Heat's on Schmoke to release study of fire department

October 23, 1990|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Evening Sun Staff

Members of the City Council, hot about Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's refusal to hand over a consultant's report on the Fire Department, have passed a resolution they hope will force the report's release.

"I don't particularly like putting this bill in," said Councilman Wilbur E. "Bill" Cunningham, D-3rd, the sponsor. "I don't enjoy governing by resolution."

But Cunningham and his council colleagues, who voted to pass the resolution yesterday, said they had no choice since their requests for the plan had drawn no response from Schmoke.

The consultant's report is expected to lay out several courses the city could take to consolidate its fire-fighting services. It also is expected to outline a system of public review for closing fire stations, which the council had hoped to mold into law. The report was done by Public Technology Inc., a firm hired by the city in 1988.

Cunningham said he has written three letters to Schmoke asking for the plan, and each has gone unanswered. Thus, the resolution, a formal council request that does not have the force of law.

"Every time I mention it to [Schmoke aide Peter N. Marudas], all he does is flap his arms and say, 'we'll get into that,' '' Cunningham said.

A Schmoke spokesman said last night that he would have to check with the mayor, who was unavailable, before commenting on the council's action.

Schmoke touched off the first major controversy of his administration in 1988 when he closed three fire stations in the face of determined protests by community residents.

Other proposals to close fire stations predated the Schmoke administration, and some council members have said they were as upset with the lack of public input in Schmoke's decisions as they were with the actual closings.

"I had no problems with them closing fire stations," Cunningham said. "It was the way they did it. And the comprehensive report would help avoid that problem in the future."

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