Incineration discussion heats up council meeting


Tensions in the City Council spilled over yesterday morning at an unusual meeting that had to be convened after six members staged a walkout the previous night to thwart maneuvering over Baltimore's trash-disposal plan.

During yesterday's heated session, 3rd District Councilman Wilbur E. "Bill" Cunningham, the chief sponsor of the 10-year solid-waste plan, traded insults with 1st District members and criticized the council president.

Mr. Cunningham was at home recuperating from knee surgery Monday night when 1st District Councilman John L. Cain tried to remove three references to incinerators from the plan. Mr. Cunningham limped into the council chamber wearing a leg brace yesterday and helped defeat the amendment.

In introducing the proposed change, Mr. Cain said he was concerned about "the health and welfare of the people of the 1st District. We don't need any expansion of any incinerator."

Mr. Cain objected to a section of the long-range waste strategy that mentions incineration as an option for the future.

The section states that "consideration will be given to the following scenarios as a minimum" and lists among them building a new waste-to-energy plant at the site of the polluting Pulaski Highway incinerator in East Baltimore's 1st District.

Mr. Cain's amendment failed in an 11-5 vote, and the plan was approved unchanged. Those who supported the amendment were Council President Mary Pat Clarke; Mr. Cain, Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. and Lois A. Garey from the 1st District; and Carl Stokes from the 2nd District.

Monday night's council meeting came to an abrupt halt when six of the 15 members who were present walked off the floor.

Mrs. Clarke waited about 20 minutes for them to return before ending the meeting for lack of a quorum.

Yesterday, Mr. Cunningham cited Mrs. Clarke's mayoral ambitions and said, "I think we saw the president for what she is."

Mrs. Clarke said her only goal was to prevent an open-door policy on incineration.

At one point, Mr. D'Adamo said that he hoped the next incinerator would be built on 33rd Street, in Mr. Cunningham's district.

Mr. Cunningham snapped, "That is exactly the kind of small mentality that brings us to this point now."

Mr. Cain decried that comment as "schoolyard bully tactics" and called the walkout an "embarrassment." He also said he had sent letters to the FBI, the Maryland attorney general, the U.S. attorney and the city's ethics commissioner asking for "an immediate investigation" of what he described as "an unnatural loyalty to the expansion of incineration in Baltimore City."

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