Between The Lines

BETWEEN THE LINES

September 20, 2004

Region rivalry

The skirmish over the History Channel's documentary on the War of 1812 goes on.

Some local historians charge that the film, First Invasion, ignores the names of the two soldiers who killed the commander of British Land Forces, and they argue that the shooting made the Battle of North Point as pivotal as the siege at Fort McHenry.

Perhaps it's the fog of war that enables the debate to continue. But Blaine Taylor thinks he knows why Fort McHenry is the more famous of the two.

"It's simple. The Battle of North Point took a historical back seat to Fort McHenry because of city bias against what is now Baltimore County," said Taylor of Towson. Taylor wrote a book on that war, holds membership in two international Napoleonic societies and is a member of the Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum.

- Joe Nawrozki

Take a chill pill

At the Baltimore City Council's luncheon with Mayor Martin O'Malley last week, Councilman Robert W. Curran expressed his concern that the city had contracted with Express Scripts to provide pharmaceuticals to city workers.

The company is being sued by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer over allegations that it inflated prescription drug costs to New York's largest employee health plan.

Curran wants to know whether the O'Malley administration was aware of the allegations and whether officials are ensuring city workers aren't facing similar overcharges - saying the city was "sold a bill of goods" by the consultant who recommended Express Scripts.

Curran's angry rhetoric struck many in the catered meeting as comical.

Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. inquired about what types of drugs Express Scripts prescribes.

"Hey, Bobby," Mitchell said to Curran, "do they prescribe chill pills?"

- Doug Donovan

Back where he started

For eight months O'Malley's administration has been searching for a new director for the Minority Business Development Office.

In the end, it found Samuel Lloyd thanks to hamburgers, hot dogs and Coke.

Lloyd is a Baltimore native who graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and Morgan State University. He worked on Inner Harbor development in the 1970s before landing an economic development job with the state.

His career in the private sector took him to the West Coast and, more recently, to a college in Nashville, Tenn. He's been away for 25 years.

But his heart, he said last week, was always in Baltimore. He said he had season tickets for the Ravens and often trekked to Baltimore from Nashville for football games.

After leaving his job in Tennessee, Lloyd and his fiancee sold their other house in Washington this past summer and moved to Bolton Hill. It was at a neighborhood picnic that Lloyd ran into O'Malley's brother and campaign chairman, Peter O'Malley.

After hearing about Lloyd's work history, the younger O'Malley got Lloyd in touch with the mayor's office. Before they knew it, city officials' search was over.

"I've always been rooted in this town," Lloyd said. "For the first time in a long time I can do work that makes a difference in people's lives."

-Doug Donovan

Scholarship seeker

City school officials have begun making amends to a group of about 20 Walbrook High Uniform Services Academy graduates who were denied scholarship money they were awarded in June.

The school system had frozen scholarship payments this summer when it began investigating allegations that Walbrook allowed hundreds of students to graduate or advance to the next grade without meeting requirements.

Among those who could not get their scholarships was Brandon Bradford, whose parents are lead plaintiffs in a longstanding class action lawsuit over the quality of city schools.

The teenager's repeated inquiries about his scholarship slowly made their way through the administration over the summer, and he entered Morgan State University without the money to buy textbooks.

Stephanie Triantos, an executive assistant to the director of city high schools, offered to give him the money out of her own pocket if she could not get his scholarship released. And reader Jane Tambree contacted The Sun to offer to buy Bradford's textbooks.

On Wednesday, he finally was summoned to the system's North Avenue headquarters to pick up his $300 scholarship check. "It's about time," Bradford said. "Took them long enough."

-Laura Loh

Tough goal, vandals

A stretch of Cedar Avenue in front of Olympic swim hero Michael Phelps' alma mater, Towson High School, had just been renamed Michael Phelps Way when, sometime last weekend, someone used black spray paint to obliterate one of the new street signs.

But a Baltimore County roads crew was quickly able to remove the graffiti - and jack up the street sign a good three feet so other detractors of the 19-year-old swimming sensation would have a more difficult time reaching it.

- Julie Bykowicz

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