S. Balto. lawmaker goes the extra mile

Annapolis Watch '92

January 27, 1992

Del. Brian K. McHale, a South Baltimore Democrat, took constituent service to a new level last week.

He was on his regular jog through his district when he passed a gas station.

The attendant ran up along side him and said someone had stolen his red moped. The delegate said he would keep his eyes open.

"I go about two blocks, and I see some teens with a red moped. I go back and get the [owner] and run back, but the kids are gone," the delegate said.

The two men split up to look for the teens. Mr. McHale spotted them in an alley. "I said [to one of them], 'I know you stole that moped.' He said, 'No, I found it.' At this point, I'm five miles into my three-mile run."

The teen asked Mr. McHale how he could identify the moped, and the delegate left to find the gas station attendant.

But by the time the two returned, the teens had vanished.

Meanwhile, news of the theft filtered back to Mr. McHale's neighborhood. A friend who cuts the grass at Latrobe Park, near the delegate's home, spotted the teens and the red moped.

The man put a flashing light atop his car and drove toward them.

The teens threw down the moped and ran away, apparently unable to compete with "a little South Baltimore networking" and community effort, the delegate said.

The moped was returned to the gas station attendant.

Great performances:

In the category of "Most Inspired Testimony by a Supporting Lobbyist," the winner last week was . . . (the envelope, please) . . . Joseph A. "Jay" Schwartz III, for his stirring biblical polemic about, of all things, punitive damages.

Representing the association of defense trial lawyers, Mr. Schwartz told the House Judiciary Committee how he had fought three years ago -- before it became popular -- for reform of the law that governs jury awards that punish corporate wrongdoers.

"Like John the Baptist," Mr. Schwartz said, "No. 1, we were a little early; No. 2, it appears that today our message is sort of being accepted; and No. 3, at least in those early days, my head was cut off." Figuratively, of course.

Another day at the office:

At the conclusion of each day's Senate sessions, the chairmen of the four standing committees stand to announce what their panels plan to do that afternoon or the following day.

One day last week, Sen. Clarence W. Blount, a Democrat of Baltimore, said the Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee he chairs would be meeting at 1 p.m., but he added that the day's agenda contained "nothing of real substance."

Sen. Walter M. Baker, a Cecil County Democrat, shot to his feet and said: "I want to remind my seatmate that one of those bills is mine!"

As his colleagues laughed, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Democrat of Prince George's County, added: "I think [Senator Blount] is right this time."

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