Senator Asks Shift to Avoid Ethics Peril
Hyslop, Margie, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Maryland state Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr. is worried he might not be moved, as he has asked, from the Judicial Proceedings Committee to avoid facing a vote on comparative negligence legislation expected to come before the committee in the coming session.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said he's having difficulty finding "the right combination that works" to move his fellow Democrat, who is Senate president pro tem, to another committee and someone else onto Judicial Proceedings.
Voting on the bill would create a conflict of interest for Mr. Stone in his role as a lawyer in Peter Angelos' firm.
The Baltimore Orioles' owner also has made a name and fortune suing asbestos companies for injured workers and tobacco companies for the state.
Mr. Stone abstained from a 7-3 vote in 1998 that killed the comparative negligence measure - designed to make it easier for plaintiffs to collect for injury than current state law that prohibits awards if they contributed to their illness.
Last year, with new members, the bill did not come to a vote in the committee.
But Mr. Stone could have voted for it then without violating state ethics rules.
Not so under new rules that went into effect Oct. 1, prohibiting lawmakers from voting on measures that could affect their employers financially.
And recusing himself is like voting against the measure, which could be settled by one vote on the 11-member committee, Mr. Stone said.
Moreover it keeps him from representing the interests of his working-class district because "a lot of my constituents have asbestos problems," Mr. Stone said.
Interestingly, Mr. Angelos is fighting with the state over who will pay him how much for representing Maryland's interests against tobacco companies.
State leaders, including Mr. Miller and House Speaker Casper R. Taylor, want Mr. Angelos to seek payment from a special fund established by tobacco companies.
But Mr. Angelos insists he has a legal right to push Maryland - which originally offered to pay him 25 percent of the award then cut the agreement in half.
NO BYE ON ICC
Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's two potential opponents for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2002 haven't let her get away with standing by Gov. Parris N. Glendening's decision to try to make sure that the Intercounty Connector is not built by his or any future administration.
Proponents argue the road is needed not only to improve drive times in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, but to aid commerce between the Washington and Baltimore regions.
Monday, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan picked up where Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger left off Sept. 21 (the day before Mr. Glendening backed out of building the road) in pledging support for the ICC to Maryland Business for Responsive Government.
"The governor and lieutenant governor engaged in the worst form of special interest politics - seeking to appease a small group who don't want roads built anywhere - and, in the process, have hurt the economic future of the state," Mr. Duncan told business leaders breakfasting at Baltimore's Center Club.
First Mr. Duncan said he'd broken away from "old politics" to "apply the lessons of business to the problems of government."
Mr. Duncan said doing so meant making sure companies have what they need to grow . . . "particularly transportation."
"Our governing of business has been a success," Mr. Duncan said. "But with the right kind of leadership at the helm, we can do better and should."
(Any questions about what he sees as a wedge issue he could run with?)
Mrs. Townsend's campaigning "full-time now," Mr. Duncan said.
Her stance "says we have two very different visions for the future of the state," Mr. …