There's a big difference between public wonderings about a young couple thrust into the spotlight of being the city's first family, and a premeditated, orchestrated and relentless campaign run by dirty trick operatives close to the governor funded on state taxpayer dollars. What do I mean by that?

I mean that there is a difference between people wondering about, you know, a high-profile couple and what has started happening about 18 months ago.

One of those stories, and I'd hoped not to have to talk about this again, one of those stories we were all going to, the whole family was going to a local neighborhood establishment, Koko's on Harford Road.

We [the mayor and his wife, Katie Curran O'Malley] were both tired at the end of the week. We both have careers and both have demanding jobs and neither of us felt like cooking. So we took the kids to Koko's for the burgers and the fries and to chase the 2 -year-old under the table.

And we got a call from my press secretary, Raquel [Guillory], who said, 'Mr. Mayor channel so-and-so, I forget which one it was, I believe it was Channel 2, has been receiving, has received a number of calls from people all reading from a script saying that their children go to school with the O'Malley's children and they heard the O'Malley's children say in the cafeteria today that daddy doesn't live with mommy anymore.'

So ... there is a difference between public wonderings about say political couples or sports or entertainment couples and between a man like Joe Steffen, who resigned a few months ago saying, lest that we forget, 'a few folks put in a lot of effort to ensure that these lies,' I paraphrase, 'got some real float.'

After Steffen was exposed for saying that a few people worked very hard to ensure that these lies about me and my family got a lot of float, there were all sorts of denials by the governor that he [Steffen] was one of 40,000 employees, the matter had been taken care of. But nevertheless I think the questions that need to be answered today is what about those other few people.

There is a story in the media today, and it is a story that was prompted by apparently someone in state government going through five years of e-mails of Katie's brother [Public Service Commissioner J. Joseph "Max" Curran III] and then focusing WBAL radio on one of those e-mails so that they could kick up into the dust in a context that has changed over the course of five years my wife's very candid remarks from five years ago.

So now we're all left to have talked today in the news about this story about rumors about rumors or lies about lies. You can all look into it and go how you want.

Who was that state operative? Who was it that went through five years of e-mails?

I'm calling today on the governor who is himself a husband and father of young children, I'm calling on the governor, not just to release the thousands of e-mails pertaining to Joe Steffen that he so far has refused to release to you, but I'm really calling on the governor to end this cowardly abuse of power where apparently the few other folks, the ones who weren't fired, are continuing today to push these stories on all of you and to try to pump up these lies in the media.

I'm calling upon the governor to end this cowardly abuse of power. I'm calling upon the governor to fire the remaining members of his taxpayer-financed dirty tricks team. And I'm calling on the governor to stop right now the politics of character smear and character assassination that apparently he learned at the elbow of Newt Gingrich.

Our state has a lot of important issues facing us, one of them being Central Booking and the death of an inmate ... another one is the freefall of the juvenile service administration.

They have so many important, pressing issues that the people of this state need for their elected officials to address that it is really unbecoming and embarrassing for all of us who call ourselves Marylanders to allow our governor to continue to operate on our tax dollars this sort of dirty tricks smear campaign which apparently continues to this day.

There is a big difference between public wonderings about a young couple newly thrust into a very bright spotlight and the orchestrated, relentless abuse of power that we saw going on by Joe Steffen and that apparently continues to this day by the few other people that Joe Steffen talked about who are apparently still in the employ of our state government.

I'm going to go on with the rest of my day and I'm not going to answer more questions. But I'm looking forward to Flower Mart today and I'll be there with my wife and son, William.