Schmoke planning gala for U.S. mayors, Clinton Event to focus on needs of ailing cities

December 01, 1992|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Staff Writer

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is planning a huge pre-inaugural gala with guests including mayors from around the country and -- organizers hope -- President-elect Bill Clinton.

The black-tie event is scheduled for Jan. 18 -- two days before Mr. Clinton's Inauguration -- at the Baltimore Convention Center and is expected to draw at least 1,000 guests.

With the party, the mayor hopes to keep the plight of cities on the nation's front burner and to highlight the charms of Baltimore.

"A friend of cities has been elected president of the United States," said Larry S. Gibson, chairman of Mr. Schmoke's political committee and coordinator of Mr. Clinton's Maryland campaign. "So it's time for celebration. Also, it is important for cities to take a high profile from the very outset of this administration."

Mr. Schmoke was a strong backer of Mr. Clinton from the beginning. His support helped the president-elect carry Baltimore in the Democratic primary. He spoke about the plight of cities at the Democratic National Convention and helped Mr. Clinton formulate his urban policy. And Mr. Schmoke's support was critical in helping the nominee carry Maryland in the November election.

Mr. Schmoke's work with Mr. Clinton prompted widespread speculation that he would leave City Hall and join the new administration, perhaps as secretary of housing and urban development. But Mr. Schmoke has downplayed such talk, saying he just wants to be mayor under a president who makes cities a national priority.

The gala is being planned with the help of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. It will be held during the group's winter meeting, which is expected to draw at least 200 mayors to the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington from Jan. 17 through 19.

"We are working with [Mayor Schmoke's] staff and cooperating with them to get the mayors notified and up there," said Mike Brown, a spokesman for the mayors' group.

Mr. Clinton also is invited to the gala, but it is unclear whether he will be able to attend. "It is not possible to know what his schedule is at this point," Mr. Gibson said.

Mr. Schmoke is hoping that some of the thousands of people who will be coming to the area to join Mr. Clinton's administration will be at the party. He wants them to think of Baltimore as they carry out federal policy. He also wants to sell them on the idea that they can live in Baltimore while working in Washington.

"I want the new administration and the people coming to Baltimore to think of Baltimore as part of their Washington experience," Mr. Schmoke said through a spokesman. "I intend to promote Baltimore as a place to live."

It is unclear who will pay for the event or whether tickets will be sold, Mr. Gibson said. He said those details are still being worked on. He added that Mr. Schmoke's campaign committee was likely to pick up much of the tab and that the mayors' group may also cover some of the expenses.

"This event will be built around the mayors and built around cities," Mr. Gibson said.

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