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Donoghue to skip delegation meetings

January 23, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS ? After skipping the Washington County delegation's first meeting of the 2008 legislative session, Del. John P. Donoghue said he probably won't attend any - because of politics.

"It's not a productive use of my time," he said, "especially with a Republican who filed a lawsuit against the governor," referring to Del. Christopher B. Shank, a plaintiff in a GOP lawsuit that tried unsuccessfully to invalidate the recent special session.

Donoghue, D-Washington, and Shank, R-Washington, generally don't talk to each other.

Donoghue said he has no interest in "listening to Delegate Shank spout off on the topic of the day."

"I'm not going to descend into the type of personal attacks and gutter-style politics that Delegate Donoghue wants to engage in," Shank replied.

For state lawmakers, attending delegation meetings is "one of the most basic functions of that job," Shank said.

Pointing to Donoghue's absence at a series of delegation meetings with government bodies and the public, Shank added, "He has demonstrated that he is clearly not engaged in a meaningful way in discussing the issues that are important to the citizens of Washington County."

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'It should be a simple, painless process'

Each week in Annapolis, the eight-member delegation meets to discuss and vote on bills it might file as a group. Sometimes, outside organizations speak to the delegation about issues of possible interest to the county.

The other seven delegation members, all Republicans, attended Wednesday's meeting.

For the delegation, "the job is to get local bills through," Donoghue said. "It should be a simple, painless process."

Last year, there was occasional disagreement among delegation members about bills, although most votes on filing the bills were unanimous or nearly unanimous.

Asked if he'd participate if there were a hotly debated topic, Donoghue said, "If the chair lets me know, I'll be happy to be there."

Myers says explanation is unacceptable

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, the delegation chairman, said he wished Donoghue had talked to him about his plan to skip delegation meetings.

"My first reaction is, 'What if everybody felt that way?'" Myers said, calling Donoghue's explanation "unacceptable."

Myers said some bill requests that will come before the delegation this year are from the city of Hagerstown, which Donoghue represents.

"I believe every week is very important," Myers said.

Last year, when Donoghue was unanimously chosen as vice chairman, Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, said it was "inappropriate" that Donoghue wasn't always invited to delegation functions.

The reference was to at least one time that Shank, the previous chairman, invited the delegation's Republicans, but not Donoghue, to meet with then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican.

Shank said last year that it wouldn't be unusual for only Republicans to be invited to meet with a Republican governor.

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