O'Malley OKs Millions for School Construction; Ex-Official Reimbursed for Lawsuit's Legal Fees

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ANNAPOLIS - Gov. Martin O'Malley convened a marathon Board of Public Works meeting yesterday, approving millions for new school construction and giving $200,000 to a former Glendening administration official.

The three-member board - all Democrats - reimbursed Stephen P. Amos for legal fees in his successful defense against accusations that he manipulated grants to pay for political staffers on Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's failed gubernatorial campaign.

Mrs. Townsend, a Democrat, was Mr. Glendening's lieutenant governor. Mr. Amos was found not guilty.

"We are correcting one of the largest abuses of political power in this state," said Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat.

The meeting was the first for Mr. O'Malley and Mr. Franchot, who were elected in November. Mr. O'Malley defeated Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, and Mr. Franchot replaced William Donald Schaefer, a Democrat.

The governor, the comptroller and state Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp constitute the board, which evaluates public construction contracts.

The roughly six-hour meeting was devoted mostly to hearing pleas from local school officials for more money for school construction.

Mr. O'Malley has pledged to set aside $400 million for school construction in his budget for the fiscal year starting in July. That figure is $77 million more than the amount included in last year's budget.

State School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, who last year attempted to wrest control of Baltimore public schools from Mr. O'Malley, who was the mayor at the time, sat at a side table during the meeting.

The meeting marked the first time Mr. O'Malley spoke to Mrs. Grasmick since his election victory.

Seeking to assure the local officials that he wasn't planning to subject them to a Schaeferlike grilling, Mr. …