MVA hears beef about 'cattle lines'

September 06, 1996|By DAN RODRICKS

AN ASSISTANT honcho from the Motor Vehicle Administration ended up on the hot seat the other day when he came before the state Board of Public Works to talk about the touchy (and timely, if you've been following This Just In) subject of customer service.

Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, who was chairing the board's preliminary meeting, cited Monday's TJI, which described how a 28-year-old Columbia woman named Lori Britton was forced to stand in line for almost two hours at the MVA offices in Glen Burnie with a cast on her leg and crutches under her arms. "It's just common sense to treat people with courtesy and kindness," Goldstein lectured associate MVA administrator Joseph A. Vicchio. "It's time to get your house in order."

Wisely, Vicchio was contrite. "We're trying to do the best we can," he said. "Apparently, we're not succeeding in some areas."

Ironically, Vicchio came before the board to explain two new contracts aimed at ending the practice of making footsore citizens stand in "cattle lines" for hours on end.

According to the MVA, the new Customer Traffic Management Systems at 13 full-scale offices and the branch offices in Annapolis and Essex will let "customers" take a ticket that will hold their places in line electronically.

That doesn't necessarily mean the waits will be shorter, but at least there's a chance we'll be able to sit and stew rather than stand and steam.

;/ Coming Monday: True love blooms at the MVA!

Cleveland kiss-off

That's a remarkable kiss-off interview Art Modell gave reporter Richard Osborne in the current issue of Cleveland magazine. (It's the one in which he says: "The pride and the presence of a professional football team is far more important than 30 libraries, and I say that with all due respect to the learning process.") Modell must have seen this Q&A as the last word on his connection to the home of the Browns. It's full of pithy quotes, anger and sarcasm.

Of course, we get the now-tiresome plaint about how the city built the Gateway sports complex for baseball's Indians and basketball's Cavaliers. "All I wanted was for my johns [at Municipal Stadium] to work," Modell says. Before Gateway was on anyone's drawing board, Modell says he spent $80,000 on plans for new accommodations for the Browns and Indians. The day he unveiled those plans at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, no elected officials showed up. "and," says Modell, "I knew the writing was on the wall." Gateway came along, and Modell stayed out of the picture. That's his major regret. "I should not have [stayed] on the side on Gateway, and should have made my demands known at that time," he says. "It could have been a different story. Had they ever mumbled the word 'new stadium,' I would have said, 'Let's talk. Let me go down [to Ohio State's stadium in Columbus] and play there for two years while they build a new stadium.' "

Modell directs his anger at Cleveland Mayor Mike White and other political leaders in Ohio, but he avoids a point-by-point response to questions about his negotiations with the city. And he never explains why he didn't take his problems public by appealing directly to the Cleveland fans.

"I understand their displeasure. I understand their frustration, their anger," he says. "But, dammit, but -- capital B-U-T -- their anger, frustration and vilification should be directed to somebody else responsible for this situation. If they gave me half, half what they gave Paul Tagliabue months later, I'd still be in Cleveland, for crissakes."

Stadiums vs. libraries

Incidently, the Maryland Stadium Authority will soon begin paying about $20 million a year in principal and interest for the Camden Yards twin-stadium complex. That's about equal to the Enoch Pratt Free Library's annual budget.

No apologies

As the Ravens prepared for the kickoff Sunday, marking the official re-entry of Baltimore into the National Football League, a key figure in the Colts' move 12 years ago was himself on the move -- to Maryland. William Hudnut, the Indianapolis mayor who lured the Colts to that city in 1984, was in a car moving his family to Montgomery County. (He has just accepted a fellowship with the Urban Land Institute in Washington; his new home is Bethesda.)

"I'm glad for the city," Hudnut said of the Ravens' arrival in Baltimore.

He has no apologies about his role in stealing the Colts; he says Baltimore lost them fair and square. He'd love to see a Ravens game, he said, "if someone invites me."

Yeah, right. Maybe Paul Tagliabue will. The NFL commissioner lives in Montgomery County, too. They could car pool.

Super fantasy

TTC To all that talk about Baltimore as host of a Super Bowl, I say: In your dreams. Come on, people. Baltimore in January? Late January? The last Super Bowl was held on Jan. 28, and it seems to occur later and later each year. By the next millennium, we're talkin' mid-February and, global warming or not, the NFL is not going to select Baltimore for a Super Bowl. As Charley Eckman might have said, "Ain't no way."

Maybe John Moag and the Stadium Authority should set their sights higher, anyway -- a Yanni concert, for instance.

This Just In appears each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Comments and story leads welcome. Contact Dan Rodricks at 332-6166, or by writing to The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Shirts and shoes must be worn.

Pub Date: 9/06/96

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