltimore County exec Jim Smith.

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