A suggestion for Shattuck gift

Dixon drafts, withdraws resolution for donation by CEO to Fuel Fund

May 09, 2006|By DOUG DONOVAN | DOUG DONOVAN,SUN REPORTER

Baltimore City Council President Sheila Dixon believes that she has a better way for Constellation Energy Group's chief executive to spend his money.

Constellation chief Mayo Shattuck is promising to give $5 million to $10 million to his family's charitable foundation if Constellation is allowed to merge with a Florida utility.

Dixon said yesterday that Shattuck should donate the money to the Fuel Fund of Maryland, which helps low-income residents pay their gas and electricity bills.

She was set to introduce a resolution at last night's council meeting asking Shattuck to donate to the fuel fund "so that the funds directly benefit those who will be most negatively affected by the expected 72 percent increase in the cost of energy," the draft resolution stated.

"I'm going to send this to him," Dixon said at the council's luncheon.

But later, she pulled the measure from the agenda after council members Mary Pat Clarke and James B. Kraft expressed concern that it could be interpreted as signaling council support for Constellation's pending merger with Florida-based FPL Group Inc.

Dixon agreed, and said the resolution was intended to urge Shattuck to donate to the fuel fund only if the merger succeeds. Her office pulled the measure from the agenda to examine its wording, according to Beatrice Tripps, Dixon's chief of staff.

"It potentially could come back," Tripps said.

Constellation spokesman Robert L. Gould said it would be "inappropriate to comment" on a resolution that they have not seen.

Had it moved forward to a vote, the resolution was certain to face opposition from at least one council member.

"The City Council should not be in the business of dictating to people where to make contributions," said Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr.

Mitchell introduced a resolution last night asking Mayor Martin O'Malley to amend his budget for next year to give more money, possibly from the surplus, to the energy assistance program. The measure was assigned to the council's budget committee.

The city program, which is financed with a $10 million federal grant, gives one-time annual payments to low-income residents who cannot afford electric bills. The grants average $250 to $300, Mitchell said.

He said about 29,000 city residents have applied this year, with 86 percent certified as eligible.

doug.donovan@baltsun.com

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