Between The Lines

BETWEEN THE LINES

March 29, 2004

Hitting rock bottom

Forget slots. Mayor Martin O'Malley has another way to cash in on Marylanders' thirst for gambling: a scratch-off lottery ticket with Osama bin Laden hiding under a rock.

"I think we need a scratch-off bin Laden," O'Malley joked last week while discussing slots, which the mayor supports only if the gaming is confined to racetracks.

"You can go to your 7-Eleven, you can go to your liquor store, you buy a scratch-off bin Laden and if you find the right rock, you get a payoff. And we can dedicate it to homeland security. That's one type of gaming that I would be in favor of expanding."

- Laura Vozzella

Scent of the city

Quick - pick a flower that best represents Baltimore. Can't think of one? Organizers of the annual Flower Mart can help. They want to designate an official flower for Baltimore and are offering four choices: daffodil, gardenia, lilac and peony.

You can vote for one of the four at www.flowermart.org.

The winner will be announced at the May 12 Flower Mart in Mount Vernon. Today, the City Council is expected to pass a resolution that would make the winner the official Baltimore blossom.

- Doug Donovan

Where the heart is

After six months of despair over her plight and that of others whose homes were damaged or destroyed in Tropical Storm Isabel, Bernice Myer, the Baltimore homicide detective who has been the public face of the flood victims, finally found reason for fledgling optimism last week.

Not only did federal action to improve the flood insurance program seem imminent Friday, but contractors were finally scheduled to start building a new frame for her Millers Island home.

"I never thought I'd be so excited to see plywood," she said.

Friday was the kind of beautiful spring day that shows why people love the waterfront, and Myer and her husband, Carter, were ready to enjoy it.

"Let's go home and watch our house get built," Carter Myer said.

- Andrew A. Green

Contentious ceremony

The political heat generated by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s effort to honor rescuers, including firefighters, who aided passengers of the capsized harbor shuttle apparently had a chilling effect on attendance at a recognition ceremony.

City officials were less than cooperative with the governor's office in planning the event and firefighters seemed to take that as a signal to stay away.

The 4 p.m. ceremony in Annapolis on Thursday attracted only three representatives from the Baltimore Fire Department. Only one was directly involved with the Seaport Taxi rescue and recovery operations in the tragedy that claimed five lives. The other two were firefighter union leaders: Stephen G. Fugate and Rick Schluderberg.

Mayor Martin O'Malley's administration was not supportive of such a ceremony, saying it was being held too soon, and refused to provide the names of firefighters to Ehrlich's representatives.

The naval reservists who pulled most of the Seaport Taxi passengers from the water March 6 turned out in full force for the ceremony with Ehrlich.

Fugate said the sole Baltimore firefighter who attended did not want to be identified and left by way of a private stairway typically used by the governor to avoid the television cameras.

- Doug Donovan

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