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Reinstate curfew, Clarke urges mayor


Saying Baltimore is "living on borrowed time" without a curfew for juveniles, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke called on the mayor yesterday to immediately reinstate one.

Mrs. Clarke, who is challenging Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's bid for a third term, said he has had enough time over the past 10 days to review the curfew law that the council altered July 14 in an attempt to have it in place again this summer.

A little over two weeks ago, the city suspended its year-old curfew after the state's highest court struck down an almost identical curfew law in Frederick.

Mr. Schmoke has made clear that he will revive a curfew only if it meets constitutional muster. A lawyer hired to study the amended ordinance is expected to issue a report as early as today, said the mayor's spokesman, Clinton R. Coleman.

The mayor also is keeping 33 recreation centers and 23 swimming pools open later at night to offer youths an alternative to hanging out on the often-dangerous streets.

While applauding the expanded summer recreation programs, Mrs. Clarke said yesterday that the city needs a nighttime curfew as well.

"Recreation is a crucial component, but it is no substitute for safety. We need both," she said. Her campaign issued a statement that the city is "lucky that no child has been caught in cross-fire or seriously wounded in those 10 nights."

Mr. Schmoke responded sharply: "It's a shame that Mrs. Clarke is misleading the public on this very sensitive issue in order to seek political gain."

At a news conference in front of City Hall, Mrs. Clarke also denounced the amount of money being spent by Baltimore and its quasi-public agencies on outside law firms -- especially Shapiro and Olander, which has close ties to the mayor.

Shapiro and Olander has been paid $2.43 million for city-related legal work during the past 4 1/2 years, the city and firm reported Friday.

In its most extensive accounting of legal fees, the city reported that Shapiro and Olander had received more money than all but one other law firm, which is representing Baltimore in complex litigation against asbestos manufacturers. Shapiro and Olander also disclosed for the first time the fees it charged to clients of two quasi-public agencies that handle economic development and renovating vacant housing.

Mr. Schmoke ordered the accounting after he came under criticism for refusing to reveal all the fees paid to outside law firms.

"I say we need police more than excess lawyering, and Shapiro and Olander represents excess lawyering," Mrs. Clarke said yesterday.

Mr. Coleman emphasized again yesterday that the amount the firm collected represented only 11.42 percent of the $17.4 million spent on outside legal work from Jan. 1, 1991, through June 30, 1995.

Mr. Schmoke and Mrs. Clarke clashed last week over hiring an outside legal expert for $5,000 to study the revised curfew.

Mr. Schmoke said the city has to take the proper precautions.

Mrs. Clarke said she sought free advice from a law firm when the council amended the curfew law.

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