Whoever gets named Maryland Teacher of the Year at Martin's West tonight will get a $25,000 Pontiac convertible, $9,000 in cash, lots of computer hardware and software, a visit to the White House, and a trip to space camp in Huntsville, Ala.
But wait, there's more!
This year, for the first time, the winner will also get to sign a contract, saying he or she won't use the title to endorse any political candidates or products.
The change was inspired by Linda Eberhart, who was identified as a former state teacher of the year in a campaign ad for Martin O'Malley.
That doesn't mean winners can't go on to become pitchmen for politicians - or juicers, for that matter. They just can't use the title in any ads.
"If they want to say, `My name is Linda Eberhart and I say blah, blah, blah,' I can't restrict personal freedom," said Darla Strouse, director of the teacher of the year program for the state Department of Education. "It's such a prestigious title, and it's become so important in Maryland that we really want it to stay out of the political fray."
So how about that rumor that the department - led by Bob Ehrlich chum Nancy Grasmick - was trying to strip Eberhart of her title? Strouse said there were no legal grounds to do so, since past winners weren't required to sign anything like the new contract.
But Strouse said she'd be tempted "if I could find her crown somewhere."
Party could've been held in a courthouse
Told ya Tommy Bromwell was having a party. Guess who showed up at Canton's Bay Cafe the other night to say hey to the ex-state senator and toss a little (or a lot) of cash into his RICO defense fund? Bruce Bereano - and nearly 500 other "good, long-standing politicos," including a few current legislators, some lobbyists and Annapolis staffers.
So says Bereano, who had a good time needling Bobby Schulman and Gerry Martin, lawyers for Bromwell and his wife, Mary Pat.
"I kept teasing them: `How come you have a clicker and you keep pressing it when somebody comes in?'" Bereano said. "`Should I give you the checks or just give them to the front desk?'"
Bereano said he also kidded around with Gerry Evans - who like Bereano, knows from legal bills. (Bereano was convicted in 1994 of mail fraud in a scheme to funnel illegal political campaign contributions. Evans was convicted in 2000 of defrauding clients.)
"Hey," they'd say, "no one ever did this for us."
Bereano said he only spotted three current lawmakers: Del. Nathaniel Oaks, state Sen. George Della and Bromwell's son, Del. Eric Bromwell. Former state Sen. Mike Wagner was in the crowd, along with lots of Annapolis staffers, including those who worked for Bromwell when he chaired the Senate Finance Committee. Among the lobbyists: George Manis, John Stierhoff, Jack Andryszak, and Bryson Popham.
Tickets were $250 a head, no small sum even when you figure in the meatballs, chicken wings and open bar. But some guests chose to give more. "I brought $2,000 with me," Bereano said.
Hold that call to the ethics police. Bereano tells me that since the fund is for legal defense, not an election committee, there are no limits.
Eat salad, quit smoking, work hard, live long
If tonight, at the end of a long workweek, you figure you're entitled to take it easy - think of Mary Terzi. Every Friday night for the past 20 years, she has made salad for the 150 people who have dinner at Baltimore's Little Italy Lodge. She's 100 years old and not interested in retiring.
The secret to her longevity is clear as she mixes olive oil, vinegar, garlic and Parmesan with greens. "I don't eat a lot of junk," she says. She also quit smoking - eight years ago. She started when she was 18.
Connect the dots
The Healing Path, a Federal Hill wellness center, combines a self-defense class with a wine-and-cheese tasting. How come it's taken so long for somebody to come up with this combo? The Oct. 16 workshop is titled "Women & Wine w/ a Kick." ... More local cameos popped up on The Wire Sunday: the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and the African campaign colors of a black mayoral candidate. So says The Sun's Doug Donovan, who unlike me, can afford HBO. ...