Mfume wuld have been a perfect mayor


THAT'S TOO BAD about Kweisi Mfume. He would have been perfect for the part. But having moved outside of the city - to Catonsville - his candidacy for mayor would have had a problem anyway, right? That was the cigarette burn in a fine suit, wasn't it? Kweisi Mfume, champion of Baltimore and American cities generally, doesn't live in one anymore. Did anyone else have a problem with that?

Had he been interested in the big chair at City Hall, Mfume would have had to have re-established residency a couple of months ago. (The city charter requires a mayoral candidate to live in the city for a year before an election, and the primary is September.) Or perhaps a friendly court would have given Mfume credit for the - what? - 30 or more years he lived in Baltimore before moving out. Whatever, it would have been complicated. Clearly, the man hadn't been contemplating a run for mayor for very long. He's probably a little shocked by all the calls for his candidacy last week.

While he should get credit for loyalty to the NAACP and his expressed desire to finish the job there, his announcement Saturday was a big disappointment.

He was the No. 1 choice of many people to replace Schmoke. Talk about a new mayor heated up this summer. It seems Schmoke's spring endorsement of Eileen M. Rehrmann in the gubernatorial primary - she gained little from the mayor's endorsement and eventually withdrew - fueled speculation that the three-term mayor might be vulnerable to a challenge, though it's still hard to believe anyone would have dared. Others tell me that Schmoke's approval rating fell low enough to make him an easy target and that City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III, for one, had been encouraged to give it a try.

In considering possible candidates, a lot of people - some ministers and community activists, in particular - started talking up Mfume, and for good reason. He stands out as the most impressive of public leaders in these parts, a man with great political skills and a big picture sense of things.

Oh, well. Maybe next time.

In the meantime, we need a mayor with vision and guts. Candidate must have passion and a sense of outrage; he or she should not tolerate 300 homicides a year, businesses and homeowners leaving for the suburbs, and city schools that do not educate children. Candidate must avoid arrogance and racial division in words and action. Applications now being accepted.

Norman Blake Jr. is back

I see where Norman P. Blake Jr., who got a $44 million payday after knocking a couple thousand people out of work at USF&G;, has turned up as the new boss at Promus Hotel Corp. Good for Norman. Nice to see a guy land on his feet like that. I was worried about him. I I've got a novel idea for that 546-acre wooded tract at Crownsville Hospital Center: Instead of selling it, have the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene turn it over to the state Department of Natural Resources, then have Governor Smart Growth declare it off limits to development. Why is this so hard? I Cereal Mom, one of our TJI correspondents, labored recently to put together her church's annual charity Christmas lunch. She got an interesting query from a woman who called to reserve tickets. "What table will I be seated at?" she asked. "I need to know. I don't want to sit with any of my enemies." Better to be safe than sorry, right?

Bag of food to help a family

Viva House, the Catholic Worker soup kitchen for the poor of West Baltimore, can always use bags of nonperishable food for parents in a pinch. To create a three-day supply for the average family that comes to its door, Viva House recommends the following: Two cans of pork and beans, a box of powdered milk, a pound of rice or pasta, two cans of tuna, one can of green vegetables, two cans of vegetable soup, one box of cereal (no sugar), one 18-ounce jar of peanut butter, two boxes of macaroni and cheese, and a 32-ounce can of spaghetti sauce. Bag those items and drop them off at 26 S. Mount St., a block north of West Lombard. It's easy, and it helps.

Seniors collect for schools

I have been reminded that "Save The Tapes," the big class project of senior citizens enrolled in the Renaissance Institute, is in full swing. We've been remiss in telling you about it this year. For four years, the institute has collected cash register tapes from major supermarkets and contributed them to a Baltimore public school with the greatest need for new resources and the best record of student attendance. The tapes, from Giant, Metro, Super Fresh and Safeway, are used to buy computer equipment. If you want to give yours so that a needy school can benefit, send them to: Save The Tapes, Renaissance Institute, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, 4701 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21210-2476.

This Just In appears each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dan Rodricks gets e-mail at, voice mail at 410-332-6166 and letters at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

Pub Date: 12/07/98

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