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Governor’s Poison Pen, Mouth Put Him In Hot Water

February 5, 1991

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ Residents of Maryland’s Eastern Shore are so angry about the governor’s insult about their region that they are calling for his impeachment, and one sent him a symbolic box of toilet paper and corncobs.

″They are absolutely livid. They are outraged. There are a lot of people talking about impeachment,″ said Maryland House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr.

″He’d better apologize and stop this pettiness, talking about the parts of the state where he didn’t win,″ Mitchell said.

On Friday, Gov. William Donald Schaefer asked ″How’s that s---house of an Eastern Shore?″ as he passed a group of shore legislators.

Schaefer met with Eastern Shore lawmakers Tuesday to patch things up.

″We just cleared the air,″ Delegate Samuel Q. Johnson, D-Wicomico, said after the meeting. Johnson said an apology was not requested or offered.

″The governor’s comments were meant as a joke,″ he said.

Schaefer has maintained all along the remark was a joke.

″I don’t have to make an apology. I was joking with (Delegate) Bennett Bozman, and he has said the same thing about the Western Shore and so has Clay,″ Schaefer told Baltimore radio station WLIF on Tuesday.

″And if we all want to apologize to each other that would be fine,″ he said. ″I have no reason to apologize. I was joking, having a little fun. I guess you can’t have fun.″

But people see it as the latest in a stream of vindictive remarks and letters that have intensified since Schaefer’s less-than-overwhelming re- election victory last fall.

Seven of nine counties in the Eastern Shore - largely rural and isolated from the far more populous western part of the state by the Chesapeake Bay - voted against Schaefer in the November election.

After the election, he complained strongly about his 60 percent of the vote, and took it almost as a personal insult. When he was first elected governor in 1986, the former mayor of Baltimore got 82 percent of the vote.

The 69-year-old governor sent a nasty letter to a man who complained about the size of the governor’s press office. Another was sent to a woman who gave a ″thumbs down″ sign to Schaefer the day before the election; saying the action ″only exceeds the ugliness of your face.″

Ray Feldman, a spokesman for Schaefer, said the remark about the Eastern Shore was an inside joke between the governor and shore lawmakers, who trade barbs in jest.

″The governor is actually very upset that people would take it this way,″ Feldman said.

But Mitchell and a fellow Eastern Shore legislator, state Sen. Frederick Malkus, apparently weren’t party to any joke.

″It’s very insulting,″ Malkus said.

Lollo Pennewell of the Eastern Shore town of Snow Hill said she mailed a package of toilet paper, newspaper and corncobs, sometimes used before the advent of toilet paper, to the governor Monday.

She is organizing a march on the State House during which chicken, cow and horse manure, and an outhouse will be delivered to the governor, and said her phone rang all day Tuesday with people volunteering to help.

Schaefer has a reputation for eccentricity.

He frequently launches into tirades against even his closest aides. Even his supporters say he often takes criticism as a personal attack.

Schaefer sent an abusive letter to David Nottingham, 63, of Westminster, who wrote a letter complaining about the size of the governor’s press office.

″Dear David Nottingbrain 3/8 Your letter sounds like a frustrated little boy. How old are you? (Signed) Don Schaefer. I pay taxes on real estate federal and state?? Most likely more than you 3/8 3/8 D″

Schaefer’s dislike of the Eastern Shore was obvious in a letter he wrote to Janet Bassford, who lives near Denton. Bassford sent him a copy of a critical letter to the editor explaining why Eastern Shore voters don’t like the governor’s policies.

″Let me give you my view of some of those living on the Eastern Shore ...,″ the governor wrote. ″Narrow-minded, cynical, clannish, unworldly, afraid of change and unsure of themselves.″

Mitchell complained that the governor’s attitude has already affected decisions on allocating state money and resources, and says the govenor ″owes us more than an apology.″

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