A NOTE IN Monday's column ended with the words, "More later," and here it is: William Hurt and Ben Kingsley are expected to have lead roles in that new Disney movie, "Tuck Everlasting," to be filmed at Maryland locations, including Baltimore County, starting next month. The director is Jay Russell, who did "My Dog Skip." More later.
I pay taxes in this town, so I hate to see good people prematurely end their service to the city, especially over something silly. John Bergbower's retirement as a major in a police force trying to cut violent crime can't be a good thing for the citizens of Baltimore. After 27 years, including stints as commander of the Southwestern District and chief of a special unit responsible for arresting fugitives, he's leaving in May for a job with the state - and all because of that screwy incident involving a "stolen" car.
Did I say screwy? How about embarrassing and stupid, too? To recap:
Bergbower authorized a lieutenant named Regis Phelan - host of the popular game show, "Who Wants To Drive A Chevy Cavalier?" - to take an unmarked cruiser home to his house in Carroll County.
Why? Bergbower says it's because Phelan had been filling in for him as commander of the city's Special Investigations Section. Phelan stepped in because, last year, Bergbower had been put in charge of the Regional Warrant Apprehension Task Force and that took a lot of his time.
The task force has been praised for having had an impact on Baltimore's homicide rate by arresting hundreds of violent criminals before they commit more crimes. There doesn't seem to be any doubt that the combined local-state-federal unit's presence in East Baltimore, in particular, contributed to last year's drop in the citywide murder rate.
So, anyway, Phelan drives the departmental car home.
Bergbower's supervisor, Col. James Hawkins, finds out and apparently sees this as some big-time infraction of department policy.
What does he do?
Employing refined management skills, Hawkins resists calling Bergbower and Phelan on the carpet and giving them hell, and instead hatches a plan to catch Phelan in the act.
He takes a spare key - whoa! I just had a flash of Barney taking the spare from Andy's desk - and goes to Carroll County and personally takes the car from in front of Phelan's house. He then drives it to North Baltimore and leaves it in the middle of a street.
I know what you're wondering: How did Le Colonel get to Carroll County?
I figure he parachuted in. This mission called for clandestine measures, see, cover-of-darkness stuff. Le Colonel couldn't simply drive to Phelan's neighborhood and leave his car there, see. So, he must have parachuted into a farm field near the Phelan house, then crawled up and stole the car. Oh, yeah. Mark my words. It's gonna come out when they make the movie. (More later.)
Anyway, Phelan reports his car stolen. Bergbower finds out what Hawkins did and writes a blast-memo to the chief of the city's internal investigation division and, before you can say "Kindergarten Kops," the police commissioner, Steady Eddie Norris, has a mess on his hands.
Now Bergbower, a police commander proven effective, is supposed to take a desk job at headquarters until he leaves in May. He says the stolen car caper "helped me make this decision." Too bad. The caper doesn't seem to have changed Colonel Hawkins' career plans; it shouldn't have affected Bergbower's.
Words from the wise
The latest sidewalk sandwich-board wisdom from Odorite, the janitorial supply and pest control company at 1111 Maryland Ave.: "The best way to mend a broken heart is time and girlfriends." ... Overheard on the Homewood campus of JHU, as a fellow in computer-related sales made a slip in his pitch: "As far as software changes, you just go to the Web site for free downgrades." ...
Observed and appreciated (by Baltimore firefighter Tom Nosek): A woman with bucket, brush and Comet scrubbing the marble steps of her rowhouse, corner of Patterson Park and Eastern. God bless us, every-hon. ... From a wise old Baltimore pundit: "Martin O'Malley has to run for governor in 2002. If he doesn't, he has to wait eight years. The iron's hot now; it won't be in eight years." ...
There seem to be more of them every time I look - murals and trompe l'oeil on the sides of rowhouses and businesses, especially in Southeast Baltimore. Check out the beauties at Meyer Seed Co., Fleet and Caroline streets, and at Buddha Brothers, the tattoo and body-piercing place off Thames Street in Fells Point. My compliments to the artists.
Little-known fact: The Domino Sugar sign, neon-orange landmark of the Inner Harbor, is controlled by an on-off switch across the water at The Daily Grind coffee shop on Thames Street. Don't believe me? Go in The Grind and look; the switch is right near the front counter, by the bean bins on a funky "art wall." Says right on the switch: "Domino Sugar Sign." It's what I love about this job - learn something new every day. More later.