Keep the streets safe, but let 'em play poker

November 06, 2005|By DAN RODRICKS

Sweetheart, get me rewrite! Poker raid at Owl's Nest. Cops nab South Baltimore boozers and gamblers. Eighty guys 'n' dolls held in Hold 'Em raid. Film at 11!

Somebody pinch me. What decade is this? Is Broening still mayor? Did the cops carry espantoons? (Look it up in the big Webster's.) Did any of the suspects wear spats?

Yowzah! Nothing like a good old-fashioned vice raid to take you back to the sepia-tone time when Baltimore's most troublesome citizens were pickpockets and vagabonds, con men and four-flushers.

They say this was the biggest gambling raid here since 1932.

What I wanna know is: Who dropped the dime?

Not that you could call the cops from a pay phone for a dime anymore. You can hardly find a pay phone anymore. But, I figure, somebody must have flipped their cell and dialed 311.

The question is, why? Did somebody have a beef?

I love using this kinda jargon, using "beef" and "kinda." A good, old-fashioned vice raid in Baltimore will give you that.

And it's all kinda fun, until you remember things like the rise in violence in the city last year (4.3 percent, according to the FBI), and the rate of homicide here (about one for every 2,350 citizens) and you see police sweeps that send dozens of people to jail, only to have them come out and return to their aimless lives in poor, drug-infested neighborhoods.

You figure, with problems as serious as that - addiction and violence - maybe we could tolerate a little poker and keep the cops on the important stuff.

Reese's wrath

Comments in Thursday's column, bemoaning the overabundance of a certain unappetizing confection in Halloween bags, sparked a surprisingly passionate - and, for me, perplexing - backlash.

"Dan," wrote J.D. Urbach, "The `fruitcake of the candy world'? This time you've gone too far. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are my favorite candy. In fact, everyone I know loves them. ... You've completely missed the mark."

"Are you nuts?" screeched Gary Davis. "Reese's rule."

"Here at the Patterson Park Community Development Corporation we know a little something about providing new homes," wrote Bill Henry. "We would be happy to extend our services to your Reese's cups."

Other readers, Kenny and JoJo of the MIX 106.5 FM morning show among them, asked me to explain my low regard for Reese's. It's like this:

God bless the U.S.A., but just because something is popular here doesn't make it good.

The Reese's chocolate is mediocre, and the peanut butter is well below the American standard. If one were to extract the grainy, emulsified peanut butter center from a number of Reese's cups, and collect this matter in a lab dish, one would discover an unappealing peanut butter facsimile that most Americans of taste would never use on a peanut butter sandwich.

In this case, we seem to believe that two bad confections together will make something good - that cheap chocolate combined with lousy peanut butter will work out great in the end. Sorry, but two wrongs do not make a right.

I think it's profoundly unfortunate that the H.B. Reese Co. floods the market with this product at Halloween, and those of us who wait eagerly for our children to come home with fine candy are saddled with too many of these dreadful cups.

That's my story, and I guess I'm stuck with it.

Second chances

From C.J. in Ellicott City: "Has the Sun stepped forward with any job offer to help these [ex-offenders, recovering drug addicts] that have contacted you? This isn't to be critical; it really is just out of curiosity."

Good question, and because other readers continue to ask it from time to time, in a far less polite manner, I'll repeat the answer that appeared in this space a few months ago:

A criminal record is not a bar to employment here, according to Pat Klemans, director of human resources, who says the nature of the offense and when it occurred are taken into account.

For recruitment purposes, The Sun has relationships with Maryland New Directions for Women, Goodwill Industries and five other agencies that work with ex-offenders.

A question, via The Sun's reader rep: "I was reading many articles that Mr. Rodricks wrote regarding giving second chances to people that were incarcerated or prior drug users. Is there a way that he could print the name & number of those companies that are willing to hire someone with prior drug abuse or convictions?"

A handful of nonprofit programs know and work closely with firms that hire ex-offenders. Many companies are willing to do this, but avoid publicity or recognition for it.

If you contact me at The Sun, 410-332-6166, I'll hook you up with programs that assist ex-offenders with job placement or provide you with the list I've developed of businesses that believe in second chances.

I am taking the next week to catch up with the many men and women - drug addicts, former drug dealers - who have called here for help over the past few months, so I'll be on the phone a lot between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Please leave a message.

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