Now that he’s been comfortably nestled in the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings for a few months, we’ve been wondering what’s up with the Honorable Chuck Boutin, former Aberdeen mayor and state delegate and erstwhile member of the Maryland Public Service Commission.
I spotted him, his massive skull nodding like a mutant head of cabbage, standing outside Klein’s in the All-America City on a recent afternoon. He was standing by the entrance, dominating the conversation with a diminutive woman who looked a bit past middle-age. When I came out, they were standing out in the parking lot, old Chuckles still yammering away at the lady, like she’d tried to get to her car and he’d followed her. I’m sure he was explaining how he managed to win himself the Great Reward in the Sky for all local politicians: a ridiculously cushy state job. And, how he then managed to hang on, somehow convincing O’Malley to shuffle him into a position as an Administrative Law Judge, rather than just give him the boot.
Boutin’s head really is huge. Like if you stood four NFL regulation-size footballs on end and bound them together with duct tape. Then filled them with hot air (you saw that coming, right?).
My editor here at The Dagger asked me to dust off an old anecdote about Chuck, mainly so we could post his mug on the blog, and hopefully offer some ballast against the moody, depressing self-portraits we’ve been getting from our chief photographer. So, here goes: It must have been a few weeks after Boutin, in 2006, issued a spontaneous press release explaining that he’d sought professional companionship as a last ditch effort to cure his nagging impotency.
Boutin was poised to keep a previously scheduled appearance before the Harford County Chamber of Commerce. I, reporter, was to attend. I arrived at the Aberdeen Clarion (named after the Bonapartist in Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo,” no doubt) only to find a Baltimore Sun reporter crouched amidst the stacks of banquet chairs in a hallway outside the ballroom. He was intermittently peeking through the space between the double doors, and had to pull up short at one point to avoid getting his nose broke when a member of the wait staff came rushing out of the ballroom. Anyway, he wandered off, and I went in and sat down.
It was a classic professional-people-feeling-awkward-together affair, a crowd of about 200 picking ham off platters; more than half of them were women, well-dressed, with earrings and makeup. The whole room was play-acting, like a family pretending Uncle Bob’s last minute decision to leave a hotel room without banging a hooker hadn’t been the talk of the town for weeks. The Delegate espoused his notions of deregulation and the BGE rate hike, then made for the door – no mention of the scandal by anyone in attendance, far as I could tell. I was waiting for him in the hallway, and matched his brisk stride to the lobby. A guy like Boutin will say “No comment,” but like the classic vulturous windbag that he is (are you out there, Bob Thomas?) he talked the whole way to the door and was still spouting at me over his shoulder as he crossed the sidewalk.