Biography

Dan Rodricks has been an award-winning columnist for The Baltimore Sunsince 1979, and speaks of his adopted hometown as both its champion ...

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Dan Rodricks

Dan Rodricks

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A true detective remembers the Lebowitz case

A true detective remembers the Lebowitz case

April 17, 2014

Among the many Baltimore long-timers who had an old, sad anger awakened by the recent mention of Esther Lebowitz in the news was Nick Giangrasso, the detective in charge of the crime scene the day her body was found.

  • Investment in Baltimore, beyond our expectations

    April 15, 2014

    The grand news that Questar Properties wants to build a landmark 43-story apartment building on the site of the old McCormick spice plant near the Inner Harbor must strike some long-timers as shocking. I'm thinking particularly of suburban cynics who seem to take twisted glee in Baltimore's flaws, starting with its reputation for violent crime. They mock and dismiss as fantastical Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's goal of adding 10,000 new families to the city by 2022.

  • 10 weeks out, 2 questions for Maryland Democrats

    April 12, 2014

    Now, the real fun starts. It's a mad, mad dash to the June 24 gubernatorial primary as the many undecided, unimpressed Democrats try to answer a what's-worse question that goes like this:

  • Underwhelmed by the Maryland General Assembly

    April 9, 2014

    I declare myself underwhelmed by the "accomplishments" of the 2014 Maryland General Assembly — a minimum wage increase so gradual it will have no effect on the standard of living for the working poor, a $431 million tax break for the heirs of millionaires, marijuana "decriminalization" that is hardly that, a paltry $4.3 million for pre-kindergarten education, and a broken promise on fully funding public employee pensions.

  • As blue law fades, Sunday hunting moves forward

    April 8, 2014

    Until recently, when someone who enjoys horseback riding in the Maryland countryside told me about a legislative effort to repeal the state's ban on Sunday hunting, I had no idea that such a prohibition was still in place. It struck me as archaic.

  • Maryland 'Democratic dominance' in numbers, not in spine

    April 5, 2014

    Last I checked, Maryland was a blue state. Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.

  • Troubled Maryland health exchange could spark political fallout

    April 3, 2014

    Check out this statement from the president of the Maryland Senate, Thomas V. Mike Miller, on the state's gawd-awful-and-now-abandoned health insurance website: "You can blame it on the contractor, blame it on the subcontractor, but the buck stops with state government. And it hasn't been done properly."

  • Marylanders need to speak up for open space

    April 1, 2014

    When I have a hard time understanding government spending — the construction and tinkering that goes into, say, Maryland's multibillion-dollar annual budget — I just imagine the whole thing as a kitchen-table conversation with members of a household declaring and negotiating priorities. (Pardon the time-worn metaphor, but it works for me.)

  • Colts departure from Baltimore really hurt, once upon a time

    March 29, 2014

    You have to be of a certain age now, your mid-30s at least, to even remember the midnight trauma of March 28-29, 1984. But to fully appreciate the hard, numbing slap of that snowy night — how much it hurt, once upon a time — your memories of the Baltimore Colts would have to go back further than the 30 years since they packed up and moved to Indianapolis.

  • With Democrats like these, who needs GOP?

    March 27, 2014

    If you needed proof of the political class' abiding support of the ruling class over the working class, look no further than the purportedly left-leaning blue state of Maryland, with a Democratic-dominated legislature throwing millions of dollars at the heirs of millionaires while hesitating about raising the wages of some of the poorest people in the state.

  • 'Ban the box' feels good but won't achieve much

    March 22, 2014

    That "ban the box" bill before the Baltimore City Council is classic feel-good legislation, based on instinct rather than evidence that it will make a difference. I doubt "ban the box" will achieve much. The proposal — which would prohibit employers from asking job applicants about criminal histories with a check-off box on a job application — might even make matters worse for the many paroled criminals who seek a job in Baltimore and a second chance in life.

  • Despite progress, Obamacare enrollment still hellish for some

    March 15, 2014

    I haven't visited Health Insurance Hell for a while, so I thought I'd stop and see how things are going. It's not so bad: At least 4.2 million new enrollees through federal and state Obamacare websites, with at least 1 million more expected through March 31, the deadline for getting insurance and avoiding a tax penalty.

  • For man wrongly arrested, $4,500 damages a pittance

    March 13, 2014

    Having recently interviewed the British statistician David Hand about probability principles, I suppose I should be willing to accept the following: Two men named James Elmer Bailey, both born on Oct. 15, 1962, resided in the Annapolis area at the time a woman accused one of them of punching her in the face.

  • Annapolis case prompts 'Wait-What?' moment

    March 11, 2014

    While reading court documents recently, I had one of those "Wait-What?" moments. That's where you're reading along, or listening to an explanation, and you suddenly say, incredulously: "Wait. What?" That is, please stop and tell me what I just read or heard was correct — that, in the case at hand, a District Court commissioner told an Annapolis police corporal to change the reported description of a man wanted for first-degree assault.

  • In restaurant business, sometimes you have to eat it

    March 8, 2014

    A friend who owns Germano's Piattini once told me of a young fellow who ordered a $55 bottle of wine, took one sip, scrunched his nose and announced in a loud voice, "This wine has turned." The fellow was maybe two years past senior prom, and he apparently did this to impress his date. It looked like something he might have picked up in frat-boy class.

  • Watching 'True Detective' and hitting the wall

    March 6, 2014

    Just for good measure — to make sure we understand how a homicide detective could become a tortured and isolated human being — viewers of the hottest current drama on HBO were presented with a dead baby in a microwave oven. Actually, the perspective was from inside the oven, from just above the bluish, charred remains of the infant. That way, we were able to see Detective Marty Hart's reaction when he opened the door to have a look.

  • As Lent approaches, watching for 'the Francis effect'

    March 4, 2014

    Given all the excitement his papacy has generated, the approach of the first full Lenten season under Pope Francis resonates particularly with Catholics — even fallen-off Catholics — who prefer to see faith as social activism and not as Sunday pageant. Since he became pope last March, Francis has repeatedly called for a church of service and justice, and not one that is insular and obsessed with doctrine.

  • Rooting for Joe Bank, the local guy

    March 1, 2014

    Corporate intrigue aside, there's another reason for Marylanders to follow along and maybe even cheer for Joe B -- there's a "Baltimore thing" in this story.

  • Pot fears expose fears about societal health

    February 27, 2014

    Have you heard why the war on drugs will never end? It's because of the enormous number of people involved in it: police officers, federal agents, defense attorneys, judges, prosecutors, wardens, prison guards, parole and probation officers. The nation has made such a huge investment in the war on drugs that politicians will keep it going forever, the theory goes. Disrupt it, and we would lose four decades of sunk costs and a significant part of the public-sector economy.

  • For Henson, it's time for a robo campaign

    February 25, 2014

    Hyperchutzpahism is a condition in which an overactive chutzpah gland produces an excessive amount of chutzpah, causing people to be extremely audacious, if not obnoxious, and to cut in line at TCBY. The word, which I just made up, is taken from the Greek (hyper, for overly) and the Yiddish (chutzpah, for boldness or self-confidence.)

  • Would Ceasefire have stopped Purple Horton?

    February 22, 2014

    Compared to the way the year started — 16 homicides in the first 12 days of January and 27 for the month — February has been quiet in Baltimore. We went more than a week without a single shooting.

  • Better late than never for Ceasefire

    February 20, 2014

    "O'Malley smiled and read his mail," David Kennedy, the widely respected criminologist, recalls of a December 1999 meeting with the new mayor of Baltimore. Martin O'Malley sat by while Jack Maple, his crime-fighting consultant from New York City, browbeat Kennedy, peppered him with questions, cut off his answers and either betrayed or feigned ignorance of Kennedy's violence-reducing strategy called Ceasefire.

  • In Sochi, Under Armour skates into some sturm und drang

    February 15, 2014

    What are the lessons from the flap over Under Armour's Mach 39 speed skater suit and its supposed connection to the U.S. team's poor early showing at the Winter Olympics? Walk with me, let's talk.

  • Chronicling Maryland's 'sweet spot for snow'

    February 13, 2014

    If you think it's been a long winter here in the Patapsco Drainage Basin, imagine Western Maryland: The first snow landed out there in October; they've had 90 inches so far, with about 2 feet of it held in place by a freeze that has made Deep Creek Lake safe for ice fishing.

  • Heroin's lasting grip in Baltimore suburbs

    February 11, 2014

    One day in February 2000, I sat in a police car on Poplar Grove Street in West Baltimore to observe a reverse sting: Instead of attempting to buy heroin from dealers, undercover officers were offering to sell it to users. They cleared out the regular salesmen, took over their corners and waited for the customers to arrive.

  • Her house condemned, elderly woman sleeps in a van

    February 9, 2014

    The elderly woman who lives in the van in the shopping center on 41st Street in Hampden is Harriet Kahn. It says "Kahn" on the vanity plates of her van, but "Can" is how she pronounces her name because, she says, the softer "ah" (as in "Kaan") gives her name a pretentiousness she dislikes.

