Father knows best: Obey your daughter


April 18, 2005

Baltimore Circuit Court clerk - and some might say perpetual squeaky wheel - Frank M. Conaway loves to ask questions at the monthly Criminal Justice Coordinating Council meetings. He'll ask half a dozen or more at each gathering, not counting his additional pontifications on crime-related topics.

So during Wednesday's meeting, fellow coordinating council members, including police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm and State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, braced themselves when Conaway stood up, drew a deep breath and began a speech with the words: "There comes a point in your life when your children begin making decisions for you ... "

After a bit of a dramatic pause - and as everyone else exchanged curious glances - Conaway went on to say that his daughter, a City Council member, had ordered him to stop pestering Hamm about an alleged quota system being used in the Police Department.

Turns out Belinda Conaway, who represents West Baltimore's 7th District, had told her dad that Hamm's explanation of the system satisfied the City Council and that he needn't continue to probe the situation. (The elder Conaway, a lover of news releases, had put out a statement condemning the practice two weeks earlier.)

Frank Conaway said he had decided to heed his daughter's advice and shut his mouth. The coordinating council members sat dumbfounded for a moment until the chairman, Circuit Judge John M. Glynn, piped up: "In that case, would anyone like to make a motion commending Mr. Conaway's daughter?"

- Julie Bykowicz

Scent, then descent

So how are things going for former Baltimore police Commissioner Edward T. Norris?

"Other than getting fired from a part-time mall job, things are fine," Norris said.

Indeed, the former commissioner - serving house arrest after a federal prison term for corruption and tax offenses - was fired Wednesday from a perfume store at a mall in Tampa, Fla. Norris said a supposed customer from Baltimore called the store's headquarters and complained about him. The ex-top cop is chalking it up to retaliation from someone in Baltimore.

"It's unbelievable the depths people will sink to in that place," he said.

With three months of house arrest remaining, Norris continues to host a Baltimore radio talk show. He's also looking for another job. He applied Thursday at Harley-Davidson.

"I'm dying to work for them," he said. "I love motorcycles."

- Ryan Davis

Brief span of safety

After years of planning, Sykesville is getting a new intersection at Route 32. The $8.6 million project involves new construction, improvements to existing roadways and a bike trail - running the length of the project on the highway that links Carroll to Howard County and to Interstates 70 and 95. The State Highway Administration, which is funding the bulk of the project, has insisted on the approximately 1,000-foot bicycle path.

"It is weird that the trail is only the length of our project," said Matthew Candland, town manager. "Bikers will be right back into heavy traffic before and after our intersection."

- Mary Gail Hare

Enough virtue is enough

During a presentation last week to the Carroll County school board on curriculum development, Steven Johnson, director of curriculum and instruction, extolled the virtues of the Japanese model of education, in which the teacher poses questions to students to encourage them to explore the answers. He said he borrows from that concept as often as possible.

"We believe kids learn best when they make the connection themselves," he said. "When you let students uncover and discover the content on their own."

Laura K. Rhodes, the board's vice president, said that as a psychologist she favors that mode of learning.

"Of course, [the Japanese] do that year-round and put a lot more hours into it than we do," she said.

Worried about where the conversation was heading, the board's student representative, Andy McEvoy, a senior at Century High in Eldersburg, quickly chimed in: "Let's not do that."

- Gina Davis

First lady, second banana

It should be no surprise to hear that first lady Kendel Ehrlich was escorted by a governor to the Miss USA Pageant in Baltimore last week - only the governor in this case was not her husband. It was former governor and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. decided he'd fire a few barbs at Schaefer, 83, during Wednesday's Board of Public Works meeting. Ehrlich chastised him for staying out too late and returning with his "hair disheveled."

Schaefer would have none of the criticism. In fact, he said, the first lady had too much class for him and practically ignored him the whole night.

"I got there at the appointed time," Schaefer said. "She got there early. She said, `I'm here with you tonight.'

"She was a real lady," he said. "She introduced me as `him.' She forgot my last name."

And it never seemed to get better for the comptroller.

"She looked beautiful," Schaefer said. "Her hair was all curled."

As she walked through the Hippodrome Theatre, Schaefer was forced to keep his distance - not because she was outshining him, but because of the lengthy train on her dress, he said.

"I had to stand 5 feet behind her," Schaefer said.

- Ivan Penn

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