Former Mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland, William Donald Schaefer, died yesterday at age 89. The Baltimore Sun has a great, in-depth obituary of the man that is a pretty good read for anyone interested.
The positive or negative impact of Schaefer on my state is and likely will always be a topic of debate, but the one thing that cannot be argued against is the man's enthusiasm. As Mayor of Baltimore, he was the city's head cheerleader for sixteen years. He oversaw the renovation of the Inner Harbor into a major tourist attraction, and the construction of the National Aquarium. Later, as governor, he championed the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the ballpark that soon had every other Major League franchise scrambling to build their own old-time stadium.
He was one of the most dominant political figures in the history of my state, so naturally I've made fun of him at some point. Schaefer had a knack for saying stupid and inoffensive things from time to time. He also tended, especially in later years, toward being totally insane. In 2006, after he lost his bid to be re-elected to the State Comptroller's Office in a Democratic primary, I wrote a fond recollection of Schaefer's political career that was part fact, and much larger part bullshit fiction. Check it out:
William Donald Schaefer was born November 2, 4,000,000,000 B.C.E., in what would one day be known as the city of Baltimore. He eventually became an attorney in the field of real estate law. In 1955, realizing he could make more money and have significant power over other people’s lives, he ran for and was elected to the city council. He was elected city council President in 1967, and in 1971 successfully assassinated Baltimore Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro III to assume that office. Impressed by his all-consuming personal ambition and lack of basic social manners, the citizens of Baltimore re-elected him three more times.Read the rest of that piece here. Rest in peace, you crazy bastard.
In 1986 Schaefer, still spry at 4,000,001,986, was elected Governor of Maryland. He immediately set about putting his stamp on the state, hiking taxes, building an enormous water fountain for his mistress at the Governor’s mansion, and funding the construction of William Donald Schaefer Is the Greatest Governor of Any State Ever Stadium, later re-named Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He was soundly re-elected in 1990, bumping Maryland up to number two, right behind Minnesota, on the List of States That Hate Themselves the Most. Schaefer celebrated his re-election by calling for a public registry of HIV-positive residents, and publicly referring to the state’s Eastern Shore as “a shithole.”