Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Judging Schaefer by the Company He Kept

In case you missed it, WBAL TV had a great segment Monday night featuring interviews with four people it described as comprising William Donald Schaefer's "inner circle" - Mark Wasserman, Lainy Lebow-Sachs, Mike Golden, and Bishop Robinson.

The measure of a great man is the quality of the people with whom he surrounded himself. William Donald Schaefer was no exception. During my career I have been fortunate to work closely with a number of people who were, to varying extents, part of the Schaefer universe.

Former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley had a great bipartisan friendship with the former governor and mayor. I hope one of the TV stations solicits her thoughts and reminiscences as well. In fact, Schaefer carved out a Congressional district for her during the 1990 redistricting process which was supposed to ensure her reelection indefinitely. 

When Bentley ran for governor in 1994, Bob Ehrlich inherited the district. He too enjoyed a good warm relationship with the occasionally irascible Schaefer, as evidenced by the fanfare with which he restored the notorious Government House fountain designed by Schaefer's companion, Hilda Mae Snoops, to operation. Ehrlich's wife Kendel was a Schaefer favorite as well.

The late Bruce Carlin, a veteran of Schaefer's City Hall security detail and an all-around great guy, joined the Ehrlich political universe as well. I met Everett Fullwood, another great guy and security detail veteran, at Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. He oversaw the Partnership's "Clean Sweep Ambassadors." The tremendous respect he engendered among his team impressed me greatly.

Laurie Schwartz, former head of the Partnership and one of the smartest people for whom I have ever worked, was another Schaeferite. She inherited his vision of a vibrant, necessary, clean and safe Downtown as one of the region's economic engines, and built an organization to help implement it. I think she was a little skeptical when she hired me - me being a Capitol Hill Republican, her a progressive Democrat - but I learned a lot from her, and she definitely impacted my thinking in a number of ways (though don't tell her that).

It was a privilege to work with and get to know all these great people. So, while I never worked for Schaefer myself, I guess I benefited from his legacy as well.

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