Monday, April 18, 2011

RIP William Donald Schaefer

Today, William Donald Schaefer, former mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland, died at the age of 89.

His long and varied career as a politician who got things done merited an article in the New York Times which said that
“Bawlamer,” as natives call it, was a seedy, shot-and-beer factory town when he became mayor. There had been riots in the late 1960s, and residents and businesses were leaving. Its 18th-century core was a shambles of rotting piers and dilapidated warehouses. Gritty row houses and run-down tenements lined the inner city streets. Neighborhoods ached with poverty, unemployment, drugs and crime.
I remember that Baltimore. Our school cancelled field trips during the late 60's because of the riots that were rampant there and in other major cities.

Schaefer rolled up his sleeves and got right to work in making Baltimore great.

He was not above doing silly things for his favorite city. He said if the Baltimore Aquarium was not finished on time, that he would swim in the seal pool.  The picture speaks for itself.

Again, from the Times:
His methods were unorthodox. He sold 500 abandoned buildings for $1 apiece to urban homesteaders and hundreds of commercial shells for $100 each to businessmen.

He demolished and rebuilt whole neighborhoods. He had city crews salvage the lintels, fireplaces and marble from derelict buildings and sold them for restoration money. He pushed summer festivals and community theaters. He jawboned professional sports teams to stay put, or come to town. He drove around at night looking for potholes, trash, troublemakers and drug pushers, and got things done.
*This* ladies and gentlemen, is what politics is about. It is not about name calling and in fighting. It is about taking pride in your city, town, state and country, and fighting for their lives because their lives are your lives.

Rest in peace, "Mayor" Schaefer.


TACParent said...

I remember him swimming with the seals. I thought it was great.

Dymphna said...

He was great for Baltimore.

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