  • Experts worry about election fraud threat

    February 6, 2014

    By now, just about everyone connected to the Internet is familiar with this process: Required to fill out and sign a form of some kind, you ask for and receive a hyperlink via email. You open the link, find the form you need (perhaps a pdf), download it, print it, fill it out and mail it off.

  • A long line of heroin deaths, Baltimore to N.Y.

    February 4, 2014

    If confirming evidence of the ruinous power of opiate addiction was needed, we now have the wasted life of the genius actor Philip Seymour Hoffman — George Willis Jr. in "Scent of a Woman," Phil Parma in "Magnolia," Art Howe in "Moneyball," and a superb Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman" on Broadway less than two years ago.

  • In Annapolis, offering more sugar to sugar daddies

    February 1, 2014

    Some Democrats in Maryland — the wealthiest state in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — balk at raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour while advocating tax cuts for millionaires.

  • Expecting the horrible is the American way

    January 25, 2014

    Eighteen-year-old Youri Felix, who was serving a customer at the Chick-fil-A in the food court of The Mall in Columbia when the shooting started, described the scene there: people running, people scared, then 20 of them crowded into the kitchen area for an hour, until Howard County SWAT officers said they could leave.

  • Speed cameras reflect public-private incompetence

    January 25, 2014

    Americans who engage in the outrage business — populist politicians, social activists, civil libertarians, tea party hell-raisers, grouchy bloggers, Fox News talking heads, newspaper columnists — relish an opportunity to bash the government.

  • Frustrated consumers could be new voting bloc

    January 23, 2014

    Lewis Somerville of Parkville is one of the numerous frustrated souls who tried doggedly to secure new health insurance policies through the O'Malley-Brown administration's vaunted-in-theory-but-awful-in-reality online exchange.

  • If you can't stand the cold, get into the kitchen

    January 20, 2014

    With more freezing weather on the way, I offer an 18-step plan for staying warm and sufficiently fed, making optimum use of the stove for heating and for creating enough meals for the remainder of the week.

  • The insanity of Baltimore's 'disrespect' killings

    January 19, 2014

    Two years after someone fired 18 bullets into his body, we finally know the reason Gregory McFadden died such a brutal death at the age of 27 in West Baltimore. He turned his back on a guy.

  • The insanity of Baltimore's 'disrespect' killings

    January 18, 2014

    Two years after someone fired 18 bullets into his body, we finally know the reason Gregory McFadden died such a brutal death at the age of 27 in West Baltimore. He turned his back on a guy.

  • Some Marylanders deserve apology for insurance stress

    January 16, 2014

    At Tuesday's legislative hearing in Annapolis, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, point man on Obamacare in Maryland, refused to say he was sorry for the disastrous and embarrassing launch of the state's health insurance website.

  • O'Malley still dogged by insurance exchange woes

    January 14, 2014

    One chortles at Governor O'Maryland's response to Candy Crowley on CNN when she asked if he had been asleep at the switch during the development of this state's botched-and-still-botchy health insurance exchange. "Oh, no," the governor said. And I have to agree.

  • Despite competition from Maryland, Christie's Bridgegate takes the pettiness prize

    January 11, 2014

    I have been scratching around for something from the annals of Maryland politics that matches that bizarre story out of New Jersey, but I just don't have it.

  • Mike Miller, marijuana and the right side of history

    January 9, 2014

    Turns out, I am glad that Thomas V. Mike Miller gives no hint of retiring from his position as president-forever of the Maryland Senate. I know that sounds odd coming from me, but that's how I feel today.

  • 'Honesty in hiring' beats 'ban the box'

    January 7, 2014

    Of all the frustrations I've heard ex-offenders describe — and they have plenty — this one might be the worst: A guy gets out of prison after serving his sentence, looks for a job and finds one, but a while later his new boss tells him to leave because a background check revealed a criminal record.

  • 30 years on, Gallo sees 'functional cure' for HIV

    January 4, 2014

    It has been 30 years since Dr. Robert Gallo became internationally famous for his role in the discovery of the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome. He has wrestled with the question of a cure countless times since then. But only within the last year, he says, did he conclude that working toward a "functional cure" makes the most sense.

  • Abscam and 'American Hustle' have Baltimore lineage

    December 28, 2013

    The 1970s corruption investigation known as Abscam, celebrated in "American Hustle," one of the holiday season's hottest movies, had its roots in Baltimore. It was in Charm City that the FBI tested the sting-style operation that marked Abscam as a particularly theatrical and effective form of undercover investigation. Baltimore FBI agents later trained those who carried out the Abscam sting.

  • Unconditional kindness on the bridge to Ravens games

    December 23, 2013

    An hour and a half before Sunday's Ravens game, Jimmy Scaletta took his usual seat near M&T Bank Stadium — in the middle of the eastbound lane of the Hamburg Street bridge. On game days, it becomes a pedestrian bridge, and Scaletta sits with his cup and cardboard sign facing the incoming fans, hoping for handouts.

  • Avara's hair-styling school closes after 53 years

    December 21, 2013

    News of the closing of Simon "Cy" Avara's hair-styling academy — a Baltimore institution — arrives just as we enter the 50th anniversary of the start of the British Invasion of rock music. I make the connection because the British Invasion was as much about hair as it was about music, and one of the most notable things about Avara's career was his ability to adjust from crew cuts to mop tops.

  • Catching up with prolific artist Raoul Middleman

    December 19, 2013

    This update on the life of Raoul Middleman was not meant to be nostalgic. At 78, the irrepressible Baltimore artist is still going strong, and some of his recent work might be his best, a remarkable thing for a man who has been painting for more than half a century.

  • O'Malley promises on health exchange ring empty

    December 16, 2013

    A careful reader pointed out a flaw in my column of Thursday. I noted that, before leaving for his nine-day trip to Brazil, Gov. Martin O'Malley had said problems with Maryland's mind-numbingly bad health insurance exchange would be fixed by mid-December. I said mid-December was Dec. 15 at noon.

  • At Earl's Place, recovering alcoholic describes road to recovery

    December 14, 2013

    By the time I met Anthony Halbach, he had lived 50 years, and half of them hard. He'd spent a lot of time being angry and a lot of time drunk. He'd been homeless, estranged from kin, adrift in the world and truly lost. It was a life without smiles. There were long periods of loneliness and depression, and sometimes suicidal thoughts.

  • Between Obamacare and BGF, a rough year for O'Malley

    December 12, 2013

    A couple of weeks ago, before he went on a nine-day trip to Brazil and El Salvador, Gov. Martin O'Malley pledged that major glitches in Maryland's health insurance exchange would be fixed by mid-December.

  • A man demands a few grand for his stranded van

    December 7, 2013

    I suppose it is possible that, in 2010, when Ford sent safety recall notices to 492,000 owners of Windstar minivans because of a rear-axle problem, it missed Mr. Philip George of Ocean City, Md., whom everyone calls "Bill."

  • Thousands of books for Baltimore's kids

    December 4, 2013

    Some time within the past week, 160,000 new books arrived in The City That Reads, a term I've neither heard nor uttered since the Kurt Schmoke mayoralty and its much-mocked motto ("The City That Bleeds," "The City That Breeds") faded into memory nearly 15 years ago.

  • Problems continue for Maryland insurance exchange

    December 3, 2013

    A supporter of Obamacare eager to avail herself of the opportunity it provides for better coverage, Carol Siegel enjoyed smooth sailing on Maryland's online health insurance exchange — and then she didn't.

  • Giving thanks for Manny, growlers, waxwings and carbonara

    November 27, 2013

    Happy Thanksgiving 2013. Let us give thanks for the food we are about to eat, the wine we are about to drink, the football game we are about to watch — Ravens versus Steelers, NBC, 8:30 p.m. — and the couches on which we are about to snore.

  • Man racked up more than $13,000 in unpaid Maryland tolls, fees

    November 25, 2013

    Thousands and thousands of motorists will be paying millions and millions of dollars in highway tolls to get to Grandma's house in time for Thanksgiving, but Eric Gregory is no longer one of them. He sold his car a while ago. He's out of the driving-and-toll-paying life.

  • A remade Inner Harbor should be for locals

    November 23, 2013

    Be honest: You don't go to the Inner Harbor as much as you think you do. You go when you have visitors from out of town. You go when there's a big event, such as last year's Star-Spangled Sailabration, with all those tall ships and the Blue Angels. You might go during the holidays, or when your company springs for a dinner cruise.

  • Across a burned bridge to the Kennedy assassination

    November 20, 2013

    The assassination of President John F. Kennedy came up one day several years ago, in a jarring way, and at a moment when I least expected it. I was fishing with Bill Burton and Calvert Bregel, two of my older, wiser friends. We were knee-deep in the Gunpowder River, in northern Baltimore County.

  • Baltimore County's poor need housing, too

    November 19, 2013

    The opposition to a $13.7 million housing development for low-income families in eastern Baltimore County, and to the county's acceptance of state funds to help pay for it, wouldn't sound so predictably obtuse, shortsighted and mean if we were in the year 1973 instead of 2013.

