Between The Lines


December 29, 2003

Kaufman of La Mancha

Don Quixote has nothing on Baltimore's A. Robert Kaufman. The perennial political candidate who stumps for socialist ideals, with faint chance of winning, is at it again.

Last week, Kaufman announced that he will be running "as a socialist in the Democratic primary" for U.S. Senate, taking on incumbent Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and others.

"My electoral efforts have been done without any expectations of winning," Kaufman, 72, said.

He explained that his campaigns are meant to educate the public about socialism, to prove that the United States is run "for the corporations, not the people."

If elected, he said he would stand against President Bush's foreign policy goals, saying, "If we had a foreign policy first enunciated by comrade Jesus - do unto others as you would have them do unto you - we wouldn't have the terrorism we have today."

Kaufman has run for several offices, including president, governor, congressman, mayor (twice) and city councilman. In September, his bid to win the Democratic primary for mayor garnered him 645 votes (Mayor Martin O'Malley got nearly 60,000).

Still, Kaufman remains eternally optimistic despite his age. He turns 73 in March.

"I'm rapidly approaching middle age," he said.

- Doug Donovan

Inquiring minds

The Baltimore View is a Web site that polls people on a wide range of issues. This week's questions include:

Is Edward Norris guilty or not guilty of charges from the U.S. Attorney that he misused an expense account? Should Baltimore City Council members be allowed to use taxpayer funds to pay lawyers to help them with a federal investigation into their finances? Have you ever been to pornographic Web sites?

Past polls have proven equally interesting: 57 percent of respondents predicted the Dow Jones Industrial Average will close between 9,000 and 10,000 at the end of this year; 55 percent foretold of a white Christmas; 75 percent said the majority of pro athletes are not good role models; 58 percent support the Maryland Stadium Authority's proposal to build a racing, gambling and entertainment complex downtown. To vote, visit the site at

- Doug Donovan

Festival of light beer?

After a reporter heard a broadcast over his police scanner that Park Heights Avenue between Pinkney Road and Fords Lane was being shut down for about two hours the evening of Dec. 22, the reporter, thinking it was some kind of emergency, called police spokesman Agent Donny Moses to find out why.

Moments later, Moses called back saying that the Department of Public Works told him it was because of the "Heineken Festival." Moses, ever the one for accuracy and knowing many of Baltimore's Jewish citizens live in the Upper Park Heights Avenue area, corrected the DPW worker, saying, "No, you mean it's the Hanukkah Festival."

- Richard Irwin

Shake hands already

It's rare to see so much as one television news camera at a Baltimore County Council meeting, but when Executive James T. Smith Jr. made his first trip to a meeting since being elected, all four local news stations showed up.

Were they there in hopes of catching a rapprochement between the council and executive?

Probably not. Smith showed up to the recent meeting to give a proclamation to Rodgers Forge resident and swimming champion Michael Phelps.

Although the executive and legislative branches were able to cooperate on wishing Phelps luck at the Athens Olympics, the swimmer did inadvertently resurrect some tension between Smith and the council when he presented them with a gift - a framed poster of himself.

"We'll have to debate whether that hangs in the council's office or the executive's office," said council Chairman Kevin Kamenetz. "I'd just like to ask security not to let it leave the room."

- Andrew A. Green

How do you spell that?

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the death sentence last week of Dustin John Higgs, the only Maryland man on federal death row. Higgs, who was found guilty of kidnapping and then ordering the Jan. 27, 1996, murders of three women in Prince George's County, had challenged his conviction and sentence on a number of legal fronts.

The appeals court, which sits in Richmond, Va., and hears federal appellate issues from five states, rejected all of Higgs' claims. At the conclusion of a 71-page opinion, the three-judge panel that heard Higgs' case wrote: "For the foregoing reasons, we find no reversible error with respect to the issues that Jackson has raised on appeal."


The error might be traced to an earlier ruling.

In the last death sentence case decided by the appeals court, the defendant was a North Carolina man named Richard Allen Jackson. In March, another three-judge panel rejected his arguments that mistakes were made during his May 2001 death penalty trial in U.S. District Court in Asheville.

- Gail Gibson

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