Mayor cancels meeting with councilwoman, leaders after her vote against housing chief Federal Hill constituents upset; scheduling blamed


The morning after she voted against the mayor's choice for housing commissioner, city Councilwoman Lois Garey received a call from Kurt L. Schmoke's office: An important meeting scheduled tomorrow among the mayor, Ms. Garey and Federal Hill community leaders was off.

Community leaders and Ms. Garey had sought the meeting, which had been on the mayor's calendar for almost a month, to discuss their continuing concerns about Southern High School. Neighbors say students threaten them and leave trash.

While Ms. Garey would not criticize the mayor directly, community leaders in Federal Hill said they believe Mr. Schmoke was retaliating against the 1st District councilwoman for her vote and, by extension, them.

"We're the ones that are going to be punished," said Sonny Morstein, the owner of Morstein's Jewelers on Light Street, who was supposed to attend tomorrow. "This is not the message the mayor should be sending out. It's very unfortunate."

Ms. Garey voted Monday night against reconfirming Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III, who was supported by a council majority. The call canceling her meeting with Mr. Schmoke and the neighbors came at 9:05 a.m. Tuesday. The mayor's office said it wants to reschedule the meeting, but has yet to offer a date.

"I generally don't believe in coincidences," said Ms. Garey, adding that Mr. Schmoke had assured her last week that the meeting was on. "But I'm sure that all of a sudden the mayor has something urgent on his schedule, perhaps."

Clinton R. Coleman, the mayor's press secretary, said the meeting had to be canceled because of a scheduling conflict he could not specify.

"The mayor is not the type of person who would seek revenge," said Mr. Coleman, adding that the mayor's schedule is often fluid. "And if the mayor wanted to punish Councilwoman Garey, he would not punish her by punishing the people he represents. You go after Councilwoman Garey, not her constituents."

Since a November 1993 shooting of a Southern High student near the Cross Street Market, neighbors have been critical of the conduct of students, though they praise Southern's second-year principal, Darline Lyles, for listening to their concerns.

Already this school year, a 14-year-old Southern High student has been shot and another stabbed. Yesterday, three students who brought railroad explosives to school were arrested.

Community leaders said they want, among other things:

* More effort by city sanitation workers to clean up trash students leave in the neighborhood.

* More police to patrol the Cross Street market area.

* A metal detector in the school to discourage students from bringing weapons.

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