Free publicity - with a high price tag

BETWEEN THE LINES

June 20, 2005

When socialist A. Robert Kaufman was beaten and stabbed, allegedly by a tenant in his West Baltimore apartment building, some feared the near-fatal attack would do what four decades of unsuccessful political campaigns could not: stop Baltimore's perennial candidate from running again.

Within hours of his release from the hospital Thursday, however, Kaufman was already calling a news conference to plug his latest run for U.S. Senate, in addition to talking about the attack.

As he waited for TV crews to arrive, Kaufman spent several minutes railing about the media's coverage of his past campaigns.

Before the attack, he said, reporters had consistently failed to mention his name as a credible contender for the seat of retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.

But with the flurry of reports about his stabbing, "they're finally starting to identify me as U.S. Senate candidate," he said. "It's a hell of a price to pay."

- William Wan

Maybe -- and that's definite

Senators surely must have appreciated the Ehrlich administration official's concise response.

It was 2 1/2 hours into a hearing Tuesday on state regulation of children's group homes. Senators were interrupting various state officials and child advocates in order to cut down on the speechifying and move along the session.

When he was asked whether two inspector posts in his agency had been filled, S. Anthony McCann replied succinctly and firmly. "No," said McCann, the secretary of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

But McCann shouldn't have spoken so fast. An aide in the packed audience scrambled to get close to the secretary. Thwarted by the crowd, she cupped her hands around her mouth. "Yes," she said, trying to both shout and whisper.

The secretary corrected himself. "There's expertise, and then there's the secretary," he said.

- Jonathan D. Rockoff

Backwards compliment

Southwest Airlines' newest airplane, a Boeing 737 emblazoned with a 110-foot Maryland flag, has been in the works for two years as a very large "thank you" to state residents for flying so often.

But the plane - in the air less than a week - might already have flown afoul of official state flag protocol. The red-and-white crosses and the black-and-yellow checks are backward, said former state Sen. John A. Pica Jr.

The secretary of state's Web site seems to agree. But if rules are to be followed, the state protocol also says the flag shouldn't be draped over the "hood, top, sides, or back of any vehicle, or on any railroad train, boat, or airplane."

Pica said he's no "flag cop," and was sure the slight was unintentional, but he thinks officials for Dallas-based Southwest have their heads in the clouds. (A Southwest spokeswoman said the flag plane was developed from an artist rendering and the airline meant "to honor, not disrespect.")

Pica did note the plane took 512 man-hours and 60 gallons to paint, and he wasn't volunteering to get out a bucket and a brush to fix it. He said the carrier might just have to fly the plane upside down.

- Meredith Cohn

A musical interlude

It's hard to predict the weather - especially 31 years in advance - which is why Howard County officials stood in sweaty shirtsleeves Tuesday wielding shiny new shovels for a groundbreaking deep in the woods along the Patuxent River.

Efforts to create High Ridge Community Park in North Laurel began in 1974, said county recreation director Gary J. Arthur, wiping his forehead. Now the $1.9 million project, which will develop 7.7 acres of the 88-acre riverfront property separating Howard from Prince George's County, is to be complete by next summer, or heads will roll, vowed County Executive James N. Robey.

Robey said he's determined to show people before ending his second term next year that "a lot of these projects we started, we actually finished."

This time, with help from local county Councilman Guy Guzzone, a fellow Democrat, the new basketball and tennis courts, picnic shelter, parking lots, ball fields and walking trails are about to become reality on what is now just a dirt track through heavy woods.

"Just listen for a few seconds," Robey told the crowd, as silence allowed people to hear the melodic calls from some of the 50 bird species that live in or visit the area.

"What would you rather hear?" Robey then asked, "birds or speeches?"

He got the laugh he wanted, and the speeches quickly resumed.

- Larry Carson

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.