ANNAPOLIS – State Police Superintendent Edward T. Norris won confirmation in the Senate Friday, settling the first of many appointment battles Maryland’s new Republican governor could face in coming weeks.
Sen. Lisa Gladden, D-Baltimore, delayed Norris’ vote Tuesday in an effort to force Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s signature on the settlement of a decade-old racial profiling lawsuit filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People against the State Police.
But the issue was resolved after Ehrlich, Gladden and other black lawmakers met and the governor said he would sign the deal, with some changes, within 30 days.
The 41-4 Senate vote ends a bitter break between Norris, former Baltimore police chief, and some city leaders.
Norris often acted as Mayor Martin O’Malley’s right-hand man, and was credited with a significant decrease in violent crime, before he quit to take the reins of the State Police.
Sen. George Della, D-Baltimore, who voted against the nominee, told lawmakers that Norris did not keep his commitment to the city.
“He took his silver parachute,” Della said, a reference to Norris’ severance package, which gave the former chief a lump sum of $137,000 and $6,000 a year.
Norris’ appointment sparked controversy when O’Malley read about it first in the newspapers.
Three other senators voted against Norris, including Baltimore Democrats Delores Kelley and Joan Carter Conway. Conway said she had nothing personal against the new superintendent, but that she was “representing the taxpayers.”
Norris’ confirmation was the first of what are likely to be many challenges to come from the Democratic Senate over Ehrlich’s sometimes controversial Cabinet appointments.
Minutes after Norris’ approval, Montgomery County Democrat Sen. Brian Frosh, blocked a vote on C. Ronald Franks, appointed to Natural Resources, over concerns that Franks lacks commitment to protecting the Chesapeake Bay.
Franks, a fishing and gaming advocate, did not sufficiently answer whether he supported a pact to protect the bay during a committee hearing Monday, Frosh said.
“I’d like to give him the weekend to take the time to read it,” Frosh told lawmakers. “It shouldn’t take him more than an hour.”
The Chesapeake 2000 Bay Agreement is an environmental pact between Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington.
“While time did not permit a detailed study of the agreement I am comfortable with my statement . . . supporting the accords,” Franks said in a letter to Frosh.
Two more key Ehrlich advisers will go before the Executive Nominations Committee Monday: Budget Secretary-designee James C. Chip DiPaula and Transportation Secretary-designee Robert Flanagan.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert, from the first has questioned Flanagan, a Howard County Republican delegate, and Ehrlich campaign manager DiPaula’s qualifications. Flanagan and DiPaula will likely be scheduled for a Senate vote Feb. 21, said Senate Executive Nominations Committee Chairman Sen. Philip Jimeno, D-Anne- Arundel. – 30 – CNS-2-14-03