Petty Politics in Annapolis City

August 29, 1992

With all the problems facing the city of Annapolis, its once and (he hopes) future king, Dennis Callahan, should have no trouble finding serious issues to talk about. Instead, he's making a big deal over a newspaper advertisement featuring the city manager and his baby.

The ad is part of a new campaign for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland, which has been troubled by reports of financial mismanagement. It shows City Administrator Michael Mallinoff and his wife holding their newborn son. The text explains that Mrs. Mallinoff had to be transported from one hospital to another when she gave birth, but there were no insurance complications. It says nothing about Mr. Mallinoff's occupation.

xTC Mr. Callahan and other opponents of Annapolis Mayor Alfred Hopkins are griping that Mr. Mallinoff's appearance in the ad constitutes a conflict of interest. They say that because the city contracts with the lowest bidder to provide employee health benefits, it's unethical for a city official to appear in an ad endorsing one of the bidders.

Isn't that ironic, considering that, when he was mayor, Mr. Callahan was criticized for appearing in an advertisement for a local athletic club? And isn't this a pathetic excuse of an issue for a prospective mayor to be raising?

Mr. Mallinoff received nothing for appearing in the ad, so the question of a conflict is moot. Beyond that, the city administrator is not exactly William Donald Schaefer. He is not an elected official. He's not a celebrity. It's a safe bet that the Blues couldn't care less what he does for a living; what matters to them is that he and his wife appear to be a typically nice couple who apparently like their insurance coverage.

Mr. Mallinoff's appearance in the ad is too unimportant to merit the kind of attention Mr. Callahan and other Hopkins opponents have called to it. If they want to build a case for a new city administration, let them focus on real issues -- the future of downtown Annapolis, its transportation nightmare, race relations. If Mr. Callahan is serious about leading Annapolis again, let him show us the man who tried to make the city's public housing projects a better place and had the guts to take on open-air drug dealers.

But please, no more of the Dennis Callahan with a penchant for petty political ploys. Annapolis has enough problems without that.

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