Bloomberg, O'Malley have tea party of their own

Independent New York mayor endorses Democrat for Maryland governor

September 29, 2010

When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg comes to Maryland Thursday to endorse Gov. Martin O'Malley's re-election bid, he'll do it at a Bethesda-based business with the slogan "Be Real. Get Honest."

The company is Honest Tea, which I could describe as a maker of iced teas, but that would be a little like calling Whole Foods a supermarket. Honest Tea is a maker of fair-trade, antioxidant-rich, low-sugar and organic iced teas — which come, naturally, in BPA-free bottles.

It's a successful company, with just the kind of product two health-conscious pols might like to be associated with. But O'Malley probably already has the green-tea vote locked up. Could the Honest Tea tie-in backfire with the Lipton types he still needs to court?

Perhaps O'Malley should play up something Honest Tea would probably rather forget: last summer's kombucha recall.

In June, Honest Tea pulled the fermented product from store shelves after tests showed it contained more than the usual trace amounts of alcohol. The raw, unpasteurized drink, which is thought, like other probiotic foods, to boost the immune system and aid digestion, had somehow continued to ferment after bottling. The problem was straightened out, and the product was back in stores by August.

O'Malley, whose fondness for Guinness is well known, might be able to spin the hoochy kombucha to appeal to Joe Six Pack.

Waste management?

David Scott has a greater sense of style than might have been expected of the city's chief garbage man.

Before he was forced out as public works director in July, Scott spent more than $28,000 renovating and decorating his office. The renovation — wood flooring, stone facade on one wall, full bath, that sort of thing — came to about $11,800. The furnishings, which included a $1,200 office chair, $999 zebra-stripe area rug and $968 glass desk top, rang up to $16,600.

WBAL-TV was first with this scoop, but I managed to get Scott on the phone Wednesday to hear what he had to say for himself.

Scott said lots of people signed off on the makeover, which was approved when now-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake headed the Board of Estimates. "The Board of Estimates did approve the flooring, and finance and procurement approved everything else," the Sheila Dixon appointee said.

(I'm not sure that will make taxpayers feel any better, but why should Scott be hung out to dry on his own?)

Even more puzzling than how so many bureaucrats signed off on this stuff is this: How can a guy who is supposed to be focused on sewers, storm drains and solid waste have a taste for such elegant office décor? Was I wrong, I asked Scott, to assume DPW chiefs are devoid of style?

"I am not devoid of style," Scott replied with a laugh. But he said the makeover was not about personal chic so much as a public agency's mission.

"It is actually a greener office," he said. "The wood floor was actually reclaimed barn wood." (That recycled barn wood commanded $15.52 a square foot.)

And the stone wall?

"We were thinking stone from the watershed — watershed features, things like that," he said. "Public Works is not just garbage. It's also water and wastewater."

And waste.

Connect the dots …

Lobbyist Bruce Bereano isn't just plugged in in Annapolis. He has an old friend in Washington: D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, who won the Democratic nomination for mayor this month. They were Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity brothers at George Washington University in the early 1960s. "I pledged him," Bereano said. "We got some pushback. We broke the color barrier, and he became my little brother." Bereano stayed in touch with Gray over the years and worked on his primary campaign during the summer. "The little brother is now the big brother," Bereano said. … Former Gov. Marvin Mandel signed books in Annapolis last week to mark the release of his autobiography, "I'll Never Forget It: Memoirs of a Political Accident from East Baltimore." At 172 pages, the book hardly tells it all. People are already bugging him to write a sequel. "Friends in Annapolis say there's a lot more that can be said," Mandel told me Wednesday. "I'm not yet ready to do it." Mandel is 90, so it might seem there is little time to waste. But the former gov still works full time as a lawyer, does 50 pushups three times a week, and starts each day by juicing and drinking two carrots, two stalks of celery and an apple.

laura.vozzella@baltsun.com

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