When a smiling DiPietro rose to acknowledge the praise at Monday's council meeting, he did it as only he could.
Right away, he called attention to a fellow council member. "See that beautiful lady over there," he said, pointing to Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector, D-5th, as he continued his remarks.
The council meetings may not be as colorful after this week, when DiPietro and four other incumbents leave office.
The new council was to be sworn in today at the War Memorial for the 1991-1995 term.
Others leaving the council are John A. Schaefer, D-1st, a 20-year veteran; Joseph T. "Jody" Landers 3rd, D-3rd, a member since 1983, and Edward L. Reisinger, D-6th, who was appointed in 1990 to fill the unexpired term of the late William J. Myers. Also, Jacqueline F. McLean left the 2nd District council seat she filled for eight years to become city comptroller.
New members are Melvin L. Stukes, D-6th, a state employee; Paula Johnson Branch, D-2nd, businesswoman and longtime community activist; newspaper editor John Cain, D-1st; Perry Sfikas, D-1st, a former aide to U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski; and Martin O'Malley, D-3rd, an attorney.
"I think we will have a hard-working activist council, which is what we need in a very tough economic time," said Council President Mary Pat Clarke, who is heading for her second term.
Clarke said she is committed to forming a council whose aim is to cut the size of government and "keep the basic services on line to the best of our ability."
Clarke said that she agrees with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who, in his inaugural speech, said he wants city government to focus squarely on the environment, public safety and education.
She also said that she expected no trouble dealing with the mayor, although several council members complained over the past term that Schmoke often left them uninformed on major policy issues.
"You're always going to have that gap between a mayor and any council. That is the nature of the beast," Clarke said. "In my four years, we have been successful of at least communicating on the important issues when it counted."
After this afternoon's swearing-in, the council was to meet to elect a new vice president and a representative to the planning board.
Vera Hall, D-5th, who is supported by Schmoke, is expected to be elected vice president, while the planning post is undecided, Clarke said.
Clarke also is expected to name committee chairmen at the meeting. Clarke said her choices are:
* Iris G. Reeves, D-5th, and Joseph J. DiBlasi, D-6th, to co-chair Budget and Appropriations.
* Carl Stokes, D-2nd, to chair Education and Human Resources.
* Spector to chair Judiciary.
* Wilbur E. Bill Cunningham, D-3rd, to chair Health and Environment.
* Martin E. Mike Curran, D-3rd, to chair Policy and Planning.
* Hall to chair Housing.
* Lawrence Bell, D-4th, to chair Executive Appointments.
* Anthony J. Ambridge, D-2nd, to chair Land Use.
* Timothy D. Murphy, D-6th, to chair Taxation and Finance.
* Agnes Welch, D-4th, to chair Urban and Inter-governmental Affairs.
* DiBlasi to chair Professional and Municipal Sports.
* Sheila Dixon, D-4th, to chair the Economic Development Subcommittee.
* Cain to chair the Recreation and Parks Subcommittee.