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Dissing Baltimore


For last week's budget speech, Mayor Glenda Hood took an unusual approach: Her short "Tale of Two Cities" introduction compared Orlando city government to Baltimore's.

Hood said that a study found that Baltimore's government is bloated with employees, that "good managers are the exception rather than the rule" and that Baltimore's mayor doesn't treat the government like a business.

Orlando, on the other hand, was humming along perfectly, according to the mayor, mainly because "exemplary management" treats government as if it were a business.

Hood spokeswoman Susan Blexrud says the mayor was comparing cities simply to focus her audience. "The mayor wasn't trying to diss Baltimore," she says.

Yet the comparison might come back to haunt Hood. Ezell Harris, who recently won Orlando Weekly's award for best civic gadfly, is boxing up 25 tapes of Hood's speech to send to members of Baltimore's city council. Another activist, Cindy Smith, has e-mailed the speech to Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.

In his budget speech in May, O'Malley owned up to his city's problems. Rather than trying to divert his voters' attention, he opted to compliment two other cities, New Orleans and New York, on rebounding from problems similar to Baltimore's. In this tale of two mayors, who do you think sounds smarter?

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