O'Malley to speak in council chamber

Mayor will deliver State of the City address

January 24, 2000|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

As part of the City Council's opening session this afternoon, Mayor Martin O'Malley will join his former colleagues in the council's chamber and give a State of the City address in a show of unity among city leaders.

Council President Sheila Dixon invited O'Malley to give the address. It will be the first time that a mayor has given such an address in the council chamber, Dixon said.

"When the voters in Baltimore went to the polls last year, they were very clear that they had grown weary of the poor communications and lack of cooperation they were witnessing between the administration and the city's legislative body," Dixon said. "We have worked very hard to open the lines of communication."

Former Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's administration and the previous council often exchanged barbs that left city government divided.

Dixon and O'Malley have publicly forged an alliance that was solidified during the primary election. O'Malley received the endorsement of one of Dixon's most ardent supporters, the Rev. Frank M. Reid III, her pastor, in exchange for an endorsement by state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, a strong O'Malley backer, for Dixon.

Those endorsements played a key role in helping O'Malley and Dixon secure their Democratic primary victories and the general election.

The relationship, at least publicly, remains solid. O'Malley, a former councilman, said he looks forward to revisiting the council chamber.

"I miss the council chamber," O'Malley said. "I'm glad she invited me. We'll lay out where we are budgetwise and our agenda."

O'Malley's address at 4 p.m. will precede the council's regular session.

The council will have a busy agenda during the next several months. The session will begin with hearings on O'Malley administration appointees.

Hearings on Wednesday will include discussion of City Solicitor Thurman Zollicoffer, Finance Director Peggy J. Watson, Personnel Director Jesse Hoskins, Fire Chief Herman Williams Jr. and Health Commissioner Peter L. Beilenson.

In addition to confirmation hearings, during this session the mayor and the council will tackle the fiscal 2001 budget, lead paint issues, drug treatment, the U.S. Census count and restructuring the council.

"This is truly a new day in Baltimore, and it is my hope that this State of the City address will become an annual event," Dixon said. "I can assure you it will be while I serve as president of the City Council."

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