Mar 3, 2003
Two feet of snow paralyzed the Baltimore-Washington region. As the snow continued to fall, Maryland's Governor Ehrlich announced a state of emergency. The next day, he ordered a ban on travel except for hospitals and emergencies. And the following morning, with the snow not yet finished, he was on TV admonishing people to stay home if possible. "Use common sense," he said.
Common sense! Was that what it was when his administration told all state employees that their buildings were open, even before the snow had stopped falling? Oh, sure, he said that workers could stay home by using "liberal leave" – a misnamed provision, if there ever was one. So-called "liberal leave" means that if you stay home you either don't get paid or you use up some of your sick or vacation leave time.
Ehrlich thought he pulled a slick one, forcing workers to come in and work, despite the outrageous situation, or else use up some of the money that was coming to them.
But the workers did him one better. The vast majority used their "common sense" and stayed at home – as any reasonable person would do in such a clearly unsafe situation. And now these workers are demanding to be paid for the day – as they would have been if Ehrlich had shut down the offices. It's only "common sense."