Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke voiced concern yesterday that a special grand jury report critical of the city's Police Department and state's attorney's office will leave "a cloud" over the institutions.
"The charge itself is so damning that if it is found that there is no basis for these allegations, that still leaves a cloud when a group with this kind of authority makes these kinds of allegations," Mr. Schmoke said. He expressed the hope that the report doesn't affect State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms' chances of being selected for a post in the U.S. Justice Department.
"I hope this grand jury business doesn't hurt him in terms of the consideration that's being given," the mayor said. "I know that he under very serious consideration."
Also yesterday, Mr. Schmoke said the name of his nominee to be housing commissioner, Daniel P. Henson III, would be submitted to the City Council today after Mr. Henson's decision to sell his stock in Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse.
"I am confident that he will assume his position as commissioner without any problems of conflict of interest," the mayor said.
Mr. Schmoke made his comments at the first of a series of weekly press conferences at City Hall. Yesterday's session was dominated by two topics -- the grand jury report issued Tuesday and the city's problem-plagued Housing Authority, which would be overseen by Mr. Henson along with the Department of Housing and Community Development.
The grand jury report criticized the Police Department's management and drug-arrest record, charging among other things that the department and the state's attorney's office thwarted drug investigations involving elected officials.
The U.S. attorney and the state's special prosecutor said they would look into some aspects of the report.
Mr. Schmoke said that he had asked Mr. Simms and Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods to cooperate fully with both investigations.
Mr. Schmoke said that allegations that overtime pay for investigations into crack cocaine was disbursed only to white officers had never been raised by the Vanguard Justice Society, an organization of black policemen. A Vanguard spokesman confirmed that none of its members had ever raised that concern and criticized the grand jury for not seeking testimony from group members.
Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Henson said that he will have sold his stock in Struever Bros. as of today and that he has agreed not to be involved for two years in any decision involving a Struever Bros. project. He said he has sold his interests in virtually all local development projects in which he had invested and he will no longer be involved in the Henson Co., a consulting firm he headed.
Alan R. Yespeh, head of the city's ethics board, said Mr. Henson's decisions to divest go "dramatically beyond what the law requires."