Do it now!

November 07, 1991

In one of his first pronouncements Tuesday after it became clear he was headed toward an overwhelming re-election victory, Mayor Schmoke pledged to reorganize municipal government to reflect the grim fiscal outlook of the 1990s.

In so doing Schmoke as much as conceded that many city agencies go about their business in ways that are wasteful and inefficient, and he promised to be more aggressive in efforts to streamline the governmental bureaucracy. As a start, on Friday he is scheduled to announce major reductions in various city agencies to cope with the loss of $25 million in state aid. And the mayor indicated even more sweeping changes are in store next spring when he submits the city's budget for fiscal 1993.

The mayor's new commitment to bringing the size of city government into line with the demographic and fiscal reality was matched by a promise to communicate more effectively with both the City Council and the business community. For much of his first term, he was criticized by both groups for being inaccessible. His desire now to rectify that situation may bespeak a growing political maturity and confidence -- qualities he will need in abundance if he is truly to fulfill his mandate to lead this city through the difficult years ahead.

Without wishing to draw any direct comparisons between Schmoke and his predecessors, we might merely observe that it was a former mayor of Baltimore who discovered that the secret of making government work effectively lay in the constant admonition to subordinates at all levels to "Do it now" -- the reason being that delay inevitably meant lost time and lost opportunities that directly affected the quality of life for ordinary people. Let us hope that Mayor Schmoke's newly aggressive stance toward the city's problems is a sign that he, too, is beginning to appreciate the wisdom of those words.

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