  • 'That man from President Street' doing better

    November 16, 2013

    Terry Reed, likely Baltimore's best-known panhandler — the one with prosthetic arms and legs, who for years worked the traffic along President Street through all kinds of weather — is alive and doing much better than anyone thought he would.

  • Mizeur makes smart moves as candidate for governor

    November 14, 2013

    First, the pronunciation: It's Mizeer. For those of us who took several semesters of French and thought Jean-Paul Belmondo was even cooler than Steve McQueen, the temptation is to pronounce Heather Mizeur's last name as they would on the Boulevard du Montparnasse: Mee-Zurr, with a whispery "ah" on the end for effect. Mee-Zurr-ah.

  • Maryland case provides basis for NSA surveillance

    November 12, 2013

    Neither Howard Cardin, the skillful criminal defense attorney from Baltimore, nor Steve Sachs, the best attorney general in modern Maryland history, could have predicted what Sachs now calls the "cosmic implications" of the Supreme Court decision that upheld Michael Lee Smith's purse-snatching conviction 35 years ago.

  • BGF case could be tipping point for Greenmount area

    November 9, 2013

    For their joint news conference on Thursday, the police commissioner and state's attorney of Baltimore chose Mund Park on Greenmount Avenue, where, they said, members of the Black Guerrilla Family and their associates held regular meetings. That moment was fraught with symbolism — top cop Anthony Batts, in uniform, and top prosecutor Gregg Bernstein, in a gray suit, reclaiming a public park from a violent gang.

  • Ravens need a haka, the Brumbies have one

    November 7, 2013

    The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens have three wins and five losses; they just lost to the Cleveland Browns for the first time in seven seasons, and they play the conference-leading Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. So I'll say this: The home team could use a Maori haka right about now, and I know where to get one.

  • Obamacare debacle fuels another race to the bottom

    November 4, 2013

    The more I hear from our beleaguered Explainer-in-Chief, his apologists and the strident opponents of Obamacare on the far right — pretty much the whole lot of American noisemakers these days — the more I sense the bottom approaching again.

  • Count Maryland old-growth trees among Sandy's tragic toll

    November 2, 2013

    Donnie Oates, manager of two great parks in Western Maryland, will never forget Hurricane Sandy's ferocious arrival there. On the last two days of October 2012, the storm brought two feet of heavy snow, high winds, thunder and lightning through Garrett County. Epic stuff. Oates had never seen anything like it.

  • Using the schools as leverage for neighborhoods

    October 31, 2013

    The planning is underway in Baltimore's $1 billion-plus, decade-long effort to bring public schools into the 21st century — in fact, there's a design expo at Morgan State University this weekend — which means we have entered a seminal period in the city's history.

  • Door still open for Ruppersberger to run for governor

    October 28, 2013

    How much damage could that teen party in a Delaware beach house do to Doug Gansler's campaign for governor of Maryland? Hard to tell. I've heard three reactions:

  • Former French sheep herder brewing beer in Waverly

    October 26, 2013

    Someone forgot to tell Patrick Beille that French guys are supposed to make wine, not beer. Hard cider would fit the French profile more than beer. But that's what the fellow does — he makes beer.

  • Gansler's public duty, parental strategy collide

    October 24, 2013

    I guess the only thing worse for Doug Gansler would be the revelation that he ordered his Maryland State Police driver to run red lights to get the attorney general to his son's senior week party on the Delaware shore.

  • Baltimore has another fit of panhandler anxiety

    October 24, 2013

    Here we go again, with another call for a crackdown on panhandlers in Baltimore. The City Council, which recently provided millions of dollars in public financing for the big private development at Harbor Point — offices, hotels, residences — is considering legislation to make it tougher for the penniless to beg on our sidewalks.

  • How about some sugar for I-95 carpoolers?

    October 22, 2013

    What happens is this: Crews, cranes and concrete trucks converge on Interstate 95 for months and sometimes years, and the typical motorist, unhappy about having to drive on the American autobahn at any time — much less when it is being repaired — curses the nuisance.

  • Baltimore's beloved Senator Theatre is in good hands

    October 19, 2013

    The Senator Theatre is like your favorite old aunt — the busy, independent one who never married but who loved her nieces and nephews and spoiled them with candy and fantastic stories. She dressed like a Hollywood starlet, with rhinestone glasses and lots of lipstick. She always looked glamorous and classy — several notches above Hon.

  • Gilchrest sees 'a political system infiltrated with sociopaths'

    October 16, 2013

    Wednesday afternoon, as his former colleagues in Congress considered a deal to avoid a national crisis, Wayne Gilchrest sat in his office in a place called Knocks Folly on Maryland's Eastern Shore and watched a fox run across a field.

  • An Afghanistan veteran 'walks off the war' on the Appalachian Trail

    October 12, 2013

    In 1948, three years after the end of World War II, an Army veteran from Pennsylvania named Earl Shaffer hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. No one had ever done that before.

  • Andy Harris could always refuse subsidized insurance

    October 9, 2013

    For the sake of ideological balance — and for entertainment purposes — you have to hand it to Andy Harris. He's the lone Maryland Republican in Congress, an extreme conservative counterweight to the moderate-to-liberal Democrats who hold the rest of the state's seats in the House and Senate. And he's a Hopkins-educated doctor who, with no trace of apology or irony, opposes the expansion of medical care to millions of uninsured Americans — up to 70,000 of them in his own district.

  • Now-shuttered government program nurtured Nobel winners

    October 7, 2013

    The American scientists who were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday have devoted most of their professional lives — up to four decades — to understanding how cells work.

  • Larry Wineke and the gift of 18 years of life

    October 5, 2013

    Amazing how a name can trigger a sudden burst of memories. "Hello, this is Ryan Wineke," a voice on the phone said. The name is pronounced "Win-ek-ee." As soon as I heard it, I thought of Larry Wineke, the only man I ever knew by that name. I assumed he must have run out of time.

  • Obamacare rolls out anyway -- even in Western Maryland

    October 2, 2013

    It's a beautiful thing: Thousands of people in Western Maryland — that cradle of rural conservatism and fed-up secessionists who want to declare their independence as the country's 51st state — are now eligible for affordable health insurance under Obamacare.

  • O'Malley tries to rehab his crime-fighting legacy

    September 28, 2013

    Given what he said recently about solving Baltimore's crime problem, one imagines Martin O'Malley charging into the dressing room of a police district station, flipping the poker table upside down and yelling, "Get off your butts, you guys, and go arrest everybody!"

  • Making a stand against Common Core and dull non-debates

    September 25, 2013

    A couple of reality checks in the aftermath of the foolish arrest of Robert Small at that forum last week on the new Common Core curriculum standards for public education — one about style, one about substance.

  • Go ahead and secede, Western Md. Here's your tab.

    September 14, 2013

    As we appear to be in a public-comment period regarding the proposed secession of five western counties from Maryland, I have a few additional observations to offer. But let me start with a summary of reasons for the separatist movement provided in dozens of emails from thoughtful people, many of them self-described libertarians, who support the establishment of the state of West Maryland:

  • Seeing the glories of old Baltimore, an emerging new one

    September 12, 2013

    Looking forward is generally considered a good thing; it comes highly recommended by motivational speakers and driving instructors, and it's the credo of digital-age entrepreneurs, urban planners and serial daters. But if you constantly look forward, you miss the pleasures of the periphery. Take St. Paul Street.

  • Conservative group wants liberation for western Maryland

    September 10, 2013

    I just returned from a pleasant trip to the mountains and rivers of Garrett County to the dismaying news that a group of conservative Republicans want Garrett and four other Maryland counties to break away and form the 51st state so they can live happily ever after.

  • Sanity rules in case of cop who married gang leader

    September 7, 2013

    Of the many words from the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in the matter of Meredith Cross v. Baltimore City Police Department, I like these best: "Costs to be paid by appellant." That's double-good news for city taxpayers: We're on the hook for neither the back salary of a police officer who married a convicted murderer nor for the costs of bringing an audacious appeal of her firing to court.

  • Ravens fans forced to watch their champs from a distance

    September 5, 2013

    Baltimore's Ravens, reigning champions of professional football, kick off their new season Thursday night on national television while its Orioles once again have reached September with a shot at the playoffs. What's not to like?

  • 'We want your guns, not your drugs'

    August 31, 2013

    Two weeks after a federal judge declared New York City's stop-and-frisk policing unconstitutional is an odd time to ask the question, but here goes: Would New York-style stop-and-frisk policing reduce Baltimore homicides to such a low level that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's goal of growing the city by 10,000 families would start to look plausible, even overly modest?

  • Johnson, fighting gun violence, loses an officer

    August 28, 2013

    For Jim Johnson, the police chief of Baltimore County, the month of August started in Pittsburgh, with an award from a national law enforcement organization for his "steadfast leadership and commitment to working to keep this nation free of gun violence."

