At last night’s Mayor’s Inaugural Ball at the Hilton Baltimore, $75-level ticket-holders nibbled on chicken kabobs and open-faced reuben sandwiches along with sponsors who paid much more – the contractors, developers and government vendors whose campaign contributions helped Stephanie Rawlings-Blake win a decisive victory in last month’s election.
David S. Cordish, the Inner Harbor entertainment mogul, held court near the front of the ballroom, chatting up Mayo A. Shattuck III, CEO of Constellation Energy Group (a “platinum sponsor”).
Cordish was not one of the 51 sponsors of the celebration, though he was a generous contributor to the mayor’s campaign. The Brew earlier reported that he funneled $21,000 – or five times the legal maximum of $4,000 per individual or company – by splitting up his contributions among nearly a dozen partnerships.
Cordish stepped away from Shattuck to exchange big hugs with Kaliope Parthemos, the deputy mayor. She’s handling the Cordish Co.’s request for $3 million in rent relief on Inner Harbor properties it leases from the city. Rawlings-Blake has final word on the rent break. Her office hasn’t yet announced her decision.
Overall, there appeared to be more networking than nibbling at the VIP level during the three-hour, dark-suit-and-gown party on the second-floor ballroom of the Hilton.
Brew readers will recognize the names of some of the sponsors for the event, which drew about 350 people: P. Flanigan & Sons, The Woda Group and Grant Capital Management.
Occupiers March on City Hall
Meanwhile, a dozen blocks east, about 125 Occupy Baltimore participants and union leaders marched from McKeldin Square to City Hall, where they looked up at the darkened windows and beseeched Rawlings-Blake to let their two-month protest at the Inner Harbor continue.
“You are called upon to act on behalf of the 99% and respect the peoples’ right to freedom of assembly,” said Shallon Brown, an Occupy participant, reading from a letter they planned to deliver today to Rawlings-Blake’s office. They amplified the reading of the letter, signed by Maryland AFL-CIO leader Fred Mason, using their call-and-response “mic-check” technique.
Their chanting and sign-waving protest took place beneath yellow-and-black banners, hung from City Hall for Rawlings-Blake’s earlier swearing-in ceremony outside the building.
“Separation of Business and State,” was one message on the placards.
“Wal-Mart cashier $8.80/hour, Wal-Mart Manager $22.30/hour, Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke, $8,137/hour,” another sign said.
The Occupy Baltimore group has been warned by representatives of city government that their encampment of tents at the Inner Harbor is illegal and will be cleared, but spokesmen for Rawlings-Blake aren’t saying when that will happen.
No Word on How Much Was Raised
Back at the Hilton, the revenue generated for the Rawlings-Blake campaign committee by last night’s ball has not been disclosed.
The event was organized by the Democratic Party fundraising and consulting firm, Martin-Lauer Associates LLC, headed by Colleen Martin-Lauer. Sophia Silbergeld, the Martin-Lauer employee who handled the tickets, referred a reporter on Monday to Ryan O’Doherty, director of the mayor’s office of policy and communications.
Neither O’Doherty’s office nor Martin-Lauer has responded to questions about the total amount of money raised or the amount paid by the 51 sponsors.
Rawlings-Blake made an appearance at the ball late in the evening. Wearing a lavender gown and smiling broadly, she thanked the crowd for their support, saying they helped get her through some of the rough patches of the campaign.
As she walked through the crowd, a stage band broke into the Marvin Gaye-Tammi Terrell hit, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
There wasn’t much dancing, though.
It was mostly a night of small group photos with City Hall officials and private networking. The entire Board of Estimates was present (including City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, City Comptroller Joan Pratt, City Solicitor George Nilson and Public Works Director Alfred Foxx), along with much of the City Council and scores of present and former city employees.
Andrew Frank, a former senior Baltimore Development Corp. (BDC) officer and deputy mayor, mixed with members of the crowd. He now works as special advisor to Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels.
City Solicitor Nilson exchanged pleasantries with “gold sponsor” Ballard Spahr managing partner Jon M. Laria, who represents developers of two currently stalled projects – Lexington Square/Superblock downtown and 25th Street Station. Also making the rounds was Housing Department Chief Paul Graziano and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein.
Lainy LeBow-Sachs and Kenneth L. Thompson served as chairpersons. LeBow-Sachs made a splash in a red cocktail dress. (The former aide to the late mayor William Donald Schaefer made the news earlier this year when she got $500,000 in Schaefer’s will.)
She was accompanied by her husband, Leonard R. Sachs, a downtown parking garage owner and chairman of the Maryland Economic Development Corp. (MEDCO).
Thompson, a high-powered Venable partner who represents the State Center Project development team, hung back. Even Rawlings-Blake couldn’t coax the attorney into the limelight when she thanked him for his services.
The event sponsors Grant Capital, Woda Group and P. Flanigan & Sons have been among the most generous backers of the mayor during the election.
Affordable-housing builder Woda, for example, gave $24,500 through six people and entities.
The Grant group – which provides lease financing for the city – handed out $37,500, while Grand Prix road paver Flanigan and its owners kicked in more than $13,000.
Others on the list of sponsors included: Johns Hopkins University, Harrison Development, MedStar Health, Miles & Stockbridge, Motorola, Mid-Atlantic Council of Carpenters, Klein’s ShopRite, PNC Bank, Saul Ewing, AFSCME Council 67, Veolia Transportation, CareFirst, Verizon, the Gordon, Feinblatt law firm, the Rifkin, Livingston law firm, and Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.