O'malley's Offer Of Help Earns Points With Elderly

This Just In...

January 28, 2000|By Dan Rodricks

There are senior citizens out there who, this time around, probably heard from the mayor's office before they heard from their own kids. Not to lay a guilt trip on my fellow baby boomers, but it looks as if that nice, young O'Malley fella scored some serious points with Ma and Pa by getting his people to the phones first. The mayor's office claims to have made about 18,000 telephone calls to see if any of our elderly citizens needed anything during and immediately after Tuesday's storm.

Score one for the O-man.

Eighteen thousand sounds high to me, but a spokesman for Mayor Martin O'Malley says that, starting Tuesday, 45 employees of the mayor's office and a handful of other city departments made close to that number of calls to Baltimoreans they had identified as senior citizens from voter lists.

"I didn't believe it at first," said 83-year-old Anna Hyman, who got a call at her house in Gardenville, Northeast Baltimore. "A woman -- she was a sweet person -- called me and asked did I need anything. I couldn't believe it. I called my daughter to ask her about it, and she said, `Gee, Mom, you better be careful, it might be a scam.' "

Eventually, Mrs. Hyman let go of her suspicions and called the mayor's office back.

"I was out of milk and bread," she said. "Next thing I know, two policemen are at my door with a bag with milk, bread and two rolls of toilet paper. I said, `How much do I owe?' And they said, `Nothing,' that it was compliments of the Safeway" on Harford Road.

The mayor's office quickly worked out a deal Tuesday afternoon with Safeway, Santoni's and Stop Shop & Save to have those supermarkets provide emergency groceries to senior citizens who felt stuck at home. The mayor's office says more than 400 seniors went for the offer, and police officers were still making deliveries yesterday. City Hall operators also fielded requests for medical and home-heating help.

"I was so surprised by the call I didn't know what to say," said Anna Andrews, who lives with her husband, Charles, on Ravenwood Avenue, also in the northeast part of town. "Then I found out that my sister got a call, and so did my brother."

"This has never happened before," said Charles Andrews.

Sounds like a smart use of "nonessential personnel" during a snowstorm. Sounds like good government. Sounds like smart politics.

A welcome postponement

This week's storm forced the postponement of what should have been an interesting meeting of the Judicial Nominating Commission for Baltimore. On its agenda: an opening for a judge in the city's District Court. Among 14 applicants for the job is one Catherine Curran O'Malley, Baltimore County prosecutor, wife of the mayor of Baltimore and daughter of the Maryland attorney general. This is Katie O'Malley's second attempt at an appointment to the bench. She applied for the job in September, shortly after her husband won the city's Democratic mayoral primary, creating a delicate political situation. Can't imagine anyone involved in this decision -- from the governor's office down -- was upset the meeting had to be put off. Stay tuned.

Hands-on baking

You can have your no-carb diets. I get a homemade-bread jones when the snow falls (and judging from the yeast and flour shelves at Giant, others get the craving, too.) This year, I eschewed the bread machine for the real hands-on experience of making a rustic Italian bread, as described in the legendary Giuliano Bugialli's "Foods of Italy." This particular method, taken from a Florentine bakery, called for the making of the yeast-laden "sponge" the night before. (Bugialli's recipes typically demand a little extra work for best results.) Next morning, I dissolved the sponge in the prescribed amount of lukewarm water, mixed it with additional flour and, in less than two hours -- 30 minutes for rising, 20 minutes for shaping and additional rising, one hour for baking -- I had two loaves of serious competition for the wizards at Stone Mill Bakery. ELLIPSIS Craig Claiborne, the food critic who died the other day, would have taken great satisfaction in seeing the condition of my copy of "The New York Times Cookbook." After 20 years of regular use, the jacket is gone, its spine taped, its pages dog-eared and oil-stained. The recipes hold up well -- the one for Cuban bread, for instance, is superb -- and, in moments of doubt about method and preparations, I turn to "The Claiborne" for advice. In my experience as culinary hobbyist, only books by Julia Child and Bugialli have been as reliable.

Get in touch with Rodricks by e-mail at TJIDAN@aol.com, by telephone at 410-332-6166, or by post at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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