Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was being sworn in for a second four-year term today before an audience of family, close friends, top elected officials, Cabinet members and high school seniors.
The ceremony was set for City College, the high school where Schmoke, now 42, first found fame in the late 1960s as a standout athlete and budding scholar.
The inauguration was planned as a low-key event, held in the high school auditorium and witnessed by City's 300 seniors.
"It's sort of a homecoming for the mayor at City College," said Clinton R. Coleman, Schmoke's press secretary. "He wanted the young people there to hopefully gain some inspiration from the ceremony. . . . Hopefully, it will be an inspiration for them to go on to bigger and better things in their lives."
Today's inauguration was in sharp contrast with the celebration that occurred four years ago when Schmoke became Baltimore's first elected black mayor. More than 14,000 people packed the Baltimore Arena for that occasion.
"These are very frugal times in city government, so the economic times dictate that we have an event that is much scaled back from the inaugural the mayor had four years ago," Coleman said.
Indeed, the city is in an economic tailspin. Just after winning the general election last month, Schmoke announced drastic cuts in city services that included plans to close eight libraries and lay off 138 city employees. The cuts also could cause schools to be closed for a week.
"The mayor considers City College to be a metaphor for the city in general," Coleman said. "The school was able to triumph over tough times. At one time, it was in a period of decline, but people didn't give up on it. Now, the school is back in terms of academics and athletics."
Comptroller-elect Jacqueline F. McLean, the first woman and first black person ever to hold the city comptroller's job, planned to take the oath of office at noon before 500 supporters at the War Memorial downtown. Tonight, she will be the honored guest at a formal, $85-a-head inaugural ball expected to attract 300 people to the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel.
"I'm so busy I don't have a chance to feel anything," McLean said yesterday. "I have not had one moment's opportunity to stop and say, 'Wow.' Right now, it's just constant work. I'll get excited tomorrow."
McLean said she and Schmoke decided to have separate ceremonies so that one would not overshadow the other.
"We talked after the general election and he said he did not want to take away from the inauguration for the first female and first African-American comptroller," McLean said.
The inauguration of the council president and 18 council members is scheduled Thursday.