Photo above: Gov. Martin O’Malley shares a laugh with State Treasurer Nancy Kopp at final pre-meeting before Board of Public Works.
Twice a month for eight years, Gov. Martin O’Malley has presided over the Board of Public Works. Its three members describe it as a unique institution in American state government where three independently elected state officials get to review every major government contract and purchase, from health insurance and prison food service to university dorms and wetland permits.
Wednesday was O’Malley’s last session as governor. In the pre-meeting with State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, O’Malley observed that there usually were far too many items on the board’s agenda, which often runs to 150 to 200 pages. (Comptroller Peter Franchot declines to attend these now “open” pre-meetings in a locked conference room next to the governor’s office down a dark corridor.)
But as the Sun describes in an editorial today, the full public meeting was “nothing short of a love fest.”
Franchot, sometimes at odds with O’Malley on a few agenda items, praised him effusively and asked the audience of about 200 crowded into the governor’s reception room to give him a standing ovation. Franchot and wife Anne Mayer also gave the governor a painting of Frederick Douglass, the ex-slave abolitionist from Maryland who O’Malley is fond of quoting.
O’Malley joked that the sessions of the board were “like listening to classical music in one ear and hearing Metallica out of the other,” referring to Kopp’s often approving tones and Franchot’s heavy metal objections. The audience laughed.
Then O’Malley took off his suit-coat, rolled up his sleeves and did what he has had to do often in eight years — explain his budget cuts.