Schaefer critical of mayor's comment

Comptroller calls logic that he is too busy for city post `horse manure'

October 30, 2003|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Mayor Martin O'Malley says he is reluctant to appoint William Donald Schaefer to Baltimore's convention bureau because the comptroller needs to focus his attention on his duties at the Board of Public Works.

Schaefer calls that "a bunch of horse manure."

The ever-earthy comptroller made the remark after yesterday's board meeting when asked by reporters how he felt about O'Malley's apparent decision to reject Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s advice to appoint Schaefer to the board.

Such an appointment would have given Schaefer another pulpit from which to denounce O'Malley's supposed mayoral sins - as the comptroller does at virtually every public works board meeting. O'Malley is still far behind former Gov. Parris N. Glendening as Schaefer's favorite target, but the mayor is moving up the charts.

When asked last week why he wasn't appointing Schaefer, O'Malley responded with tongue-in-cheek solicitude for the comptroller's workload.

"A person of Governor Schaefer's energy and talents understandably becomes a little bit bored with the work that happens at the Board of Public Works, but in these very tough budget times ... that's where his talents and his energies are needed for the city of Baltimore, and I wouldn't want to do anything that would distract him from that," O'Malley said on WBAL Radio.

Schaefer responded yesterday with a barb about O'Malley's recent travels.

"I appreciate his concern for me, but I might say the same for him," Schaefer said. "How can he do his mayoral duties and go all the way to England?"

Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for O'Malley, said the mayor's only response to Schaefer's "horse manure" comment was "God bless him."

The comptroller said he still wants to be on the convention board but understands that the decision is in the mayor's hands. Schaefer said authority rests with the mayor because he wrote the law that way when he held that office.

"Now it comes back to haunt me," the comptroller said.

Ehrlich's public suggestion that O'Malley appoint the former governor to the board of the Baltimore Convention and Visitors Association was interpreted by political observers as a effort to put the mayor on the spot. Despite their recent antipathy, Schaefer and O'Malley are both Democrats who appeal to the same political bases.

O'Malley, viewed as a potential rival to Ehrlich in 2006, dismissed Ehrlich's advice last week as "petty and purely political in the smallest sense of that word."

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