Do like the Romans

Our view: The Monument City should have a place for the mayor from Mura Street.

December 21, 2008

The Romans loved statues. Their native city is filled with them: gods, emperors, gladiators, lovers, hunters, warriors, saints, animals. The Romans collected them, displayed them, commissioned them to honor a favorite son or shame a vanquished enemy. They could never have too many, and Roman society reflected their classical obsession.

Baltimoreans should be so accommodating. Instead, the sentiment here appears to be: One Inner Harbor homage to a former mayor is enough. The city's Public Art Commission has nixed a proposal to erect a statue to former Mayor Clarence H. "Du" Burns along the harbor promenade for fear that requests to so honor every other ex-mayor - living or dead - would turn the walkway into an obstacle course of mayoral statuary. The Burns family's request followed approval of a statue to Mr. Burns' predecessor, William Donald Schaefer, to be placed - where else? - in the Inner Harbor.

Surely some compromise can be reached. Mr. Burns became the city's first black mayor after Mr. Schaefer won election as governor and resigned as mayor. He was a Baltimore original, a former locker room attendant whose charm and street smarts served him well in politics. Mr. Burns, a man of some humility, might wave off all the fuss and then round up the votes to approve the statue. A likeness of Mr. Burns - East Baltimore's guy in City Hall - at the gateway of the east-side redevelopment would be a fitting tribute and memorial.

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