Many people offer to make up for what a thief took from a boy

THIS JUST IN . . .

September 23, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

More than 50 readers, mostly men with mush-for-hearts, have called about 8-year-old Tony Ranocchia -- not to admit they took the wallet with $18 he left in the fitting room at Montgomery Ward, but to offer to replace it or buy the sweat suit Tony had intended to purchase. I stopped counting after 50 calls. A representative of Ward's offered Tony a $50 gift certificate. I relayed the spirit of the messages to Tony's mother, Sharon, a Baltimore County teacher who lives in Sparrows Point. She was touched by the response but said getting her son's $18 back wasn't the reason she told me the story for publication. She just wanted the person who vamoosed with Tony's birthday money to know he/she "stole" from an 8-year-old with cystic fibrosis. There's no way to tell if that message got across to the appropriate louse. But here's hoping.

Golly, Mr. Mayor!

Being the all-terrain dude that I am, I get a kick out of seeing my mayor, Kurt L. Schmoke, doing that four-wheel-drive thing. If you haven't heard or noticed by now, the city's earnest but somewhat starched chief executive has loosened up a bit, trading in one of his official Lincoln Town Cars for a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, equipped with power windows, an air bag and anti-lock brakes. I fully expect to see the mayor roving the beaches at Assateague during rockfish season. Or maybe we'll catch The Kurt hauling firewood out of Leakin Park.

Whatever. It's cool.

But check this out: The city paid only $21,477 for the Schmoke-mobile, and that was a steal. "Way, way low" was how Hank Sinar, customer relations manager for a local Jeep-Eagle dealership, put it. A story last week in The Sun said the sum the city paid for Schmoke's Cherokee was $100 above the list price. Actually, Sinar tells us, the list price "had to be" higher than our story led readers to believe. Grand Cherokee Laredos usually list "in the mid- to high-20s," Sinar says. So someone must have cut the mayor a sweet deal, modestly above the dealer's cost. Which dealership was it?

Not Sinar's. He works at Heritage Dodge Jeep Eagle. That's in Owings Mills, Baltimore County. Must have been a city dealership, right?

I mean, we can't imagine the mayor of Baltimore -- the man who decreed that new municipal workers either must be Baltimore residents or agree to move here within a year of their employment -- buying an official vehicle anywhere but within the city, right?

Wrong.

The city bought Schmoke's new wheels from Lanham Ford Jeep Eagle. That's in Prince George's County. Not so cool.

Deafening silence

We asked Parris Glendening's staff for his position statement on environmental issues and immediately received a five-page fax on the Democratic candidate's record as Prince Georges County executive and a litany of his eco-promises as a gubernatorial candidate. Four days have gone since we asked the Sauerbrey campaign for the Republican candidate's statement, and we haven't seen a semi-colon on the subject. Ellen Sauerbrey isn't exactly the Queen of Green, anyway. She claims the state has too many environmental regulations and that they are hurting businesses. And besides, if you promise to cut taxes by 24 percent, while giving state employees a TC percent pay raise and building more prison space to house all those criminals you don't want paroled, there can't be much left for the bay.

Ouch!

Far be it from me to discourage the creative spirit that runs through Patuxent Publishing Co. But, as much as I enjoy its weekly journals, I can't resist comment on the current issue of both the Towson Times and the Messenger. I mean, the cover! It's a crude, art-department-out-of-control "photo illustration" of a little boy's bottom with a hypodermic needle stuck in it. Actually, at first glance, it looked like two upside-down mandolins being attacked by an ICBM. If you haven't seen it, make sure you don't.

Pizza Hut mystery lady

The other day, this friend of mine, James, a sneering bad-boy who runs with a blues band, pulled his car into the parking lot of a Pizza Hut in Columbia. While doing so, he caught a handsome woman driving an Acura Legend in his rear-view, and thought not much of her -- until, in the next instant, James got out of his car and the woman approached. Rapidly approached. She was well-dressed, 40-something. She carried a dozen long-stemmed roses. "Here," she said to James, who was spooked. "Give these to someone you like because I don't like the someone who gave them to me." And she slid back into her car and left, waving once to James. James gave the flowers to his wife. But he's mad with curiosity. He wants to know the rest of the story. Mystery lady, give me a ring. 332-6166.

Daddy goes courting

Kevin Grayson, a 19-year-old Baltimorean convicted in April of possession of marijuana, is awaiting trial on a drug-possession charge from June, was arrested last Friday in Westminster for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute -- and, in Carroll County District Court this week, asked a judge to free him on bail because he's the father of two children and has two more on the way, expected by two different women. Judge Joann Ellinghaus-Jones spoke for many of us when, in denying bail, she told Kevin: "Get a life."

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