Former Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer has died

April 18, 2011

William Donald Schaefer, who dominated Maryland politics as governor, state comptroller and Baltimore mayor with a trademark
style that was impatient, autocratic and sometimes offensive, died Monday at 89.

As Baltimore mayor from 1971 to 1987, Schaefer gained national exposure as he revived the fading industrial city with massive
cleanup and construction efforts. He transformed a riot-torn metropolis into the tourist-centered "Charm City" that included the Harborplace urban market and aquarium, as well as Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Schaefer was incapable of passing up any stunt to draw media attention to his city or himself. He famously turned a construction delay of the Baltimore aquarium in 1981 into a public relations win by plunging into the seal tank while wearing a Victorian-era swimsuit and holding a rubber duck.

Starting in 1986, he was twice elected governor and continued what he called his "do it now" approach to expensive infrastructure
projects. He said he embraced his image as an eager-to-spend Democrat, even as a national recession in the early 1990s, which he inaccurately predicted would fade quickly, led to major tax increases and budget cuts.

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Adam Bernstein has spent his career putting the "post" in Washington Post, first as an obituary writer and then as editor. The American Society of Newspaper Editors recognized Bernstein’s ability to exhume “the small details and anecdotes that get at the essence of the person” and to write stories that are “complex yet stylish.”
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