Volume XI, Issue 38 ~ September 18-24, 2003

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Gov. Ehrlich’s the Boss

The reader asked, “Why don’t you say something positive about Gov. Ehrlich?”

Listen up.

As we see it, Ehrlich’s the boss. The governor has every right to install whomever he wants in the leadership of Maryland’s Republican Party. Same goes for his administration — though at certain levels he’s got to get the Senate to consent.

This fall, questions about his choices are turning into court fights and nasty disputes inside the GOP.

In one case, Ehrlich fired a fellow named Robin Grove from the Department of the Environment, even though Grove had worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a Republican administration under the first President George Bush.

Grove has sued in Baltimore Circuit Court, charging that he was a relatively low-level employee rather than the sort of top dog and political appointee that usually get axed when an administration changes. (He made $90,000 a year.)

A more heated dispute surrounds the drive by Maryland Republicans to get rid of Jorge Ribas, who heads the Maryland Hispanic Republican Caucus. Ribas, no shrinking violet, has complained publicly that Ehrlich has refused to name Hispanics to good jobs in his administration.

Last weekend, the Maryland GOP went so far as to sever ties with Ribas’s organization after the caucus refused to fire him.

Perhaps our outlook comes from growing up in the shadow of the first Mayor Daley in Chicago, a fierce practitioner of political patronage. His credo: Reward your friends, punish your enemies.

How things worked was summed up in the title of a book about Daley’s administration by Milton Rakove: Don’t Want Nobody Nobody Sent.

A portly Irish politician from Chicago named Mike Howlett once told us, (figuratively we think): “Cross the mayor and nothing may happen that day, but pretty soon your house will fall in.”

Simply put, Ehrlich gets to pick who he wants. That said, we must add that we think many of his choices do not reflect the thinking of Marylanders, particularly when it comes to the environment. That opinion was reflected most notably in the Senate’s refusal to approve the governor’s nomination of Lynn Buhl to head the Department of the Environment.

And Democrats everywhere have to be slapping their thighs when they watch the Maryland GOP squabble. Ribas, a seemingly hard-working Republican, remarked that the fight “creates serious problems for the credibility of the Republican Party.”

But just as Ehrlich has the right to build an administration, Marylanders have the right to scorn him for what he has done and the responsibility to do something about it next election.



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Last updated September 18, 2003 @ 2:30am