The mayor, um, comes from, um, well, yes - suburbia


October 02, 2005|By LAURA VOZZELLA

There was Martin O'Malley, preparing to declare himself a candidate for governor last week, when Peter Angelos whacked him in the head with a rhetorical two-by-four.

The Orioles owner called the Baltimore mayor a "Washington suburbanite."

I know, I know. This is a family newspaper, and we usually don't print such salty language. We're bracing for a bunch of angry letters, like the ones we got way back when we quoted O'Malley cursing out a certain state's attorney.

But then, as now, The Sun feels obliged to lay it all out there. How else to explain what followed?

O'Malley got up the next day, saw the slur in the morning paper, and headed straight for Rockville.

Never mind that he had a big gig in Baltimore that evening. He'd been outed, and he was tired of living a lie.

The Baltimoreans who twice sent O'Malley to the second floor of City Hall might have assumed he was one of them.

But it was time to come clean.

Yes, O'Malley told voters, he hails from a land shattered by SoccerPlex fees and townhouse setbacks. He even quoted a local author, knowing full well The Sun would call him crazy as Zelda Fitzgerald.

He was the man from Rockville. And he was proud of it.

Who knows? Maybe he can pick up a few sympathy votes from fellow Washington suburbanites.

Not decided, not running, not there

Ken Harris isn't shy. You might say the city councilman - who has lately taken to handing out tapes from his days as a motivational speaker - even enjoys a little attention.

But Harris was taken aback when his name was called out in public last week.

It was at Patterson Park, where the mayor was announcing he was running for governor. Over the public address system, O'Malley's folks thanked elected officials who turned out for the event, naming Harris among them.

But Harris wasn't there.

"I had several calls from people who said, `Hey, I heard you were there,'" Harris said. "Right now I'm undecided about the governor's race. I'm not ready to come out and support any candidate for governor right now."

(The mayor's people say there was a mix-up, not an elaborate name-dropping scheme.)

Harris, who has been contemplating a run for Maryland's 3rd District congressional seat, said O'Malley's folks had been lobbying him to back the mayor. But Harris said it didn't look as if O'Malley would return the favor.

"If I run for Congress, will you guys support me for Congress?" Harris said he asked. "And they say, `We're probably going to stay out of that race.'"

Harris hasn't ruled out endorsing O'Malley. But he has dropped his run for Congress, announcing yesterday at a fund-raiser held at his home for Senate candidate Ben Cardin.

This story, I wouldn't steer you wrong, baby, is HUGE

When we last left Ed Norris, Baltimore's police chief-turned-convicted felon-turned-talk radio host, he was laying out the story he hopes will morph him once more - into published author.

The tale begins in 1990, when Norris says he helped make the first al-Qaida arrest in America. He was a New York City cop then, investigating the assassination of a radical rabbi, Meir Kahane, in a Manhattan hotel.

Norris says the feds muscled in on the case, taking away files seized in the shooter's apartment and letting two cab drivers arrested as accomplices go free. One of the cabbies turned up years later as a bomber in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center garage. The files, which contained a sermon in Arabic calling for attacks on America, had never been translated.

Norris has recounted this story before. He told it to Congress a month after the second, more devastating World Trade Center attack, on Sept. 11, 2001. Back then, Norris was arguing that federal officials need to quit shutting local cops out of the fight against terror.

These days, Norris recalls those events to make the case that his prosecution - for spending police funds on fancy dinners and hotel stays - was payback for making the feds look bad in 2001.

Then, as now, federal officials are mum about Norris' claims.

This is not the first time that Norris has invoked terrorism to explain himself.

Six weeks after Sept. 11, he said he was at a police chiefs summit in Toronto. But he slipped away to New York, where he lived it up on the police fund.

That's one reason why U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett, when sentencing the fallen chief a year ago, threw the book at him.

If only Norris can get the publishing world to throw a book contract his way.

The once (and future?) Kennedy

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who has kept a low political profile since losing the governor's race in 2002, headlines a lunchtime fund-raiser in Gaithersburg's Flaming Pit restaurant today for Sheila Hixson, the Montgomery County Democrat and chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

"I'm helping my friend," Townsend said. "Sheila's a great pal, and she's an extraordinary legislator and I want to make sure she's back in office."

Towsend said she'd done some traveling lately but was otherwise mum about what she's been doing. She hinted, however, that she was up to something.

"You'll hear soon enough," she said.

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