Mayor Schaefer's dreaded Blue Notes

April 19, 2011

"Second best" or "second rate" were concepts unacceptable to Mayor William Donald Schaefer.

He required, yes, demanded, the BEST of all city employees in performing their duties.

We all looked forward (often with dread) to Monday morning when the mayor's "Blue Notes" would shower down on the department head's desk.

For the prior weekend, the mayor and his driver had toured the city looking for the imperfect, the damaged or the distressed and noting same on a small pad of blue notepaper. These imperfections were to be corrected immediately. The Blue Notes required an action plan and completion timetable, preferably within two days — certainly no more than five.

Woe unto the uninitiated department head who did not respond with alacrity! I recall one poor soul who was dismissed within a month because he did not understand the Blue Note protocol.

What we employees learned from the mayor was his strong work ethic, his passion for excellence, and his total commitment to the welfare of the citizens of Baltimore.

(From my own experience, I remember Blue Notes which included the following instructions:

l. Replace light bulb in third lamp along West Shore (of the Inner Harbor)

2. Repair bench in second row of seats on Rash Field

3. Repair paint in center section of McKeldin Fountain)

Barbara J. Bonnell

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