Schaefer, a Schmoke man? Team spirit: Former Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke have not been the best of friends over the years, but some sort of rapprochement appears to be in the offing.

January 12, 1996|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF

He's donning hats. He's out in the snow with television crews. All Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke still needs to succeed is a little help from a guy who knows the job.

At least, that's what William Donald Schaefer thinks.

The former governor of Maryland and erstwhile mayor of Baltimore hasn't filled out a job application yet. But Mr. Schaefer has tempered his criticism of Mr. Schmoke to the point of proposing that he serve as an adviser on economic development for the mayor.

"I think he's doing better," Mr. Schaefer said. "What he needs is someone who can really coordinate all the economic opportunities, and he needs a master plan for downtown. He needs a Don Schaefer as an overall man."

Sound far-fetched? Some pundits suggested cabin fever must be getting bad in Mr. Schaefer's snow-covered Pasadena neighborhood if he's making conciliatory noises about working with his old adversary. The two men, after all, had a celebrated feud for so long that few can recall how it began.

Yet some sort of rapprochement appears to be in the offing.

Mr. Schmoke said yesterday that Mr. Schaefer "indicated he wanted to talk" while at the mayor's inauguration to a third term last month. "We're going to talk some more," the mayor said.

Mr. Schmoke was gracious, though clearly taken aback, when asked whether he would hire Mr. Schaefer.

"I think he's being I don't really know, I don't think he's really looking for a job," Mr. Schmoke said.

But he quickly added, "I want to let him know that I'm receptive to his ideas. I think both of us are willing to sit down and develop a new and better relationship."

Except for some brief moments of detente, the two men have been at odds since Mr. Schmoke was elected state's attorney while Mr. Schaefer was mayor.

Mr. Schaefer did not show up for Mr. Schmoke's first mayoral inauguration in 1987, and relations between the State House and City Hall were chilly throughout Mr. Schaefer's eight-year tenure as governor.

Mr. Schaefer, 74, often has accused Mr. Schmoke, 46, of not doing as good a job as he did as Baltimore's mayor. And the former governor backed Mr. Schmoke's rival in the hard-fought mayoral primary last summer.

In an unexpected turnabout, Mr. Schaefer now is crediting the mayor with making all the right moves at the start of his third term.

Instead of talking tough about Baltimore being in decline, Mr. Schaefer says he's optimistic about the city's future.

He praised Mr. Schmoke for his new appointments and joked that the mayor is even wearing hats these days, a habit Mr. Schaefer made famous.

"You know, there's a chance the city is going to move," Mr. Schaefer said. "I go to meetings, and people say backwards, and I say nope, a real chance to move forward."

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