Mayoral rivals' paths don't cross on parade routes CAMPAIGN 1995

April 30, 1995|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and City Council President Mary Pat Clarke maintained a discreet distance from each other yesterday -- but continued to spar over the legitimacy of the issue of Mrs. Clarke's personal and campaign finances.

In the spirit of one season -- the baseball season -- the two rivals for mayor in September's Democratic primary appeared in opening day parades for Little Leagues in East and West Baltimore that are major community events.

In the spirit of another season -- the increasingly acrimonious political season -- they stayed at least half a block apart at both events, separated by uniformed children and marching bands, each barely acknowledging the other's existence.

Mr. Schmoke said in an interview at a parade for the Northwood Baseball League in Northeast that his campaign would continue to scrutinize the purchase by the Clarke family of a Charles Village apartment building. On Friday, his campaign chairman accused the Clarke family of benefiting from a deal between Mrs. Clarke's husband and the Johns Hopkins University for the building -- the latest in a monthlong series of broadsides against Mrs. Clarke over her personal and campaign finances.

Mrs. Clarke said later in an interview at a parade for the James Mosher Little League in West Baltimore that the Schmoke campaign again was trying to divert attention from pressing issues of crime, schools and jobs. She suggested that the mayor and his campaign needed a basic education in real estate terminology.

"I'm saying this whole deal is very questionable," Mr. Schmoke said yesterday. "I think we ought to look into this -- and we will."

On Friday, Mr. Schmoke's campaign chairman, Larry S. Gibson, called a news conference to complain that Mrs. Clarke's family bought an apartment building in the 2900 block of N. Charles St. at a "private sale" and that "the Clarkes have somehow managed to have that assessment cut in half."

But a university spokesman and the director of the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation, which approved the lower valuation, both said Friday there was nothing improper about the arrangement.

The building was sold to J. Joseph Clarke for $850,000 -- the university's asking price based on an appraisal it had requested but considerably less than a $1.2 million appraisal Mr. Clarke had obtained.

Yesterday, Mr. Schmoke, like Mr. Gibson, would not say whether he thought the university or the state assessor's office did anything wrong.

"As we look into it further, we'll probably have more answers to some of the questions we raised," the mayor said. "But I think raising the questions is certainly legitimate."

"What I'm suggesting to you very, very clearly is that with respect to campaign laws and disclosure laws there is a pattern here of violation that I think has an impact on the consideration of her fitness to lead," the mayor said.

Mrs. Clarke said the mayor's campaign was continuing to raise such questions because campaign officials "just want to avoid the issues." She said Mr. Schmoke and his campaign "don't understand the difference between an assessment and an appraisal," adding, "I can't help that. I'll try to explain it to them later."

At the parade in Northeast, Mr. Schmoke and Mrs. Clarke walked the route, waving and shaking hands.

At the West Baltimore parade, Mr. Schmoke rode in a Chrysler convertible with 4th District Councilwoman Sheila Dixon. Mrs. Clarke walked with 4th District Councilman Lawrence A. Bell III.

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