Or maybe put him on a tropical island ...


July 18, 2005

Donald Trump's reality show, The Apprentice, was at Towson University last week, looking for high-powered alumni to compete on TV for a job in The Donald's empire. The show's producers need look no further than Towson University's 2004 Distinguished Alumnus (and chief of staff to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.) James C. "Chip" DiPaula Jr.

In previous seasons, contestants have fallen short of the Trump ideal in predictable ways. Some contestants can't sell their ideas. Some screw up the finances. Some just can't get along with others in a cutthroat environment.

DiPaula, on the other hand, was the campaign manager who sold Marylanders on electing a Republican governor for the first time in 36 years. Balancing the books on a rinky-dink TV show contest should seem pretty tame after managing billion-dollar budget deficits. And living in a Trump Tower suite with a pack of Machiavellian schemers should be no problem after three years with a hostile legislature.

This spring's loser on the show, a Mary Kay saleswoman from Iowa, crashed and burned when she couldn't handle an afternoon's promotional event for the New York 2012 Olympics bid. DiPaula, on the other hand, ran the 2000 Republican National Convention that nominated President Bush. New York didn't get the Olympics, but Bush got two terms. Results, after all, are everything to The Donald.

DiPaula's most crucial qualification, though, might be this: He has no lack of experience in running things behind the scenes while publicly insisting his high-powered boss with a funny haircut deserves the credit. What more could Trump want?

- Andrew A. Green

This is a test -- of patience

It was the seventh inning, a minute or two past midnight, with Rafael Palmeiro at bat - one hit shy of 3,000 for his stellar career. But rather than an exciting moment in the game between the Orioles and Seattle Mariners, it seemed to become a bizarre act of one-upsmanship in the continuing wrangle between Comcast Corp. and Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

To set the scene: The businesses are at odds over broadcast issues involving the Washington Nationals games that Comcast seemingly wants to carry but doesn't because of disagreement with MASN - an entity created as part of the move of the team to Washington to distribute Nationals and Orioles telecasts, and controlled by the Orioles.

Complicated? Then what about this?

As Orioles broadcast analyst Jim Palmer was chatting about witnessing baseball history, Baltimore's Comcast system interrupted the MASN broadcast with its weekly emergency test - which, fortunately, ended quicker than usual while Palmeiro was still at bat.

For the record, Palmeiro drew a walk, and the Thursday night game on the West Coast ended with an Orioles victory before he had another chance at the plate - or Comcast had another chance to annoy baseball fans again.

- David Michael Ettlin

The voices of experience

The staff in Carroll County's Bureau of Purchasing made sure everyone knew about their director's birthday last week. They peppered the County Office Building in Westminster with fliers calling on colleagues to wish a happy 50th to "the music man in purchasing." Those who did not make the connection to Rich Shelton only had to look at the fliers' aging photo of a boy playing an accordion.

By the time Shelton arrived at a meeting with the commissioners, everyone was offering felicitations.

"You are not getting old, you are getting better," said Commissioner Perry L. Jones Jr.

Commissioner Dean L. Minnich added facetiously, "That's a lie."

Not to dispute either boss, who have both passed the half-century mark, Shelton said, "I am about to find out."

- Mary Gail Hare

Muggles of the world, unite!

Even Baltimore's anarchists couldn't resist Harry Potter-mania.

Red Emma's, a self-described radical bookstore in Mount Vernon, had 20 copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling ready to sell Friday at midnight, said John Duda, a member of the store's book committee.

"We figured that people would want it, and we wanted to sell it to them rather than a large corporate chain," Duda said.

Red Emma's is owned and operated by a 20-person collective that is "based on democratic consensus, mutual aid, and opposition to domination and hierarchy," according to the store's Web site.

Duda said that Harry Potter is not the store's usual fare. "Generally we try to provide more alternative books."

He said current popular titles at the store include A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn and Free Women of Spain: Anarchism and the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women by Martha Ackelsberg.

- Annie Linskey

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