Former Senator Theatre owner restricted from City Hall

Thomas A. Kiefaber told to give advance notice before hearings and to have an escort inside City Hall

July 23, 2011|By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

Thomas A. Kiefaber, a candidate for City Council president, is banned from City Hall unless he's expected — and escorted — by someone inside, according to a letter sent to him this month by the Baltimore City solicitor.

The letter says he is required to give at least 24 hours' advance notice before attending city public hearings, if he plans to speak at them.

The conditions come on the heels of several incidents — including one at City Hall last month during which police escorted Kiefaber out of the building — that appear to have disturbed some council and community members.

"Your recent behavior at the City Council Hearing in City Hall Chambers in June went far beyond speech and advocacy and included seizing physical possession of the microphone and taking over the podium in a manner totally contrary to the conduct of a public meeting," City Solicitor George A. Nilson wrote in a two-page letter dated July 8 and obtained by The Sun this week.

"Security is of paramount importance and we will not tolerate behaviors that threaten, or appear to threaten, the security of those who work in or visit City Hall," Nilson wrote, claiming that several council members were "fearful for their personal safety."

Nilson confirmed on Saturday that he sent Kiefaber the letter and said he had not received a response. The letter invites Kiefaber to send an apology note to City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young promising to behave better, which could "assist us in admitting you in the future, free of the restrictions."

Kiefaber rushed the dais at that June council meeting, before police escorted him out. He was also escorted out of the Senator Theatre, which he used to own, on the opening night of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" earlier this month.

The operators accused him in court papers of harassment and trespassing for allegedly berating staff and entering the theater without a ticket.

A summons for second-degree assault was filed against him Monday, according to online court records. On Friday, a city judge ordered Kiefaber to stay away from the Senator for six months, along with the Charles Theatre, which is operated by the same father/daughter team.

Kiefaber said Saturday that he had not received the city solicitor's letter. He said it was sent to an out-of-date address. Kiefaber did not respond to further questions about the summons or the letter.

For more than 70 years, his family owned the Senator, which fell into foreclosure in 2009 after years of financial struggle. The city bought it and leased it to the current operators after a drawn-out, controversial process.

"I think it's fair to say that he's very emotionally affected," Nilson said.

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