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O'Malley and the sense of entitlement

About the O'Malleys and that "junk furniture" from the governor's mansion: What happens when the rest of us leave a job? Do we get to buy the computer we've been using, or take the office chair we sat in? How about the couch in the outer office? Who even thinks to do this?

As I file my first post for this new blog, allow me to address the matter of the former governor and his wife, and their sweet deal on furnishings from the big house they occupied in Annapolis for eight years. Here's what I think happened:

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They looked at that spacious, $549,000 house they bought in Baltimore last winter and wondered how they were going to furnish it. That's no small expense. Their new home in Homeland has four bedrooms. You can't expect to furnish a house like that completely from the Overstock Outlet on Sisson Street.

So the O'Malleys made a lowball offer for stuff that cost Maryland taxpayers $62,000 within the last decade, and they got it. For $9,638.

Good for them, but it doesn't sound like a good deal for the state, which is why there's a review of the transaction underway.

Back to my question: Who even thinks of doing this sort of thing?

Martin O'Malley's annual gubernatorial salary was $150,000. The former First Lady, Catherine Curran O'Malley, is a District Court judge; she makes something like $120,000. The former governor also draws a $65,000 annual pension from his time as Baltimore mayor and a member of City Council.

So, why the O'Malleys needed to rummage through Government House like it was a Goodwill Superstore is beyond me.

Actually, check that: It's not.

What we have here -- and I would bet cash on it -- is an overgrown sense of entitlement.

When you're in office for a while, it's easy to develop one. It happens to the best of them. It's human nature.

You start to feel underappreciated.

(In a Jan. 2 O'Malley email obtained by The Baltimore Sun's Doug Donovan through a public records request, the outgoing governor expressed that frustration in an exchange with a developer: "What about the fact that not one of the 700,000 people to whom we have extended healthcare coverage in Maryland ... has ever thanked me? This was a rhetorical and metaphysical question to which I am not expecting an answer or reply in this life.")

So you think you're entitled to a little something extra here and there, whether it's by the book or not. You think you've made huge sacrifices for the public good. You think you've passed up an opportunity to make really big bucks in the private sector. So you want to take home an extra towel or two.

Except the O'Malleys got something more than towels, like chairs that cost the state $1,544 a piece for $15.44 each.

What happens now?

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A little history: In the early 1980s, after former Gov. Marvin Mandel and his wife, Jeanne Dorsey Mandel, left the governor's mansion, the state sued them, accusing the couple of taking furnishings that didn't belong to them, along with $3,000 worth of booze and other items, including dog food. The Mandels, in a countersuit, claimed it was all a lie. But they ended up settling and paying the state $10,000.

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