Between The Lines

BETWEEN THE LINES

May 24, 2004

Analogy has a few bugs

Even the Maryland Department of Human Resources is trying to get in on the cicada craze.

In a news release sent out last week reminding Marylanders that May is "National Foster Care Month," state officials contrast foster children with the red-eyed insects that are emerging after 17 years.

"Children aren't like cicadas. ... Don't make them wait 17 years! Consider foster parenting. ... Help a child emerge ready to thrive," urges the release.

"If you were a cicada, waiting 17 years is natural. But consider many of our children who too often end up waiting for years on end to find loving families. For them, waiting even one day for a loving family can be too long."

- Howard Libit

Building suspense

Andrew B. Frank's business card says "executive vice president," but it might as well say "enforcer."

The Baltimore Development Corp. official swung a verbal hammer in December when he e-mailed developer Kevin Urgo about the lack of progress on Urgo's proposed downtown hotel: "I can only assume that there is no deliberate effort to deceive us about when construction will begin on the site; however it is incredible to me that, yet again, another date given to us by you or your representative has passed with no activity on the site."

Frank then threatened to tell Urgo's lenders the project was in "default."

Well, the Marriott Residence Inn is now rising on what had been an ugly pit at Light and Redwood streets, and Frank last week played another role: "diplomat."

He was surprised to hear that his e-mail - offering a rare glimpse at normally secretive BDC-developer interaction - had surfaced in city files, and added, "With a crane in the air, all is well."

Urgo, ever the developer, wouldn't concede anything had been amiss. "Everything," he told The Sun in an e-mail, "was and is moving according to schedule."

- Scott Calvert

Landmark staying put

Traditionalists can rest assured. Peter Angelos isn't moving Maison Marconi restaurant from downtown's west side to Charles Street after all. The Saratoga Street institution he bought years ago is staying put. "For the time being, there are no plans to go anywhere," said general manager Bassam Sara.

That means you'll still be able to eat in the same space H.L. Mencken did decades ago - although The New York Times opined last year that the place has "lost much of its charm" after an "aesthetically criminal" remodeling ordered by Angelos.

So what about the empty retail space on the ground floor of Angelos' One Charles Center that has sat vacant for months and months? (If this weren't Baltimore, the lone stepladder and overturned bucket there could pass for large-scale modern art.)

It won't be like a ghost town much longer, says Angelos associate Tom Marudas. "We're close to some deals; very close, actually."

- Scott Calvert

A rough re-entry

Nine hours after he had landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport after a trip to Rome, a jet-lagged Mayor Martin O'Malley was bracing for a news conference, where he would be peppered with questions about a domestic disturbance at the home of police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark.

Before he could get that over with, O'Malley had a Board of Estimates meeting to attend. He walked into the meeting room - and into a loud argument.

Leonard J. Kerpelman, a former City Council candidate, wanted to film the proceedings for public access television. City officials said cameras weren't allowed.

"Get him out of here now, because if I have to put my hands on him, I'm gonna be in trouble," City Council President Sheila Dixon was saying.

Councilman Robert W. Curran joined in, hollering, "Get a life, Leonard."

"This is my life," Kerpelman shot back.

The uproar died down in a few minutes, when a police officer was called and escorted Kerpelman from the room. But not before O'Malley deadpanned, "It's great to be back. Really."

- Laura Vozzella

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