ANNAPOLIS, NOV. 10 -- If some rude guest at Maryland's governor's mansion purloins one of the state's new silver teaspoons, it won't be hard to prove where it came from:
Gov. William Donald Schaefer's name is on it.
Legislators noticed the "Wm. D. Schaefer, Gov." engravings on the backs of the new silverware when it was used last week at a luncheon at Government House, the stately red-brick mansion across the street from the State House.
"Tacky," said one, who didn't want to be identified.
The 80 new four-piece place settings of silver were given to the mansion and the State of Maryland by a friend of the governor's who wishes to remain anonymous, according to Schaefer press secretary Bob Douglas. The state already owned 70 sets of the silver, he said.
"When the state has dinners and invites more than 70 people, the state has had to rent silverware," Douglas said in explaining the need for the additional cutlery.
The legislators who spotted Schaefer's moniker on the forks assumed it was another example of the governor's tendency to personalize government with the use of his name. Park benches in Baltimore were only a few of the items painted with "Courtesy of Mayor William Donald Schaefer and the citizens of Baltimore" when Schaefer was mayor.
A few benches at the state office building in that city were repainted to acknowledge the new governor after Schaefer moved to the governorship last January. But attempts to put similar Schaefer-embossed benches in Annapolis were met with protests from the historical activists who closely monitor changes in this colonial town.
Douglas, who stressed that neither the silverware nor the engravings were purchased with taxpayers' money, said it was the result of tradition rather than ego that Schaefer's name is on the cutlery.
Douglas said he was told that it is traditional for gifts to Government House to be inscribed with the name of the current governor. Theodore R. McKeldin and J. Millard Tawes are examples of those whose names are found on items in the mansion, Douglas said.
But Schaefer's predecessor, Harry Hughes, said today he had never heard of the tradition. Hughes said that as far as he knew, there were no plaques on the furniture donated to the mansion during his two terms, and he said his name is not on the old silverware. "It's a new policy," he said, "like the benches."
But one legislator thought it was in poor taste for his colleagues to carp about the new furnishings: "I think it's tacky to eat lunch and then complain about the silverware."