Between The Lines


February 28, 2005

Maybe they can't find the checkbook?

Former Baltimore police Commissioner Edward T. Norris has apparently had at least one lasting effect on city government - a freeze on the "police supplemental account" he used to buy Victoria's Secret gifts, leather jackets and fancy dinners.

The commissioner's use of the Depression-era account - which amounted to $178,000, much of it legitimate - eventually landed him in federal prison.

Responding last week to a public records request from The Sun, city officials disclosed that there have been no withdrawals from the account since at least July 29, 2002. That's when power over the account was transferred to the finance director from the Police Department.

The total assets of the account were valued this month at $760,633.22.

- Ryan Davis

A revoltin' development

State Sen. George W. Della Jr. wasn't exactly mincing words at the Senate city delegation meeting Friday morning.

The South Baltimore Democrat began to blast the Baltimore Development Corp. Unbeknown to him, two officials from the city's economic development agency were in attendance, poised to pitch their proposed convention headquarters hotel.

Brought to Della's attention, their presence only gave him more ammunition. He called the BDC a "shadow government" that spends money "like drunken sailors," his anger even spilling into comments about Mayor Martin O'Malley.

"I don't get it, folks," he said, staring at Irene Van Sant, project analyst director for the BDC. "For the BDC to propose this damn hotel, I think it's absolutely outrageous."

"You're out of control," he said. "You don't answer to anybody and you don't tell the truth. If I sound like I'm angry, I'm worse than that."

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, Della noted, "wouldn't allow" such things. "I'm beginning to like him more and more every day," Della said.

BDC officials could not be reached for comment, but O'Malley spokesman Stephen Kearney said, "Sometimes it's hard to tell what Senator Della's real agenda is, but he's way off base.

"It would surely be more helpful if the senator was working on school construction or protecting open space," he said.

- Sumathi Reddy

Never forgotten

During the reunion and observances in Washington of the 60th anniversary of the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima, retired Marine Col. Richard Rothwell of Catonsville was taken by those in attendance at the various ceremonies. And those who were not.

Rothwell, 92, and a recipient of the Silver Star for valor in the battle that was the costliest in Marine Corps history, said, "There was a large turnout for the three-day event, but it appeared to me there were many more family than were veterans of Iwo. Not too many of my outfit are left."

It was a great honor, he said, when he and another veteran of Iwo Jima laid a wreath at the National World War II Memorial.

"I was extremely proud of him," said Rothwell's wife, Rebecca. "All of the ceremonies, they were quite overwhelming."

- Joe Nawrozki

Who could ask for more?

Lt. Frederick V. Roussey, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, is upset that the city has told about 160 injured police officers that they must apply for retirement or be fired. In a letter on the Fraternal Order of Police Web site, he wrote his tongue-in-cheek suggestion for a new city police recruiting motto:

"Join the Baltimore Police Department where 1.8 officers are assaulted in the line of duty each day!

"We will pay you less than all surrounding major police departments!

"We will allow you to work under the most horrendous conditions in the most violent city in the state of Maryland and declared one of the top ten most violent cities in America!

"And as an extra bonus we will fire you if you are injured in the line of duty and not capable of returning to work as a full duty police officer within one year."

- Ryan Davis

From treachery to teachery

When Villa Julie College builds new classrooms or computer labs on the 38-acre site it's purchasing in Owings Mills, students will be attending lectures or surfing the Internet on a patch of ground made infamous by an act of civic betrayal more than 20 years ago.

More recently, the city-owned land in Baltimore County that the college is buying for $4.55 million had been the first training facility of the Baltimore Ravens football team before the team moved into new digs nearby. But on a snowy eve in late March 1984, it was the spot where a convoy of Mayflower vans rendezvoused to load up the Baltimore Colts - lock, stock and jocks - for owner Bob Irsay's midnight move to Indianapolis.

Although the Ravens have not only restored an NFL presence but also brought a Super Bowl title to the region, the recent disposition of the old Colts headquarters evoked nostalgia and melancholy for some, such as local historian Duane E. Tressler.

"There are those of us," Tressler said, "who have never quite forgiven."

- Bill Ordine

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