Tell them never to call a guy when he might be vacuuming


August 19, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

David Boyd is one of those -- how should I put this? -- civic agitators. He's a gadfly, a thorn-in-the-toe to Baltimore County politicians, the author of numerous letters-to-the-editor, a champion of civil liberties. He's best known as a leader of the pesky tax protesters from White Hall, in the People's Republic of North County. "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" is the man's battle cry.

Among all his endeavors is the fight for the right to be left alone. To this end, Boyd thrives in the role of loud and vigorous enemy of telemarketers, those companies who try to sell merchandise and services by phoning us up at home and, of course, always at inconvenient times, such as when "Wheel of Fortune" is on. Boyd and maybe a half-billion other people think this is one of the great annoyances of modern life, an invasion of sanctuary. "If my right to be left alone does not exist at home," Boyd says, "it will not exist at all." On this I concur.

Boyd has an unpublished phone number, see, and he resents telemarketers who get his number -- and him -- with random dialing. When they call, Boyd tells telemarketers to buzz off. He demands that he be placed on the solicitor's don't-call list. If the same company or one of its representatives call him a second time, he sues. Or he sends them a bill for $100 "for barging into my house uninvited and taking up my valuable time." (Boyd was inspired to do this by Private Citizen Inc., a Chicago-based organization that gets people off call lists, and crack TV consumer reporter Dick "Get Gelfman" Gelfman.)

Last year, Boyd sued a Baltimore County cemetery that twice tried to sell him a burial plot; he lost that battle in District Court on technical grounds. This year, after a Towson company that trains medical technicians called him twice, he sent a bill for $100, asking for payment. He threatened to take the school to court. Last month, the school paid up and apologized. "A ray of hope and sunshine," Boyd says. That wasn't his first victory, either. Four years ago, he got $100 from an annoyingly persistent vacuum cleaner salesman in Parkville.

Clever is as clever does

Matchbooks, jar openers, pens -- local candidates have been passing out the usual campaign trinkets, inscribed with their names, of course. We give a nod for the most original forget-me-not of the summer to -- what's his name? -- Kevin something. Kevin Kamenetz. He's a candidate -- Democrat, if I recall correctly -- for governor. No, Baltimore County Council. Yeah, that's the ticket -- he's running for Baltimore County Council from, ah, Pikesville. Yeah, the Pikes! And Kamenetz mailed out -- what was it? -- seed packages of Forget-Me-Nots with his picture and logo on the back. I think that's what it was. Anyway, it was clever.

'Pennies to Heaven'

Since July 31, the feast day of St. Ann on the Catholic calendar, the good people of St. Ann's parish on Greenmount Avenue have been pushing a "Pennies to Heaven" campaign to raise funds and head off an archdiocesan plan to close the old church. Erich March, the vice president and general manager of March Funeral Homes, is leading the effort and, earlier this week, he and volunteers carried 53 bags of pennies -- more than a ton of pennies, about $5,000 worth of pennies -- to Harbor Bank. Another $2,300 in cash and checks has been collected, but that leaves the effort far short of the $500,000 needed for repairs to the church and adjoining buildings. Greenmount Avenue can't afford to lose to the old "anchor at 22d Street." St. Ann's houses a youth center, a shelter for the homeless, a food pantry and a meeting site for the police-community relations committee and Narcotics Anonymous. People have stopped by the church with jugs, buckets and ashtrays filled with pennies. If you want to make a contribution, do it Saturdays from 10 a.m. til 2 p.m., or during Sunday morning services, starting at 10.

It's confusing, Ms. Bentley

So let me get this straight.

As a member of the House of Representatives, Helen Delich Bentley votes to kill the Clinton crime bill, which would have sent $332 million to Maryland for additional cops, prisons and crime-prevention programs. Then, as a Republican candidate for governor, she turns around and announces a get-tough crime plan that would put more criminals in Maryland prisons and keep them there longer, but she offers no way to finance the initiative, which experts say will cost hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade. She also thinks she'll have no problem getting federal judges to allow overcrowding in state prisons again; she'll just ask Republican appointees for a favor from the bench. Nice to see Mrs. B. getting out more, letting us know what she'd do as governor. It's a funny bit.

With thanks to Ben

Those who attended last Thursday's Orioles game might have seen the last three innings of the 1994 season. But Steve Kegler and friends look back upon that gloomy strike eve with fondness. During the rain delay, the women of the group all moved to the restroom, where one of them found a piece of paper with Ben Franklin's likeness on it. The entire party then moved to a Pratt Street establishment and spent the $100 windfall on a fitting farewell to baseball.

Vintage Baltimore

What a waitress in a local dinner-theater heard: "Miss, would you bring us a whole catheter of wine?"

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