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Mayor eases cut for community relations panel


Mayor Martin O'Malley has agreed to restore funding to the city's Community Relations Commission, which handles civil rights complaints and had been slated for deep cuts in the mayor's budget for next year.

At a meeting this week with gay and lesbian community leaders -- who had heavily lobbied the mayor to restore CRC's funding -- O'Malley said he planned to cut about $100,000, much less than first proposed.

Last month, the mayor had proposed a 26 percent cut to the anti-discrimination agency's budg- et, from $949,485 to $704,618, triggering concerns among some city officials and minority groups, particularly the gay community.

The CRC has about 17 staffers, down from a high of 60 during the 1970s, and supporters said the cuts would have disabled the agency.

Organizations wrote and telephoned O'Malley's office, urging him to reconsider the cut, and at a meeting Tuesday with members of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore, the mayor agreed to restore the funding.

"Although the cut will hurt the overall performance of the commission, it will allow the basic functioning of the investigative and community outreach divisions," said Shannon Avery, an official with the Gay and Lesbian Community Center who is on CRC's board.

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