1 - April 29, 2011 The Afro-American
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The 2011 version of the Maryland GeneralAssembly seemed to have a little bit of something for just about everybody – unlessyou supported gay marriage in Maryland. But,the debate and political machinations over thecontroversial measure seemed to usurp mostof the passion and volatility from the rest of the session.“This has been the most collegial sessionbetween the two houses and the governor,”said House Speaker Michael Busch during lastweek’s bill signing ceremony. There were 707bills passed, but gay marriage in Marylandwasn’t one of them.Advocates for the bill – organized andrelentless – won a stunning victory early on inthe Senate, where most believed the real battlewould be. But, although it made it out of theJudiciary Committee, the House never tooka vote on the measure, because ultimately,Busch knew he didn’t have the votes.Truth is after the bill made it through theSenate, opponents of gay marriage – manyof whom are in the Black community –got mobilized. They started calling theirrepresentatives and those who were onthe fence jumped off of it quickly. I thinksometimes people forget Maryland is aSouthern state with many Southern mores andsimilar measures have not gained traction inthe South. Still, the bill was just a few votesshort, so we’ll see what happens when itcomes back next year.Sen. Catherine Pugh sponsored – and thelegislature passed – SB 132, which limitsemployers’ access to the credit reports of potential employees. “It keeps companiesfrom checking credit reports to determineemployment except in the case of positionsthat require duciary responsibilities,”Pugh told the
.“I think it’s a real victoryfor those who are out there looking foremployment, especially in these uncertaineconomic times.“It also sends a message to employersthat you shouldn’t be using a credit reportto determine someone’s character. There areother ways of doing that.”Pugh, a West Baltimore Democrat wasbusy as usual during the session, but now it’sa pretty safe bet she is going to get even busieras she has all but made it ofcial that she willchallenge Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake tobe the next mayor of Baltimore.This session the legislature nally decidedto tackle the monstrous $36 billion pensiondecit in earnest. They voted to increase theretirement age to 65, increased the vestingtime to 10 years and employees will haveto pay a little more into their pension plans.Of course the reforms are uncomfortable forsome, but the system as it stood was simplyunsustainable.Much to the consternation of manyrestaurant, bar and liquor store owners inMaryland, the alcohol tax passed. BeginningJuly 1, the alcohol tax will increase from 6 to9 percent. The 50 percent increase is going tobe a signicant blow to many retailers acrossthe state, as well as consumers.Staying with the alcohol tangent, I’mcertain my friend Rita Roane-Blackwell,owner of Wine Express, which provides,“private tastings of uncommon wine,” isthrilled Marylanders can now have wineshipped directly to them, repealing an archaiclaw that dated back to the Prohibition era. AndMaryland wineries, which – quiet as it’s kept – are among some of the nest in the country,now can ship their product out of state. It wasa long time coming.And there was news on the MinorityBusiness Enterprise front this session.Lawmakers passed a bill renewing Maryland’scommitment to the MBE program, which wasset to expire July 1. The new bill keeps the 25percent participation of minority and women-owned businesses in Maryland’s procurementprocess. Legislators vow to produce a long-term plan for MBE during the 2012 session.Critics of the state’s MBE program argue moststate contracts didn’t reach the 25 percentminority participation goal over the last veyears.Bottom line is, despite the victories, therewas a lot of unnished business left for theHouse and the Senate to perhaps pick upin 2012, including the looming long-termstructural budget decit.But for those who nd themselves feelingunfullled in wake of the 2011 session, youwon’t have to wait until 2012. A specialsession is scheduled for September, duringwhich lawmakers will attempt to tackle theoften precarious adventure of redistrictingbased on the 2010 Census gures. Now, thatshould provide plenty of passion and volatility.
Sean Yoes is a former staff reporter and contributing writer to the AFRO.
