D'Adamo would cut mayor's spending power; City elections moved to presidential year

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The power of the next Baltimore mayor would be significantly reduced under a City Council resolution calling for the Board of Estimates to be reduced to three elected members.

Southeast Baltimore Councilman Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. said yesterday that the five-member board should be shrunk by eliminating the city solicitor and public works director, mayoral appointees who are not elected by residents.

By having only elected officials -- the mayor, council president and comptroller -- on the panel, D'Adamo said residents could hold the board, which approves municipal spending, more accountable.

D'Adamo said he introduced the measure after community groups in Fells Point and Federal Hill expressed frustration with the structure of the board.

"They say what's the sense of going before the board if the mayor controls the votes?" D'Adamo said. "The public feels they have little say."

D'Adamo's measure, however, has little chance of passing. In addition to controlling the Board of Estimates, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has majority support in the 19-member council. If the council approves the measure and Schmoke were to sign it, which is unlikely, the matter would go to referendum.

In other council action, Northeast Baltimore residents failed to defeat a proposed rubble-crushing operation at 4300 Shannon Drive. Phipps Construction Contractors Inc. wants to install the machine at the 23-acre site.

Residents of Frankford, Belair-Edison, Parkside, Claremont, Armistead Gardens and 4X4 are fighting the proposal, noting increased noise, truck traffic, air pollution and potential runoff into Herring Run.

Council President Lawrence A. Bell III said the city is looking for an alternative site for the operation, which Phipps purchased two years ago after winning a contract to dispose of demolition debris from hundreds of vacant houses being knocked down by the city housing department.

Bell supported a motion to delay a final vote on the project for two weeks, and the delay was approved 11-8 with one member abstaining. Residents vowed to continue fighting the plans.

"We've got two weeks to make it a bigger issue," said Kelley Ray, a Belair-Edison resident concerned about truck traffic flowing past three area schools.

The council also approved scheduling municipal elections to coincide with the presidential election beginning in 2004. The council rejected a similar measure last year but reconsidered after the General Assembly introduced a bill that would force municipal elections to be held at the same time as the state's.

Northeast Baltimore Councilman Robert Curran, sponsor of the bill, said he hopes the council action yesterday will eliminate the need for the state measure.

Pub Date: 3/30/99

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