The lunar calendar has dropped a Jewish High Holy Day into the politics of Baltimore. In response, the General Assembly has decided to yield to a Higher Authority and reschedule Election Day.
This September, Baltimoreans who want to vote in the primary will have to go to the polls on a Thursday instead of a Tuesday, which has been Election Day in Maryland for as long as anyone can remember.
Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, falls this year on Tuesday, Sept. 10, the day the primary would normally have been held.
"It would have caused much anguish," said Rabbi Herman Neuberger of Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Pikesville.
"It would be similar to scheduling an election on Christmas," Rabbi Neuberger explained.
So a bill was passed in the General Assembly to move Election Day to Thursday the 12th.
"This is unprecedented," said Gene M. Raynor, state administrator of election laws.
"Never in the history of elections in this state and the city do I recall an election on any other day except a Tuesday," Mr. Raynor said.
Refusing to change that precedent, said state Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, D-Baltimore, could have kept thousands of voters away from the polls.
"It saves people being made to choose between religious freedom and civic responsibility, and it puts a burden on the people running to make sure voters get out to the polls on the right day," said Ms. Hoffman, who helped pass state legislation that changed this year's primary election date in Baltimore to Thursday, Sept. 12.
"It's better that it moved after the [traditional] day and not before. At least the people who get confused and go to the polls on Tuesday will figure out that there's no election and still be able to vote" later in the week, she said.
Mr. Raynor said the state will be advertising heavily to make sure people know about this year's change because of the religious holiday and added that he'd like to see all elections moved to Saturday to get more people to the polls.
"Rumors of my gender change are greatly exaggerated."
So says Jody Landers, Baltimore City Councilman and Democratic candidate for city comptroller.
Last Friday, during an afternoon radio newscast on WBAL, anchorwoman Jill Robin Cohen aired a story about a Landers bill to force strip joints off Baltimore's Block.
Throughout the story, Ms. Cohen called the Northeast Baltimore politician Councilwoman Landers, repeatedly referring to the father of three as "she."
Eight years in the City Council and they still can't tell if you're a man or a woman.
"I was rewriting vague wire copy and just assumed that Jody was the name of a woman; the only other male Jody I know is from [the television show] 'Family Affair' with Jody and Buffy and Mr. French," said Ms. Cohen, who has worked in Baltimore for a year.
"I didn't mean to change his sex on the air," she said.
Although the station corrected the error within the hour, Mr. Landers was tempted to give them a call "and tell them that as far as I know, I'm still male."
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson couldn't say enough about Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke the other night.
"This distinguished and able leader, so superbly qualified, tested, speaks as one having moral authority," said Mr. Jackson of the mayor.
This, Mr. Jackson told 400 people at a $500-a-ticket Schmoke fund-raiser, is a man "who has raised so much hope," a man worthy of "some Senate seat" or any place in government he desires.
The crowd, obviously attuned to reports that Mr. Schmoke's political interests lie beyond City Hall, laughed long and hard.
Following Mr. Jackson to the lectern, the ever-cautious Mr. Schmoke hastily reminded the crowd that Mr. Jackson's endorsement "also would qualify me for re-election" to City Hall.
The tale of the tapes.
The mayor has a video and the ex-mayor has an audio cassette.
Kurt L. Schmoke has released a good-news campaign video tape that claims that his leadership has resulted in progress in literacy, education, housing, public safety and the fight against drugs -- almost everything except tooth decay.
It is a tape filled with campaign promises, including a statement that Mr. Schmoke is "dedicated to making Baltimore a wonderful place to live" before becoming progressively sunnier as the tape rolls.
Meanwhile, supporters of former Mayor Clarence H. "Du" Burns are giving out a satirical audio tape making fun of the kind of achievements trumpeted in the Schmoke tape.
The Burns tape particularly satirizes the mayor's efforts in literacy and education.
Spoofing a Schmoke campaign strategy session, the cassette opens with soap opera music.
It is, the tape says, the story of "the disappointment of an entire city."
An unidentified campaign manager asks aides for any evidence that education and literacy have improved in Baltimore under Mr. Schmoke and is told that the "reading slogan has been painted on 50 new benches" and that Mr. Schmoke's new bookmarks have arrived "so he can give them out again."
It ends with a serious announcer asking voters to elect Mr. Burns on Sept. 12.
Commented state Sen. Julian L. Lapides, D-Baltimore, "I think we're now campaigning by videotape and cassette."