Between The Lines

April 07, 2003

From the lighter side of the news:

Some `home-spun' humor

An anonymous source dropped off an envelope containing a juicy tip at The Sun's front desk last week.

Inside were printouts of e-mails between Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. and Chief Operating Officer Michael Enright documenting a plot to spend $945,000 in taxpayer cash on an opulent home in the Guilford neighborhood.

The property: the Towson University president's mansion at 3903 Greenway, which was so lavishly renovated last year -- at a price tag of $1.8 million -- that the furor forced the resignation of ex-president Mark L. Perkins.

"Towson needs to unload the president's house," O'Malley wrote to Enright. "I was thinking this might be the right property for the mayor's house. ... Tell Thurman to ... make this happen. NOW. If we don't get this done soon, the Sun is going to find out and it'll never happen."

The tipster's evidence included an unsigned draft sales contract between the city and Towson U.

Just as a reporter was about to call the mayor's office, his phone rang. "Did you get the envelope?" asked Steven J. Kearney, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Baltimore and former O'Malley employee.

"It's right here on my desk. Is this real?" asked the reporter.

"What day is it?" asked Kearney.

"Tuesday," the reporter replied.

"It's April 1," said Kearney.

-- Tom Pelton

A more provocative topic

When the Sisterhood at Ner Tamid Synagogue invited Rochelle "Rikki" Spector to speak at the group's April meeting today the six-term city councilwoman was more than willing.

Spector alerted the Sisterhood that she wanted her speech to promote community involvement in the legislative process. She titled the speech "Making Laws, Not Tzimmes." (Tzimmes is a Jewish mishmash of food, a word Spector used to mean "raise a ruckus." )

But a ruckus -- and a few eyebrows -- are just what was raised when the printer delivered the 100 fliers promoting the event with a misprint. They read: "Making Love, Not Tzimmes."

Sisterhood leaders were embarrassed. But Spector used her 26 years of political experience to assess the situation. "I told them to deliver the fliers," Spector said. "Maybe more people will come out."

-- Doug Donovan

Taking wider aim

France and Germany aren't the only ones in the crosshairs of those angered by naysayers to war in Iraq. Fliers found last week off Lake Avenue, near Boys Latin School, declare:

"The French, Germans, Russians and Canadians are pro-terrorism and anti-American! Along with the [New York] Times. ... Don't forget. Boycott their products. Support our troops in Iraq. Support President Bush. SUPPORT AMERICA.

"Our American, British & Aussie boys need your support."

No doubt about where the author stands. But lots of questions about how the fliers got there and who the author is. The only clue is a cryptic notation at the bottom of the fliers: TIAOB.america.

A secret purveyor of freedom fries, perhaps?

-- Don Schiller

She didn't take her seats

No, they weren't stolen in a midnight heist. Yes, the mayor knows about them.

The two "Baltimore -- Greatest City in America" benches that adorn the Fells Point running store, 5K, are legit.

Everyone's been asking about the benches, which are the store's only furniture for sitting. Store owner Deneen Habarta is the lone Charm City retailer to buy the wood-and-concrete benches, city officials say.

New, they cost $300 apiece, and they weren't easy to get. After trying for two months to contact someone to sell them to her, Habarta got fed up. She e-mailed O'Malley, who told her to contact the city's Office of Transportation. It worked.

"The morning they delivered them, that was when I put out my `OPEN' sign," she said. "I had no seating in the store."

Patrons can't help but comment. "Mostly they ask jokingly, `Did you steal them?" she said.

-- Allison Klein

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