  • Should the Grand Prix be a symbol of Baltimore?

    August 26, 2013

    This will be the third year in a row that Baltimore tries to get its head wrapped around an IndyCar race on our downtown boulevards, and the question is: Are we there yet? Is Baltimore now a Grand Prix town, and is that even something we want?

  • Little Italy needs great meatballs, smiles and smaller restaurants

    August 24, 2013

    The world has changed, but the world still needs a great meatball. I do not mean a meatball made from Kobe beef and retailing for $14. I certainly do not mean frozen supermarket meatballs. I mean a simple, delicious and comforting meatball that people make at home.

  • Waiting for Baltimore to finally reach the tipping point

    August 22, 2013

    Baltimore is your unpredictable uncle in a bathrobe — sweet one minute, grouchy the next; as kind as an old friar today, as menacing as a hit man tomorrow. This town will baffle you. It is sane and insane, charming and ugly, cosmopolitan and puny, brilliant and middling, future thinking and stuck in its ways.

  • Martin O'Malley starts to take his victory lap

    August 20, 2013

    Don't look now, my fellow Marylanders, but I think the Martin O'Malley victory lap has commenced. The governor, with a year and a half to go in his second and final term, has started telling us all about his impressive tenure.

  • Following the big money to Harbor Point

    August 17, 2013

    "You follow me, kid?" An old friend of mine, educated at Hotchkiss and Haverford, used to ask that all the time, sometimes after every two sentences, like when he showed me how to make a martini or how to work the clutch in a '74 Fiat or when he tried to explain what arbitrage was. He had a head for cocktails, cars and finance, and he talked real fast, with a cigarette on his lip. He'd start explaining something complex, like bond trading, and stop and ask, "You follow me, kid?"

  • Frederick Co. gets a reputation for mean

    August 14, 2013

    A smart, progressive event gets under way in Frederick County in about a week — a farm-to-fork promotion in 13 restaurants there. Starting Aug. 23, the participating establishments will offer home-grown food and wine; they'll buy enough products from county farmers and vintners to make their menus 60 percent local.

  • Holder saying what Baltimore judge has said for years

    August 12, 2013

    Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement — that low-level drug offenders with no history of violence and no ties to gangs will no longer face severe, mandatory federal prison sentences — is the first step in returning sanity and integrity to a justice system commandeered nearly 30 years ago by grandstanding, overzealous politicians. But it comes way too late for the 20-year-old drug slinger featured in one of Judge Andre Davis's war stories.

  • Under Maynard, prisons have crises, but fewer repeat offenders

    August 10, 2013

    Any other week, the guilty pleas of Black Guerrilla Family Man Tavon White might have convinced Maryland's public safety secretary, Gary Maynard, that things were finally getting back to normal in his world.

  • Under Maynard, prisons have crises, but fewer repeat offenders

    August 10, 2013

    Any other week, the guilty pleas of Black Guerrilla Family Man Tavon White might have convinced Maryland's public safety secretary, Gary Maynard, that things were finally getting back to normal in his world.

  • Gansler's ideas on recidivism good, timing not so

    August 7, 2013

    Timing is everything — in love, comedy, trapeze acts, pastry and politics. Of course, to be successful in any of those ventures, you need keen senses, a super awareness of things, even prescience. But no matter how big your brain, your timing is critical. On this count, a couple of candidates for Maryland governor need work.

  • Artie Donovan and a life lived large

    August 5, 2013

    The first time I met Artie Donovan, I got all of it — a big serving of his affable nature, his way of taking genuine interest in a complete stranger, a dose of his amazing memory and his way of connecting life experiences with the food and drink that accompanied them.

  • Gun-buying frenzy in a summer of violence

    August 3, 2013

    When it comes to guns, there's Baltimore and there's the rest of Maryland. The city has a horrible problem with guns; the rest of the state can't seem to get enough of them. In Baltimore, people are marching against gun violence; in the rest of the state, they're lining up to buy guns by the thousands.

  • Maverick Catholics hold out hope for female priests

    July 31, 2013

    I actually thought the cool new pope would have something cool and new to say about one of the things that make it hard to be a Roman Catholic: the church's refusal to allow women to serve as priests.

  • Anti-violence march draws crowd in East Baltimore

    July 29, 2013

    When Munir Bahar, the 32-year-old chief organizer of the 300 Men March, told me he used a dirt bike show to lure people into the street to hear his anti-violence speech, I winced. The operation of dirt bikes on city streets is illegal. They are widely considered a menace by people who live in Baltimore's rowhouse neighborhoods. Homeowners frequently call the police to complain about dirt bikes.

  • A young woman keeps her eye on a dream

    July 27, 2013

    Sometimes all you can do is shake your head when you hear what people go through in this life. I'm not even talking about extraordinary circumstances, either. I don't mean surviving wars or train wrecks, climbing mountains or traversing deserts. I just mean the tough, daily grind of the poor — trying to make ends meet, to keep your stomach from growling, to keep your eye on a dream while the world seems to collapse around you.

  • Second, 'more intense' 300 Men March set for Friday night

    July 24, 2013

    Its chief organizer says the first 300 Men March — a protest of the gun violence in Baltimore this summer — turned into a 600 Men March, a surprising and impressive citizens' uprising in a city aching and tired from the shootings and killings.

  • Recovered savings bonds could 'further a dream'

    July 22, 2013

    The $10,000 in U.S. savings bonds that Tom Karle discovered in a house he renovated in Northeast Baltimore are now in the possession of Robert Gorham, the young man for whom they were purchased in the 1990s. But an element of mystery lingers in the story.

  • Answering the backlash to outrage over the Zimmerman verdict

    July 20, 2013

    My fellow white people — many of us, maybe most of us — get really weird about the subject of race, especially when black people raise questions about the way they are treated. Reactions range from silence to white-hot vitriol to moderate unease to social-media snark.

  • After mourning, a pledge to reclaim a playground

    July 17, 2013

    It was so hot the petals of the plastic flower someone left on the spot where Ramon Rodriguez fell had melted on the playground at the end of South Lehigh Street. The petals had been scattered on the spot, and by Wednesday afternoon they appeared as red and white smears in the searing July sun.

  • Zimmerman verdict portends more violence

    July 15, 2013

    It's a troubling and scary thing to consider, but my take-away from the trial of George Zimmerman is a very clear message that you can take up arms to protect yourself and use deadly force with the thinnest claims of self-defense and the fullest confidence that little, if anything, will happen to you.

  • Justice delayed and denied for more than 30 years

    July 13, 2013

    Drawn from an old transcript, this is how a Baltimore judge instructed a jury before its deliberations in a murder trial in 1967: "You, under our system, in criminal cases are at liberty to disagree with the court's interpretation of the law. You shall determine what the law is and then apply the law to the facts as you find them to be."

  • Yes, we really do keep senior citizens behind bars

    July 10, 2013

    One of the ironic consequences of the Maryland Court of Appeals' ruling in the matter of criminals sentenced to life in prison is that it undermines, with fine judicial reasoning, what two Democratic governors tried to keep in place with crass political considerations — that is, the denial of parole to longtime convicts who had earned release from prison.

  • Who will claim $10,000 in savings bonds?

    July 8, 2013

    Part of Baltimore's Vacants to Value program, aimed at reducing vacant houses and blight across the city, calls for aggressive and streamlined enforcement of the housing code. That means heavy fines to owners who don't take care of their vacant houses. And if fines don't get action, the city will push a property to auction.

  • It's capitalism, Rodricks, love it or leave it

    July 8, 2013

    How ironic that Dan Rodricks displays such contempt for what he calls the "capitalist democracy we celebrate on the Fourth of July" ("On tax breaks for developers, you can't beat City Hall." July 4).

  • More shootings, but hope in Johnston Square

    July 6, 2013

    So many of the old rowhouse neighborhoods of Baltimore have the following characteristics — one block good, next block bad; safe by day, violent by night; earnest homeowners here; apathetic renters there. Walk along enough of the side streets, especially on the east and west sides of town, and those contradictions are obvious.

  • On tax breaks for developers, you can't beat City Hall

    July 4, 2013

    Baltimoreans are having another argument. This one is over Harbor Point and whether City Hall should sell $107 million in bonds and use the money to aid the development of a billion-dollar project on what has been called the primo piece of commercial real estate on the East Coast.

  • On tax breaks for developers, you can't beat City Hall

    July 3, 2013

    Baltimoreans are having another argument. This one is over Harbor Point and whether City Hall should sell $107 million in bonds and use the money to aid the development of a billion-dollar project on what has been called the primo piece of commercial real estate on the East Coast.

  • Are you a victim of cellphone cramming?

    July 1, 2013

    You probably don't want to bother — because, let's face it, eating a salad with gritty spinach is more fun — but you really should take a close look at your cellphone bill. You could be getting "crammed" with bogus charges for sports trivia and horoscope texts you never ordered.

  • Getting to Baltimore's at-risk kids before it's too late

    June 29, 2013

    Here's what Molly McGrath Tierney, director of social services in Baltimore, has been thinking about: tearing down the foster care system, as we know it, and building something new that, among other things, might make ours a less violent city in the years to come.

