Jacksonvillians tour Charm City to get tips on urban renewal


October 14, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

Irony alert! Jacksonville, the Florida city that got the NFL franchise Baltimore wanted, and a railroad company for which Baltimore was once headquarters, has sent a delegation of business and civic leaders here to learn how we got on the cutting edge of urban revitalization. About 120 Jacksonvillians (or Jacksonvillains, if you want to be cranky about it) have come to town. They've been here since Wednesday, sporting name tags and buttons. (Contrary to rumors, the buttons do not say, "I'm From Jacksonville, Punch Me!") They've heard from just about every civic heavyweight you can name, including the mayor and governor. And last night, Alex. Brown and CSX Transportation sponsored a "Thank you, Baltimore" party for them at the B&O Railroad Museum.

Why would folks from Jacksonville go fact-finding in Baltimore? After all, Jacksonville, the smallest city in the running, was an upset winner in the NFL franchise sweepstakes many had predicted Baltimore would win. And in recent years CSX, descendant of the historic B&O, has shifted most of its headquarters, and hundreds of jobs, to Jacksonville. "We have a parade of cities coming to Baltimore to learn more about how we've revitalized downtown," says Wayne Chappell, the convention center director who welcomed the delegation. "This goes on all the time."

The trip, sponsored by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, was to conclude today with a tour of Camden Yards -- where our NFL franchise was supposed to play -- and lunch at Obrycki's. And isn't that special?

Thieves who read

Someone smashed the windows and broke into a car owned by Norrie Epstein, Baltimore-based author of what has become one of my favorite books, "The Friendly Shakespeare." However, the thieves didn't exactly rip the --board out. They didn't even swipe the portable radio Epstein had left in the car. But two copies of the new paperback edition of her Shakespeare book are missing. They don't call this "The City That Reads" for nothing.

Not the best of friends

Don't invite University of Maryland law school classmates Eleanor M. Carey and Dick Bennett to the same cocktail party for a while. Bennett, the Republican nominee for attorney general, has annoyed Carey, who lost the Democratic primary, by implying in a fund-raising letter that she supports him instead of the Democratic incumbent, Joe Curran. In a "Dear Friend" letter dated Sept. 26, Bennett asked Carey supporters for help in his general election race. "Ellie ran a strong, issue-oriented campaign, but in the end could not overcome the advantages of entrenched incumbent, Joe Curran," Mr. Bennett wrote. "My campaign for Attorney General focuses on many of the same issues that Ellie raised." Bennett then asked for a financial contribution.

A few days later, Carey fired off her own letter -- to Bennett. "While I appreciate your kind words about my campaign, I am concerned that your artfully-crafted letter creates the impression that I have encouraged or facilitated your efforts to raise funds from my supporters," she wrote. "As you know, I did not give you permission to use my contributor lists . . . nor have I given you any reason to imply to my supporters or others that I am supporting your candidacy. . . . Like you, I come from a family of strong Democrats; unlike you, I have not switched my allegiance." Ouch.

Dick Leggitt, a Bennett adviser, said the letter wasn't meant to suggest that Carey supports his man. "But," he added, "we assume she's not taking back all those things she said about Mr. Curran and his lack of performance during the campaign."

Auction for a good cause

Good thing happening this weekend for a good cause: A benefit auction for Hannah More School, where teachers and counselors work to help emotionally disabled kids through middle and high school years.

The kids come from dysfunctional families; only one in 10 returns to a biological parent each day. And half come from homes

below the poverty line.

The school, located at 12039 Reisterstown Road, wants to purchase new computers. That's the reason for the auction ($35 per person includes cocktail buffet). It starts Sunday at 4 p.m. with silent bidding, followed by the live, loud stuff with Richard Opfer at the gavel.

There's an impressive selection of items, including: Ten hours of consulting by architect Phil Worrall; fly-fishing with Oriole Hall of Famer Mike Flanagan; lunch for six at the Harryman House with (( broadcaster Jon Miller and his wife Janine; weekend retreats to the Brandywine River Valley and the Eastern Shore; a day at the races with veteran trainer Henry Clark. Lots more.

Rosalie Hellman portrait

The Baltimore County school board this week honored Rosalie Hellman for her 12 years of service, three of them as board president. (Fans will remember the scowling Hellman from the famous 1993 video clip in which county police closed the boardroom doors on screaming inclusion protesters.) The board unveiled a terrific portrait of Hellman. Portraits of all past presidents hang in the board room; hers will be the first woman's picture to hang at Greenwood.

Among the accolades was this from board vice president Calvin Disney: "In 12 years, I estimate you've given 12,000 hours of service. It's not totally for free. The state pays us $100 a year. So you are being paid 10 cents an hour." Hellman's term expires in June.

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