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Teacher union, gay newspaper endorse 2 despite misgivings Past wrongs forgiven for Schmoke, Burns


The Baltimore Teachers Union and the editorial board of a widely distributed gay newspaper apparently don't hold grudges when it comes time to make political endorsements.

Yesterday the 8,500-member BTU announced its support for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary, forgiving his refusal to give teachers a pay raise this year.

And the Baltimore Alternative, a gay newspaper that says it has a circulation of more than 18,000, endorsed Mr. Schmoke's chief opponent, former Mayor Clarence H. "Du" Burns, who in 1985 led the City Council in defeating a gay rights bill.

An editorial in the newspaper's current issue said that even though Mr. Schmoke signed the gay rights bill that ultimately was passed by the council in 1988, the legislation isn't worth much in view of Baltimore's growing unemployment, lack of affordable housing, growing crime rate and failing schools.

The editorial said that while Mr. Burns may be less "politically correct" than Mr. Schmoke, the 72-year-old former mayor is a "good nuts-and-bolts manager."

"So what do we want in our mayor?" asks the editorial. "A man who espouses lofty ideals and goals, but is incapable of implementing them? Or a man whose skills as a manager are already established, but whose vision for city government is less philosophical. . . ."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the teacher's union said that its members were upset when Mr. Schmoke withdrew their pay raises, but they grudgingly accepted Mr. Schmoke's explanation that he had few alternatives in the face of a $34 million budget shortfall. And, BTU members noted that teachers in several other jurisdictions also went without a salary increase.

"Nobody is happy about not getting a raise but if everyone else is being treated equally you can't complain," said Brian T. Dale, chairman of the BTU committee that conducted the endorsement interviews.

"The mayor's support might not have been the strongest, but he was the overwhelming choice of the teachers -- although perhaps not as enthusiastically as four years ago," Mr. Dale said.

The Baltimore Alternative appears to have completely lost faith in the mayor, however.

The BTU also endorsed Mary Pat Clarke's re-election campaign for City Council president, and chose Mary Conaway, the city's register of wills, as its favorite comptroller candidate.

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