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April 14, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Getting warmed up for a second act?

If Larry Young isn't plotting a political comeback, he's going to have some explaining to do. To the Rev. Al Sharpton, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, gubernatorial hopeful Doug Duncan, Congressman Elijah Cummings and a couple of hundred others who gathered for a $100-a head "appreciation" dinner in the former state senator's honor this week at New Shiloh Baptist Church.

And if he is running, he'll have some explaining to do to Sen. Verna Jones.

Was the event really a campaign fundraiser? Young didn't call me back, but he told The Sun last month that he was mulling a run in District 44. The dinner was put on by something called "The Woman-to-Woman Community Campaign to Draft State Sen. Larry Young, 2006."

"He's gonna run," says City Councilman Ken Harris, who was there. "A lot of people would like to see him back in politics. They believe he's a voice that's been missing in the district."

Also in the crowd: Del. Nathaniel Oaks; council members Keiffer Mitchell and Agnes Welch; former state Sens. John Jeffries and John Pica; Marvin "Doc" Cheatham of the NAACP; and Gregg Bernstein, the lawyer who successfully defended Young in the bribery and tax evasion case that began after he was expelled from the Maryland General Assembly on ethics charges in 1998.

What does Jones, the District 44 incumbent, think of that?

"If you're gonna run, run. He's being clandestine," she said. "I've had a meeting with him [in December] and he told me he didn't know ... and he'd let me know before he did anything. I know people might not want to show their cards. But don't tell me you're going to do something and then do the exact opposite."

Campus gone to pot

University of Maryland, College Park students have hit upon an idea to reduce date rapes, alcohol poisonings and other ills associated with binge drinking: promote pot.

In a campus referendum yesterday, students voted overwhelmingly in favor of reducing the university's penalties for using and possessing marijuana. Supporters say students get into more trouble when they're drunk than when they're high.

"It is time for university leaders to recognize marijuana for what it is - a relatively benign recreational substance less likely than alcohol to lead to violence, riots and even death," says Victor Pinho, president of the Terps chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Any chance that administrators will take their advice? No word yet. I'm guessing they won't be so high (sorry) on the idea.

Greatest misses, per the GOP

What were the 10 silliest bills of the just-concluded legislative session? The Maryland Republican Party has compiled a bipartisan list and concluded that, in the words of party Chairman John Kane, "animals were a higher priority than Maryland's electricity rate payers." Here's a sampling of the GOP's commentary:

No. 9. Pet Cemeteries (SB 983). "Maryland's pet cemetery owners now cannot force a deceased pet's owner from purchasing goods from the cemetery. Thank God for that! Rest in peace, Fido." (Bill passed the Senate unanimously but died in the House.)

No. 8. Reporting by Commercial Photographic Processors and Forensic Computer Analysts (SB 136). "Your local drug store film developers would be responsible for policing child abusers with this bill. Well, if you can't get a sexual predator bill through the legislature, why not put the onus on the folks developing film to protect children? We thought they were only looking for more couch shots of [Seinfeld's George] Costanza." (Bill died in Senate committee.)

No. 6. Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail (SJ 15). "Ok, ok, already: Maryland values the importance of Lewis and Clark's Expedition! Satisfied?" (Bill passed the Senate unanimously but died in the House.)

No. 1. Trust For Care of Animals (SB 235). "In a nod to the neglect pets face when their owners die - and their unrelenting letter writing to our elected officials - pets now can have their own trust funds. Taking care of our pets after we have left this world is now possible." (Bill passed the Senate but died in the House.)

Connect the dots

It's holiday time, and you know what that means: inflatables at Government House. A blow-up Peter Rabbit with blow-up eggs sit outside the mansion in historic Annapolis. ... Johns Hopkins shows up on another one of those Top 10 university lists, but not the kind that gives a campus bragging rights. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ranks the school No. 7 on its "10 Worst Laboratories" list. ... Now you can save water and waste money at the same time: Maryland's new "Liquid Treasures" scratch-off Lottery tickets come with water conservation messages. "Instead of using a hose," one says, "clean your sidewalk with a broom and save up to 80 gallons of water."

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