Janet Hoffman's last sine die Legendary city lobbyist: Governors, legislators relied on her for fiscal wizardry.

April 09, 1996

WHEN THEY CALLED Janet L. Hoffman the "48th senator," members of the General Assembly weren't kidding. Over the years, she has had far more influence on tax and spending matters than all but a handful of the state's 47 senators. Governors conferred with her to find ways out of fiscal thickets. So did legislators from across the state, though Mrs. Hoffman's chief concern was always Baltimore City.

For 33 years, Mrs. Hoffman has been a legendary city lobbyist, pulling more rabbits out of hats than a mayor could imagine. City Hall might set goals to achieve in Annapolis, but it was Janet Hoffman who figured out how to make it happen. Each year, she returned with more financial help for a cash-strapped city.

Even as the city's power in Annapolis began to fade, she found ways to build coalitions that enhanced the city's clout. Often, her approaches gave the city long-term benefits.

No one knows the ins and out of Annapolis better than Janet Hoffman. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of state government. When the legislature first set up a Fiscal Research Bureau in 1949, Mrs. Hoffman was a staff of one. In 1962, she became the city's chief advocate. Her vast influence on budget and tax bills sets her apart from other government lobbyists. Her counterparts are still trying to copy her style.

Legislators trust Janet Hoffman. They know her numbers are accurate and that her fiscal analysis is sound. They also know Mrs. Hoffman won't mislead them; she gives them an honest assessment, be it good or bad.

City and state officials are going to miss Mrs. Hoffman, who made last night's sine die session her final one after a 46-year career in government. A decade ago, she stepped down as the city's chief lobbyist, but she has been a forceful presence ever since as an invaluable consultant for Baltimore's delegation and mayor. Her institutional memory cannot be replaced. Others may try to emulate her skill and flair, her strategic thinking and her uncanny ability to influence generations of top State House leaders. But there is only one Janet Hoffman. Baltimore City is much in her debt.

Pub Date: 4/09/96

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