Bar owner's April 1 mayoral ad draws believers

Fake candidacy claim gets calls, TV crew

April 02, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Each year, Ron "Max" Furman ups the ante of his April Fools pranks and exceeded even his own expectations yesterday when he took out a newspaper ad announcing his candidacy for mayor of Baltimore.

The Fells Point bar and cigar store owner's stunt was an effort to draw attention to a new Max's restaurant across the street from Camden Yards at 300 W. Pratt St., which Furman listed as his "campaign headquarters."

Furman received about 30 calls from city residents interested in helping his candidacy, drawn by his slogan: "A Citizen, Not A Politician." One local television news station read the announcement on its morning show and another showed up to interview him, Furman said.

"I received calls from everybody, ranging from people who wanted to know who I was to others who said they are unhappy with the race," a chuckling Furman said. "One woman called and went off on [NAACP President Kweisi] Mfume and then went off on [Council President Lawrence A.] Bell [III], and I said, `Hey, they're nice guys.' "

Furman looks forward to April 1 the way others anticipate Christmas. Last year, he announced that he was opening a strip club atop his bar, Max's On Broadway at 737 S. Broadway. The news circulated quickly as angry activists, including a city councilman, started protesting.

In his mayoral press release, Furman mentioned plans to bring in more taxes by creating a $5 panhandling license and a 10 percent tax on lap dancing in strip clubs.

What appeared to give the ad legitimacy was that Furman listed Annapolis lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano, a friend who granted permission, as his campaign manager. One caller who phoned was irate over the involvement of Bereano, who five years ago was convicted of mail fraud and cheating clients of $16,000.

"I said, `And what day is it today?' " Furman recalled. "And he said, `Oh' and hung up."

Furman said he is looking forward to next April. "Next year will get even better," he said.

Pub Date: 4/02/99

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