FOR SALE: Cars once driven by governor's staffers
FOR SALE. MUST GO. PRICED TO MOVE. ALMOST NEW. BUY ME.
Those were among the signs adorning a small fleet of cars parked outside the State House this morning in a bit of political theater orchestrated by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and his staff.
With the cars as a backdrop, O'Malley announced that the Governor's Office is giving up half of the 24 state-owned cars it had been assigned under former Republican governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and that no one would have take-home privileges with their vehicles, as did nine of Ehrlich's staffers.
O'Malley estimated the move could save the state $36,000 and set an example for others in government as Maryland confronts a deficit next year of nearly $1.5 billion. O'Malley last week ordered his Cabinet departments to start making an initial round of cuts that he said will exceed $200 million.
"We believe it is our responsibility to lead by example," O'Malley said of his office's fleet reduction.
O'Malley said that two of Ehrlich's staff members -- his director of communications, Paul E. Schurick, and press secretary, Greg Massoni -- had been issued state-owned, unmarked police cars during their tenure, a practice that would not continue.
"This means, for example, that Steve and Rick are not going be driving around in unmarked (Maryland Transit Authority) police cars, like their predecessors did," O'Malley said, referring to his communications director, Steve Kearney, and his press secretary, Rick Abbruzzese, who were standing nearby.
Both Kearney and Abbruzzese reported that they drive their own cars to work every day.
Henry Fawell, a former Ehrlich spokesman who said he was speaking yesterday on behalf of Schurick and Massoni, said he did not know what cars they drove.
"I walked to work so I don't know," said Fawell, an Annapolis resident, adding: "We are puzzled and flattered and entertained that the new governor would spend this much time thinking of us."
The cars shed by O'Malley's office will either be sold or redeployed, he said.
May 16, 2007; 1:58 PM ET
Categories: John Wagner
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