Perception an issue for police and for council

February 04, 2000|By DAN RODRICKS

CITY COUNCIL President Sheila Dixon says the Baltimore Police Department has "serious perception issues" among the citizens it serves and protects. If so, shouldn't Dixon be concerned about Ron Daniel's judgment in the Waybright case?

Daniel, the mayor's nominee for police commissioner, wrote a letter in late 1998 to the state police recommending a handgun permit for Richard Waybright, an officer fired for beating a handcuffed prisoner in the booking area of the Eastern District. Daniel vouched for Waybright's need for a handgun in the letter but never mentioned the officer's dismissal or the abhorrent reasons for it.

If public perception is an issue for the Police Department, you'd think Daniel's judgment in the Waybright matter would have been examined in his public hearing this week.

Alas, it wasn't. We have a council more interested in raising salaries -- its own -- than raising hard questions.

Too bad Martin O'Malley is no longer a councilman. I bet he'd have been bothered by the Waybright matter. He might have asked about it.

Show time

Preliminary work has started here on a pilot for "The Contender," a television drama being produced for United Paramount Network (UPN) by Tim "Frank's Place" Reid and Hugh Wilson. (Wilson directed Nicholas Cage and Shirley MacLaine here in "Guarding Tess" in 1994.) "The Contender" has been described as the story of a preppie who bypasses college for a shot at a boxing career. One of the locations: Veteran trainer Mack Lewis's blood-sweat-n-tears gym off North Broadway. Meanwhile, Joseph "Turkey Joe" Trabert, one-time Baltimore film commissioner, got a new drumstick (left knee replacement) at Union Memorial this week. God bless the ole bird.

Why?

Those federal fraud charges against the brothers from Controlled Demolition Inc. are mystifying. Why would Doug and Mark Loizeaux, smart guys who've pretty much mastered the global market for implosions of big buildings -- including public housing projects -- bother to have their employees make such small-potato contributions to Elijah Cummings' -- or any Maryland congressman's -- campaign? The Loizeaux boys are known throughout the world, and it's hard to imagine that with their specialty and reputation, they felt a need to juice campaign contributions. It's not like they needed an edge on the competition. We scratch our heads.

Who am I?

Each winter, physicians and students at the University of Maryland School of Medicine take part in a clinicopathological conference that examines the mysterious death of a famous person and attempts to come up with a plausible cause. Pericles was the subject of investigation one year, Alexander the Great another. (In a similar exercise in 1996, a UM cardiologist concluded that Edgar Allan Poe had died of rabies.)

The name of the famous figure is not given to investigators at the outset. TJI readers might recall being teased about this in 1998. In separate columns that year, I gave clues about the identity of the conference subject. The vast majority of readers believed it was John Wilkes Booth. The correct answer was George Armstrong Custer. (That year, the goal of the conference was psychoanalysis of the figure; Custer's cause of death was already known.)

I've not been told the identity of this year's subject. But his case history describes him as a 35-year-old European musician and composer who for several days suffered from persistent fever, profuse perspiration, "diffuse macular rash over the chest and abdomen," projectile vomiting, and severe anasarca (accumulation of various fluids in the body). "On the 14th day of his illness," the case history states, "his condition deteriorated sharply, with the first signs of delirium. Venisection [blood letting] was performed, followed by cold compresses to his head. Coma ensued and the patient died in the early morning of the 15th day of illness."

The conference takes place a week from today at noon in Davidge Hall. We'll get the maestro's name, and maybe find out what killed him. I'll report back.

Toughest on kids

A conversation with Nicholas, the 9-year-old boy who lives in our house and whose favorite Baltimore Ravens are -- in this order -- wide receiver Jermaine Lewis, linebacker Ray Lewis, and defensive linemen Michael McCrary and Tony Siragusa.

DR: "Did other kids talk about Ray Lewis at school today?"

NR: "Yeah, a little. You know what?"

DR: "What?"

NR: "When I got Ray Lewis' autograph that time at the training camp [in 1998], there were a lot of people all around me and he could barely see me."

DR: "I remember."

NR: "But he saw me holding up my pad, and he signed it and he said, 'There you go, little man.' Remember?"

DR: "I remember him saying that."

NR: "He was nice."

DR: "Yes, he was."

NR: "I was wondering, if he was so nice like that, how he could do what they say he did?"

Season tickets on ice

Another Baltimore dad says the Lewis arrest comes just as his wife, 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son seemed to be getting as hooked as he is on professional football and the Ravens. He had been thinking of taking a second mortgage and buying season tickets at PSI Net next season. "Or maybe," he says, "I should just save up and take us all to Muppets on Ice or something. What's the chance of Bert and Ernie being on the local news this week?"

Among items slated for the WBAL Radio Auction for Center Stage Feb. 27: "A regulation NFL football signed by Pro Bowl starter and Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis."

Rodricks can be reached by e-mail at TJIDAN@aol.com, or at 410-332-6166.

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