- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 18, 2006

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — A group of Korean-American leaders left a meeting with state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer yesterday without the apology they were seeking for comments he made at a recent Board of Public Works meeting.

“He’s treating us as if we were a bunch of foreigners instead of Korean Americans,” said Chung Pak, chairman of the League of Korean Americans of Maryland. “We were very disappointed he didn’t know what he said was wrong.”

Mr. Schaefer, talking with reporters after the meeting, was adamant in his insistence that he had said nothing offensive.

“I don’t have to apologize. I didn’t say anything to apologize for,” he said.

Korean-American leaders requested the meeting to discuss Mr. Schaefer’s comments at a July 6 board meeting when, as he periodically does, the comptroller complained about immigrants and U.S. immigration policies.

“I get so irritated that we just open the borders, let everybody in, put everybody in the schools, educate them, all that sort of stuff, and that’s the way it is. And Americans [are] going to have to bear the cost,” Mr. Schaefer said during a discussion of a state contract to teach English to students who speak another language at home.

He followed that up with a comment, “Oh, come on. Korea is another one. All of a sudden, they’re our friends too, shooting missiles at us.”

Korean organizations were upset not only that the comptroller seemed to confuse South Korea with North Korea, which Mr. Schaefer said was a simple mistake, but that his disparaging comments could lead to discrimination and negative feelings against Korean Americans.

Sandy Kwon, a 17-year-old student at Northwest High School in Montgomery County who took advantage of such courses through the third grade, said she felt “as if nothing was accomplished” in the meeting.

“He was going pretty much, ‘What’s the big deal?’” she said.

Mr. Schaefer said he is a longtime friend of Korean Americans and provided police protection as mayor of Baltimore to owners of inner-city stores that were often targeted by armed robbers.

“I’ve been in South Korea. I’ve been in the homes of South Koreans,” he said. “If it was something I feel in my heart I have to apologize for, I would have apologized before this meeting.”

Young Kim, president of the Korean American Association of Metropolitan Washington, and David Han, president of the Korean Society of Maryland, took a generally conciliatory tone, saying that they hoped for another meeting to continue discussions with the comptroller.

“All of us stressed to him that we are Americans. We are taxpayers. We are voters,” Mr. Han said.

Mr. Han and Mr. Kim said their organizations do not endorse candidates for public office and deflected questions about whether they think Mr. Schaefer should step aside. But Mr. Pak and Miss Kwon suggested that it might be time for Mr. Schaefer to end his 50-year career as an elected official.

“I do appreciate everything he’s done for Maryland and stuff, but I feel he was slightly offensive, and maybe it’s just time to kind of rest and go,” she said.

Mr. Pak said in spite of all Mr. Schaefer’s accomplishments, “he should seriously consider stepping down on his own volition.”

A few hours after the meeting, Delegate Peter Franchot, Montgomery Democrat, who is running against Mr. Schaefer in the Democratic primary, issued a statement expressing disappointment that the comptroller did not apologize.

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