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Mayor names new members to tourism board


Nearly a month after Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke announced that he was tossing out the city's tourism board, the mayor unveiled yesterday his own 12-member board that will drive Baltimore's multimillion-dollar tourist industry.

The new Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association board is his final stroke to seize control of the tourism business. The move came after weeks of feuding with Henry A. Rosenberg Jr., chairman of the previous board.

Instead of an independent board, this agency will evolve into a partnership funded by state, private and city funds, the mayor said. In effect, the change will transform it into a quasi-public agency that will tap into businesses that pay to promote downtown attractions.

Mr. Schmoke emphasized that the board will work with the finance department to avoid budget overruns -- a problem with the old board.

"That's been the problem for the past four years," Mr. Schmoke said. "They have overspent the budget without any notice to local officials until the end of the budget year."

The city provided 85 percent of the $3 million budget but had no control. The rift began after Mr. Schmoke cut the budget and tried to take power to tighten spending, the mayor said.

When the board resisted, the mayor ended the contract. That prompted Mr. Rosenberg, chief executive officer of Crown Central Petroleum, to threaten to take his company headquarters out of the city.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening and business leaders intervened. But as of late as last week, when Mr. Rosenberg heard he would not be on the new board, the Crown official still was upset and warned that the city's economic future could be compromised.

"I have no regrets," Mr. Schmoke said yesterday. "I don't want to reopen old wounds, but I never wanted this to be a public fight."

Now, the mayor will appoint the board members. Mr. Schmoke also said the budget for this board will increase. The state has pledged to contribute funds but how much is not known, Mr. Schmoke said.

The board, which moves into action July 1, will be headed temporarily by William L. Jews, CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland and chairman of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

New board members include: James Eyler, a managing partner in Miles & Stockbridge law firm; Anthony Hawkins of the Rouse Co.; Gail Kaplan, owner of Classic Catering People; Donna Patterson, general manager of the Baltimore Arena; Gary Oster, general manager of Stouffer Harborplace Hotel; Robert Steele, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Hotel; Jay Hierholzer, assistant director of promotion and marketing for Baltimore-Washington International Airport; Rosslyn L. Smith, manager of human resources at Westinghouse Corp.; Ernest Grecco, president of Metropolitan Council of the AFL-CIO; and Elinor Bacon of the Baltimore Development Corp. task force. A state representative also will be on the board.

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