Club to candidate: Ciao


March 26, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Nicholas J. Del Pizzo III is a lawyer and an Italian American. Sound like a nice fit with the local Italian-American lawyers club? He was, until Del Pizzo added something else to his curriculum vitae: candidate for judge.

The Justinians - the legal club that celebrates ancestral ties to The Boot - gave Del Pizzo the boot because he is running for Baltimore Circuit Court judge.

Club president Lawrence Daniels, a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge, says Del Pizzo's candidacy was an act of disrespect to the incumbent judges. The sitting judges Del Pizzo is challenging aren't Justinians. But Daniels says they're "doing an exceptional job" and, therefore, deserve the group's "loyalty."

"Not the kind [of loyalty] that people think Italians have, based on The Godfather and The Sopranos - not that kind of blind loyalty," Daniels adds. "But the loyalty that a good friend deserves when a good friend has achieved excellence in that individual's personal and professional life."

So when Del Pizzo, who had been attending the group's monthly dinner meetings for about 10 years and had been a member for the past several, sent in his $65 annual dues in January, Daniels sent the check back.

"It's a free country. We have as much right to choose who we admit as members as he does, I suppose, to [run]," says Daniels. "If he drops out of the race before the election, he's welcome back in."

(Daniels said he brought the matter up with the membership at a meeting two weeks ago, but no one made a motion to reinstate Del Pizzo. Del Pizzo's supporters say some members - particularly those who try cases before Daniels - were leery about crossing the judge. They also say it was a sparsely attended meeting, with only 10 or 15 of the group's 50 members present.)

Del Pizzo will say this much: "It pains me deeply. I still have a lot of friends there, and I think the organization is great." He adds that Daniels was "like a father figure to me."

Frank Cicone, a semiretired Baltimore County Circuit judge who founded the club in the early 1970s, says Del Pizzo came to him seeking help.

"Not too democratic, is it?" Cicone says of the expulsion. But he hasn't tried to intervene, in part because his involvement in the club has diminished in recent years. Cicone says he has pulled back because the Justinians have gotten "a little political."

Oh, and yes: He is sufficiently Italian

If you're asking yourself, "What's a guy named Daniels doing heading a Italian-American club?" Rest assured, he's a paisano. The family name back in Italy was Daniele, but Daniels says his forebears changed it when they came to America. Can you blame them? Seems that back then, people in power had ideas about which people could serve in what jobs. Glad those days are gone!

You can't believe everything you read

John Pica Jr. , a former state senator who is a lawyer and lobbyist in the Peter Angelos firm, says he's thinking about running for Baltimore mayor. Pica also says a relative of City Councilman Keiffer Mitchell tells him Mitchell is running. Mitchell says 2007 is a long way off and warns against putting too much stock in what his family says.

"They also predicted that I'd be a bishop in the Methodist church," says Mitchell, who spends most Sundays hawking juice at the farmers' market.

What about those "Keiffer Mitchell for Mayor" bumper stickers handed out last week at Mitchell's fundraiser at Cross Street Market?

They were the work of Wendy Rosen, a Mitchell admirer and founder of the Mill Centre in Hampden, who took it upon herself to have them printed up.

Put that in your glass and quaff it

Oft-criticized wine critic Robert Parker can't swallow one dig, from British wine writer Hugh Johnson, The New York Times reported last week: "`Hugh Johnson compared me to George Bush,' he [Parker] said, almost in wonder. `I'm a great admirer of Hugh, but he really lowered himself significantly to write that.' I'm not a dictator of taste, and I'm not an emperor of wine, either.'" No word yet on how teetotaling Bush liked being compared to Baltimore County's professional wine drinker.

Connect the dots

U.S. Senate candidate Allan Lichtman announced endorsements last week from one-time presidential candidates George McGovern and John Anderson ... An energy-industry hunting junket and unfunny electric rate hikes met Looney Tunes in AFSCME protest signs. The result: an Elmer Fudd-ian take on Public Service Commission Chairman Kenneth Schisler.

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