Believed, bothered and bewildered


February 14, 2007|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm sent his staff an e-mail last week, just as Mayor Sheila Dixon's office was telling The Sun she wasn't sure if she'd pull the plug on the BELIEVE campaign.

"Beginning immediately," Hamm's Feb. 5 message said, "please remove the `BELIEVE' logo from all future correspondence."

Two days later, public works spokesman Kurt Kocher sent a message directing staff to peel BELIEVE signs, banners and bumper stickers off city buildings and vehicles. Then, about an hour later, Kocher sent another e-mail telling them to forget it - the BELIEVE stuff stays up until the mayor's office decides its fate.

I suspect BELIEVE really is getting the heave-ho, if only to make way for a new municipal slogan: BEWILDER.

What's with the mixed messages?

Dixon spokesman Anthony McCarthy said the mayor really hasn't made a decision about the campaign.

"This issue is a very low priority," McCarthy said. Good news, no doubt, for Baltimoreans who'd like City Hall to focus on big problems, not municipal slogans. But if that's the case, why the flurry of BELIEVe-mail from folks who already have their hands full with killings and water main breaks?

Dixon did direct agencies to quit putting the B-word at the bottom of news releases and correspondence, McCarthy said. But he said that was part of a push, outlined in a new city communications manual, to make official correspondence uniform.

Some city agencies were signing off with BELIEVE; some weren't. For that matter, some city workers had taken to attaching inspirational quotations and Bible verses to their e-mails, McCarthy said. Those are out now, too.

After getting word that BELIEVE should come off news releases, Kocher said he figured, "If that's out, it must be out everywhere. ... I guess we'd better take those [signs and stickers] down." After Kocher hit the send button, he thought he'd better double-check with the mayor's office - and found out he'd jumped the gun.

"It was a stationery issue, and we misunderstood it here," Kocher said. "And then we caught ourselves."

Not so easily blotted out

And you thought Wite-Out, Liquid Paper and the like were headed the way of the manual typewriter. Correction fluid is making a comeback at City Hall, thanks to some frugal municipal bureaucrats, who are painting over Martin O'Malley's name on letterhead and typing in Sheila Dixon's.

At least that's what they're doing over in public works, where they should be buying the stuff in big paint cans instead of those itty-bitty bottles.

After Dixon told agencies to drop BELIEVE from correspondence, the question came up: Did the mayor really want the cash-strapped city to pitch a bunch of perfectly good stationery because it's got that word at the bottom?

"She said, `Use it. Use the old stuff,'" Kocher of public works said. Kocher passed the word on to department secretaries, who then wondered what they should do about the old mayor's name on top. He told them: "Wite-Out. Saves money."

That was news to Dixon spokesman Anthony McCarthy, who said the mayor takes "no position on Wite-Out."

Alive in memory - and in magazines

Good news for Barbaro fans. Sunday's Parade magazine - which must have awfully early deadlines - reports the Kentucky Derby winner, who died two weeks earlier, is holding his own.

"The fractured right hind leg healed so well, he was out of his cast and walking daily," the magazine, inserted in each Sunday's Sun, quotes Barbaro's surgeon, Dr. Dean Richardson. "But he developed a condition in his left hind hoof requiring surgery on Jan. 13. Since then, his comfort has improved, and he's stable."

No arguing that the horse is stable, but not in a good way.

Parade wasn't the only publication in which Barbaro lives on. February's Ladies' Home Journal has an article titled, "The Horse that Love Saved."

Connect the dots

Litmus tests aren't just for Supreme Court nominees anymore. At a hearing tonight, City Council Vice President Bobby Curran said he'll ask all 11 candidates seeking the vacant 6th District seat their positions on the proposed Baltimore smoking ban. Curran, one of 10 people on the council committee that will recommend someone to the full council, said he won't support anyone who doesn't back the ban. "Why do you want to get into public service if you're not going to serve the public?" ... At school board meetings, Chairman Brian Morris and member Buzzy Hettleman like to joke about whether City or Poly is better. Morris is a City grad. Hettleman went to Poly. So Hettleman saw the an opportunity in City's recent heat and flooding woes, The Sun's Sara Neufeld reports. "It's really a shame that the City students are missing school," he said, "because since they don't go to Poly they need all the help they can get."

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