Pratt's options seem to have run short

This Just In . . .

April 10, 1996|By DAN RODRICKS

I keep trying to think of ways Joan Pratt, the new city comptroller, can extricate herself from the credibility mess she's created by hiring her "very good friend" and campaign manager, Julius Henson, as the city's director of real estate at nearly $80,000 a year:

Fire Henson.

Go on "Jenny Jones" and clear the air.

Fire Henson.

Go on "Oprah" and clear the air.

Fire Henson.

That's the best I can do.

Soon to be seen on bumper stickers: "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Lapides." Here's how a friend who supported Maverick Jack over Pratt in last year's primary put it: "The voters could have had a watchdog; instead, they got a lapdog."

Safety first?

In a quiet but troubling scheme to save money, the city Fire Department has been taking two of its firefighting units (a truck or engine) out of service on each shift and reassigning their four-man crews to understaffed stations elsewhere in the city. Diligent taxpayer (and wife and mother of firefighters) Kathy Dodson has been tracking the policy, as it affects the fire house closest to her Southwest Baltimore home. On March 31, Dodson posted a street sign that said, "Engine 30 Closed Today" when that Frederick Avenue unit was unstaffed for a 12-hour shift. In addition, Dodson found that either Engine 30 or Truck 8, located in the same firehouse, were unstaffed, for from 10 to 14 hours, on 13 days between Feb. 26 and April 4. Obvious question: Couldn't such a policy lead to delays in responses to fires? So far, only firefighters and fire officers, along with a couple of City Council members, seem concerned.

And then there's Kathy Dodson: "What the heck is wrong with the people who run this city? They will support new stadiums, give themselves pay raises, redecorate their offices, hire their friends, buy new cars and whatever else that we don't even know about, but they are not worried about public safety?"

Cabin fever

Though I've only spent a week there, I really like Montana. (As TJI correspondent Ingmar Berger says: "What's not to like?") And now, in addition to the big sky and the big steaks and the Bighorn River, I've another reason to venture back: To see the Unabomber's cabin. (Or should that be "alleged cabin"?) If the FBI leaves it there, the cabin will become a tourist attraction, in the finest tradition of American grotesque; I can just see the snow domes and key chains now. Man, this guy had just about everything right, didn't he? A cabin. Big vista. Fresh air. Solitude. And bomb parts? Lord have mercy. Never could there have been a man more in need of the writings of Thomas Merton -- or a good 4-weight fly rod.

Walk for the Run

If you want to get your hands and feet busy for the environment -- a "Think Globally, Act Locally" thing -- consider the Herring Run Walkathon and Festival on Saturday in Northeast Baltimore. Season after season, inch by inch, volunteers from 120 community associations, 77 schools, 65 churches and numerous businesses have been trying to restore the Herring Run watershed -- first, by cleaning it up. Someday, the herring might even return to this Baltimore city-county stream. Saturday, you can take part in the walkathon through Herring Run Park -- to raise money for the watershed association -- and pick up trash along the way. There's a big party planned. For more information, call 254-1577.

Mideast feast

Joey Amalfitano, official food taster and chief cultural correspondent of This Just In, reports:

"On Easter Sunday, Maxine and I ended up at the House of Kabob on Harford Road, Parkville, and we walked right into a wonderful cultural happening. Mr. Asghar, the owner, was throwing down his regular Sunday buffet and loads of families with Persian roots showed up and were truly happy to be there. The food was equally delightful: salad of diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and parsley in lemon juice and olive oil dressing; aash-e-reshteh, which is a Persian vegetable and noodle soup; and kebabs of marinated meat and chicken. I revisited the buffet table three times for the grilled tomatoes. We topped it off with saffron rice pudding. It was tasty, and fun being around folks who know how to enjoy themselves."

Bug on the line

Must be something goin' around. On Monday, a friend telephoned the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Department of International Health, and the woman who answered the phone coughed hard in his ear for five seconds, wheezed out the words, "Hello, International Health," then coughed again.

Bird of spring

Desperate for some sign of spring (besides white go-go boots), we found this on North Charles Street: A middle-aged man strolling past Highfield House with a large blue parrot on his shoulder. I'm betting he was a Fells Pointer, blown off course.

Talking point

The promos for Ricki Lake's TV show feature her new appeal: "Let's talk about it." Sounds like Ricki has been talking to a certain Baltimore lawyer.

Pub Date: 4/10/96

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