CECIL CHATTER: Hogan Green Bag Empty for Cecil County on Key Appointees; Last of Smipkins Depart Cecil GOP Committee

February 23, 2015

Gov. Hogan’s ‘Green Bag’ Appointments Bypass Cecil on Key Posts

New Maryland Governor Larry Hogan recently announced hundreds of appointments to various state boards and commissions as part of the annual “Green Bag” list of appointees sent to the General Assembly—but Cecil County came up short in any but the most local and required slots.

The Green Bag names, so-called in historic tradition for the green velvet bag in which the list is sent to the General Assembly, include purely local appointments to various panels that come under state jurisdiction as well as more significant statewide policy posts that require Senate confirmation.

For Cecil County, there was only one statewide appointment: Steven C. Parker, named to the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Byways Critical Area Commission. Parker is a Cecilton-area real estate business owner who has been active in local real estate associations. Having a south county real estate professional would bring a rural, waterfront-oriented business perspective to the panel. But Hogan also appointed a Baltimore City resident, Theo Ngongang, to the same commission.

Other ‘Green Bag’ appointees included the obligatory changes at the Cecil County Board of Elections. A majority of local elections panels must be members of the same political party as the sitting governor, so with the change from Democratic to Republican control of the State House, the local elections board balance of power shifts, too.

As a result, Hogan dropped former Cecil County Elections Board Chair Jack Beaston, a Democrat, for re-appointment to the panel. Hogan re-appointed GOP members Margaret Gagnon and Brenda Ross and re-appointed Democrats James Crouse (the former Elkton mayor) and Nancy Simpers. A new member of the board appointed by Hogan is Bob Laird, a Republican, who has been an advocate of arts education in the county. The panel will ultimately select its own chair, but the chair must be a Republican.

Hogan also made some crucial, and politically informative, appointments to key statewide panels. Foremost among them was the selection of Aniban Basu—chief of the Sage Policy Group in Baltimore and the state’s foremost economic policy and forecasting guru—to the Maryland Economic Development Commission. That appointment gives the governor the benefit of advice from the leading economic policy mind in the state without having to hire Sage Policy Group for the information.

Hogan also selected new Harford County Executive Barry Glassman—a former Republican state Senator—as a member of the Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) that gives grants to local economic development initiatives.

That gives Harford County yet another key voice in Annapolis, after Hogan previously selected former Harford County Executive David Craig as the new state Planning Department Secretary—overseeing many crucial land use issues that will affect Cecil County and other rural areas. Craig was a frequent visitor to Cecil County government meetings and was receptive to local concerns about land use and costly state/federal environmental mandates imposed on county government.

Despite Cecil County Executive Tari Moore’s role as a board member and officer of the influential Maryland Association of Counties (MACO) and a Republican, she and her county were not rewarded by the new GOP governor with similar positions of influence in state policymaking.


Last of ‘Smipkins’ Leaves Cecil County GOP Central Committee

It’s the end of an era at the Cecil County Republican Central Committee: the last of the “Smipkins” is gone.

In an email to members of the Central Committee Monday 2/23/15, Chris Zeauskas announced his resignation from the panel, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family:

“I would like to let everyone know that I am resigning from my position on the CCRCC effect today February 23, 2015. I do not have the time to give it my 100% attention any longer. I am going to focus on my family. They have given up a lot for me over the last eight years that I have been involved in politics and I think it is time I give back to them. Thanks again for the opportunity and let me know if there is anything I can assist you with. Good luck and God bless.”

Zeauskas was a perennial losing candidate for various county elected offices, including County Commissioner, County Executive, and County Council. The only elected position he ever won was a seat on the GOP Central Committee.

He initially ran as part of a “slate” of candidates funded by and loyal to the former Smipkin political organization, headed by former Del. Michael Smigiel and former Sen. E.J. Pipkin, both R-36. Smipkin allies dominated the Central Committee for four years until the 2014 elections, when the political machine was in tatters after the resignation and move to Texas of its chief financier, Pipkin. Smigiel lost his re-election bid as a Delegate in the June, 2014 Republican primary.

Zeauskas and Michael A. Dawson– known in his Perryville homebase as “MAD Mike” to differentiate him from another Perryville political candidate, Michael W. Dawson (MWD)—were the only remaining Smipkins to survive the 2014 elections and win re-election to the Central Committee. But this time, they ran in alliance with the Campaign For Liberty faction that ran a slate of candidates who all lost, except for Zeauskas and MAD Dawson.

MAD Dawson previously resigned from the Central Committee several months ago after moving out of state. He was replaced by Kevin Emmerich, who was the next highest vote-getter in the primary election for the panel.

The Central Committee will now go through a candidate recruitment and vetting process to select a replacement for Zeauskas.

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