Baltimore invites mayors to fete cities

January 17, 1993|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Staff Writer

More than 230 mayors are expected at the Baltimor Convention Center tomorrow for a black-tie celebration of cities -- which many of them are confident will receive new federal attention when Bill Clinton becomes president.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and the U.S. Conference of Mayors say they organized the gala because they expect urban issues to return to the top of the national agenda with the inauguration of Mr. Clinton Wednesday.

"It is a chance to come together at a time of great hope in our country," Mr. Schmoke said.

Mr. Clinton was invited to the gala but will not attend because of commitments in Washington.

"Even presidents-elect can be in only one place at a time," said Larry S. Gibson, chairman of the event.

Instead, Mr. Gibson said, the president-elect recorded a

10-minute videotape that will be shown to the 2,000 people expected at the gala.

The gala offers an opportunity to showcase the stature of Mr. Schmoke, an early supporter who advised Mr. Clinton on urban issues.

The mayor's political organization delivered votes for Mr. Clinton in a big way during both the primary and in the November election.

"Of the 37 largest urban areas, Baltimore was second in terms of the percentage of votes that went to Clinton-Gore," said Mr. Gibson, Mr. Schmoke's top political adviser who also chaired Mr. Clinton's Maryland campaign.

Mr. Schmoke's relationship with Mr. Clinton sparked speculation that the mayor would be chosen for a Cabinet position.

While an undergraduate at Yale University, Mr. Schmoke became friendly with Hillary Clinton, who was at Yale Law School at the time.

However, Mr. Schmoke said all along that he has no interest in working in Washington, only in having "a friend in the White House."

He also will have friends elsewhere in the new administration, among them Housing and Urban Development Secretary-designate Henry Cisneros, the former mayor of San Antonio.

Mr. Cisneros has been an acquaintance of Mr. Schmoke for years. Mr. Schmoke sought his advice after he was elected to his first term as mayor of Baltimore in 1987.

"Mayor Schmoke was very supportive of Mr. Cisneros for the HUD job," Mr. Gibson said.

The gala, which is being paid for with $200,000 from area businesses and Mr. Schmoke's campaign committee, coincides with the U.S. Conference of Mayors' winter meeting which begins today in Washington.

The fact that Mr. Clinton nominated a former mayor for the HUD job has given mayors hope that the federal government will spend more money on cities, reversing a trend that began in the 1980s.

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