Between The Lines

BETWEEN THE LINES

November 24, 2003

Baltimore party politics

Baltimore's Board of Estimates approved a revision to the city's policy on holiday parties last week, allowing supervisors more flexibility for scheduling the annual soirees.

Past practice dating to 1990 dictated that Christmas and New Year's parties be held only from Dec. 23-24 and Dec. 30-31, respectively. The new rule extends the partying season to the last two weeks of December.

There are only three conditions: agency heads must approve; there can be no interruption of city business or office closures for parties; and absolutely no alcoholic beverages.

-- Doug Donovan

Playing to the crowd

A dozen 5-year-old pupils sat quietly in the front row of Baltimore's Board of Estimates hearing room last week, their legs dangling off the edge of their seats. The kindergarten pupils hailed from the Oak Ridge Academy, the West Baltimore school for 2- to 5-year-olds that claims actress Jada Pinkett Smith as one of its most famous graduates.

Led by the 41-year-old school's founder, Beverly Bailey, also known as "Mommie Bobbie," the class greeted the board in perfect Spanish. They added, in sign language, "We are happy to be here." Then they covered their hearts and pledged allegiance to the flag -- also in Spanish.

The children presented certificates to City Council President Sheila Dixon, Mayor Martin O'Malley and Comptroller Joan M. Pratt that congratulated the three for winning the primary elections. They also thanked Brenda Covington, a special assistant to Pratt, for inviting them.

O'Malley then teasingly bragged that he received an extra gift. "I also got an `excellent work'" certificate, he said, dangling the gift to the audience.

"That's because you're the mayor," Dixon said.

Dixon said many of the pupils were future leaders. Judging by O'Malley's and Dixon's playful performances, the kids seem well on their way.

-- Doug Donovan

Ladies first and foremost

Needed at the Capitol, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin sent his wife to represent him at last week's beam-raising ceremony at Sheppard Pratt Health System.

After stepping up to the podium, Myrna Cardin first told former first lady Rosalynn Carter that she looks the same as she did in her White House days.

As for the other guest of honor, Maryland first lady Kendel Ehrlich, Cardin said: "I'm most envious of her. Her husband has a regular schedule and mine doesn't."

-- Sara Neufeld

Still looks good on paper

State budget cuts are even hurting the quality of the awards being handed out by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

As the governor held a news conference Friday afternoon at the Maryland Department of the Environment, he sought to hand out certificates honoring the work of two developers involved in the redevelopment of the former Montgomery Ward warehouse -- Sam Himmelrich and David Tufaro.

The warehouse has been converted into an environmentally friendly building that now houses the environmental agency as well as the state lottery's offices.

As Ehrlich handed out the certificates, he realized they weren't framed.

"We have this budget deficit, and framing is a little more expensive," Ehrlich told the pair of developers. "So we figured you have a few bucks. You could frame it yourself."

-- Howard Libit

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