  • Snakeheads – menace or meal?

    June 26, 2013

    A report from the Eastern Shore puts the northern snakehead — that slithery, toothy Frankenfish introduced to Central Maryland by some ecological saboteur a decade ago — in Marshyhope Creek, suggesting that the invasive species has moved beyond the Potomac River, across the Chesapeake Bay and into the Delmarva Peninsula.

  • Bullet holes in a mailbox on Kenwood Avenue

    June 24, 2013

    Monday afternoon, I found Verbal Lee McDonald, an 86-year-old retired truck driver, enjoying the summer breeze on his marble steps in the 700 block of N. Kenwood Avenue — directly across the street from where one of Baltimore's 12 shootings occurred over the weekend.

  • 'Printer's Mass' nears the end of its long run at St. Vincent's

    June 21, 2013

    A report from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers says Americans with tablets and smartphones spend as much time reading newspapers online as do those who still prefer the printed editions. The same is true for readers in Western Europe.

  • If Harbor Point is so hot, why the need for city investment?

    June 19, 2013

    The mayor of Baltimore does not want to be on the wrong side of history this time, so she fully supports $107 million in tax increment financing to aid the development of Harbor Point, that big slab of old, chromium-saturated land adjacent to Harbor East — you know, Doughville, the upscale city-within-the-city developed by bread magnate John Paterakis.

  • Two stores try to close the health gap in Baltimore

    June 17, 2013

    The pause is familiar to anyone who has been in a supermarket: The grocery checkout suddenly stops as a customer, perhaps quietly embarrassed, decides which items can be purchased and which will have to wait.

  • Two Maryland women at the center of history, June 1963

    June 14, 2013

    The American clock brings us to the 50th anniversaries of two extraordinary events involving two extraordinary women, Gloria Richardson Dandridge and Madalyn Murray O'Hair — both strong-willed champions of liberty and disturbers of the status quo, but women of very different character, purpose and legacy.

  • Some at City Hall have fee fever and need to be stopped

    June 12, 2013

    This time, I'm with Santoni. That is to say, I agree with Bob Santoni, the outspoken owner of the Baltimore supermarket that bears his family's name, that some members of the brain trust running our fair city have stepped through the looking glass.

  • In an era of extreme weather, paranoia often the best policy

    June 10, 2013

    We're living in the eye of a perfect storm of weather anxiety — climate change and extreme storms, increasingly accurate forecasts by meteorologists, and the power and desire of news media to fully exploit our fears.

  • Trusting Big Brother in the prolonged war on terror

    June 8, 2013

    Every time I drive between Baltimore and Washington and come upon those big, spooky National Security Agency buildings in Fort Meade, I have cinematic thoughts about what goes on inside. I imagine the best and brightest of surveillance nerds spying on nuclear activity in Iran, on terrorist training camps in Yemen, on Kim Jong-un's playroom in North Korea.

  • In federal prison, ol' Bulldog faces sensual shock

    May 18, 2013

    If the federal prison that gets Tavon White is anything like the last one I visited, even a charmer such as Bulldog will have a tough time recreating the life of the libertine he had at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

  • A public service message to youth sports parents

    May 15, 2013

    The good news is that, in seven years of umpiring amateur baseball games in the Baltimore area, Frank Handley has had to give the thumb to only five adults. The bad news is he had to do it again a couple of weeks ago. But we're going to turn a negative into a positive today. We're going to get the message out — a reminder, really — that parents need to keep the ugly under control and set a good example for children.

  • Who's your daddy? For Orb, it's Malibu Moon

    May 13, 2013

    The Preakness means more to Marylanders when there's a Marylander in the race, and this year we have the obvious connection in Orb, the Kentucky Derby winner owned in part by Stuart Janney III, chairman of Bessemer Trust and resident of Butler, in the heart of horse country north of Baltimore.

  • Maryland's McDaniel College closing the 'opportunity gap'

    May 12, 2013

    Here's what Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, said three years ago as the nation's gap between rich and poor widened toward historic levels: "I think it's a very bad development. It's creating two societies. And it's based very much, I think, on educational differences. … It leads to an unequal society, and a society which doesn't have the cohesion that we'd like to see."

  • Complaining CEOs need to take a hike

    May 8, 2013

    I took a walk early Wednesday morning. Azaleas and dogwoods were in bloom. Green-again trees and shrubs were damp, dripping from Tuesday's rain. A zillion birds were singing, and even the starlings sounded sweet. The Orioles had won another game. A horse with a Maryland owner had won the Kentucky Derby.

  • Maybe Majid Khan rates a stateside prison cell

    May 4, 2013

    As a teenager in the mid-1990s, he moved with his parents to the United States from Pakistan. The family sought and received political asylum. They settled in Baltimore County and operated a gas station. The boy attended Owings Mills High School. His cricket skills helped him excel at baseball, the quintessential American game.

  • Corrections reform never an O'Malley priority

    May 1, 2013

    With a straight face, the Maryland governor says the sex-and-drugs scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center, including the alleged corruption of 13 corrections officers, is a "positive achievement." He claims his corrections secretary, Gary Maynard, established a state-federal task force to investigate the corrupting influence of the Black Guerrilla Family while some of the gang's members, including Tavon "I'm Your Daddy" White, were in the BCDC, a state-run facility.

  • Scandal at jail another symptom of war on drugs

    April 27, 2013

    Let me start with this: If not for the absurd war on drugs — by far, the nation's longest war — we would not have had so many killings on the streets of Baltimore over the years.

  • Who was in charge at the city detention center?

    April 24, 2013

    I have lots of questions about the Black Guerrilla Family case, starting with this: Was the warden of the Baltimore City Detention Center asked to approve maternity leave for any of the female correctional officers allegedly impregnated by inmate Tavon "Bulldog" White?

  • After the Boston bombings, returning to our post-9/11 rituals

    April 20, 2013

    In the two months after 9/11, I called Baltimore County police to check out a black-and-tan backpack left by an office door in Towson, reported an abandoned carry-on bag at BWI to Maryland State Police and refused to watch a bulky valise for a stranger who wanted to leave it with me while he went to the restroom at the airport.

  • Crunching numbers on Maryland's land crunch

    April 17, 2013

    Today is "Skeptical Reader Day" at the Dan Rodricks column. Today, at no extra charge, I will answer a letter from an anonymous reader who questioned a figure that appeared in this space last week, to wit: "The Department of Natural Resources says Maryland loses 25,000 acres of agricultural and forest land to development each year."

  • Doctor whose work saved millions reflects on career

    April 15, 2013

    The publication of Alfred Sommer's new memoir, "10 Lessons in Public Health," comes precisely 30 years after the publication of the most important thing he's ever written: "Increased mortality in children with mild vitamin A deficiency," a report of a medical discovery that has saved an estimated 10 million children from blindness and death.

  • Man sees race, indifference in experience with Baltimore police

    April 13, 2013

    I don't know how to answer Michael Hanchard's questions, but I understand why he asks them: "If we were a middle-aged white couple, rather than a black couple, and if the group of people who surrounded us were black or Latino, rather than white, would the attackers have been treated with impunity?

  • Ruppersberger considering run for governor

    April 10, 2013

    Among the likely Democratic candidates for Maryland governor in 2014 — Howard County executive Ken Ulman, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler — Ulman comes closest to being the "Baltimore-area candidate."

  • Jury duty and the inconvenience of being a citizen

    April 6, 2013

    Nothing, besides the approach of a snowstorm or a rush-hour fender-bender on the Beltway, elicits more groans from Baltimoreans than the summons to jury duty, and I'm not sure why, except that we like to bellyache about stuff.

  • It's spring and the Howard Huskies are still playing hockey

    April 3, 2013

    Only for reasons beyond his control — the rules of USA Hockey, and its tradition of staging national championships in different parts of the country — must Bud Buonato settle for coaching just one team this week.

  • Maryland takes the lead on preventing gun violence

    April 1, 2013

    A reality of the far-reaching gun regulations approved by committees in the House of Delegates on Friday night: Marylanders likely will buy more assault-style weapons in the next six months than they would have without a new law. In fact, it seems like the current version of the legislation encourages sales.

  • Ben Carson's conservative views are drawn from the Bible

    March 30, 2013

    I am not among the many who are shocked that Ben Carson, the brilliant and widely admired neurosurgeon based at Johns Hopkins Hospital, would emerge as a hero of the political right and Sean Hannity's new best friend.

  • Let's be grown-ups on gay marriage and assault weapons

    March 27, 2013

    Given the lack of interest in Congress in protecting children from guns, it was nice to hear a grown-up in Washington speak on behalf of kids, any kids — in this case, the nearly 40,000 kids who live with same-sex parents in California.

  • Winter or spring, snow worries are a Maryland tradition

    March 25, 2013

    Here's a question for a snowy day in spring: Will Marylanders, and Baltimoreans in particular, ever grow so accustomed to snow that they stop worrying so much about it?

