Republican mayoral candidate Joseph A. Scalia II is crying dirty pool, saying that the city's denial of his request for a permit to hold a political rally outside the B&O Railroad Museum on West Pratt Street tomorrow evening has more to do with politics than public safety.
Poppycock! officials with the city Transportation Department said yesterday. They said they only denied the $10 permit to ensure the safety of pedestrians making their way to two events scheduled in the area: a carnival and a political rally for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.
Mayor Schmoke is planning to announce his bid for re-election tomorrow at a fund-raiser inside the museum. Mr. Scalia plans to be outside, calling attention to flaws in the record of the one-term incumbent.
"The mayor should spend less time raising money and wining and dining political supporters and spend more time addressing the things that affect people: the crime, drugs and education," Mr. Scalia said. "It's not like he really needs the money."
Mr. Scalia said he believed that someone in the Transportation Department saw to it that the permit was denied as a way of sparing the mayor the embarrassment of having an opponent draw attention away from his candidacy announcement.
"I don't really know if the mayor did this, but someone in his administration did it," Mr. Scalia said. "Anyone who knows anything about city government should know you can't do this."
Mr. Scalia, 27, a University of Baltimore Law School graduate who is waiting to take the bar exam, applied for the permit on June 18.
Although the division responsible for sidewalks in the Transportation Department approved the application, an official in the traffic safety division denied the permit, saying he was concerned that Mr. Scalia's rally would block the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians into busy Pratt Street.
"We don't look at whether it is a request for a press conference or a request to sell hot dogs, we're looking out for pedestrian safety," said Fred Marc, an assistant commissioner in the Transportation Department.
Mr. Scalia said he did not apply for the permit hoping that a denial would embarrass the mayor. He said he has applied and been granted permits for two other political rallies he has had this year: one at the city morgue, where he called attention to the city's murder rate, and another at Hampstead Hill Middle School, which earlier this spring was a center of community concerns over student behavior.
Mr. Scalia said that although he would prefer to do it by the book, he will go to the B&O Museum tomorrow anyway.