- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 19, 2004

ANNAPOLIS — Comptroller William Donald Schaefer spent much of his time at a public meeting yesterday defending his recent comments about immigrants, then accusing reporters of sensationalizing the story.

“I have worked with minority groups since I have been in office,” Mr. Schaefer, a Democrat, said after the meeting.

Minority leaders are criticizing Mr. Schaefer and demanding an apology for his comments at a public meeting two weeks ago. He complained about the slow service he received at a McDonald’s restaurant because the employee helping him spoke poor English.

“I don’t want to adjust to another language,” Mr. Schaefer was quoted as saying at the Board of Public Works meeting on May 5. “This is the United States. I think [immigrants] should adjust to us. The people who come here should become part of America, become Americanized and speak the language.”

Yesterday, he publicly teased some of the reporters in the State House press corps by intentionally mispronouncing their names.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, who was did not attend the May 5 meeting, later defended his 82-year-old political ally by saying that multiculturalism is “bunk” and “crap” and that newcomers should assimilate to U.S. culture.

Mr. Ehrlich still says “bunk” is a benign word, but acknowledges that he should not have used the word “crap.”

Despite the apology, Mr. Ehrlich and Mr. Schaefer still are being criticized by minority and political leaders, including Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, a Montgomery County Democrat who said the men should consider diversity training.

Mr. Schaefer also chided her yesterday by saying, “Tell her to come and teach us diversity…because I don’t know what it is.”

Mr. Ehrlich and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, a Democrat, who sit with Mr. Schaefer on the three-member Board of Public Works remained silent.

Mr. Schaefer was most critical of the Baltimore Sun and its reporters.

“The Sun paper tried to twist my words,” he said after the meeting. Mr. Schaefer also said no minority groups were concerned about the comments until reporters “whipped them up.”

Mr. Ehrlich said later yesterday that he agrees with Mr. Schaefer’s comments about the paper.

“I thought he was right on point,” he said.

However, he said the attention given to Mr. Schaefer’s comments “speaks more to the respective papers and their editorial boards” than the reporters.

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