Annapolis notes

April 10, 2006|by TAMELA BAKER

Speak softly and carry a big notebook

In a career spanning more than four decades, Tom Stuckey - Annapolis correspondent for the Associated Press - has become such a fixture in the statehouse that House Speaker Michael E. Busch recently remarked that "I just thought he lived here."

Stuckey has been covering Maryland politics so long that not only can he remember when Thomas V. "Mike" Miller was not the president of the Senate, but he also can remember the last time a Republican occupied the governor's mansion.

But the longtime chronicler of Maryland government plans to retire after this year's election. And while many folks won't be returning when the General Assembly reconvenes next January - some of them by choice - it's impossible to imagine the statehouse without Stuckey.

So legislative leaders have made sure Stuckey will always have a presence in the statehouse by winning approval to officially name the pressroom for him, and surprised him on Thursday with ceremonies in both houses.


Stuckey received the accolades with characteristic grace, reminiscing with the Senate about one of his rare mistakes in covering the General Assembly - referring to Sen. Paula Hollinger, D-Baltimore County and a former nurse, as a former nun.

Afterward, as legislators continued other business, Stuckey picked up his notebook and went back to work. It was another hour, after all, and there was another story to write.

A dirty job, but

During the tribute to Tom Stuckey in the House, Speaker Michael E. Busch prevailed upon the entire statehouse press corps to join Stuckey at the front of the chamber.

This presented a logistics problem for veteran television cameraman Don Harrison, who couldn't shoot and salute at the same time.

House Minority Whip Anthony O'Donnell rushed to the rescue, taking a turn behind the camera for once as Harrison joined Stuckey up front, prompting another lawmaker to quip that the famously conservative O'Donnell was having a little trouble with the shot. Seems the journalists weren't standing far enough to the right.

"The minority whip says you can never be too far to the right," Busch observed.

Speaking of dirty jobs

With House Minority Leader George Edwards leaving the House to run for the Senate, Republicans are considering their options for filling the top party position.

Among the names being mentioned are Minority Whip Anthony O'Donnell, now the second-ranking Republican in the House, and Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, who has been an assistant minority leader since 2003.

Del. Kevin Kelly, D-Allegany, stirred the pot a little during a recent dinner for Edwards when he remarked that some things wouldn't change after Edwards left the House. "Chris Shank told me he plans to keep Tony O'Donnell on as minority whip," Kelly said.

Shank and O'Donnell had their own dinner last week, where they discussed "a number of things," Shank said, none of which he could be persuaded to talk about.

Change of plans

In the last weeks of the General Assembly, lawmakers frequently are subjected to double floor sessions in order to finish work on remaining bills. House Speaker Michael E. Busch had planned an afternoon session for 4 p.m. last Tuesday, but at about 3:30, capitol police evacuated the statehouse after a bomb threat was reported to authorities in Baltimore. Busch canceled the late session while police with bomb-sniffing dogs searched the building, finding nothing.

At the end of Wednesday's morning floor session, Busch informed relieved lawmakers that he would not schedule a second session that day.

"It caused a lot of excitement yesterday," he said.

Understatement of the week

"This bill is like Swiss cheese, it's got so many holes in it."

- Del. Herb McMillan, R-Anne Arundel, on a public campaign financing bill. The bill passed in the House by a vote of 79-56, but is in limbo in the Senate.

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