Here's something for conspiracy theorizers to consider:
The mayor of Baltimore and the governor of Maryland are going to Sweden next week. They're traveling the same day, Aug. 6, and going to the same city, Stockholm. They're even taking the same plane.
They say it's just a coincidence.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is checking out the Water Festival, an extravaganza of musical performances, fireworks, water sports and teen-agers with hair dyed in rainbow colors. He wants to see if a similar event could be staged at the Inner Harbor, possibly by expanding Baltimore's Artscape festival.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening will speak at an international environmental conference about his Smart Growth initiative to contain sprawl and preserve the Chesapeake Bay. He also will promote investment in Maryland and the state's growing environmental technology industry.
Schmoke returns Aug. 10, two days earlier than the governor, and his trip will cost a fraction of Glendening's. Schmoke's travel, at the invitation of the U.S. ambassador to Sweden, is expected to cost the city $1,200 -- the price of his airfare. Schmoke's wife, Patricia, and daughter, Kathy, are going at the family's expense.
Glendening's trip will cost the state $16,000. The bill includes airfare for himself, his wife, Frances Hughes Glendening, and two staffers, with hotel accommodations and meals. "There is a difference between what is mainly a private vacation and an official state visit that will have a good payoff," said Judi Scioli, the governor's press secretary, who called his expenses "prudent."
Both men plan to promote Baltimore and Maryland as tourist destinations and squeeze in a little glad-handing in Stockholm, where it will be light until late in the night. But their itineraries diverge as soon as they arrive.
The governor, who has won some international recognition for Smart Growth, is to attend meetings and the Environmental Management of Enclosed Coastal Seas conference. Officials from the state Department of Natural Resources and the University of Maryland will be on hand.
The mayor will tour the Water Festival -- now in its seventh year and claiming to be the second-largest European event after the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.
Ambassador Thomas Siebert, an Annapolis resident and fund-raiser for President Clinton, extended the invitation while he was in Baltimore in late April for the christening of Swedish Match, a yacht racing in the Whitbread Round-the-World sailing competition.
"He wanted to have the mayor see the festival and how in a short time Stockholm has turned it into a premier festival," said Lee Tawney, the mayor's director of international programs.