In Maryland, Democratic lawmakers say they intend to investigate reports that
Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is conducting a purge of the state bureaucracy
by firing hundreds of employees--even low-level ones--who happen to be Democrats.
"These are voiceless people, many of whom have been lifelong state employees,
who have lost their livelihoods just because they had the temerity to participate
in democracy," one Democratic leader, House Speaker Michael E. Busch, told
the Washington Post. "These aren't people in political jobs. They are engineers,
scientists, street-level workers."
With his election in 2003, Ehrlich became Maryland's first Republican governor
in a generation. He has defended his right to reshape the bureaucracy to better
serve his policy goals, according to the Post, which notes that Maryland governors
have free rein to hire and fire the more than 7,000 people who serve at the
Ehrlich's aides told the newspaper that he has not directed the dismissal of
anyone who was not an "at will" employee, and that no one was fired
for political reasons.
But the Post notes that in at least six cases over the past two years, the
state has been taken to court over firings that were alleged to have been politically
motivated. And the Ehrlich administration has not fared well in them, according
to the newspaper.
Last year, a judge ordered the state to rehire Chrys Wilson, one of five staff
members at the Public Service Commission to be fired in one afternoon. She is
now collecting a salary while on administrative leave, and her case is on appeal.
Just last week, state lawyers confirmed that they agreed to pay a $100,000
settlement to Vincent J. Gardina, a Democratic member of the Baltimore County
Council who was fired from an engineering position at the Maryland Environmental