The Year Ahead

January 02, 1994

What lies ahead for Maryland and the Baltimore region in the next 12 months? The Sun's editorial writers gazed into their crystal ball for a brief preview of local events we are likely to see in 1994.

Maryland

William Donald Schaefer is not going to leave center stage without a bang. He's embroiled in an explosive regional feud over Jack Kent Cooke's plan to build a football stadium in Laurel vs. on-going efforts to bring a team to Baltimore.

But as the days dwindle in Mr. Schaefer's eighth and final year as governor, his power subsides. He can do little to stop the legislature from ending the state's "wealth tax" on high-income Marylanders. He has slight chance of setting up a much-needed gambling commission. But he can certainly lay out a challenging social agenda for legislators.

Lawmakers in the House of Delegates, meanwhile, will be gauging their new speaker, Casper R. Taylor of Cumberland. The 90-day tryout will determine if he gets a long-term contract.

Thanks to redistricting, big legislative turnover is assured. There will be a marked shift in power away from the city once again.

Primary focus will turn quickly this spring to the race to succeed Mr. Schaefer. Heated elections are assured in both primaries. Voters tell pollsters Mr. Schaefer has worn out his welcome, but what do they want instead? That's the big mystery candidates will be scrambling to solve before the fall.

Baltimore City

Baltimore City's strategy for 1994 is to focus on tourism as a key economic development tool. This includes new gateways to greet visitors to the Inner Harbor, a new visitor information center and increased advertising and promotion efforts.

The goal is to prepare Baltimore for the coming boom: the 1995 opening of the $160 million Columbus Center at the Inner Harbor and such attractions as the Brokerage complex of exhibits and services for children.

"Baltimore's success over the years in tourism has been tremendous, for an industry that was in its infancy less than 20 years ago," noted a mayoral task force. It wants the city to take full advantage of its tourism, entertainment and culture assets.

By the time the Convention Center's $151 million expansion opens in early 1997, the city cultural scene will have gone through quite a transformation. Consider just the museums: The Baltimore Museum of Art inaugurates its $9.9 million wing for modern art in mid-October. The Baltimore City Life Museums complex near Little Italy is slated for expansion as is the Baltimore Museum of Industry, near Locust Point, and the B&O Railroad Museum at Mount Clare. The new American Visionary Art Museum at Federal Hill is under construction.

Baltimore's target is to woo visitors -- and their dollars -- from the entire mid-Atlantic region. It's a huge market. The trick is to turn the city into a "can't miss" attraction.

Anne Arundel

County Executive Robert R. Neall says "adios" next December. So will three County Council members, victims of term limits who hope to find new life in the State House.

Meanwhile, the sex scandal-rocked school system will be doing the Humpty-Dumpty trick -- trying to put itself back together again.

The fall elections will be the big story because so many state and county leaders are either leaving or shifting gears. Mr. Neall will work to complete such goals as a new detention center, but attention will be on his would-be successors. Those now include two Republicans, Millersville Del. John R. Gary and former Pasadena Del. John Leopold, who have dug in for a bitter primary. That's good news for the Democrats -- if they find a viable candidate.

The County Council could be in for a wholesale transformation. Three of the seven council seats are up for grabs, and two of the other four incumbents face tough challenges.

At the state level, keep an eye on Senate seats in District 30, where Democrat Gerald Winegrad is not running, and District 33, where GOP heavyweight John Cade may opt for something new.

Aside from politics, the issue to watch is how the schools rebuild after the Ron Price debacle. This will be no easy task. The school board must pick a superintendent, revamp policies on child abuse reporting and teacher conduct while creating an environment where abusers cannot survive.

Baltimore County

County Executive Roger Hayden is hinting county workers could have "reason to smile" -- an allusion to pay raises for the first time in three years. This would come, surprise of surprises, -- in time for Mr. Hayden's re-election bid.

Already, it appears Republican Hayden has his party's nomination wrapped up, while County Council members Dutch Ruppersberger and Mel Mintz and state Sen. Nancy Murphy lead the Democratic charge. Mr. Hayden can boast he's achieved what he set out to do: shrink the government. Still, he's made a lot of enemies in both parties.

The seven council slots seem no safer than in 1990: county voters aren't a whole lot less irascible than they were in that year of the anti-incumbent.

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