In Baltimore, even the felons have crime plans. And if the felon also happens to be the only guy in memory to knock down the city's horrific homicide numbers, Baltimore apparently is willing to listen.
Ex-commish/ex-con Ed Norris unfurled his prescription for a safer city on his radio show yesterday, and no fewer than seven reporters and four TV camera guys flocked to the WHFS studios for the occasion, The Sun's Julie Bykowicz reports.
FOR THE RECORD - In yesterday's 2b column, an anonymous quote from a baltimoresun.com message board mischaracterized the views of Orioles owner Peter Angelos on Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon. In the interview cited by the column, Angelos did not mention the mayor.
It's a seven-point plan, and personally, my favorite is No. 4, which boils down to this: Go get the bad guys. More specifically, Norris said the city needs to "restore power and personnel to the warrant task force," which he said was depleted when he arrived, beefed up during his tenure, and shrunken again after he left.
"In 2000, 250 people were wanted for murder and attempted murder," he said. "How many were looking for them? Three. Ninety playing basketball [with the police athletic league], three tracking fugitives."
Norris said the department should take 100 of its "best, hungriest detectives" and assign them to the unit. "You tell them, `Go get 'em. Get people off the streets immediately.'"
With enough personnel, it shouldn't be that hard, Norris said.
"They don't go to Bolivia and have surgery. They're here. People in West Baltimore don't even go to East Baltimore."
The plan also called for such things as sacking Commissioner Leonard Hamm, getting the feds to take every gun case possible, and clearing out the backlog of DNA evidence - raising the necessary funds, if need be, from local businesses.
I called city police spokesman Matt Jablow to ask how Norris' crime plan went over at HQ. He didn't call back.
Angelos' other staffing worry
Never let it be said that Peter Angelos is self-absorbed. With all his problems - a team that's in last place, headed for its 10th straight losing season; attendance that's shrinking; and, just the other day, a manager sent packing - the O's owner has other things on his mind. Like the state of journalism. And the "wave of corruption" about to hit Baltimore.
This according to Marc Sandalow, who just left his job as the San Francisco Chronicle's Washington bureau chief to, among other things, write a book about Nancy Pelosi.
"I spoke yesterday with Peter Angelos, the wealthy owner of the Baltimore Orioles, who was an elected official and friend of the Pelosi family," Sandalow wrote in a farewell e-mail to colleagues. "He lamented the cuts going on at the Baltimore Sun, recalling that the paper once assigned a young reporter to every city agency, and that it was the only thing that kept many politicians honest."
I'm told The Sun's City Hall staffing was never quite that luxurious, but you get the point:
"He fears without the same presence," Sandalow wrote, "his city is in for a wave of corruption."
Sandalow's message was posted last week at Poynter.org, a journalism forum. (It also popped up on The Sun's chat site, where one poster gave it this spin: "According to Peter Angelos, the Dixon administration is corrupt and the Sun is letting her get away with it!")
I tried to reach Angelos myself, but he didn't return my call. Hey, if you really want to improve journalism, how 'bout talking to a reporter?
Politician had no comment
Del. Liz Bobo is just back from a vacation that took her about as far possible from her real life in politics. She traveled no farther than Virginia, but spent her week there in silence.
Bobo attended a silent meditation retreat run by a Buddhist monk. It was another world for someone in a line of work requiring lots schmoosing, glad-handing and pontificating.
"I had friends who recommended it for years and I was both attracted to it and had more than a little trepidation," said Bobo, who declined her friends' offer to carpool to the retreat because she wasn't sure she could hack it.
"I want my car there so I can make a getaway if I have to," she thought to herself a year ago, when she first gave it a try. She wound up loving it and went back for more last week.
Awakened by a ringing bell every morning at 5:30, she'd spend her days walking the grounds and sitting completely motionless in meditation sessions that lasted as long as 90 minutes. She opened her mouth for three vegetarian meals a day, but that's it.
"It's just very, very peaceful," she said. "Last year it had an impact on my remaining more peaceful the entire year - less tension, clearer thinking, much slower to get annoyed or frustrated."
Maybe the whole General Assembly should give it try.
TV reporter gets on TV!
Just like Lucy, Kate Amara wanted to be in the show. And tonight she gets her wish.
The WBAL TV reporter plays a reporter on Rescue Me, a drama about firefighters on FX.
"I have a big speaking part - 15 lines," she said. "I would like to say they just called me, but one of my college friends is married to one of the producers. ... I've been bugging him for four years to put me in the show."