Delegates defend overriding veto

January 26, 2006|by TAMELA BAKER


Their votes to override one of Gov. Robert Ehrlich's vetoes Tuesday scored local legislators some points with their colleagues from Montgomery County, but the action bought them a trip to the principal's office Wednesday morning.

Ehrlich's chief of staff, James "Chip" DiPaula, and members of the House Republican leadership met with each of Washington County's four Republican delegates to discuss their votes against the governor.

Del. Christopher B. Shank said that during his meeting DiPaula, House Minority Leader George Edwards and House Minority Whip Tony O'Donnell complained they weren't warned before the delegation voted with Montgomery County lawmakers to override Ehrlich's veto of their bill to install speed cameras in their county.


They'd been challenged on the floor by Del. Charles Barkley, chairman of the Montgomery County Delegation, to vote with them since several Montgomery delegates had in 2004 voted for a local Washington County bill regulating tip jars.

Shank said he'd defended his vote on the basis of "local courtesy" since it didn't affect Washington County, and because Barkley had done them a favor in 2004.

"I didn't apologize for my vote," he said.

Del. Robert A. McKee said DiPaula and O'Donnell were looking for a little party unity.

"They said, 'We need to look at it like it's a train and it needs to run in the same direction.' I said, 'With no side trips by any of the passengers?'"

McKee also argued local courtesy and noted that Barkley is a former Hagerstown resident and a graduate of South Hagerstown High School.

All in all, "it wasn't bad," McKee said.

"Chip relayed a message from the governor of how he had been let down," said Del. LeRoy E. Myers, R-Washington/Allegany. "I have two things down here - my integrity and my vote. For example, they know I won't vote for slots just because the party's for it."

Myers said he and the other delegates thought out their action, and "I wasn't gonna let 'em hang."

Del. John Donoghue, a Democrat whose district encompasses Hagerstown, defended his Republican colleagues.

"The governor shouldn't be surprised," he said. "Just because you disagree with somebody, it doesn't mean you have to get your head chopped off."

Del. Richard B. Weldon, R-Washington/Frederick, also met with DiPaula, but he had not returned calls from The Herald-Mail late Wednesday.

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