Inauguration of Schaefer clouded by war tension

January 17, 1991|By Marina Sarrisand Jon Morgan | Marina Sarrisand Jon Morgan,Evening Sun Staff William Thompson contributed to this story.

From early morning yesterday, the threat of war clouded the inauguration day of Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

Tightened security at the Annapolis State House, along with somber references to the Middle East tensions and the uncertain economy, marked the event.

At the end of his day of triumph, the state's 58th chief executive found himself in front of a television set, a quiet celebration with friends interrupted as he learned details of the unfolding war.

As he had done four years ago, Schaefer, 69, wore a dark business suit instead of the morning suit that state governors traditionally wear as he took the oath of office, along with Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg, inside the State House at noon.

Later, in his inaugural address outside the State House, the governor assured hundreds of well-wishers that much remains to be done to revamp the state taxation system, control development and help poor and needy Marylanders.

Still, he told the crowd, "Right now, I'm thinking about the Marylanders who are in the Persian Gulf representing American interests. I'm thinking about the families that they left behind."

He said, "The brave men and women overseas are a special symbol for us. They're a sign of the difficult times we are facing."

Schaefer said we must remember, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt told the nation 49 years ago, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

During his inaugural address, Schaefer also urged support for the Linowes Report, which recommended restructuring the state taxation system and raising more than $800 million in revenue for state and local governments. Schaefer said the plan would reduce taxes for two-thirds of Maryland residents, although some legislators later said they doubted that assertion.

Maryland State Police spokesman Chuck Jackson said officials boosted security to forestall any possible terrorist act stemming from the Persian Gulf crisis. More than 400 officers, many from the State Police and Department of General Services, provided security. Before the inauguration, a squad of sharpshooters entered the basement of the State House, and plainclothes guards passed around mug shots and descriptions of known or suspected troublemakers.

News of the last night's air attack on Iraq came as Schaefer was quietly marking the beginning of his second and final term by eating dinner with friends at the Governor's Mansion, said his spokesman, Paul Schurick.

Schaefer, as did most Americans, turned on a television set to find out what was happening, Schurick said. But requests for comment from the governor were declined, and Schaefer remained in the mansion with friends and guests at a private celebration last night.

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