Schmoke meets Glendening without fuss or warmth Governor and mayor stress party unity

Democratic Convention

August 28, 1996|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- The mayor of Baltimore and the governor of Maryland spoke briefly and cordially -- if not warmly -- yesterday far from from the scene of their increasingly rancorous disagreements.

For the first time since their dispute about financial aid to city schools took on an openly testy tone late last week, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Gov. Parris N. Glendening met during a breakfast meeting of the state's Democratic Convention delegates.

Coffee cup in hand and wearing his usual white shirt and striped tie, Glendening walked to a table where the mayor and his wife, Dr. Patricia Schmoke, were sitting with several Maryland labor leaders.

The more casually dressed Schmoke -- orange-sherbet polo shirt buttoned to the neck -- stood rather stiffly. The two men shook hands. A moment later, the governor's wife, Frances Hughes Glendening, joined them. Mrs. Glendening rested her left hand on Dr. Schmoke's shoulder.

The talking continued for a few minutes -- but the subject was not about how to pay for education in Baltimore or about any of the local issues that have threatened to divide these two men.

Their public differences erupted earlier this summer when the mayor said the governor had promised to provide more aid to Baltimore -- possibly by authorizing slot machines at racetracks. Under pressure by anti-gambling forces, Glendening said later that he would not approve slots or casinos while he was governor.

That reversal, added to other disagreements over management of city schools, seemed to represent a wedge between Glendening and Schmoke, whose political organization takes credit for the governor's 1994 victory. Whether that alliance can weather this disagreement is a subject of discussion at the convention.

Asked later if he and the mayor spoke at all about their personal relationship, the governor said no and asked, "Should we have?"

"We're all here focused on what's important for the country," he said. "We have to close ranks behind the Democratic agenda."

Schmoke was similarly restrained.

"We talked about welfare reform," the mayor said, referring to a bill recently signed into law by President Clinton. "There are issues in that bill with a significant impact on the city. I'm hoping we can find ways to modify it."

On this objective, they agreed.

"We do not intend to abandon any of our children," the governor said. State funds -- running into the millions -- will be set aside to replace federal money which can't be spent on various prenatal, nutrition and other programs for the children of legal immigrants.

Both men left the breakfast meeting shortly after their brief encounter -- Glendening to a book signing party thrown by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski in honor of her new novel, "Capitol Offense." Schmoke left to rehearse for his speech before the convention yesterday afternoon.

Both said they didn't expect to speak about local issues while they are in Chicago.

Schmoke left no doubt yesterday that, while national matters are the focus now, education aid remains paramount. Schmoke said again that he expects no resolution before the city's arguments are presented in court.

In the meantime, he said, he expects Glendening to release $5.9 million in funds withheld pending certain management reforms in the city schools. "I find it hard to believe he will continue to withhold that money, which is in his power to release," he said.

The rest of his day would be spent, he said, thanking the president for money sent to Baltimore from Washington. The mayor used his five minutes of speaking time to talk about what the Empowerment Zone grant meant to Baltimore.

"The president kept his promise for expanding opportunity as opposed to the other party, which tends to look at cities as quarantine areas for the poor.

"We have developed 1,400 new jobs in our zone, and that is just the start. We're feeling a lot more optimistic and cities in general are feeling more optimistic with Clinton as president," he said.

No less a Clinton partisan, Glendening told the Maryland DTC delegation yesterday that he had won another important vote for re-election of the Clinton-Gore team: his wife's.

A lifelong Republican whose parents and grandparents were Republicans, Mrs. Glendening has decided to convert.

"She feels the Republican Party of today, nationally and locally, is no longer the Republican Party her father belonged to," the governor said.

When the Glendenings married, he told the delegates, his bride-to-be said she would change her name or her party, but not both. Not surprisingly, he voted for Glendening.

Now, 24 years later, he has both.

Pub Date: 8/28/96

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