Schmoke, Schaefer tout 'partnership' Have they settled differences at last?

September 08, 1993|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Staff Writer

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Gov. William Donald Schaefer were together at Market Place near the Inner Harbor yesterday and, believe it or not, it looked like love -- at least the kind that bonds politicians.

The erstwhile enemies wore matching purple baseball caps. They talked, peacefully and privately, for hours before emerging to praise a "new partnership" between the city and the state.

Later, they were virtually arm-in-arm as they strolled the Market Place neighborhood, looking at failed projects and planned development sites, and chatting about getting together to make them work.

Such cooperation is unusual for the two men, whose relationship soured in 1986, when Mr. Schmoke, then the city state's attorney, supported his friend, Stephen H. Sachs, over Mr. Schaefer -- then Baltimore's mayor -- in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Mr. Schaefer defeated Mr. Sachs and cruised to victory in the general election.

The feud heated up after Mr. Schmoke was elected mayor in 1987. Over the years, the two have battled over everything from Mr. Schmoke's support of drug decriminalization to the items in Mr. Schaefer's legislative agenda.

The governor called yesterday's meeting and tour precedent-setting -- and not just because he and Mr. Schmoke were able to spend time together without bad feelings.

"This is the first time a governor and a mayor met to discuss economic development and public safety," Mr. Schaefer said.

The meeting and tour, which also included top city and state economic development and public safety officials, touched on a number of issues that hung in limbo as the city and state batted them back and forth for years.

But yesterday, there seemed to be real progress.

Officials said that beginning next season, uniformed state police officers will be stationed outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards, allowing the city to reduce the number of its officers assigned there.

The number of city police officers assigned to the area surrounding the stadium has been the focus of complaints from community activists in the city, who say the manpower could better be used in crime-plagued neighborhoods.

In addition to stadium patrols, city and state police are discussing expanding the state police role in undercover drug investigations in Baltimore.

The two agencies also are exploring the idea of having state police officers patrol other state-owned facilities in the city, including the World Trade Center and the state office complex on Preston Street.

The details of those plans are to be worked out in discussions between city police Commissioner Edward V. Woods and state police Superintendent Larry W. Tolliver.

The mayor and governor also agreed to work together with new vigor on economic development projects in downtown Baltimore.

The two met in the offices of the Christopher Columbus Center for Marine Research and Exploration, the $161 million biotechnology research center being constructed at the Inner Harbor.

From there, they took a quick walking tour of the surrounding neighborhood, where many of the city's economic development efforts have failed.

The two led their entourages of police officials and economic development officials through the Brokerage, a retail and office development that failed to attract many tenants and is now home to the Eubie Blake Center and a planned children's museum.

They then walked across the street to the Fish Market, a privately owned entertainment complex that has been closed since 1989.

They also looked at a new subway station being built next to the Fish Market, gazed at an expansion site for Baltimore City Community College and talked about Inner Harbor East, a $350 million development planned for the waterfront between the Inner Harbor and Fells Point.

"Some plans for downtown are as exciting as the original Inner Harbor concept," Mr. Schaefer said.

The governor avoided criticizing Mr. Schmoke's leadership in connection with the continued failure of the downtown projects -- most of which were initiated before the mayor took office -- saying instead that the city and state need to work together to bolster the image of downtown Baltimore.

"There is a perception that downtown is not as safe as it has been in the past," Mr. Schaefer said. "I don't think it is true."

He said there needs to be no major shift of emphasis on downtown development, just a more determined effort to make things work. "A couple of adjustments and we'll be right back," the governor said.

Honora Freeman, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's downtown development agency, called the promise of new state cooperation "wonderful."

Asked what it would mean, she said, "There will be a lot more working together in a more efficient way."

The governor and the mayor said that neither their meeting nor their new-found harmony was politically motivated. Mr. Schmoke a potential candidate for governor next year, and Mr. Schaefer has been rumored to be interested in running for mayor in 1995.

"This has no political implications," Mr. Schaefer said. But, pointing at Mr. Schmoke, the governor added that the mayor "has the best job in the world."

Mr. Schmoke said that he was interested only in helping the city. "If I'm doing a good job, obviously that's going to help me in the future," he said.

The mayor added that his cooperation with Mr. Schaefer was no passing fancy.

"This is not just a blip on the screen," he said. "This is a relationship that is going to last."

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