Already a winner? The $10 million is real, but Michele isn't


March 09, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

Michele McCloud, Baltimore's most famous nonessential city

employee, could be eligible to win a $10 million sweepstakes, and wouldn't that be a boon to the municipal budget? A letter from American Family Publishers, bearing the mugs of Ed McMahon and Dick Clark, arrived at City Hall recently, addressed to "M. McCloud," the fictitious city consultant to whom indicted City Comptroller Jackie McLean allegedly authorized payments. The catch is, McCloud must sign and return her winning sweepstakes number to AFP by the end of the month, and with the state special prosecutor still snooping around, none but a blockhead would sign Michele's name to anything. Too bad. Had her number come up, Michele finally could'a been somebody.

Solving the 'Hon Thing'

State Sen. Barbara Hoffman has come up with a simple solution to this "Hon Thing." If most people are in agreement that, "Welcome to Baltimore, Hon!" is a pleasing and appropriate greeting to visitors and commuters, let's make it a permanent expression along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. And let's do it simply by adding the word "hon" to the welcome sign that's already there. A mysterious civic elf known as Hon Man has been stapling the Bawlmeresque term of endearment to the sign near the city line for the last two years. (He picked up where the original Hon Man, who spray-painted the word on the sign in 1992, left off.) But each time Hon Man II staples one of his laminated placards to the sign, someone tears it down. "We did some research, and it looks like it's the city, not the state, that keeps taking the sign down," Hoffman said yesterday. "It's the city's sign." The City Council already is considering a proposal for a new "Welcome to Baltimore, Hon!" sign. Hoff man, however, thinks the city could simply attach -- with bolts, Shoo Goo, whatever -- the three-letter word to the present sign on the median strip, much as Hon Man has done, but in a more permanent way. Today, in Annapolis, the senator will introduce a budget amendment assigning certain highway funds to the city, provided it "modifies the signage on MD 295" to convey the folksy greeting. "The Mayor and City Council," Hoffman's amendment reads, "shall notify the budget committees upon completion of the signage modifications and shall submit an 8-by-10-inch color photograph, suitable for framing, to the committees." If the amendment is accepted, Hon Man says, his crusade will be finished and he'll go public in The Sun. In addition, the original Hon Man, he of the spray paint, has contacted this columnist at long last. I can't say anything more about it right now. But watch this space.

Driven to abstain

Last week in Annapolis, when members of a committee in the House of Delegates were voting on a bill that would have restricted public access to Motor Vehicle Administration records, Del. Leslie Hutchinson distinguished herself -- and showed a sense of humor. The Baltimore County legislator, whose several run-ins with the MVA have left black-and-blue marks all over her driving record, was among the last to vote on the bill. If its provisions had been law last year, Hutchinson's problems -- failing to have insurance on her car, failing to appear in court and pay fines -- would not have been reported in this newspaper and she, theoretically, would have been spared a lot of heat. So, when it was her turn to vote on the MVA records bill last week, Hutchinson loudly announced that she was abstaining. When a colleague asked her why, she said, "With my driving record, I clearly have a conflict of interest." Laughter filled the hearing room. The committee killed the bill.

Explosive film

Last time I checked, the new John Waters film, due in theaters next month, was titled, "Serial Mom." It was shot in and around Baltimore last summer and stars Kathleen Turner and Sam Waterston. I keep hearing how it's Waters' best film in years. But, gee, I'm starting to worry that the movie has been overrated. My community association just sent an invitation to a viewing party at the Senator Theatre for Waters' new film, "Serial Bomb."

Ask Dan

I've received several, shall we say, amusing letters and telephonic inquiries lately, some of them from readers who, for unfathomable reasons, turn to me for answers. Here's a sample of what inquiring readers want to know.

"Dear Dan," the lime-green postcard from a person named Pat in Towson began. "Do you know the rules for the old game of 'Post Office' that youth played in the 60s? I remember the game but not how we did it."

"Hey Dan," another inquiry began. "That big green tank out by the Jones Falls Expressway and Cold Spring Lane -- what's it for? My boyfriend says it's full of vinegar. Is it, Dan?"

"Mr. Rodricks -- may I call you Dan?" another began. "At a bar one night, one drinking companion . . . started rattling off a long list of alliterative news names -- Stan Stovall, Beverly Burke, Mary Beth Marsden, Tim Tooten, Tom Tasselmyer, Carol Costello, Jennifer Johnson, Gina Germani. Maybe you can tell us if news people make up names, or if the secret to success in local television is simply to have parents who appreciate alliteration. Thank you for addressing this matter."

If you'd like to address these or other matters, the address is This Just In, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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