`The Prince' is on the bubble


August 18, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

We were promised political drama and dirty tricks when Joe "Prince of Darkness" Steffen swooped into Harford County. But so far, the only devious zip he's added to the County Council president's race is a lousy cartoon bubble. Mind you, it's a cartoon bubble rising from the lips of Gov. Robert Ehrlich, on a palm card for Aaron Kazi.

"Vote KAZI for Council President," it reads, above a photo of the GOP hopeful and his wife. "He's Conservative, Principled, and Self Made." Why is that even vaguely naughty? Because Ehrlich is officially neutral in the primary, where Kazi faces incumbent Robert Wagner and horse breeder Billy Boniface.

"The governor gives support to all Republican candidates. However, the campaign did not give permission or approval to use a quote or the logo of the [Ehrlich] campaign," Ehrlich spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver told The Sun's Justin Fenton. "It's certainly an interesting, albeit misleading, way to gain attention for this race."

Steffen, a consultant to Kazi's campaign, told me the card doesn't take any liberties.

"There's not quotations. It's words in a bubble," he said. "And nowhere on the card does it say he endorses Aaron. `Endorse' is the magic word they want everyone to stay away from."

Was Steffen suggesting that the card was made with a wink and a nod from The Gov, who maybe deep down wants Kazi to win? "I really can't put words in his mouth, no pun intended," Steffen said.

But on to the more important point: Steffen's failure to live up to his billing. I mean, a cartoon bubble? Is that the best he can do?

On this topic, The Prince was mum.

Don't call us ...

Baltimore schools have found a way to get parents' attention about the need to get their kids immunized before school starts: Don't just call them up. Call them up in the middle of the night.

That's what happened Tuesday, with an auto-dial program delivering a prerecorded message to parents of 21,000 students. The message was supposed to go out during the day, but phones rang in the wee hours instead.

School officials put the blame on city police, whose "reverse 911 system" - in place to notify residents of emergencies - handled the calls. Police spokesman Matt Jablow blamed a glitch in "third-party software." But he added, Sun-style, "We regret the error."

A prof on the prowl

After The Sun reported census figures showing the ratio of men to women in Maryland is among the lowest in the nation, the newspaper received this e-mail from someone known to us only as Moderno: "I'm a single (never married) 41 year old professional (college professor, Fulbright Fellow) moving to Baltimore next week and I'm a man. I don't know anyone in the area except a few coworkers. Spread the word."

Sam's man

In a letter to the Owings Mills Times, a recent high school graduate offered his two cents on the 3rd District congressional race. "I shudder at the prospect of the price we might pay if we do not fill the dearth of idealism in America," Samuel Novey wrote. "But if we elect idealistic leaders like John Sarbanes, the potential greatness of my generation is unbounded."

Before you get all misty-eyed about the idealistic, youthful electorate, one of Sarbanes' rivals would like you to know that Novey is a paid Sarbanes staffer.

"I think it could probably only come from a young man who's paid staff," said state Sen. Paula Hollinger.

Novey, identified only as a Baltimore resident in the paper, said voters should not settle for "a tired public servant trying to cap a long career with a two-term stint in Congress." Hollinger thought that part was aimed at her, though she was not named in the letter.

"I think he wrote what he was hearing or he wrote what he was asked to write," she said.

Says Sarbanes spokesman Keith Larson: "We think it's perfectly fine that Sam expresses his views and excitement about this race and we think it's unfortunate that another candidate has taken offense to the comment. This is his first time voting, and he's pretty jazzed about this."

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