Clarke rewards council member with planning post

April 04, 1991|By Martin C. Evans

In the heat of the battle that raged in the City Council March 25 over President Mary Pat Clarke's attempt to regain the power to name committee chairmen, Councilman John A. Schaefer, D-1st, relinquished the chairmanship of the council's powerful budget committee to help her win.

Yesterday, he got his reward.

Ms. Clarke, who was able to trade the budget committee chairmanship for a crucial vote she needed to win back her powers, said she would ask the council to appoint Mr. Schaefer as the council's representative to the city Planning Commission.

Mr. Schaefer's nomination to the commission must be confirmed by the council, but he is not expected to face major opposition.

The 1st District councilman's role in Mrs. Clarke's power play was subtle, but essential. By stepping down as chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee, he created a vacancy that Ms. Clarke was then able to promise to Joseph J. DiBlasi, D-6th. Mr. DiBlasi promptly changed his vote and broke a deadlock, restoring the appointment powers stripped by the council in 1987.

Asked whether Mr. Schaefer deserved to be rewarded with a Planning Commission appointment, Ms. Clarke said: "I think so, but he is also equal to the task. You don't send someone over there just because he gave you a vote."

Mr. Schaefer's appointment to the commission could boost his influence over development along the Canton waterfront, a hot real estate area in his district.

The waterfront has been a battleground between real estate speculators and neighborhood activists interested in preserving the area's affordability to moderate-income families, its views of the harbor and the low- scale architecture of its row house neighborhoods.

The nine-member commission oversees the Planning Department, reviews land-use issues and reviews the capital budget. It holds public hearings before making recommendations to the mayor and the council on a wide range of public and private development projects planned for the city.

Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge, D-2nd, the council's current representative to the commission, said he believed that the council would support Mr. Schaefer's nomination.

Mr. Ambridge, who was named chairman of the Land Use Committee March 25, said he would willingly relinquish his position on the commission.

Ms. Clarke, who has argued that the restoration of her control over committee chairmanships was part of her efforts to empower blacks and women, has faced criticism that her first appointments have gone to white males.

In the wake of the council fight, Ms. Clarke appointed two white males, Mr. Ambridge and Mr. DiBlasi, as chairmen of the Land Use and the Budget and Appropriations committees, respectively.

Yesterday, she defended her decision to support yet another white male for a key position, saying that Mr. Schaefer has shown a willingness to work with minority members of the council.

Ms. Clarke said she would elevate to full committee status the Economic Development subcommittee, which is chaired by Jacqueline F. McLean, D-2nd, a black woman. And she pointed out that she had named Lawrence A. Bell, D-4th, a black, to chair the Executive Appointments Committee, a panel some critics say is relatively powerless.

"That sounds to me like a net gain of two blacks as heads of major committees in two weeks," Mrs. Clarke said.

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