Someone's getting a lump of coal in his stocking

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December 20, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

A Christmas tree sprouts up in the lobby of a government building, and, instead of holiday spirits, it raises one of the thorniest issues in American civic life. Not the church-state thing. This time, it's Ravens versus Steelers.

In the state office building at 1100 N. Eutaw St. in Baltimore, workers decked a tree with silver, red and green balls. But standard Christmas colors don't cut it in Ravenstown. Somebody added a purple ball with the Ravens logo.

No problem until last week, when the guy who oversees the building - a Pittsburgh native and (surprise, surprise) Steelers fan - ordered it removed.

"All the employees in the building are livid," said Marc Craig, a mailroom worker. "We feel as though this is an unwarranted act. We are Baltimoreans. We love the Ravens. We feel that his actions - it shows prejudice against the Baltimore Ravens, which we do not appreciate."

In addition to contacting The Sun, Craig dashed off notes to Gov. Robert Ehrlich and the state Department of General Services.

"Is it the practice of the General Services Department of the state of Maryland to not support the beloved Baltimore Ravens?" he demanded.

We didn't do it, reported General Services, which unfurled "Go Ravens" banners on three of its buildings yesterday.

"Rest assured, if this Department managed your building, the Ravens ornament would still be on the tree," General Services spokesman Dave Humphrey e-mailed Craig.

The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation is located in the Eutaw Street building and has its own general services office to maintain it. The director of that office, Tom Reisdorf, acknowledges that he had the ornament yanked.

"I thought they put it up as a prank ... to see if they could get something by me," he said, recalling how workers once taped a Ravens sign over his nameplate in the parking garage. "They kid me all the time because they know I'm from Pittsburgh. I did it in fun. I didn't do it to be nasty."

Reisdorf said he didn't know the building was pining for the purple until I called Monday, when he promptly had the ornament returned to the tree.

He was going to bring in his Steelers ornament from home but chickened out yesterday. "It might start an NFL war," he said.

Besides, his wife wouldn't let him take it off their tree.

106 pounds down -- time for the hot fudge

Amy Hildreth, you've just lost 106 pounds in eight months! What are you gonna do now?

Eat a hot fudge sundae, pizza and Chinese.

The Biggest Loser contestant weighed in at 154 pounds last week in the final episode of the NBC weight-loss reality show. That was down from the 260 she carried on her 5-foot-10 frame when she landed at Loser boot camp in April.

Quite an accomplishment, but not enough to win the Biggest Loser title. Hildreth, who lives and works out in Canton, wasn't even a runner-up. But she's "ecstatic" with her triple-digit weight loss.

In the week since the final weigh-in, Hildreth has indulged in some foods that were off limits when she was on her strict 1,200-calorie-a-day diet. But she assures me that she hasn't fallen off the wagon.

She intends to keep working out, though only an hour a day instead of four. And she'll keep counting calories, allowing herself 200 or 300 more a day.

"Now I'm in maintenance mode, which is hard enough as it is," she said. "I still want to keep my food journal and keep myself accountable. And once a week, allow those cheat days and allow myself to indulge so I don't feel like I'm always on a diet."

Connect the dots

With the Ravens in the playoffs, city officials have ordered purple lights to shine at night on city buildings and have asked private businesses to do the same on their high-rises and storefronts. But not just any purple will do. It's a fine line, it seems, between victory violet and loser lilac. "Businesses should order filter #L126," the Greater Baltimore Committee said in an e-mail to members. ... Martin O'Malley hasn't lost his vision after all. The "vision" link on the governor-elect's campaign Web site - listing his positions on big issues like energy and education - was pulled down shortly after the election, leading some to wonder if he was already trying to wiggle out of campaign promises. But the link is back at www.martinomalley.com.

169 years, only three owners

Under the headline "Tribune Tag Sale," The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-based media blog, does some "window shopping." Here's what it has to say about Tribune Co.'s Charm City holding:

"Property: Baltimore Sun

Est. value: No one has really said yet

Pros: Luxury suite at Camden Yards

Cons: It's in Baltimore. Ever watch The Wire?

Potential Buyers: The Abell Foundation; former pol Theodore Venetoulis; civic leader Walter Sondheim.

Dark Horse: Barry Levinson.

Chances sold off: 40 percent.

Why: The Baltimore Sun is one of Tribune's strong holdings in the oft-maligned newspaper industry, which has been battered by Wall Street analysts not because of plummeting profitability - margins, while down at many papers, remain strong - but because of the storms on the horizon in the form of decreased readership and competition from the Internet and other news sources."

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