Between The Lines


October 04, 2004

The cost of being cool

The good news for Baltimore: Somebody thinks the place is cool.

The bad news: It's costing the city $10,000.

Baltimore has been selected to be host of the National Main Streets Conference called "Cool Cities: Old Buildings, New Attitudes." To be held May 8-11, the event is coordinated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and will be attended by architects, planners and public officials from around the country.

"Conference sessions will showcase Baltimore's local success stories and offer a firsthand look at our neighborhoods," according to a summary provided recently to the city's Board of Estimates.

FOR THE RECORD - A photograph in some editions of The Sun, Monday Oct. 4, misidentified the subject of a photograph. The photograph was of Andy Nelson Sr., not Andy Nelson Jr. The Sun regrets the errors.

The board gladly coughed up $10,000 for the honor -- in the form of a "host fee" paid to the National Trust.

--Laura Vozzella

Look, free advertising

At Andy Nelson's Barbeque on York Road in Cockeysville last week, Andy Nelson Jr. was pretty upbeat about the damage caused by the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne.

Yes, his restaurant had to close a few hours early when part of York Road was closed because of flooding. And yes, he had to hire a contractor to check the propone tanks on his traveling barbecue pits, which at one point were submerged in about 4 feet of water. He also spent hours hosing mud from pots and throwing away soggy paper plates and tablecloths.

"It was like a river of mud, not a nice pretty stream," said Nelson, whose restaurant is in a valley of York Road that frequently floods during heavy rain.

But, he said, "It wasn't the end of the world. It could have been worse."

Besides, Nelson said, the large pink pig that sits atop his restaurant was visible in the background of a front-page newspaper photo that showed the riverlike conditions on York Road. "You could see our pig," he said. "It was great."

-- Laura Barnhardt

Commanding respect

State Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan took his show on the road last week, coming to City Hall to say Baltimore would be getting more money from Annapolis for public transit and road repairs.

Pretty dry stuff for the most part. But the session took on a vaudeville schtick when Flanagan called on Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector, who had her hand raised.

"There's a lady in the back," Flanagan said.

"I'm not a lady," Spector replied. "I'm a councilwoman."

-- Laura Vozzella

`Just being puckish'

As Baltimore City Council President Sheila Dixon discussed the escalating cost of providing health care to city employees, she said pharmaceutical companies should focus more on developing preventive medicines to head off health risks associated with aging.

"The No. 1 prescription last year was Viagra. That's interesting," Dixon said.

After a bit of laughter from the crowd at Wednesday's Board of Estimates hearing, Mayor Martin O'Malley chimed in: "People are living longer."

Perhaps his comment was a precursor to his mischievous attitude that day.

At O'Malley's weekly news conference after the board meeting, he playfully grabbed a reporter's tape recorder and tossed it to the floor.

"I was just being puckish," O'Malley said. "It's nothing personal."

-- Doug Donovan

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