Council, mayor's office iron out 'Channel One'

November 14, 1992|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Staff Writer

The potentially explosive rift between the Baltimore City Council and the administration of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke began to fizzle yesterday, as council leaders met with the mayor to smooth over differences that could force both sides into court.

Council President Mary Pat Clarke and Vice President Vera P. Hall, D-5th, each met privately with Mr. Schmoke in the wake of a threat Thursday by a council committee chairman to subpoena members of the school board who apparently refused to appear before the panel.

By the end of the day, there was talk of a yet-unscheduled meeting among the council, Mr. Schmoke and school board -- and a promise to put the subpoena issue on hold.

Carl Stokes, D-2nd, the chairman of the Education and Human Resources Committee who was pressing for issuance of the subpoenas, said yesterday "the mayor has asked the committee to sit with the full [school] board and discuss the matter."

Until then, "the subpoenas will not be issued," Mr. Stokes said. "Hopefully we will resolve it."

Mrs. Clarke said she was "very concerned about going to the extreme of being in court with the family . . . We'd like to find a way to work this out."

Mr. Schmoke was not available for comment, but his press secretary, Clinton R. Coleman, said the mayor was amenable to a meeting to resolve the matter.

Thursday Mr. Stokes threatened to subpoena school board members after board President Phillip H. Farfel apparently refused to attend committee hearings on the controversial issue of Channel One television newscasts in city schools.

Mr. Schmoke and Dr. Farfel both view the council's queries about the program as meddling in education policy -- which they maintain is none of the council's business.

But, as Ms. Hall said yesterday of her council colleagues, "They are just looking for information about things that the board should rightfully provide."

Although the Department of Education dispatched an official to Thursday's council hearing to field questions about Channel One, he could not answer several queries by committee members and taxpayers who showed up to protest use of the commercial television news program.

At the hearing, Mr. Stokes said he planned to schedule a third hearing on the city's contract to use Channel One in the next two weeks -- and then issue summons requiring school board members to attend.

Monday, the council approved a resolution to summon witnesses and require production of documents and records from the city Department of Education, as part of the council's "investigation" into the Channel One issue.

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