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Schaefer's sad farewell

A subdued but good-humored William Donald Schaefer, leaving public service after five decades, bade farewell yesterday at his last official meeting as Maryland state comptroller.

The usually colorful and oft-cantankerous Schaefer, 85, was showered with praise and presented with a cake at a meeting of the state Board of Public Works at the State House in Annapolis.

"I don't go away happy, I go away sad, because I wish I could do it all over again," said Schaefer (D), one of three board members.

Schaefer has served as a member of the Baltimore City Council, four terms as mayor of Baltimore, two terms as governor and two terms as comptroller. He was described by outgoing Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) yesterday as "the dominant figure . . . in Maryland public life for many, many generations."

At yesterday's meeting, Schaefer drew uncomfortable laughter when he said he would now spend his time alone in his apartment, eating TV dinners.

The twice-monthly Board of Public Works meetings provided the setting for some of Schaefer's most controversial antics over the past year. Those episodes, together with some others, contributed to Schaefer's third-place finish in the Democratic primary for comptroller in September.

During one meeting, he ogled a young female aide to Ehrlich. At another, he suggested that South Korean immigrants to the United States had some connection to the testing of long-range missiles by North Korea.

Yesterday, Schaefer was more reflective than bombastic, and he refrained from his frequent practice of skewering some state official over perceived outrages.

"I lost the last election through stupidity on my part, but that's the way it goes," Schaefer said.

At the close of the meeting, Ehrlich, who also was denied reelection in November, recalled the time when Schaefer donned an old-fashioned swimsuit and jumped into a tank at the National Aquarium.

"Mr. Comptroller, everybody loves you," Ehrlich said. "Not because you're a politician and wore goofy suits and jumped into a seal tank -- although that was pretty brilliant, I have to say. Everybody loves you because your heart is larger than the state of Maryland."

Schaefer took the microphone a final time and likened himself to New York Yankees great Lou Gehrig, who called himself the "luckiest man" alive although he had been stricken with a fatal disease.

"I've been a lucky man, too," said Schaefer, who was given a sustained standing ovation.

Steve Vogel

By John Wagner  |  January 4, 2007; 7:02 AM ET
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Ehrlich wasn't "denied" re-election. He was voted out of office.

Posted by: MD4BUSH | January 4, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Hey MD4BUSH, got any new rumors about the O'Malleys?

Posted by: Rufus | January 4, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

What a glorious day it will be when the Board of Public Works will convene again this month and neither Schaefer nor Ehrlich will be in sight. Good riddance!

Posted by: Baltimore voter | January 4, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Schaefer is no longer accountable to anyone, so he is really free to speak his mind. Watch out!

Posted by: Ron | January 4, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya, Willy Don.

Posted by: Marylander | January 5, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Good bye and good riddance Schaefer! You are the one who choses your destiny so if you want to pout, go ahead. The rest of us will continue on very happily without your harrasment, comments, and insults!

Posted by: Maryland | January 8, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

What is truly sad is a Governor sitting there laughing as his buddy humiliates women. Now the two of them can sit in lawn chairs ogling women down at Ocean City.

Posted by: MD4BUSH | January 8, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

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