Register tape bonanza will help inner-city school get computers


March 01, 1995|By DAN RODRICKS

As we reach today's cutoff for the Renaissance Institute's big class project -- to collect cash register tapes from Giant, Safeway and Metro and redeem them for computers for a Baltimore public school -- more than $500,000 worth of receipts are in the bag. (I feel like Jerry Lewis announcing the total from his Labor Day telethon.)

Senior citizens at the Renaissance Institute -- "Dan's Kids"? -- set out last fall to collect the register tapes with the goal of rewarding a Baltimore school that had the greatest need and best attendance. They were convinced that inner-city students don't benefit from the supermarkets' annual offerings as much as their suburban counterparts do, and that city schools had greater needs than those in the counties.

The address for the Save the Tapes project ran in this column, and both times the response was terrific, much of it from people whose children attend schools already outfitted with up-to-date computers. "The mail wouldn't fit into the bins they gave us," says Norma Long, director of the institute at Notre Dame College. "The Renaissance folks have really been energized by dTC the response." The school that benefits from the project is the Carter G. Woodson Elementary School in Cherry Hill. Hats off to everyone: the students and teachers who earned this prize, the Renaissance Institute, all the supermarket shoppers who sent in their tapes.

Let's do it again next fall.

Before you complain . . .

For those who love to squeal about bloated federal government payrolls and advocate turning federal programs over to state and local governments, here's a timely comment from Paul W. Boltz, vice president and financial economist at T. Rowe Price:

"When politicians in Washington tell you that they are cutting federal payrolls to reduce the deficit, remember that the federal work force has been falling steadily as a share of payrolls for 50 years with no known impact on the deficit. . . . If the federal government fired every single person it now employs and was run entirely by volunteers, there would still have been an on-budget deficit in 1994 of [more than] $30 billion. After all the complaints about government inefficiency, the fact is the federal payroll has been a small and diminishing share of total employment for half a century.

"While the federal share of payrolls has fallen one-half percentage point per decade since the 1950s with clocklike precision, state and local jobs have soared, nearly doubling their percentage of total payrolls. . . . It might be possible for substantial savings to be made at the state and local level by paring jobs, but personnel costs are too small a federal expense to be a source of major savings unless we could find 2.9 million people willing to work for nothing more than patriotism."

'The Nightmare Song'

The bank collapse in London brings to mind a patter song from Gilbert & Sullivan: "The shares of a penny and ever so many are taken by Rothschild and Baring. And just as a few are allotted to you, you awake with a shudder despairing." That's from "Iolanthe." It's known as "The Nightmare Song."

What a kid!

So Todd Holden wants to milk this goat. No, wait a minute. That's not right. Actually, he wants a baby goat to take milk from a mama goat. So Holden, a gentleman farmer in Harford County, holds this mama goat by her collar with one hand. He holds the baby goat with the other. He crouches between mama and baby. "Uttanasana," is how Holden describes his position. That's yoga talk for a "standing forward bend." (Holden studies yoga; he says it has "lots of practical applications around a farm.") The baby goat refuses to take mama's nipples. So Holden bends further, reaches for the nipples himself and -- schplat! -- he takes a half-gallon to the face. "I never tasted goat's milk before," Holden says. "You know something? It really tastes good!" The baby concurs and licks Holden's face, his hair, his neck, his eyeglasses, his clothes. (Two days later, Holden was still giggling when he told me the story.)

Search for new oasis

The operator of the Golden Arm, the popular York Road bar and restaurant being squeezed out of the shopping center where Johnny Unitas put it 27 years ago, is still on the hunt for a new home. So are some of his longtime customers.

Richard McCleary and a group of 10 friends have been doing happy hour at the Arm for years. When owner Bill Grauel announced he'd have to close the place because of a nearby supermarket expansion, McCleary and Friends wiped away the tears and set out to find a suburban oasis with comparable amenities. They've been rating Towson-area bars in 11 categories, from quality of drinks to finger food to restrooms. McCleary and Friends have visited six places.

So far, Warfields Lounge and Hampton's of Towson are the leading contenders for the group's regular gatherings. They both scored 10s (highest score possible) in drinks, finger food and ambience. Best menu was at Pappas Restaurant, on Taylor Avenue; best drinks at Pappas, Warfields and Hampton's; best prices at Pappas and Fox Ridge, on Taylor Avenue. Perring Place, another shopping-center restaurant, scored 10s for its service and parking. Parking was considered excellent at Fox Ridge and Warfields. The noise level at Hampton's met the McCleary group's standard. Best restrooms? The ones at Warfields scored a 10.

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