City/county Digest

COLUMN

August 24, 2006

Police probe racist e-mail in department City police are investigating the source of an e-mail, which appears to have been forwarded to several high-ranking officers within the department, using racist overtones and depicting blacks as unruly, a police spokesman said yesterday.

The e-mail is being investigated by the department's Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance section, which was notified of the message Tuesday by an Eastern District supervisor, according to a police statement released last night. A department spokesman would not answer questions about the matter.

"The Baltimore police department has no tolerance for employees who make racially insensitive remarks or distribute racially insensitive material," the statement read.

The four-paragraph e-mail, which was forwarded without comment to an unknown number of police officers, portrays a scene in heaven in which the angel Gabriel is complaining about blacks in heaven.

City Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr., a vocal critic of the department, said he obtained the e-mail yesterday and wrote Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm to demand an investigation. Harris said the e-mail is offensive.

"I'm just outraged that someone in their right mind would take an e-mail like that and circulate it on government e-mail," Harris said. "It's totally inappropriate."

John Fritze

Baltimore: Charles Village

O'Malley appointee is ruled ineligible

A member of the Charles Village Community Benefits District board who was appointed by Mayor Martin O'Malley is ineligible to serve on that board because he does not own property and is not registered to vote in the area that his decisions would affect, a Baltimore Circuit Court has ruled.

Eric Friedman, who was appointed by O'Malley to serve on the board, was one of three members who were at the center of a court battle this year in which some residents said an additional property tax levied by the district was invalid because it was approved without a quorum of eligible members.

Created in the 1990s, the benefits district levies a $120 tax per $100,000 of assessed value of a home or business for services such as extra trash pickup. The tax was subsequently approved by the city's Board of Estimates.

Judge Albert J. Matricciani Jr. agreed with residents who said Friedman is not eligible, but he allowed the additional property tax to stand. Even with Friedman's vote discounted, he ruled, the body still had a quorum. Officials with the district could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Still, neighbors involved in the case claimed victory.

"After years of effort, we finally have a ruling that the mayor's appointee is not exempt from these criteria," said the lead plaintiff in the case, Joan Floyd. "The court has agreed with us that the city code must be obeyed."

John Fritze

Harford County: Edgewood

Candidate forums set today, Monday The Edgewood Community Council will sponsor a forum featuring candidates for county executive and County Council president from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. today in the auditorium at Edgewood High School, 2415 Willoughby Beach Road. A forum featuring candidates for County Council District A and sheriff will be held Monday at the same time and location. Information: 410-676-1589.

Ellie Baublitz

Carroll County: Westminster

Route 852 to close for repair project

The State Highway Administration will temporarily close Route 852 (Old New Windsor Road) between Luther Drive and Long Valley Road in Westminster, beginning tomorrow, while new guardrails are installed and sections of the concrete bridge deck over Cobbs Branch are patched. Motorists are advised to take this detour: Route 852 to Medford Road to Route 31 (New Windsor Road), which runs parallel to Route 852. Warning signs, detour signs and barricades will guide motorists around the work zone. Weather permitting, Route 852 will reopen to traffic by Sept. 22. Information: 800-635-5119.

Ellie Baublitz

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