  • To monitor farm pollution, why not use drones?

    March 23, 2013

    Nobody asked me, but here are my six recommendations in the matter of the highly publicized, closely watched, widely criticized, rift-causing lawsuit brought by the Waterkeeper Alliance against the Hudson family poultry farm over alleged pollution in a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay on Maryland's Eastern Shore:

  • Dogwood made good food and a difference in lives

    March 20, 2013

    Has it been mentioned anywhere that the couple who ran the Dogwood Restaurant in Hampden tried to change the lives of desperate people while serving good food and drink?

  • Deposit opponents miss the message in the bottle

    March 18, 2013

    "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more," I say, quoting Shakespeare's Henry V, the breach being not the hole in the wall at Harfleur, but the gap between who Marylanders are as recyclers and who we could be.

  • In death penalty repeal, reason over revenge at long last

    March 16, 2013

    Many of us believe that capital punishment, first used in the Province of Maryland in 1638, should have been relegated to the trash heap long ago. Politicians in Annapolis had overwhelming evidence of its costly and debilitating flaws for many years, but too many refused to attach their names to repeal.

  • New pope is inspiring signal to jaded U.S. Catholics

    March 13, 2013

    Be still, my somewhat jaded American Catholic heart: A Jesuit? A Jesuit from Argentina who, as archbishop then cardinal, eschewed the chauffeur-driven limousine for the public buses of Buenos Aires? A Jesuit devoted to social justice and to helping the poor?

  • Why we love all things Irish this week

    March 11, 2013

    This is the time of year when I feel a bit tweedy, a bit green in the wool, a bit Irish, even though the Rodricks clan from which I descend was Portuguese (Rodrigues) and not Irish (Roderick).

  • Baltimore firefighter pushes to stop fires set in schools

    March 9, 2013

    About 10 years ago, Baltimore had a serious problem with boys setting fires in schools. Derrick Ready knew this better than anyone. A lieutenant in the Baltimore City Fire Department, he was assigned to put a stop to it.

  • Remembering Sandy Hook on the way to Congress

    March 6, 2013

    From Washington to Annapolis to Hartford, Conn., wherever new gun restrictions are being debated, it's important to remember Sandy Hook. That's not a plea to the emotions. That's a plea to human decency and common sense — a reminder of the personal pledges we made to do something about the dangerously easy availability of assault weapons in a society that claims to be civilized.

  • Asking why Rep. Harris opposed domestic violence act

    March 4, 2013

    Andy Harris, the only Maryland Republican serving in Congress, voted against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act last week, but he didn't call and tell me that.

  • State needs gun control; Perry Hall shooter needs therapy not prison

    March 2, 2013

    With no thanks to the Democratic state senator who represents the area, the Baltimore County community of Perry Hall is safer from gun violence than it was six months ago. We can say that much.

  • State needs gun control; Perry Hall shooter needs therapy not prison

    March 2, 2013

    With no thanks to the Democratic state senator who represents the area, the Baltimore County community of Perry Hall is safer from gun violence than it was six months ago. We can say that much.

  • No time to go weenie on Maryland gun control

    February 27, 2013

    Watch out, ladies and gentlemen, the Maryland Senate — where Democrats outnumber Republicans 35 to 12 — could be going weenie on gun control.

  • An opportunity to break free of Ticketmaster

    February 25, 2013

    I thought Ticketmaster was the most hated company in America, but it turns out to have had some competition for that title in recent years. It lost last year to AT&T, Bank of America, Walmart and Electronic Arts, the maker of digital games.

  • Five cents for common sense on bottles and cans

    February 23, 2013

    It's one of those things that make sense but we do not do: Have a nickel deposit on every bottle and can of beer, soda and all the other liquid beverages we drink. Maryland does not have it. Some states do. Every state should.

  • Give mayor's tax plan a chance to work

    February 20, 2013

    Excuse me, but what are my fellow Baltimoreans complaining about? The mayor has proposed doing something to avoid an all-out collapse of the city's finances, and some citizens of Paradise-on-the-Patapsco are annoyed, confused or just so cranky and fed up with February they need a good cheesesteak sub from Captain Harvey's.

  • Rejecting 31,000 gun deaths as a fact of life

    February 18, 2013

    There are so many violent tragedies every day — I'm thinking specifically about the deaths of young people, and particularly those by gun — it's impossible to process it all, much less give our hearts to it. If we tried, our heads would burst.

  • Peter Beilenson's next great adventure in health care

    February 16, 2013

    Peter Beilenson — doctor and public health visionary, Baltimore health commissioner, Howard County health officer, quick-study scholar and decoder of federal regulations — remains one of our most interesting men.

  • Something like a reasonable concession from the NRA?

    February 13, 2013

    A spokesman for the National Rifle Association in Maryland said Tuesday that his organization would not be opposed to requiring people to get a license before purchasing a handgun — as long as the licensing fees were reasonable.

  • A man who stands between kids and gangs

    February 11, 2013

    Sometimes, Richard "Rico" White says, parents get so strung out and desperate that they push their kids to join gangs to guarantee a supply of drugs. The kids go along, White says, but most don't want any part of the gang life.

  • Before Ray Lewis, let's first honor Lenny Moore with a statue

    February 9, 2013

    Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti says the team will make plans for a statue of Ray Lewis to honor The Great Mufasa for his stellar football career in Baltimore. And that's a good idea, but what about Lenny Moore?

  • Gun license 'tramples' the Constitution? Give us a break

    February 6, 2013

    The state of Maryland requires me to get a license to go fishing in the Patapsco River or crabbing off Booby Point or hunting at Elk Neck.

  • A Super Bowl victory that was Baltimore to the bone

    February 4, 2013

    With a parade on Tuesday, the city will celebrate a world championship that was Baltimore to the bone — perfectly imperfect, an overachievement by an underdog and a surprise to sneering outsiders.

  • A haircut and some Super Bowl trash talk

    February 2, 2013

    Super Bowl Sunday arrives, and Nate Smith has an important message for his girlfriend, Darlene Griffin. It goes like this: "Don't be wearin' my slippers."

  • In Leopold case, judge draws bright line in the fog

    January 30, 2013

    Those who criticize the John Leopold case — that it was "too much squeeze for too little juice," a waste of taxpayer money — should read the 40-page memorandum by Dennis M. Sweeney, the judge who presided over the Anne Arundel County executive's trial.

  • How to be human – and happy about it

    January 28, 2013

    I beg the reader's indulgence as I savor a memory of something that lasted for only about 10 minutes on a summer day 17 years ago — an encounter with a stranger on a bridge in Baltimore County. It was one of those remarkable moments in which something like the secret to happiness appears.

  • Getting inside the mind of John Leopold

    January 26, 2013

    Friday afternoon in a spacious Annapolis courtroom with a flat-screen monitor, Dr. Roy E. Bands Jr., board-certified orthopedic surgeon, presented a side view of John Leopold's lumbar region — how his lower spine, abdomen and bladder looked in January 2010. Too bad the doctor didn't have a scan of the Anne Arundel County executive's prefrontal cortex.

  • When you get older, you get colder

    January 23, 2013

    People who know I grew up in New England have the wrong idea — they think I'm a Red Sox fan, a Patriots fan and one of those "hardy" people who walked a mile to school in the snow. Not true.

  • Obama inaugural: Marking a new progressive era?

    January 21, 2013

    In what might have been President Barack Obama's most progressive speech, his second inaugural address Monday marked a distinct change from the so-called New Democrat ideology of pragmatism and compromise to a full embrace of the principles that once put the Democratic Party squarely on the side of the middle class and the poor.

  • You gotta believe in Joe Flacco

    January 19, 2013

    A confession: I've been less than excited about Joe Flacco since he became the Baltimore Ravens quarterback. He's like that guy your daughter brings home: She thinks he's grand and maybe even The One, and you're completely underwhelmed, even a little disturbed, and you hope she trades up before it's too late and he's calling you "Dad."

  • Arundel follies, Dwyer's drinking, Ravens on the wrist

    January 16, 2013

    All the world's a stage, especially Anne Arundel County. It has produced, far and away, the best shows of the season: a County Council member sent to prison, followed by a long squabble over his replacement; a congenial county executive charged with being a creep; a police chief forced to retire; a gay-bashing delegate involved in a drunken boat crash; a loquacious council member accused of bullying constituents on Election Day.

  • Ray Lewis and 'the life we live with after that'

    January 14, 2013

    "Some mistakes we never stop paying for." — Roy Hobbs, played by Robert Redford, in "The Natural," the 1984 Barry Levinson film based on the Bernard Malamud novel.

  • The man who never had a bad day

    January 12, 2013

    Ten years ago, a debilitating heart attack left Bernie Weisman unable to walk or talk, and yet the rabbi at his recent funeral said Bernie never had a bad day. With confidence the rabbi made that remark, having been assured by those closest to Bernie that the happy spirit he displayed for his first 55 years remained for the last 10.

