Weinglass team member threatens to pull contributions to city Paterakis rips push for new ownership

November 13, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer Staff writers John Frece, Sandy Baniksy and Jon Morgan contributed to this article.

John Paterakis, one of the major political fund-raisers in Maryland, threatened yesterday to pull his financial contributions to Baltimore because of treatment he describes as unfair to would-be NFL owner Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass.

A member of Weinglass' ownership team, Paterakis said he is upset that the group has been held out of the decision-making process here and by reports that the city's expansion committee has been seeking new investors.

The Sun reported yesterday that Baltimore's organizers are hopeful of having Alfred Lerner, part-owner of the Cleveland Browns, file an ownership application for an expansion team by Monday's noon deadline.

"If our money is not good enough for football," Paterakis said, "it may not be good enough for charities or anything else in the community.

"We're going to review everything, you better believe it. You have to. If Boogie and his efforts of trying to get all the Baltimore people together [isn't acceptable], and someone says 'You're not good enough, we're going to seek another person' . . . then why would anybody have to call us for anything that has to do with the community because we're not good enough."

Paterakis, who owns H&S Bakery, said he budgets $300,000 a year for local charities. He has been a prominent contributor to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, and is now at work developing the Inner Harbor East, a $350 million project south of Little Italy.

Schaefer was clearly stunned by Paterakis' comments. He said he saw Paterakis last Saturday and nothing was said.

"You know, there is such a thing as the phone, but he chose to go to the newspapers," Schaefer said. "That is surprising to me, absolutely surprising. There's a phone, there's a telegraph.

"I don't know what he's trying to accomplish by threatening to hurt charities. That's not going to hurt me, it's going to hurt charities. And he's not going to do that."

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said the expansion committee was "trying to do things that are in the best interests of the city. We're not saying that anybody's contribution hasn't been valuable."

Of Paterakis, Schmoke said, "I think that he's absolutely one of our finest citizens, who's always done great things for Baltimore. And I'm sure he will continue to do great things for Baltimore."

Weinglass says he is frustrated by the lack of political support given his group and his chief competitor, Florida businessman Malcolm Glazer. But he stopped short of saying he would cut charitable contributions. "I wouldn't let the charitable people suffer on account of the political process," Weinglass said.

Paterakis is disturbed that Schaefer and Baltimore's expansion committee haven't included either existing ownership groups in strategy sessions since the NFL last month deferred a decision on its 30th franchise until Nov. 30.

"Boogie is sitting there waiting, Glazer is sitting there waiting, they're having meetings without talking to two potential owners," Paterakis said. "I think that's terrible."

Paterakis said he talked to Lerner within the last four months, "and he said in no way would he be interested in a team. Two years ago, he called me to tell me he was going after a team. He said if he had one limited partner, it would be me."

Paterakis said he has not spoken to Lerner since the conversation about four months ago.

Asked if he felt Schaefer was responsible for the situation, Paterakis responded with a football analogy.

"Is he the quarterback or isn't he?" Paterakis said. "If the quarterback calls a play and you lose the ball, you can't blame anybody else but the quarterback. . . . If he calls the shots and brings in a third party with Lerner and we get the team, then he called a beautiful play. If he gives the third party the ball and we don't get the team, then the quarterback should be responsible for not getting the team.

"If he gets the team because he quarterbacked these decisions, I'll be the happiest person in the world."

Schaefer was anything but happy at the dissension that appears to be creeping into Baltimore's bid.

"What is the objective of all this?" Schaefer said. "What are we trying to do? Not to glorify everyone. Not to make heroes out of anybody. It is one thing: to bring a franchise to Baltimore. That's the only thing we want to do. And we're doing everything that is humanly possible to bring that franchise to Baltimore. That's the objective. One objective. A franchise for Baltimore.

"All of a sudden, there's a lot of talk. I've lived with this from the day the [Colts] left. I lived when Mr. [Robert] Irsay left. He left, he was gone, we started our process. I asked time after time for local ownership. I said people should come forth. And there was silence like I've never heard before. Absolute silence. Now at the very last hour, people come out with bitter words. And I just don't understand it.

" 'My money isn't good enough' . . . I just think that is a fit of temper, not characteristic of Paterakis.

"I've been a good friend of John's for a long time. He'd better think back."

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