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Despite Who Is Governor, I Do What I Believe Is Right

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on August 13, 2004:

Senator Dyson The same tired and incredibly untrue criticism that I am a partisan Democrat is starting to rear its head, no doubt started by operatives from the opposite party. I don’t expect it to end, but only to get worse. Don’t believe any of it. As they say: You can look it up.

A constituent recently wondered why I “disliked” the current governor who is a Republican. The fact is I like Governor Ehrlich personally and have supported many of his positions. Despite my opposition to his tax increases, I co-sponsored more of his administration and departmental bills than any of my Democratic colleagues in the Senate during this year’s General Assembly Session. I have voted against just one of more than 300 of his appointments to various state agencies, commissions and boards.

That’s called cooperation, not the cliched “obstructionism” another word I’ ve foolishly been accused of by some of my critics. Honestly folks, isn’t it time to come up with some more interesting and different words to use in political circles?

In fact, I had a much different relationship with the former governor, a Democrat. I harken back to one of the most heated debates I have been involved with since I’ve been in the Maryland Senate. I refer to the fight over the regrettable state funding for the Baltimore Ravens Stadium and the infrastructure funding around what is now FedEx Field in1996.

That year, I joined a bi-partisan coalition of 8 Republicans and 9 Democrats to fight Governor Glendening’s nearly $300 million funding of these stadiums. It was nothing more than a giveaway to Art Modell, a millionaire carpetbagger from Cleveland.

Mr. Modell could have built the stadium with his own money, just like Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Abe Pollin did by building his own thriving MCI Stadium in the heart of the District of Columbia. And, despite Governor Glendening’s funding for road improvements around Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, Mr. Cooke spent much of his own fortune to build the actual stadium.

In the end, Governor Glendening, through arm twisting and promises for pet projects in legislators’ districts who supported him, won out over fiscal prudence. He was peeved -- and let me know so -- that I made a comment to a newspaper reporter that state money should be used to attract “real jobs, not peanut vendors.”

Later, he wasn’t happy that I proposed an amendment that would have gutted the stadium funding by providing $19 million to be “used only for public school construction projects and that no part of this appropriation may be used to fund any costs relating to the construction of a stadium for professional football at Camden Yards.” The amendment fell three votes short.

Looking back, I wouldn’t have done anything different. As Maryland faces what appears to be nearly a $900 million deficit; I regret that had we not wasted $300 million on a football stadium that plays only eight home regular season games a year, the imposing deficit would be cut by one third.

Unlike Governor Glendening, who didn’t speak to me for a year after the stadium fight, I don’t take legislative issues personally. I don’t believe in getting in skirmishes. I believe in supporting or opposing the issue, not the personality.

In his State of the State address in January, Governor Ehrlich made a great statement that drew rousing applause when he said he didn’t want Annapolis to become as partisan as it is on Capitol Hill. I took him at his word then. I hope he still means what he said. There is much work to be done together regardless of party affiliation. Throwing partisan rhetoric and practice into the mix will turn Annapolis into the capital of gridlock that now permeates Capitol Hill.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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