Interference from D'Adamo Not his business: City councilman stepped in when health inspector closed store.

March 06, 1997

THERE ARE TIMES a city councilman should get involved in a problem to protect the best interests of his constituents. That does not include leaning on health inspectors to rescind an order closing a food store where mice feces has been found on the walls and shelves.

Santoni's Market in Highlandtown was closed Feb. 24 by the city Health Department, and was supposed to remain closed until it had solved its mice problem.

Instead it reopened as usual the next morning. It seems First District Councilman Nick D'Adamo called a health inspector and asked that Santoni's be allowed to reopen. Mr. D'Adamo mentioned that he was on the council committee that reviewed the budget for the Health Department.

It is discouraging that a city health inspector would bend under that kind of pressure. He should have immediately reported Mr. D'Adamo's suggestion to his superiors. Instead he agreed to rescind the order closing Santoni's because Mr. D'Adamo said the store was doing a good job trying to get rid of the mice.

The first inspection of Santoni's occurred after someone reported finding mouse droppings on loaves of bread. Two inspectors who returned to the store Feb. 25 to see what measures had been taken left after being confronted by Mr. D'Adamo. Their report said the councilman threatened to cut the Health Department budget and questioned whether Santoni's was being treated differently.

Apparently, the Health Department must do a better job of hiring employees who know their job is to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Baltimore, even if it means making a councilman angry.

As for Mr. D'Adamo, who denies he acted irresponsibly or made any threats, it's difficult to believe he thought he was doing the people of the First District a favor. We're sure they would much prefer shopping at a food store that does not have evidence of mice infestation.

Discussing news reports of the incident, Mr. D'Adamo said people are making "a big stink over nothing."

Maybe it's nothing to him, but the diseases mice can cause by coming into contact with food are pretty serious to most people. He should ask his constituents.

Pub Date: 3/06/97

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