Between the Lines

April 21, 2003|By SUN STAFF

Is city less trashy?

To the mounds of data that experts routinely sift through to ascertain the health of Baltimore, add this: The amount of trash collected in citywide cleanups is falling.

Volunteers picked up 695 tons of bottles, tires, furniture and other refuse from alleys, yards, streets and vacant lots in the mayor's recent Super Spring Sweep Thing. That is about 4 percent less than the 727 tons collected in a similar event last fall, the city recently announced.

Moreover, the estimated number of participating volunteers was up: to 5,100 from 4,000.

The city's Department of Public Works says the results are consistent with two hopeful sanitation trends seen in recent years: more people volunteering for cleanups and less trash being dumped.

-- Jon Morgan

A face in the crowd

Sweeping changes to the top ranks of the Baltimore Police Department in recent weeks even confused a veteran officer known as an unshakeable and steady master of ceremonies at agency events.

Lt. Frederick V. Roussey was introducing members of the command staff at a swearing-in ceremony Thursday afternoon when he came to a quiet man sitting at the end of the row.

Roussey seemed perplexed and leaned over, asking the mysterious man his name. It was Anthony Romano, chief of the organized crime division, who recently joined the force after serving as a sergeant in the New York Police force.

"I'd only met him once," said Roussey, a 30-year veteran who oversees the ceremonies unit. "I wanted to be absolutely sure it was him. He looked different today for some reason."

-- Del Quentin Wilber

Protect that tractor

Spotted among the domestic violence and child-safety brochures in the lobby of the distinctly suburban Woodlawn police precinct: a stack of pamphlets warning residents to protect their tractors from potential thieves.

Inside are other helpful anti-crime tips for those who make their living off the land. To help stop modern rustlers, tattoo all livestock. And don't forget -- padlock your grain elevator.

The cover of the pamphlet shows a Western-style bandit, complete with bandana mask and black cowboy hat, making off with some poor farmer's tractor -- not something that's likely to happen amid the strip malls on Security Boulevard. The warnings are apparently as relevant as Woodlawn is rural. At last check, the rack was still full of pamphlets.

-- Laura Barnhardt

The cuffs felt fine

On Baltimore city government's official Web site, visitors can check out "What's New" to see the latest news about municipal administration.

On Friday, the third item on the page was "a letter to Baltimore City's Police Dept. from an anti-war protester."

The hotlink connects to a letter from Thomas Christian, an anti-war protester arrested at the Garmatz Federal Courthouse on March 21.

It reads: "Although I do believe that my first amendment right was violated by not allowing me into the Federal Building, I was not in any way mistreated by any of the officers on the scene."

It commends a Baltimore city officer who handcuffed him in a manner "that was firm but not uncomfortable."

"Although the actions of the Bush Administration have made me rather ashamed to be an American, the actions of [police and correctional officers] made me proud to be a resident of Baltimore."

Fight the power, indeed; but don't forget to thank it for a fair fight.

-- Doug Donovan

A not-so-hot ticket

When City Council President Sheila Dixon heard that Mayor Martin O'Malley's campaign is charging $4,000 for the most exclusive portion of his May 14 fund-raiser, she smiled. With an election of her own to finance, Dixon, an ally of the mayor's, can't afford such a ticket. "I'm not going to buy one," she said.

-- Doug Donovan

Words to live by

With almost 10 years on the Baltimore County Board of Education, Sanford V. Teplitzky has visited a lot of schools, talked to a lot of students and read a lot about students. He has mined a number of pearls of wisdom from what he has heard and read, some of which he shared with school volunteers who were honored at a ceremony recently. To wit: "Never trust a dog to watch your food."

"When your dad is mad and asks you, `Do I look stupid?' Don't answer."

"When your mom is mad at your dad, don't let her brush your hair."

"Never hold a Dustbuster and a cat at the same time."

"When you get a bad grade in school, tell your mom -- when she's on the phone."

-- Jonathan D. Rockoff

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