Laura Vozzella: Deadbeat delegate hasn't paid water bill for 2 years

City says Jill Carter, who made a dramatic stand for underfunded city schools, on list of municipal deadbeats

March 23, 2011|By Laura Vozzella, The Baltimore Sun

Del. Jill Carter pulled a disappearing act earlier this month, derailing Maryland's gay-marriage bill as a no-show for a committee vote, supposedly to draw attention to the plight of underfunded Baltimore schools.

She has since turned up in an unlikely place for a lawmaker making a grand stand for a cash-poor city — on a list of municipal deadbeats.

The city's Bureau of Treasury Management put out a long list last week of properties with delinquent taxes and municipal liens, which are scheduled to be sold in a sealed-bid tax sale on May 17. Among the properties is Carter's Glen Allen Drive home, which is assessed at $283,392 and has a lien on it for $920.61.

The money is not owed for property taxes on the Hunting Ridge home, which Carter said she pays through her mortgage payment. It's for water.

Carter said that was news to her when I reached her by cellphone Wednesday.

"I don't have any knowledge of it," she said.

"It figures you weren't calling with any good news," Carter added, apparently still peeved from when I reported that she'd billed herself as a 40-year-old in Baltimore magazine's list of "Top Singles" three years ago, when she was actually 44.

Carter has not paid her water bill since April 2009, according to the city's Tax Sale Office.

Carter has until April 29 to pay up or risk losing her house in the tax sale. Baltimore schoolchildren can surely use every penny of it.

Called to the bar

The fire that destroyed the Old Stein Inn in January has left owner Mike Selinger with the challenge of not just rebuilding a restaurant, but re-creating the well-worn feel of the place. It was housed, after all, in a 120-year-old building in Edgewater, so brand-new fixtures would seem wrong.

Selinger just scored a big hunk of historic-restaurant vibe on Craigslist: a 22-foot-long, mahogany-and-oak bar that had been in Carmine's Italian Seafood before the 107-year-old restaurant closed in New York's South Street Seaport area last summer.

Selinger saw photos of the bar online and sent a friend who's in New York to scout it, then agreed to buy it for $12,000 without seeing it in person.

Borrowing a big truck from his contractor, Selinger and a friend drove up to New York to fetch it from a warehouse Saturday. They arrived later than he'd hoped, thanks to a couple of big traffic jams along the way. It was getting dark, and Selinger couldn't really see what the pieces of the disassembled bar looked like. As he handed over his $12,000 cashier's check, he wondered: "What am I getting myself into?"

When Selinger finally got it unloaded in the light of day, he was both heartened and daunted.

"It was even more beautiful than I thought," he said, calling the quality of the woodworking "magnificent." But cleaning and restoring the piece will be "more work than I ever imagined."

Still, Selinger is very happy with his acquisition, which was first reported by the Manhattan news website

"You can tell the age of the wood," he said. "There's history in that."

His wife wouldn't do that

Dana Stein, a Baltimore County delegate and executive director of the nonprofit Civic Works, has written a novel about climate change called "Fire in the Wind."

One of the characters is an environmental science professor at New York University. Stein's wife, Margaret Presley-Stein, has a master's degree in environmental science from the University of Pennsylvania and has taught science in Jewish day schools and at a public middle school.

Stein based the character on his wife, but only loosely.

"The character also has ties to radical environmental groups," Stein tells me, "and my wife does not."

You can read more about the book on The Sun's B'More Green blog, where my colleague Tim Wheeler summarized it recently. Stein will do a book-signing April 16, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., at Borders Express, ‎7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda.

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