Visionary educatorMICHAEL K. HOOKER, who died at 53 last...

NOTES AND COMMENTS

July 04, 1999

Visionary educator

MICHAEL K. HOOKER, who died at 53 last week, saw the power of technology to energize greater Baltimore. When he assumed control at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in 1986, he spoke of "a new paradigm" under which high-tech research would spur regional growth.

By the time he left in 1992, Mike Hooker had improved the caliber of students and formed partnerships with businesses to help UMBC gain prominence as a mid-sized, public-research university.

"My passion," Mr. Hooker once said, "is to build a region, not to build an institution, a university campus." He saw UMBC as "a new model of a public university that was intimately joined with economic development of the region that is serves."

Baltimore as a high-tech center? It sounded foolish in 1986. Today, it's the clarion call of leaders throughout the region.

Pay phone fiasco

THE DEVIL is in the detail and the devil now has the city by the tail. A section of a bill signed into a law by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has torpedoed efforts to regulate illegal pay phones often used by drug dealers.

On the face of it, the bill, introduced by Council member Helen Holton, is stringent in prescribing a $1,000 a day fine against anyone convicted of installing a pay phone without the required approvals by the city and the state Public Service commission.

However, the bill is so poorly drafted it seemingly grandfathers in the more than 1,000 illegal phones installed before June 1.

Mr. Schmoke says he signed Ms. Holton's bill because Martin O'Malley's alternative "unfortunately was an extremely complicated bill." In seeking simplicity, the mayor has made it impossible for the city to take any action against concentrations of pay phones at such drug trafficking corners as Edmondson Avenue and Payson Street and Baltimore and Howard streets. Go figure.

Stewing about oysters

THERE'S a bitter aftertaste to the story that Maryland's newest export is oyster shells.

Some 10,000 bushels of antique shells have been shipped from the bay to New York Harbor where an environmental group hopes they will lure oyster larvae to areas where they are extinct. The idea is that microscopic oyster larvae floating in on the tide seek hard surfaces with nooks and crannies that predators cannot penetrate.

It would be wrong to begrudge New York Harbor the return of the bivalve mollusks that vanished a century ago.

Still, it's the Chesapeake where oysters are vanishing, and the bayside uses that expel them are growing.

When the oyster larvae float in from the open ocean and find the crannies by the Maryland oyster shell, we expect that shell to be whispering, in oyster language: "Not here, you fool. It's the Chesapeake you want."

Pub Date: 7/04/99

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