Republicans protest raise proposed for City Council To become law, bill needs signature of Schmoke by Dec. 4

November 25, 1995|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,SUN STAFF

The protesters wore suits and ties.

Yes, they were Republicans, largely unaccustomed to such outdoor displays of political dissent. But they rallied outside City Hall yesterday afternoon to demonstrate against Council Bill 1306, which would raise the salaries of the all-Democratic City Council and Democratic mayor.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's salary would increase from from $60,000 a year to $95,000 under the legislation. However, the small group of protesters, armed with props, was more concerned with the 28 percent raise for the council members, to $37,000 a year from $29,000.

"No one begrudges the mayor making more than $60,000," said David R. Blumberg, chairman of the Baltimore Republican Central Committee. "That's not the issue. But the council has tied their increase to the mayor's increase."

Mr. Blumberg, wearing an overcoat and tie, held a small, packaged turkey in his left hand.

"This is Council Bill 1306," he said, pointing at the bird.

The council passed the pay-raise legislation Nov. 13.

Of the 19 members, only Martin O'Malley and John Cain voted against it.

Under the bill, introduced by Councilman Martin E. "Mike" Curran, who is leaving office, the council would earn more than Baltimore County Council members, who make $30,900, but less than Montgomery and Prince George's county council members, who earn $56,029 and $51,347, respectively.

The last raise for the Baltimore City Council was in 1987.

To become law, the measure must be signed by the mayor before the end of this four-year council term Dec. 4. If the mayor does not sign, raises will have to wait four years, because the council can vote only on raises that affect the next full term.

The GOP protesters said council members would get no raise if their pay was based on job performance. The small group stood in front of placards that read, "28% = 2 Much," and "Pay Raise" with a diagonal slash through the words. They urged Mr. Schmoke not to sign the bill.

The mayor was out of town yesterday, a staff member said.

Joseph Brown Jr., the unsuccessful Republican candidate for a 6th District seat in the Nov. 7 general election, said council members showed the arrogance of one-party government by voting themselves raises and not taking the interests of their constituents to heart.

"All I heard when I was on the campaign trail was that the federal government's cutting everything," Mr. Brown said. "And here we have people taking a million dollars [actually about $750,000] out of our pockets over the next four years."

Timothy Mayberry, the 1994 Republican nominee for state comptroller, said the increases send a "horrible message" to taxpayers."

"If we're going to have to tighten the belt, we should all have to tighten the belt," Mr. Mayberry said.

Anthony Cobb, the GOP standard-bearer for City Council president in the Nov. 7 election, said council members would make too much money for a job that was meant by framers of the City Charter to be part-time.

"These are supposed to be citizen legislators, and here they are raking off a 28 percent increase," Mr. Cobb said.

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