Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke wants no part of a cozy consensus between the White House and the Democratic leadership in Congress in dealing with Los Angeles and the urban crisis it illuminated. He said as much in a private meeting Wednesday with House Speaker Tom Foley, asserting that anything less than the declaration of a national emergency permitting the shift of funds from defense to domestic needs would amount to "a fraud and a sham." Then he went public with his harsh complaints, telling Baltimore community activists yesterday that lawmakers were playing "cotton-candy politics" with America's troubled big cities. "These people just don't get it," he said.
Mr. Schmoke's remarks reveal a widening gap between mayors charged with the nitty-gritty job of running city hall and Washington legislators trapped by deficits and partisan deadlock. Their differences may be underscored tomorrow when tens of thousands of urban activists are due to converge on the nation's capital in a "Save Our Cities; Save Our Children" march sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Mayoral lobbying and pressure tactics may yet force House leaders to draw the line on the issue of guns or butter. That is precisely what Mr. Schmoke proposes. Unless Pentagon funds are released to the cities, the Baltimore mayor contends, Democrats will be making a lot of proposals that can't be implemented. He adds that the mayors have little interest in just adding to the deficit because the amount of money would be limited and the Democrats would again be open to charges of big-spending fiscal irresponsibility.