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Before you start fishing...

March 10, 2005

Before the Maryland General Assembly begins a time-consuming and expensive probe of Gov. Robert Ehrlich's hiring practices, could the taxpayers have some proof that there's something there to find?

Without some just cause offered for it, a fishing expedition that drives a wedge between the Republican governor and Democratic leaders is not what Maryland needs.

Here's the danger we see: What seems like an unfair dismissal can actually be an overdue housecleaning of an employee who is not producing well enough to justify his or her pay.

If there are hearings, as House Speaker Michael Busch proposes, the administration will automatically be at a disadvantage because privacy provisions that apply to employees' personnel records will muzzle their former supervisors.

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What we would like to see is some evidence of a pattern of dismissing employees just because of their political affiliations. Since party affiliation is a public record, this shouldn't be difficult to document.

Until that happens, we would like the state's elected officials to work on more important items such as finding funding for the Thornton Commission's educational initiatives and the state's Medicaid program.

And how about that comprehensive malpractice reform everyone said they wanted? Wouldn't it be better to spend the summer digging into that than this proposed probe?

Yes, we say, unless legislative leaders offer more than the anecdotal evidence than we've heard so far.

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