Hale changes his mind, finds The Donald `easygoing'

April 15, 2005|By Bill Atkinson

ED HALE and Donald Trump - buddies?

Not long ago, Hale, who knocks off The Donald's role in Towson University's version of Trump's reality show, The Apprentice, didn't have too many nice things to say about Trump.

He called The Donald "insensitive" for the way he treats contestants and saw him as arrogant and harsh.

But 51 beautiful women and a national television audience later, the Baltimore banker-developer seems to have been won over.

Trump was in Baltimore this week for the Miss USA pageant, which he co-owns. Hale, who also attended and was one of two finance chairmen for the event, chatted with Trump and wife, Melania, like old pals.

"I sat with him all night," said Hale over lunch at the Coburn's Tavern & Grill in Canton. "We were just talking about business in general - what he is building, what I am building. We were handicapping who was going to win."

They settled on Miss North Carolina, Chelsea Cooley, the eventual winner.

Before the pageant, which was held at the Hippodrome, Hale and judges Michael Phelps and Sugar Ray Leonard were eating at Della Notte in Little Italy when Trump walked in with his wife.

"I was expecting the guy to be standoffish and full of himself," Hale said. "He came right over to the table and ... stuck his hand out and introduced himself. ... He was very easygoing."

Before Trump arrived in Baltimore, Hale was in full party mode. He invited the contestants to his 186-acre farm on the Eastern Shore to feast on roasted pig and chicken.

"It was surreal," said Hale in jeans, a Baltimore Blast soccer jacket and wraparound sunglasses.

Hale's visibility, while not quite The Donald's, has never been higher in Baltimore.

His planned 17-story headquarters building is taking shape next door to First Mariner Bancorp's offices, and he recently announced plans to build more than 1,000 upscale condominiums, apartments and townhouses in Greektown.

This month, he is slated to do an Esskay hot dog radio advertisement with Cal Ripken. And next week he ends his two-month stint as Trump nouveau when Towson University completes its version of The Apprentice - with the winner getting a job with Hale.

Hale acknowledges that he's overwhelmed.

"I'm getting sick and tired of seeing me and hearing about me," Hale said. "I have been a little overexposed."

@SUBHEDBond-fund expert recalls days on crew team fondly

Sue Schnaars' office on the 17th floor of 100 East Pratt St. looks out over the Inner Harbor. She acknowledges that sometimes she would rather be out on the water than poring through bond documents.

"My heart yearns for it sometimes," said Schnaars, who in her days at Drexel University in Philadelphia was a coxswain on the men's crew team.

She was good at it - her junior year, the boat she guided took the bronze medal at the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia. "The guys in my boat were willing to listen to whatever I told them to do," she said.

But her attention clearly isn't being too distracted.

Lipper, the mutual fund ratings firm, ranked the fund she manages, the MTB Maryland Municipal Bond Fund, third of 118 municipal bond funds for its one-year return of 1.80 percent as of Feb. 28. The fund ranked fourth of 100 muni funds over three years returning 4.62 percent, and third out of 86 funds over five years returning 6.16 percent.

"I don't necessarily intend to be always in the top 3 percent or top 5 percent," said Schnaars, who manages $125 million in assets. "If we can provide a good, high-quality fund for customers I think that is important."

Schnaars invests in Maryland municipal bond offerings issued by the state, cities, counties, universities, hospitals and retirement homes.

Investing in a state with strong fundamentals helps. Maryland is one of seven states in the country with a triple-A credit rating, Schnaars said.

"You've got a taxpayer base with one of the lowest unemployment rates and one of the highest-paid in the country," she said. "We have a very strong airport that continues to grow. From the standpoint of attracting a lot of good talent to highly educated talent it is a great state."

Schnaars has lived in Maryland for 13 years. While at Drexel she studied accounting and finance and received a master's degree in finance in 1989.

At a party in her dormitory a member of the crew team asked her point blank how much she weighed. She said 125 pounds and ended up at practice at 5:30 a.m. the next day.

Being the coxswain wasn't always easy. Once, she had to drink about two gallons of water to make weight. Such a volume of liquid produced, ahem, uncomfortable results.

Four legs down in foot race by Price executive in desert

Aran Gordon update:

The T. Rowe Price executive, who suffers from the genetic disorder hemochromatosis, completed the fourth stage of the 150-mile Marathon des Sables, a grueling foot race in Morocco through the Sahara Desert.

Since he began the race Sunday, Gordon has completed 114 miles and has two more legs to go. On Tuesday, he ran 25.5 miles, and on Wednesday he started the longest leg of the race, 47.2 miles, facing temperatures above 100 degrees, according to Darbaroud.com, a Web site tracking the runners.

Gordon and the others had 34 hours to complete the fourth leg. They received light sticks and were guided by a laser because they ran through the night, according to the Web site. Still, four runners got lost during the night. All were found by the organization's helicopter. Three were "in their survival sheets," the Web site report said.

Gordon's aim is to finish the race and raise $100,000 for Iron Disorders Institute, an organization dedicated to saving people with hemochromatosis, which causes iron to build up in the blood.

Bill Atkinson's column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 410-332-6961 or by e-mail at bill.atkinson@balt sun.com.

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