Circling the wagons in Arundel: an appeal to fear and bias


May 25, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

John Gary is the state delegate who wants to be the next Anne Arundel County executive (though most everyone in the Republican Party wants Bob Neall to run again). When Gary campaigns, he should skip the euphemisms and say what's on his mind. Come on. What this man really wants is a chain-link fence, topped with razor wire, along the county's borders, from Brooklyn Park down to Deale up to Crofton, back to Brooklyn Park. He wants a helmeted border patrol, stopping cars and boats, frisking passengers. Maybe he'd like residents to carry an Arundel ID card.

Do I exaggerate? Not extravagantly. In campaign literature, Gary sounded a "property owners' warning" with the kind of dark, narrow themes meant to exploit fears and prejudices and, worse, further divide the metropolitan community with the hope of conquering a piece of it. Here's an excerpt:

"We must make protecting our borders against the invasion of violent crime from Baltimore and Prince George's County a top priority. The rampant crime in these jurisdictions is poised at our county boundaries. Already we have seen these criminal elements leaking across our borders threatening our lives, our property and our quality of life. If I am elected county executive, WE WILL DO WHATEVER IS NECESSARY TO SECURE OUR BORDERS AND PROTECT OUR CITIZENS." (His caps, not mine.)

Fear of crime is real, but this kind of hot, demagogic rhetoric gets us nowhere. In fact, it's regressive. (The assumption that most violence is perpetrated by criminals from outside Arundel might not be accurate, but it almost doesn't matter; this is a pol playing to emotion, not reason.) We've heard this rap before. (See Mahoney, campaign for governor, 1966.) What it does is further delay the day when Baltimore and the counties reach common ground on the problems now facing the entire metro

politan area. John Gary should move to a barge. And someone -- perhaps some Republicans who care about responsible, progressive political leadership -- should establish a fund so Bob Neall's kids can go to college and Bob Neall can run for


Cost of research

When Marilyn Habicht went digging down to her roots she never expected to find a pot of gold. But she didn't expect to find a bill, either.

Marilyn -- she said I could call her that -- was researching her family, particularly relatives who had emigrated from Germany to Baltimore in the 1860s. Her research took her to Baltimore Cemetery. She requested the name of each person buried in a family plot there. "And I received a prompt answer from the cemetery," Marilyn said. "It was a letter wishing to bring to my attention back charges of $100 for care of the plot and an additional $80 for perpetual care from now on. However, the cemetery offered to reduce the perpetual care charge by $40, a discount. They also charged me $7.50 to cover the cost of [plot] research. . . . You know, some people look into their family histories and find money. My family comes up owing."

Boog vs. bikinis

As I reported earlier, Boog Powell, the All-Time Big-Boned Oriole, will slide into 2,000 gallons of lime Jell-O on June 18 to benefit the Leukemia Society of America. The event was to be held in Canton, but local crows squawked so much that the location was shifted to Bohager's parking lot on Eden Street, between Little Italy and Fells Point. Now, check this out: The Canton-Highlandtown Improvement Association rejected Boog's gelatin-splash-for-charity because, they said, there were too many events planned for the same weekend in the same part of town, which includes Patterson Park. But I haven't heard any crowing about "Baltimore's First Bikini Softball Event," scheduled for June 18 in the same park.

The notice I received did not say women would be wearing these bikinis, but I assume so.

The event is sponsored by metropolitan firefighters, and I can't imagine any of them playing ball in bikinis with the expectation that people actually would pay $10 to see it. (Though one never knows, do one?)

A "portion of the proceeds" from the event, featuring the "Blondes" vs. the "Brunettes," will go to the Baltimore Regional Burn Center, which, I'm sure, is terribly proud to be associated with this Baltimore first. . . .

Hey, I just had an idea!

Let's have the Jell-O splash and the softball game in the same place. That way, Boog can play first base (in a bikini, of course), and the Blondes and the Brunettes can get all wiggly in the Jell-O, and everybody, including the Canton-Highlandtown Improvement Association, will be happy!

Thin cats, beware

From the Towne Crier, a community paper covering Baltimore and Harford counties, comes the following passage from a story about Nancy Hastings, candidate for House of Delegates: "Mrs. Hastings, an employee of the Baltimore County government and a resident with her husband Craig in Kingsville, said that she is running because she is tired of self-starving politicians." Just what this nation needs: More fat cats.

Worth the wait

During the most recent Orioles homestand, by far the longest line for anything -- longer than the line for Boog's, longer than the lines for beer -- was the line for the automated teller machine on Eutaw Street. We figure there were 30 people waiting easily 30 minutes for cash.

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