  • Keeping good workers is tough these days

    January 9, 2013

    Steve Appel, who's been in the business of selling cool furniture to Baltimoreans since the 1980s, called me after one of my give-a-guy-a-chance columns. It was 2009, with the recession lingering and the national unemployment rate at double digits. Baltimore's was just under 11 percent — and higher, as always, among guys between 18 and 24.

  • Progressive votes in November pave way for death penalty repeal

    January 5, 2013

    That was no small development heard the other day from the longtime president of the Maryland Senate, Thomas V. Mike Miller. The white-haired gatekeeper of the General Assembly said he would allow a vote to repeal the death penalty on the Senate floor, presumably bypassing the committee that usually blocks the legislation from getting there.

  • The spirit moves her: Milla Hniang's journey to a dream

    December 24, 2012

    What people go through to live their lives — war and terror, disease and pain, poverty and hunger, long journeys across continents and oceans, loss and heartbreak — always leaves me awed and humbled. You hear a story, like the one I'm offering this Christmas, and you want to raise a glass to that thing we call human spirit.

  • The spirit moves her: Milla Hniang's journey to a dream

    December 24, 2012

    What people go through to live their lives — war and terror, disease and pain, poverty and hunger, long journeys across continents and oceans, loss and heartbreak — always leaves me awed and humbled. You hear a story, like the one I’m offering this Christmas, and you want to raise a glass to that thing we call human spirit.

  • Baltimore priest organizes vigil for gun victims, new laws

    December 22, 2012

    The National Rifle Association's response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School — that is, placing blame for it on everyone and everything except the NRA and its all-guns-all-the-time credo — was utterly predictable. But this time it won't matter.

  • Don't delay restrictions on assault weapons

    December 19, 2012

    Memo to the U.S. Senate: A couple of your members have suggested that we need a national commission to study mass shootings in this country. Not necessary. You can find what you need in support of new firearms regulation right here in Baltimore.

  • It's time to fight for restrictions on assault weapons

    December 17, 2012

    Let's be honest about this: Those of us who believe there are too many guns — and too many military-style guns that should not even be manufactured for, much less sold to, the civilian market — have taken a walk on gun regulation. We conceded victory to the gun lobby years ago and, much like those who represent us in state legislatures and Congress, we have not returned to the debate — not even after Tucson and Aurora.

  • Thinking big about how to renew Sparrows Point manufacturing

    December 15, 2012

    Here's what I'm thinking: We get La Famille DeBeaufre to establish a second bakery in Sparrows Point and ship their beloved Berger Cookies all over the world — to China, India, Brazil, Mexico and other nations with rising economies.

  • The massacre this time

    December 14, 2012

    Look at what has become national ritual: A horrific shooting in some otherwise ordinary corner of the country — this time a town in Connecticut — with many dead and wounded, shock and grief, wall-to-wall television coverage.

  • The little things that make us happy

    December 12, 2012

    My parents gave me a few things: a good start in life, a gray suitcase with plastic, stick-on initials for the DIY monogram (though we spelled out do-it-yourself in 1972), and an electric Timex Dynabeat wristwatch that I haven't worn in more than 30 years.

  • Evidence of climate change on a sun-splashed rock

    December 10, 2012

    Wally Vait has a good eye for such things, so I'm not surprised that during a hike Saturday on the North Central Railroad Trail in Freeland, he spotted an Eastern garter snake on a sun-splashed rock. The question: What was it doing there, after one of the coldest Novembers on record, and with the winter solstice two weeks away?

  • Greg Hall case shows we're still stingy with second chances

    December 8, 2012

    Starting in June 2005, I had literally hundreds of conversations with men and women — mostly men, and mostly from Baltimore — about their struggles to land jobs after prison. Most employers wanted nothing to do with these guys, especially the ones who had committed violent crimes.

  • Coming up dry in search for sense in Sandy aid denial

    December 5, 2012

    Trying to make sense of the Obama administration denying federal relief to Maryland for the flooding and other damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, and I'm coming up dry.

  • On parking tickets, speeding tickets and O'Malley's politics

    December 3, 2012

    Nobody asked me but ... if one is urged to support small retailers during the holiday shopping season, one might expect the municipalities in which they are located to take a holiday on parking tickets. Consider what happened to Debbie Bakalich when she went shopping in Ellicott City, with its new parking meters, on Saturday, Nov. 24.

  • Brothers' deaths show exhausting senselessness of homicides

    December 1, 2012

    I've been reading Facebook tributes to two young men — Audie "Party Audie" Mickens and James "Jimmy" Johnson, brothers slain within the last couple of months in West Baltimore — and I've found dozens of them laced with the "f word" and the "n word" and the "s word," many written in the crude shorthand of the poor and violent city within the city.

  • Speed camera flaws provide vindication for complaints

    November 28, 2012

    Two and a half years ago, I wrote a column about getting nailed by a speed camera in Baltimore for the first time, and, let me tell you, did the righteous readers of this newspaper — people who never ever ever drive over the speed limit — give me a load of grief. They accused me of being a danger to society and of using precious space to grind a personal ax in public. They believed in the machines.

  • Give thanks for the good things, large and small

    November 19, 2012

    As Thanksgiving Day approaches, let us reflect on the things for which we are grateful. Let us give thanks . . .

  • Baltimore groundhog: What's a Federal Hill taxpayer to do?

    November 17, 2012

    In a moment, you will hear the story of Georgia B. Martin and her exasperating efforts to get someone in government to help her remove a groundhog from her garden in historic Federal Hill. But first, I must think out loud, among patient readers of The Baltimore Sun, about how a groundhog got to Federal Hill in the first place.

  • Buffoon or conservative populist – we don't know yet

    November 14, 2012

    Connoisseurs of political buffoonery give two thumbs up to the election season just ended, with Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate posing as evangelical gynecologists, and Karl Rove melting down after Fox News called Ohio for the president.

  • Maryland's teacher absence rate needs a closer look

    November 12, 2012

    Pardon me while I rant: Are you kidding me? According to a report from the Center for American Progress, about 35 percent of Maryland teachers missed 10 or more days of the 2009-2010 school year. Excuse me?

  • Election Day message: The nonsense of marijuana busts

    November 10, 2012

    Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its accounting of all arrests made by law enforcement agencies across the fruited plain. Cops and federal agents made 12,408,899 arrests in the USA in 2011. No wonder we're known around the world as Incarceration Nation.

  • Maryland surprises in gay marriage and Dream Act support

    November 7, 2012

    Maryland's vote for same-sex marriage and the Dream Act runs counter to history, political science and human nature — a majority of citizens upholding laws that benefit distinct minorities. I think a little more attention must be paid to this. I find it extraordinary.

  • In Little Italy, fresh eyes on American democracy

    November 6, 2012

    So intent was Riccardo Migliori on his mission — observing the U.S. election and asking questions about the voting process in Baltimore — that he missed the statues of saints and the oil painting of Pope Leo XIII. So foreign was the idea that voting might take place in a house of worship that he apparently didn't notice the brass crucifix on the wall above him, either.

  • Campaign's over, time to vote

    November 5, 2012

    Having just observed dozens of my fellow citizens standing in line for more than an hour to vote, I started to feel good about the country again. Some 430,000 Marylanders took advantage of five days of early voting this year, so many that Sandy Rosenberg, the veteran state delegate from Baltimore, says he'll be filing a bill in the next legislative session to expand the opportunities for early voting.

  • A Catholic priest speaks up in favor of same-sex marriage

    November 3, 2012

    Last Sunday in Baltimore's St. Vincent de Paul Church, its longtime pastor, the Rev. Richard T. Lawrence, delivered a thoughtful and nuanced argument for support of the Question 6 ballot referendum.

  • Somebody asked me … about Ogden's Q7 ad, Under Armour

    October 31, 2012

    Somebody asked me, so …

  • To the meteorologists, we say, 'Thanks for the warning'

    October 29, 2012

    Pardon me, but among the things a big storm stirs, besides high anxiety, are memories of storms from years ago or, in my case, a kind of wonderment about how our ancestors prepared for and survived them.

  • Running the numbers: Millionaires, myths and taxes

    October 27, 2012

    In the great pile of email that arrived after last Sunday's column on millionaires who whine about "class warfare," there were numerous defenses of wealthy "job creators like Mitt Romney," and an equal number of attacks on "liberals like President Obama" who believe the rich should start paying more in income taxes again.

  • What would Jesus do on same-sex marriage?

    October 24, 2012

    Nearly 40 minutes into a panel discussion about Question 6, the Maryland referendum on same-sex marriage, the Rev. Robert Anderson of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown is about to wrap up his contribution to our understanding of what the Bible says about homosexuality. Of course, he reaches for Leviticus, 18:22.

  • Mechanic Brad Marvel: A person, not a corporation

    October 22, 2012

    I need to take a moment to tell you about Brad Marvel, a trained, certified, proud and professional automobile mechanic. I think I should add the he's sincere and earnest, and emphasize that he's a human being — a person, not a corporation.

