Learning court system firsthand

The Political Game

Candidate: Phillip A. Brown Jr. has been convicted of larceny, shoplifting, violating probation and impersonating a police officer.

July 20, 1999|By Gerard Shields and Ivan Penn | Gerard Shields and Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

DURING A RECENT mayoral forum, candidate Phillip A. Brown Jr. complained about delays in the city court system. Brown has firsthand experience.

Since 1977, the 44-year-old Northeast Baltimore resident has been found guilty of larceny, shoplifting, probation violation and impersonating a police officer. Brown, a perennial candidate known for shouting down other candidates at forums, is running for mayor as a Democrat while facing charges of harassment and reckless endangerment.

A city school employee accused Brown of following her in his car and trying to run her down after a dispute over his son. Brown contends the employee made up the allegations to get back at him for the dispute.

The trial, which was supposed to start two months ago, has been postponed with no date set.

As for his record, Brown doesn't see it as an issue.

"That's all in my past, and I put it behind me," he said.

Environmental group rates City Council members

The Baltimore League of Environmental Voters released its 1999 score card for City Council members last week based on three votes.

The volunteer political committee gave perfect marks to council members John L. Cain, Lois Garey and Martin O'Malley for their votes to limit shipments of medical waste from outside the state to the city, oppose a rubble-crushing operation on Shannon Drive and fight the west-side redevelopment plan.

City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III scored a 70 despite supporting the Shannon Drive site and the west-side plan.

Kaufman's baseball cards show events in his life

Mayoral candidate and civic activist A. Robert Kaufman considers himself a slugger in the fight for civil rights. So Kaufman created his set of baseball cards.

The 1,000 sets of 12 double-sided cards depict cartoons of events in Kaufman's life, ranging from picketing Ford's Theater to allow blacks in during the 1950s, to fighting the City Council over his desire to create an auto and home insurance cooperative.

"They are already in their third edition," Kaufman said. "The first two editions came out blurry."

The cartoonist is sign painter Jerry Shargel. Kaufman will autograph sets of cards for anyone who contributes $100 to his campaign, he said.

"That should cut the value by 50 percent," he said.

Labor council endorses candidates, skipping Dixon

The Metropolitan Baltimore Council AFL-CIO Unions endorsed city candidates for mayor and council last week.

The group of 200 unions that represents 175,000 workers endorsed former state Sen. Nathan C. Irby, executive secretary for the state Board of Liquor License Commissioners, for City Council president over 4th District Councilwoman Sheila Dixon. Dixon recently introduced a council resolution that called for looking at ways to cut city spending by examining labor-cost savings, including an exploration of the city medical plan. Prescription drug costs for city employees have almost doubled in the past five years.

As expected, the council backed departing City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III for mayor. In the races for four open council seats, newcomers supported by the union include East Baltimore's Robert Stokes in the 2nd District, Kenneth Harris and Sylvia Williams in the 3rd District and West Baltimore's Catherine Pugh to fill Dixon's vacant seat. The council endorsed incumbents in other City Council races.

Stokes' 2 missteps unlikely to fade away, Schmoke says

From Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's viewpoint, politics is much like baseball. "Generally, you go by the `three strikes you're out' rule," Schmoke said.

Schmoke made the comment in refence to mayoral candidate Carl Stokes' recent credibility problems. Stokes' suspended driver's license and campaign literature claiming he had graduated from Loyola College -- he attended but did not graduate -- have dealt two blows that Schmoke said will likely trouble him throughout the campaign.

"If I'm one of his opponents, he's going to hear about it, again," Schmoke said. "It's something that is going to be used in other candidates' ads. People will forgive mistakes. The thing that is difficult for people to forgive is lying about it.

"I don't think the electorate cares whether you're a college graduate or not," Schmoke added. "They do care whether you represent yourself in one way or not."

Raymond C. Haysbert, former Parks Sausage Co. owner who is backing Stokes, said the mayor's comments are just political rhetoric. "Of course he's going to say that," Haysbert said. "A lot of Schmoke's people are with the other campaigns."

Awfully quiet on set with 14 mayoral candidates

Even NAACP President Kweisi Mfume commented on the tense silence enveloping the WBAL-TV (Channel 11) studio before the recent televised mayoral candidate forum.

"This is the quietest set I've ever been on in my life," said Mfume, the former West Baltimore congressman and city councilman, who spurned a draft effort asking that he run for mayor.

Before about 100 audience members, technicians checking microphones on Mfume's "The Bottom Line" show helped break the ice when their first question to the 14 participating mayoral candidates was: "Can you count to 10?"

Sitting in the last row, city resident John Ray couldn't help breaking out laughing. "We just keep raising our standards in this city," Ray chuckled. "We used to ask our mayoral candidates to count up to five."

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