Alderman serves up tasty politics Hammond works in deli, savors the public scene

July 29, 1996|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Sliced turkey on rye with some politics on the side, please.

That's what some hungry customers might order at The Food Basket deli, where Annapolis Alderman Louise Hammond works five days a week, slicing bread, fixing a mean roast beef sandwich and baking chocolate chip cookies.

Located on Dock Street, the downtown deli offers the perfect view of city life for Hammond, the unofficial watchdog of the Historic District. It also allows her constituents easy access.

"Having my alderman right there, I just run out my back door and stop in from time to time to just say hello or chat with her about things that concern me," said Robert H. Campbell, an Annapolis auctioneer who lives on nearby Prince George Street. "It saves me 10 cents on my telephone bill every time I can stop in to see her and not have to call her at home.

"It's very convenient," Campbell said.

It's convenient for Hammond, a Ward 1 Democrat, too.

In the five months she has been working at the deli, Hammond says, she has seen and heard it all, especially on days the city council meets.

Some people, mostly tourists, just want to know what the best restaurant is in town. Others drop in for a sandwich and drop off vTC some complaints, or buy a soda and express some concerns.

And the topics can range from unruly skateboarders on downtown streets to future preservation efforts of the historic district.

"It really gives me an interesting perspective on things," Hammond said on a recent morning as she sliced smoked boneless ham to mix in chef's salads.

"Working here gives me an opportunity to see what businesses and residents in the area have to put up with.

"I get to see things and hear things all the time, even when I'm not working since I'm down here quite often," said Hammond, who has represented Ward 1 since 1994. "Complaints about garbage, skateboarders, the bus system or fast food on West Street. I really enjoy meeting people and talking to people, and helping them try to solve a problem."

Sometimes, she just takes things into her own hands.

For instance, Hammond catches a Department of Public Works employee cleaning the Harbor Master's office across the street, but sweeping all the trash into the street.

Or an employee from a coffee shop wheeled its ice bin down the street and dumped it into the storm drain in front of the deli.

"Oh, I was shocked," said Hammond, a preservation advocate who has alienated some businesses in the Historic District. "I had a chat with them right away."

Whether she is trying to step up enforcement in the downtown area on parking violators or policing restaurants that put out illegal signs and sandwich boards, Hammond keeps an eye on everything while working.

Her job, however, is not without controversy.

When she began working for George Phillips, owner of the Food Basket and former owner of Harbour House Restaurant, many fellow city council members criticized the move. They deemed it a conflict of interest because Phillips has appeared before the council on several occasions for the approval of various applications.

But Hammond says it is not a problem because she recuses herself from issues involving Phillips or any of his businesses.

Regular customers who trickle in throughout the day like the place.

"I stop in here to say hello every day," said Mark Sherger, a deputy harbor master.

"The people in here always greet people with a smile, so I try not to give her any grief while she's working."

Pub Date: 7/29/96

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