The real thing

July 10, 1991

Either Mid-Atlantic Coca-Cola bottlers reneged on a commitment to support the city's summer basketball league, or its legislative lobbyist wasn't telling City Councilman Tony Ambridge the truth when he said he could come up with $5,000 for the league this summer. Either way, the bottom line is that the courts at Madison Square Recreation Center are empty, and 150 kids are on the streets. And that leaves us flat.

The Craig Cromwell summer basketball league was established by Ambridge six years ago to serve city boys. Today it is rated among the 10 best leagues in the nation. When Dome Corporation's sponsorship ended, Ambridge said Robert Anderson, Mid-Atlantic's lobbyist, pledged the company's support. That, however, was before the bottle tax brouhaha -- which involved the council's repeal of the tax, the mayor's veto of the repeal and a battle for an override. Ambridge says Anderson told him then the $5,000 was tenuous; he would have to "see what happens with this override vote." The override, of course, was not successful; the tax remains, and the contribution never materialized.

The company now says revenues are down, there are "things we are not able to support," and that Anderson never had the authority to make such a promise, anyway. No doubt the recession, not Baltimore city's bottle tax, is the chief cause of dipping profits. Still, Ambridge insists the company knew last May that a commitment had been made. Is the city to believe a multi-million-dollar industry couldn't come up with $5,000 in two months?

It appears to us the Coca-Cola bottlers have taken aim at city kids in retaliation for the council's failure to repeal the container tax. And we suspect that "the new generation" is taking notice.

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