Schmoke optimistic Glendening will back city's legislative goals

November 18, 1994|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is hopeful the Glendening administration will help the city achieve two long-sought but elusive legislative goals -- a state takeover of Circuit Court operations and a change in the way auto insurance rates are set.

Mr. Schmoke said yesterday that he also hopes Gov.-elect Parris N. Glendening will make a "final decision" to build a $35 million juvenile justice center in Baltimore.

But Mr. Glendening said later that it was too early to specify what Maryland could afford to do for the city, adding that it was doubtful the state could immediately assume the cost of running the Circuit Court.

Baltimore gave Mr. Glendening, a Democrat from Prince George's County, a 73,000-vote margin in the Nov. 8 gubernatorial contest that he won by slightly more than 5,000 votes over Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

And the mayor, an early supporter of Mr. Glendening, said at his weekly press briefing that he was confident the governor-elect would be "sensitive to the needs of the city."

"You dance with the one who brung you. I don't believe he's the type of fellow to walk away from his dance partner," Mr. Schmoke said of the new governor.

Mr. Schmoke said a state takeover of Baltimore Circuit Court -- part of a legal system whose expenses are borne by local jurisdictions -- would save the city $6 million a year. Such a takeover, he said, also would pave the way for increased funding, allowing the court to process cases more quickly.

Mr. Glendening said he wanted to help the city solve its problems but added, "Everything's going to depend on the availability of finances. It's very difficult to tell right now what is available for any new initiatives."

He doubted that the state could pick up the Circuit Court operating cost "in the first budget or so."

But he was more optimistic about Mayor Schmoke's desire for legislation to lower auto insurance rates for city drivers by allowing companies to base rates only partly on where a driver lives. Studies have shown that car insurance premiums in Baltimore average about $1,300, about twice those in the suburbs.

"I'm aware of some of the inequities that have crept into the system," said Mr. Glendening. He said he has not had a chance to look into the proposed juvenile justice center, designed to speed procedures for dealing with youths and to allow police to spend more time on the streets.

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