Board of Estimates goes public for 'mini-meeting'


After years of wondering just what goes on at the closed-door "mini-meeting" that precedes public sessions of the Board of Estimates in Baltimore, reporters were allowed inside yesterday for what old-timers at City Hall said was the first time in history.

The meeting, which lasted 14 minutes, was as exciting as watching grass grow.

The most spirited moment came when City Council Vice President Jacqueline F. McLean questioned the date on a contract between two city agencies.

"Was that a typo?" Mrs. McLean asked.

Moments later, the meeting was over.

In the past, public officials have used the privacy of the meetings to discuss potentially embarrassing business, such as the city's once-troubled financial involvement with the Belvedere Hotel, Beethoven Apartments and Shake 'n' Bake Family Fun Center.

In April, the General Assembly passed legislation placing tougher restrictions on the closing of public meetings.

The five-member board of the city's top officials decides how the city's $1.9 billion budget will be spent.

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