The burdens of a public servant: drinking wine


April 20, 2007|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Public service requires some personal sacrifice, but this is extreme: forcing a man to keep bottles and bottles of Chateauneuf-du-Pape all to himself, instead of reaping sure glory in the Highlandtown winemaking competition.

Such is the sad fate of Steve Fogleman, who became chairman of the Baltimore liquor board yesterday, and in so doing, gave up his chance to be crowned East Baltimore's most prestigious home vintner.

Fogleman's new job doesn't explicitly prevent him from entering the competition, part of Sunday's Highlandtown Wine Festival.

But the lawyer/politician - he ran unsuccessfully against State's Attorney Pat Jessamy last year and was appointed to the liquor board by her chief nemesis, Gov. Martin O'Malley (Connection?) - figured he'd better bow out. The reason: At least one of the judges is a bar owner, who might find it a tad awkward to tell the guy regulating her pub that his wine is plonk.

"I just decided I would just drink my wine instead of compete with it," Fogleman said.

And that's not really such a problem, since the pre-mashed French grapes he bought and bottled a year ago have matured quite nicely in the basement of his Canton rowhouse.

"It's super drinkable," he said.

We'll have to take his word for it.

Now, beer -- that's another story

At least Fogleman has other outlets for alcohol-related glory. First, there's cleaning up the liquor board.

"We're going to have transparency and consistency control this expletive liquor board," Fogleman told me, in a nod to the Tommy Bromwell RICO tapes. (For the record: Fogleman really did say "expletive," not some word I had to bleep out.)

And then there's the Sam Adams homebrew contest. Fogleman intends to enter his Belgian Triple. The winner's beer will be sold commercially nationwide.

Sam Adams doesn't call it the LongShot Homebrew contest for nothing. But Fogleman has beaten long Sam Adams odds before. He won the company's national beer-tasting contest in 2005, making him the Boston Beer Co.'s sole, official "consumer taster."

That job, which recently concluded, entitled him to taste the company's experimental brews.

She had a bad day, and she's not talking about it

Sheila Dixon just had the rottenest day of her mayoralty, and she doesn't want to talk about it. She let this much slip at a press event Wednesday.

"Yesterday was my anniversary of three months as mayor of the city and I have to say - I know the reporters will say, `Well, why was it your worst day?' - but ... yesterday was one of the worst days."

Dixon was prescient. Reporters asked what went wrong, The Sun's John Fritze reports.

"I can't get into the details," Dixon said. "Whatever could go wrong did as far as trying to get some collaboration with folks. Yesterday was a very political day and people's personalities kind of got in the way, which made it a little frustrating."

Was it internal office politics or "real world" politics, she was asked. As Dixon began to speak, spokesman Anthony McCarthy suddenly appeared at her side.

"A combination of both," Dixon said. "Yeah, a combination of both."

McCarthy chimed in: "And that's about as detailed as she's going to get."

This is how you support your local police?

Going, going, gone on eBay: faux Baltimore City police patches with the slogan: "Policing the City that Bleeds."

"This patch was designed by some of the Baltimore City Police Department Officers because of the high Homicide rate in Baltimore City," the description said. "They feel they have no support from the Mayor or City Council, so this was a patch that was designed to show their displeasure with the lack of support."

There were six patches - first spotted by - and they all sold last week for $15 apiece.

If you were outbid, you'll have another chance. Another 1,000 patches are on order for future sale.

The seller - Fred Archer, a retired city shift commander who peddles antiques these days in Havre de Grace - wasn't all downbeat. His eBay description concluded: "A fantastic collectors item."

If it were still around, it would still be safe

Small consolation, perhaps, to the folks who lost their jobs when the General Motors plant on Broening Highway closed in 2005, but they were making some of the safest vehicles on the road.

When the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released its annual ranking of vehicle models with the highest and lowest driver death rates last week, there was the late, lamented made-on-Broening Chevrolet Astro van at the very top of the safe list for the 2001-2004 model years.

The Astro registered just seven driver deaths per million registered vehicle-years during the 2002-2005 period, The Sun's Michael Dresser reports. The total for the worst performing vehicle: 232 for the Chevrolet Blazer two-door, two-wheel-drive SUV.

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