Between The Lines

BETWEEN THE LINES

February 09, 2004

Guess who

A new exhibit in the City Hall rotunda recognizes the city's black business pioneers.

Just one problem: Whoever put up the 19 portraits last week wasn't sure who was who.

Most of the portraits are paired with a little plaque that includes the subject's name and a biographical sketch. But several are accompanied only by a Post-It note with a name and question mark scribbled on it.

Is that bald guy with the mustache really Dr. Joseph H. Thomas, physician and owner of a Turners Station movie theater? Is the one with the glasses really Walter Dixon Sr., who established a secretarial school for blacks?

That probably won't be known until later this week.

The display has moved around in recent years, and some of the plaques became separated from the portraits, said Ackneil Muldrow II, president of the Baltimore Marketing Association, the black business group that put on the exhibit. He expects to get the pictures and plaques properly paired up in a few days.

- Laura Vozzella

School rumors

Early last week, the rumors began spreading through the halls of McDonogh School in Owings Mills after students learned an assembly had been scheduled.

What could it be for? Some speculated that Headmaster W. Boulton Dixon would announce his retirement. Others thought that perhaps dreaded end-of-term exams scheduled for the end of the month would be canceled because snow days had robbed students of valuable class time.

Rochelle Murray, a senior from Mount Airy, was one of the few students to learn the truth ahead of time. "They might be a little disappointed," she said of her classmates.

Turns out, the assembly had been called to announce a gift: Baltimore's Rollins-Luetkemeyer Foundation had pledged $20 million to the private school.

- Jonathan D. Rockoff

Producing a bargain

When Baltimore County Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder goes to Annapolis to lobby for a bill, he, as a former delegate, knows the pathways to power.

On Tuesday, speaking in support of a measure to give low-interest loans to Tropical Storm Isabel victims, he turned to a potent weapon to persuade House Environmental Matters Committee Chairwoman Maggie L. McIntosh to back the cause: the produce stand he runs at the Waverly Farmers' Market in the heart of her district.

There could, he joked, be some vegetables in it for her if everything went right with the bill. "Only if they're less than $25," someone in the crowd yelled, referring to the campaign finance threshold for reporting gifts. "Madam chair, whatever you want is always going to be less than $25," Bartenfelder said.

- Andrew A. Green

The Baltimore Boss

During last year's primary election, fleeting mayoral candidate Carl Stokes accused Mayor Martin O'Malley of stealing inspiration for the city's "Believe" slogan from the Irish beer, Guinness, which built a marketing campaign behind the word.

The mayor has said there's no connection, but he does tap his Irish heritage to inspire his band's music.

One wonders then if the mayor's policies, like his music, aren't getting some subconscious form of inspiration - not from Ireland, but from Bruce Springsteen.

In his State of the City address last week, O'Malley characterized his improved relations with the city's public school system, which has its headquarters on North Avenue, by saying, "The North Avenue freeze-out is over."

Was the mayor making a reference to Springsteen's song, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"?

The answer from an O'Malley spokesman: No.

OK, but what about Reason to Believe, a city program O'Malley mentioned in the same speech?

"Reason to Believe" is the title of a Springsteen song from the 1982 album Nebraska.

Again, O'Malley's office says there's no connection.

- Doug Donovan

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