He got it right, almost the first time


November 18, 2005|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has been warning about the dangers of historical revisionism. So let's take a look at some recent Maryland history - the integration of the Elkridge Club.

In 1878, some white guys formed a club so they could chase foxes around Howard County. A lot changed over the next 127 years. The club moved to a spot that straddles Baltimore City and County. And the members gave up on foxes and started knocking little white balls into little holes.

But one thing stayed the same: the all-white membership.

That's why Ehrlich caught heck for holding a fundraiser there in June. Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley took heat, too, when it came out that Smith had a fundraiser there in May and O'Malley had attended his brother's wedding reception there in 2003.

Now the club has admitted its first black member, as The Sun reported last week. And Lt. Gov. Michael Steele is taking some credit for integrating Elkridge.

"Should the governor go there?" Steele said, repeating a question put to him Wednesday night on Fox's Hannity & Colmes. "No, the governor shouldn't go there. But the governor at the time didn't know what the membership operation was. He didn't know. I didn't know. The Democrats who themselves attended functions at that club didn't know, because it was a private club."

Fair enough.

"Once it became known that it was not racially balanced, if you will - that blacks were not allowed, other minorities were not allowed - we spoke up against it, and we called for the club to open its doors to all Marylanders. And the club has," Steele continued. "So it's not a question of being in a defensive posture. It's calling out racism when you see it, acknowledging it and helping people move on from there."

Wait just a minute. This was Steele's comment to the Associated Press on July 5 when asked about the Elkridge controversy:

"I don't know that much about the club, the membership, nor do I care, quite frankly, because I don't play golf. It's not an issue with me."

More than a week later, Steele said his initial remarks about the issue were "flippant" and he called on the club to reconsider its policy.

So he called out racism, all right. Just not as soon as he saw it.

Crash, burn, success

Is it art or pyromania?

It's hard to tell with Mark Eisendrath, a 33-year-old Baltimorean who works in a medium he calls "charred paper."

He takes small squares of watercolor paper, smears them with a gloppy substance he won't identify, sprinkles that with paint pigment, sprays on varnish, blasts it with a blowtorch and lets it burn for a few seconds before tamping it out with a piece of metal.

The result is a colorful, metallic-looking tile that becomes one piece of an abstract mosaic.

Eisendrath's inspiration? A plane crash he and his family survived on a trip to Costa Rica in 2000.

"I was pulling my mother out of the plane, and I was noticing all of these incredible embers that were falling from the trees that had been hit by the plane. They were covered in fuel, so they were burning and changing color and sizzling and snapping and were really just beautiful. I kind of took that home with me. I know it's strange to glean any artistic ammunition from this kind of event, but I was so bored with my painting and so unwilling to get a job that I took it home with me and really just started experimenting."

The experiment seems to be paying off. His works sell for $400 to $4,000.

They're on display for the next two weeks at G-Spot, a gallery tucked inside an abandoned-looking cotton mill at 2980 Falls Road. The opening reception is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow. Information: 410-371-2049.

That's issues and advocacy, not ethics

Who better than a lobbyist to teach Course No. PUAF359C at the University of Maryland, College Park? The title: "Contemporary Issues in Political Leadership and Participation: Advocacy in the American Political System."

Unless, perhaps, the lobbyist is Gerard E. Evans.

Evans, who has twisted the arms of the state's most powerful legislators, had an income in 1998 that topped $1 million. But he was indicted in 1999 and convicted in 2000 in a scheme to garner fees from clients based on phantom legislation, a practice known as "bell-ringing."

A federal judge sentenced him to 30 months in prison, but he served less. Last year, he successfully fought the State Ethics Commission for the right to resume work as a lobbyist.

If that hadn't worked out, he'd have the teaching gig to fall back on. He's a senior fellow at Maryland's Academy of Leadership.

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