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Mikulski on Schaefer: He beat you one day, invited you in the next

Former mayor would let nothing get in the way of his vision

By Barbara A. Mikulski

5:25 PM EDT, April 26, 2011

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William Donald Schaefer was a Baltimore original. We will never see another William Donald Schaefer. He had the verve and the vision to give the city a new self-confidence and a new economy. He loved the neighborhoods.

When I was fighting against a 16-lane highway planned to run through the heart of East Side and West Side neighborhoods, I thought I had the votes in City Council to repeal it.

Then-Mayor Schaefer called me up and said, "Barbara, I am going to roll you. I am the Mayor. You can't run the city." When the votes came in, I lost 16 to 3. Afterward, we talked about it.

Out of that came a compromise that led to the Ft. McHenry Tunnel. We saved Fells Point. Federal Hill. Canton.

So he beat me one day. But then he invited me into the office on another day. William Donald Schaefer was like that.

He never stopped thinking about Baltimore. Baltimore and its streets and its neighborhoods and its people were his family.

When I went to the Congress, I said, "What should my agenda be?" And he said, "Bucks for Baltimore. Remember, the buck stops here, and bring as many as you can."

When he went on to be governor, he felt the same way about all the people of Maryland, whether they were in Ocean City or the mountain counties of Western Maryland.

For him it was always about the people. He was about building schools, keeping the libraries open, creating jobs and creating opportunity. And he wasn't going to let anything get in his way.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski served on the Baltimore City Council when William Donald Schaefer was mayor.