The Kurt L. Schmoke who faced the media at City Hall yesterday morning spoke with unusual forcefulness and combativeness. After a series of disputes with Richard C. Hunter, the mayor had finally come to the realization that he and his hand-picked $125,000-a-year school superintendent fundamentally disagreed on policy and philosophy and should part ways.
Having communicated that decision to the school board, Mr. Schmoke showed none of his distaste for confrontation. "We need stronger, more energetic leadership supporting restructuring," the mayor declared. "Much of the progress that has been made has been in spite of Dr. Hunter, not because of him."
Indeed, the mayor exuded the self-confidence of a liberated man. He knew that more than eight months before next September's primary, he was freeing himself of a political burden that had embarrassed him in the past and might do so in the future. Mr. Schmoke could now look to the future -- and to his re-election campaign. "For me, what is at issue here is not only where the school system is now but where it is headed," he said. "In a system where we spend $500 million each year, we are entitled to a better product."