Acquittal gives Young status of martyr

This Just In ...

September 27, 1999|By Dan Rodricks

I told you you'd be back, LY. They expelled you from the Maryland Senate for ethics violations, but even in that dark hour, I knew you'd be back. Now that a jury has acquitted you of bribery and tax evasion charges, you've won five-star martyrdom. Return to public office is a given.

It's something of a tradition around here.

Nathaniel "Natty O" Oaks is a member of the General Assembly despite a fall from grace that involved a conviction. He went out in 1989, came back in 1994. The late Dale Anderson, once the Baltimore County executive, was elected to the House of Delegates in 1982, eight years after his conviction on extortion and tax evasion. John Arnick, once a leading member of the House, wasn't convicted of anything but got scorched when his judicial nomination went down in flames because of alleged sexist remarks. He went out in 1993, bounced back nicely in 1994 and represents Dundalk in Annapolis again.

So LY, fully inflated by Friday's acquittal, certainly sits pretty today. He could even redeem his old Senate seat, as complicated as that might be. (Clarence M. Mitchell IV has it now.)

The thing is, LY should probably take his time about plotting a return to public office.

For one thing, he could become a lobbyist and dive into some really big paper.

Or he could continue his broadcasting career. LY has turned out to be a pretty entertaining morning talk-show host on WOLB-AM ("Where information is power!"). Even during his recent corruption trial in Annapolis, LY maintained his presence on the air. He zipped back to Baltimore and was host of WOLB's nighttime coverage of the mayoral primary. It was very entertaining.

We'll be listening again this week, of course.

And I'm sure LY will do a lot of crowing about how he was persecuted, and how he's been fully vindicated.

"I can't think of anything that has made me more humble," LY said of the moment Friday afternoon when the jury foreman declared him innocent.

For a little perspective, might I mention the Jan. 16, 1998, vote by LY's Senate colleagues to expel him? That always struck me as on the humbling side of life experiences.

It should be further noted that the basis of that expulsion had little to do with the criminal case the state brought against LY. (No mention of the $34,000 no-bid consulting deal with Coppin State; no mention of the $7,000-a-month consulting deal with Merit Behavioral Care Corp.; no charges involving the Lincoln Town Car that Willie Runyon, the ambulance king, bought for him. Stuff like that.)

LY gets crowing rights on the radio, I suppose. But I hope the crowing doesn't go on more than a day or so. It gets old fast.

Haussner's last stand

Great photo by Jackie Watts in the Baltimore Guide of customers under umbrellas waiting for a final meal at Haussner's. . . . I hear that a group declaring itself "Mayor Schmoke's party" was ordered to stand in line last week with everyone else seeking a sentimental sauerbraten. . . . A Haussner's memory: The time Charlie Cerveny, the dentist, fixed my teeth late one evening, then treated me to dinner. There was only one catch -- no sweets for dessert. Still fairly new to Baltimore, I was impressed. "Dear Ma," I wrote home. "Even the dentists here are nice. They fix your teeth, then take you out for a road test, free of charge."

Broadcast buzz

We're going to be hearing a new word soon: Baltibaloo. Stay tunedaloo. . . . Cue the cheerleaders for the person who produced the spot promoting "It's Academic" on WJZ-TV. It's very clever, smartly styled. . . . John Shields, restaurateur, author and Chesapeake region culinary ambassador, says he hopes to resume production of his public television cooking shows in the spring.

Personal space

Tim Rahto, who moved to Baltimore about six years ago, bought one of those renovated rowhouses through Patterson Park Community Development Corp. "I'm very pleased," he writes TJI. "More importantly, it passed the all-important family test. My mom and two sisters drove out to Baltimore from Iowa for their first visit to Charm City. I cannot tell you how relieved I was when they were pleased with my new purchase. To quote my mom: 'Oh, Tim, it's like a little dollhouse!' While this may not be the best thing to say to a 29-year-old bachelor about his new house, it's still high praise coming from your mother." ... Baltimore rowhouse dweller Michelle Trageser writes of her love-hate relationship with Formstone in the November issue of House Beautiful.

Gone with the trend

A friend recently used the word "pupils" to describe elementary school students and, though the word still appears in print -- in this newspaper and other journals -- it struck me as archaic. My sense is that people more commonly use "students" or "kids," while "pupils" is doomed as a spoken word.

That discussion got us to other phrases and things you don't hear or see much anymore. Turkey Joe Trabert mentioned Liederkranz cheese. That was a soft, smelly cheese with a brown coating. "You can't get it anymore," Joe says.

You hardly see lobster thermidor on restaurant menus these days. Same with lobster Newburg. Some dishes disappear under waves of culinary trends. Others die off with their fans. Bill Devine, at Faidley's Seafood in Lexington Market, says the customer base for shad roe, once a Baltimore seasonal tradition, has greatly diminished because the generation that grew up eating it every spring -- remember the "Run Is On" sign at Danny's Restaurant? -- has greatly diminished. Now, for his new Caribbean customers, Devine says he stocks fish from tropical waters.

When was the last time you heard someone order a "highball" at a bar? I ordered a Tom Collins this summer, just for some '60s cocktail party nostalgia. I'd have ordered a pupu platter,but it wasn't on the menu.

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