Slow Burns and Fast Tempers

March 03, 1991

The recent flurry of temperamental outbursts by Gov. William Donald Schaefer does no one any good. It hurts his image among state legislators and citizens. It hurts his legislative package and his $11.5 billion budget request. It hurts the operation of state government. And it could do irreparable harm to Mr. Schaefer's legacy as governor.

As a newspaper that has long supported many of Mr. Schaefer's achievements first as mayor and then as governor, we are saddened by this turn of events. Mr. Schaefer is known for his short fuse and tart tongue. He has little tolerance for people who do not see things his way. But Annapolis is a town where consensus and give-and-take are essential to get things done. It also is a state capital that prides itself on gentlemanly conduct in recognition of Maryland's southern roots and democratic heritage dating back to Colonial times.

Mr. Schaefer's outbursts are proving counter-productive. They are aggravating citizens and mystifying officials in state government. Legislators who previously had been in the

governor's corner on most issues now feel compelled to defend the General Assembly from his angry verbal assaults. This is one fight the governor cannot win. It is time to change tactics.

In 15 years as mayor of Baltimore and four-plus years as governor of Maryland, William Donald Schaefer has left a larger imprint on the city and state than perhaps any political figure of this century. It would be tragic if he now let his public tantrums destroy part of that legacy.

The Schaefer administration still has 46 months left to run. To be effective in the State House during his second and last term, the governor has to lower his voice, rein-in his emotional outbursts and give his office the dignity and grace Marylanders expect from their elected chief executive.

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