Who will set the style for Oct. 23 papal visit?

July 02, 1994|By Sandy Banisky | Sandy Banisky,Sun Staff Writer

Pope John Paul II's 10-hour visit to Baltimore is less than four months away and -- who would be surprised -- the administrations of Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke have different ideas on how to welcome the church leader.

The view from City Hall:

"It's not the All Star Game," says mayoral aide Lynnette Young. "It's the pope's visit. This is a man of the cloth."

The view from the State House:

"It's like the All Star Game, when all the press came," says Lainy LeBow-Sachs, public relations director for the governor. "This is a fabulous opportunity for the city and state."

And there it is: The latest public example of the differences between the Schaefer and Schmoke approaches to life.

The low-key Mr. Schmoke tends toward restraint. He sometimes seems uninterested in public relations. The do-it-now Mr. Schaefer believes in seizing the day, every day. And along the way, he doesn't want to miss any opportunity to promote Baltimore and Maryland.

Ms. Young and Ms. LeBow-Sachs, each a loyal political aide, each reflects her own boss' thinking on how to handle events such as a papal visit.

"I don't think it should have the atmosphere of a circus," Ms. Young says.

"Most cities and states in the country would die to have the pope come because of the attention it brings, the publicity, the attention," Ms. LeBow-Sachs says.

People in both administrations -- as well as at the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which is in charge of planning for the papal visit -- insist that the difference in styles hasn't risen to the level of conflict.

Ms. LeBow-Sachs and Ms. Young, in separate interviews, said ** they will defer to the archdiocese in planning for the visit.

But there reportedly have been frustrations as the two governments, suspicious of each other over the last seven years, try to work together in a spirit of peace, harmony and ecumenism.

A source familiar with the planning meetings said problems arise because Mr. Schaefer has a "go-go administration" while Mr. Schmoke's is a "go-slow administration."

At City Hall, staffers are resigned to disappointing the Schaefer staff, which seems never to believe that Schmoke promotion efforts are up to par. The Schmoke administration heard the same criticisms from the State House in 1992, as the two groups planned the opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards and again in 1993, when the All Star Game was played in Baltimore.

Another source close to the planning meetings offers this example on how the two styles clash: Where Ms. Young describes "a stately, dignified motorcade" for the pope through Baltimore's streets, Ms. LeBow-Sachs talks about "a parade. A parade parade," the source says.

Ms. LeBow-Sachs indeed calls the procession a parade, as does the archdiocese. And though she says it's not yet certain who will be included in the event, she assures "it's not going to be a parade with Disneyland in it."

The ultimate arbiter of style for the pope's Oct. 23 visit, which will include a mass at Camden Yards, is the archdiocese of Baltimore, which has included the state and city representatives in the planning. The pope, as head of the Vatican, will be afforded Secret Service protection.

"Obviously, we are excited and happy to be a host city," Ms. Young says. "Obviously it's an opportunity for Baltimore to be showcased. But we're very careful to follow the archdiocese's lead. The mayor is not trying to lead the archdiocese in any particular direction."

City Hall, she says, will help the archdiocese on any planning for the media and tourists.

Ms. LeBow-Sachs says she is planning pamphlets to be sure that the hundreds of reporters and photographers and visitors coming to Baltimore appreciate its attractions.

"We're going to list all the different things going on in Baltimore during the pope's visit," she said. "We're working with the hotels to have pamphlets for taxi drivers, and everyone to make them feel great about Baltimore. We're going to tell people what's going on at the aquarium, what's going on in the harbor, the hotels, the restaurants."

And there are other ideas, she added, still under discussion. Among them: "an inter-faith vigil the night before on Rash Field. There may be -- if, if, if -- open houses at all the churches and synagogues, where they'll be open all weekend.

"Then we might try to have people from all over Maryland fax messages to the pope so the governor and the mayor can present them to the pope."

"We're going to think the biggest we can and then cut back and make it dignified," Ms. LeBow-Sachs says.

"We want to be absolutely sure when all is said and done that the pope's visit was handled with respect," Ms. Young says.

"It's going to be a great weekend," Ms. LeBow-Sachs says. "Everything we're doing is to make the pope feel welcome and think, 'Wow, this is the greatest city in the country.' "

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