Notes on a Somewhat Sleepy Session
are beginning to likeBaltimore.”Since the news of hisdeath, tributes have beenpouring in from across thestate.“William Donald Schaeferlifted us up as a City andrestored our pride from theneighborhoods up. I waspresident of the GreaterHomewood CommunityCorporation in 1972, whenhe launched the Mayor’sStation program in ourcommunity, bringing us andother neighborhoods a directlink with City Hall withoutleaving home,” said BaltimoreCity Councilwoman MaryPat Clarke, in a statement.“With Mayor Schaefer, wewere all family, and, for allthe occasional disagreements,family always came rst. Ashe wished, we will rememberbest that, ‘He cared.’”To Baltimore he broughtthe Inner Harbor projectand ofciated the openingof the aquarium and otherprojects to create a betterBaltimore. He was also at thetable when the Colts pulledout for Indianapolis. But, henevertheless had more thanhis share of critics for how hisadvancements for Baltimoredidn’t seem to reach into allneighborhoods.Such criticism, however,didn’t slow his politicalcareer in the state, as hewas elected to two terms asgovernor beginning in 1987.His tenure at the head of thestate of Maryland included aredistricting, the consolidationof Maryland’s state collegesunder a single administration,the Reach the Beach andbeach replenishment and thebeginning of the light railproject.“He was a great mayor anda wonderful governor. Herein Baltimore, he gave use anew sense of self-condence.... His relentless approachto a ‘do it now philosophy,’shook up, not only the citybureaucracy, but it spreadlike a culture throughout ourcommunity. We all wantedto do it now, and all do itright. ... He had the heart of areformer,” said Sen. BarbaraMikulski.”He wanted tobuild Baltimore, he wantedto build the economy. ... ForSchaefer, it was always aboutthe people. ... He was a truepatriot and we wish himGodspeed.”After a four-year break hereturned to state wide politicsas the comptroller, serving inthat capacity for eight yearsbefore exciting the politicalarea for good.“This is a sad day for thepeople of Maryland – and forme, personally,” said Rep.Elijah Cummings, D-Md. ina statement. “Gov. Schaeferdevoted more than vedecades to public service. Hisloss evokes more than ourgratitude; it is as if each of us has lost a member of ourfamily.“As a leader, DonaldSchaefer’s greatest strengthwas that he was a Baltimoreanto the core of his being. Heexemplied the determinationand the pride in hard workwell done that is at the heart of our character as a community.“Even on those occasionswhen we disagreed on policy,I never doubted that he hadthe public’s well-being atthe forefront of his mind.With Donald Schaefer’spassing, an era has ended inour community. He will bemissed.”Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.,said in a statement, “DonSchaefer was an indomitableforce who dedicated his lifeto the people of Maryland. …There was no problem thatwas too small for his attentionand his forceful ‘do-it-now-style’ focused attention onnding solutions and gettingresults. Personally, it was aprivilege to have known himand he leaves a legacy of strong, visionary leadershipthat transformed a city and astate.”Schaefer, despite beinga good politician and publicservant, was best knownfor his brazen nature andoutrageous comments.Gov. Martin O’Malley, onApril 19 ordered state agsown at half-staff and saidSchaefer will lie in state at theMaryland State House and atBaltimore’s City Hall.“Governor Schaefer’slife was spent in service tothe communities he loved,and his unrelenting drive to‘do it now’ was a constantpursuit of a better Marylandfor the people he served,”said Governor O’Malley.“And so it is tting that as wemourn the loss of Maryland’sindomitable statesman, thepeople of Maryland cancelebrate his legacy properly.”
William Donald Schaefer Dies at 89
Continued from A1
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Schaefer will lie in state atthe Maryland State House,Annapolis, Md.
2 – 5 p.m.
A procession will drivethrough all Schaefer’sfavorite areas of BaltimoreCity.
5 – 9 p.m.
Schaefer will lie in stateat Baltimore City Hall,Baltimore, Md.
9 a.m. – 9 p.m
.Schaefer will lie in stateat Baltimore City Hall,Baltimore, Md.
Memorial Service, Old St.Paul’s Church, BaltimoreBurial, Dulaney ValleyMemorial GardensIn a tribute to Schaefer,Maryland Public Televisionwill show at 8 p.m. April 27a one-hour special,
, looking at his51 years of public service.Following the special,MPT will air a live paneldiscussion on the formermayor, comptroller andgovernor.
AFRO Archives Photos
William Donald Schaefer received an honorary degree from Morgan State University in1983. He is shown, left, with
founder Dr. Earl Graves, right, on the daythe degree was conferred.
William DonaldSchaefer spend 51years in public servicefor the city of Baltimoreand the state of Maryland.