  • Voting to give more money to millionaires

    October 20, 2012

    As I drove by the old Playhouse cinema on 25th Street in Baltimore the other day, I thought of the hapless fellow I encountered on the screen there in the 1970s — Nino, the lead character in "Bread and Chocolate," a comedy about a poor Italian waiter who tries to make a living among the affluent of Switzerland.

  • Watch dealer's sleight of hand in Question 7 ad

    October 17, 2012

    So far this year, Maryland has been spared hurricanes and big tropical storms, but there's been a monsoon of television and radio advertising on both sides of the casino battle — approaching a cost of $50 million — to woo voters one way or the other. That's a state record, a grotesque orgy of corporate spending.

  • Rodricks: Thousands of undocumented workers pay state taxes

    October 15, 2012

    Under the Maryland Dream Act, students who want to attend our community colleges or public universities at the in-state tuition rate must have attended a Maryland high school for at least three years. They must prove that their families filed state income tax returns during that time, and they or their families must file returns each year that the student attends college.

  • New Orioles for a new generation of fans

    October 13, 2012

    Over the years at Camden Yards — and, of course, I mean the many bad years — I would be drawn into conversations with parents with little kids, especially if the little kids were decked out in Red Sox shirts and hats.

  • Rodricks: For backers of education and veterans, Dream Act is a two-fer

    October 10, 2012

    The Baltimore Sun

  • Rodricks: Doubtful Towson mob 'came from Baltimore City'

    October 8, 2012

    Jim Brochin, a state senator from Baltimore County, had a letter to the editor published in this newspaper last week. In it, he complained about a lack of facts in my recent column on the mob scene and brawl outside the Recher Theatre in Towson on Sept. 23.

  • If we build $70 million juvenile jail, we'll fill it

    October 3, 2012

    The governor of Maryland, a Democrat who fostered a reputation for being tough on crime to neutralize claims that he's some sort of liberal, says it's full speed ahead for a new juvenile jail in Baltimore — most recent price tag, $70 million.

  • Rodricks: On casino expansion, we'll hold noses and vote no

    October 1, 2012

    There's a good reason that a majority of Marylanders in a recent poll for The Baltimore Sun said they opposed the expansion of casino gambling in the state: We're pretty much grossed out by the whole thing.

  • Rodricks: At Camden Yards, marking moments of renewed faith

    September 30, 2012

    On an exquisite Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards, while the home team completed a lovely weekend sweep of the Boston Red Sox, we popped the question among the beer-fisted on the sun-splashed flag court above right field: When did you start to believe — really believe — that the Orioles would make the American League playoffs for the first time in 15 years?

  • West Baltimore epilogue: Death of Audie Mickens

    September 29, 2012

    The first time I saw Audie Mickens, he had just turned 19 and he'd been arrested as the shooter in an attempted murder in Northwest Baltimore. He appeared at a hearing in District Court, and as I listened to the prosecutor detail the charges against him, I wondered how his life would turn out. Would the young fool go to prison? Would he die an early death? Was there any hope for a better outcome?

  • Of football refs, retail politics and an unusually quiet state delegate

    September 26, 2012

    Nobody asked me but . . .

  • Rodricks: Conservatives create constitutional myths

    September 24, 2012

    Soon after President Barack Obama's inauguration, "I want my country back!" became the shrill battle cry of the tea party. Garrett Epps, a legal scholar based at the University of Baltimore, has a battle cry of his own: "I want my Constitution back!"

  • Rodricks: In Belair-Edison, the big man keeps fighting

    September 22, 2012

    Around sunset Thursday, the big man — taller, broader, bolder and more passionate than anyone around him — called out from the middle of the crowd at the edge of Herring Run Park, and in that moment he stole the show from the politicians who had turned out for a "solidarity walk" through Belair-Edison.

  • The Orioles: Remember winning? Remember that?

    September 15, 2012

    And just think, Orioles fans, they got this far without Nolan Reimold. Remember him? No. 14. Tall, good-looking guy, 28 years old. Left fielder at the start of the season and the Orioles' lead-off batter to replace the injured Brian Roberts. (Remember him?)

  • Rodricks: Old-school attitudes on the bench catch up to Judge Lamdin

    September 12, 2012

    Back in the day, when newspaper reporters covered the District Courts of Maryland on a regular basis, we knew two kinds of judges — the ones who worked as fast and as dutifully as possible to clear their dockets and get to the golf course, and the ones who cracked jokes or made what today would be considered inappropriate remarks. The latter were memorable.

  • Rodricks: The irrational fears of same-sex marriage foes

    September 10, 2012

    People who were paying attention in history class when the teacher got to "civil rights movement" must be astonished that an African-American minister with gray hair — a man who was state director of the NAACP in his native Mississippi and regional director of the organization in Maryland — could not only oppose extending equal rights to gay couples but advocate quashing the First Amendment rights of a pro football player.

  • Road back for Mark Farley Grant starts on the early bus

    September 8, 2012

    The way it is now: Mark Farley Grant steps out of the room he shares with three other men in a big rowhouse on St. Paul Street, grabs his backpack, and steps into the 6 a.m. darkness. He takes the No. 13 bus, transfers to the 54, then the 53, grabs breakfast at the kosher Dunkin' Donuts on Reisterstown Road and walks to work at the kosher supermarket two blocks north.

  • Orioles & Obama: Hoping for the best, but not expecting too much

    September 5, 2012

    With the Orioles and Yankees in a fabulous and totally unexpected race in the American League East, and with those teams playing the first of four games Thursday night in Baltimore, many in both Birdland and New York will have their minds on baseball and not President Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention.

  • Cell phone companies need to get out of cramming

    September 3, 2012

    One good thing about being the victim of a widespread scam estimated to cost American consumers $2 billion a year: You don't feel like the only fool in the country.

  • Made in America: Fine suits and a middle class life

    September 1, 2012

    Mark Falcone enjoys telling people that the cutters and sewers in his factory in Westminster made 300 suits for Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and the numerous extras of "Men In Black III." But, while the MIB movies might have popularized the black suit for men, mass-produced sameness is hardly English American Tailoring's thing.

  • Will travails of Del. Don Dwyer 'gentle his condition'?

    August 29, 2012

    "Be he ne'er so vile, this day shall gentle his condition . . ."

  • Getting uncrammed, or how I spent my summer staycation

    August 27, 2012

    Here's a word of advice to readers with cellphones: Check your bills for mysterious charges. I found a few on my last T-Mobile bill, and it wasn't pretty — some $350 over the last year for services I never ordered from third parties I never heard of.

  • Delicate species: The environmental win-win

    August 25, 2012

    The message arrived last month with something like the urgency of a gold strike: Native brook trout, lots of them, discovered in the twin ditch creeks of an old farm in Hereford, in northern Baltimore County. Environmental scientists get pretty excited about this sort of thing.

  • Living with a mental illness

    August 23, 2012

    Many thanks for Dan Rodricks' moving article on Mike Flanagan ("Shadows of doubt – the life and death of Mike Flanagan," Aug. 19).

  • Rodricks: Incident shows our vulnerability to disaster

    August 22, 2012

    "We love our children with all our hearts," Gordon Livingston, psychiatrist, philosopher, author and twice-bereaved parent says from his home in Howard County. "We imagine that they will bury us. Then fate intervenes and we must bury them. Nowhere is the fragility of life or the randomness of death more apparent than in the deaths of children."

  • Death of Mike Flanagan, Orioles great, leaves shadows of doubt

    August 18, 2012

    "Did you ever notice Mike when he came off the mound after a good inning?" asks Alex Flanagan, widow of the Orioles Hall-of-Famer who committed suicide a year ago. "He always had his head down."

  • Rodricks: Marveling at Phelps' heroic journey

    August 1, 2012

    Baltimoreans who witnessed his odyssey unfold will remember the first 12 years of the 21st century as the Michael Phelps era. If you mark the life of this community by our shared experiences and our heroic figures — the sources of civic pride that keep us from despairing and sinking into the Patapsco — there's no getting around Phelps.

  • Fishing with Flanny

    August 26, 2011

    "There is no guarantee that when a middle-aged man enters the dark forest where the black dog is waiting, he will come out healed. It is possible to be broken there beyond hope of repair." -- Howell Raines, from "Fly Fishing Through The Midlife Crisis"

  • Schaefer: Politics as performance art

    April 18, 2011

    I stepped into his City Hall office to ask William Donald Schaefer, the mayor of Baltimore, a question. He was watering his African violets and did not appear to be soothed by that labor of love. In fact, he was upset about the reason for my visit — an audit had turned up lots of billing errors at what was then called City Hospital, now Bayview — and he avoided eye contact with me.

  • Honor is not for cowards

    March 1, 2011

    Before he went out last Wednesday to arrest 15 of the officers charged in the Majestic towing scandal, the police commissioner of Baltimore attended a morning retirement ceremony. It was for a cop who had had a long and honorable career and who, a few years ago, risked it all to expose some bad police work within the ranks. The farewell for Mike Andrew, who retired as a lieutenant colonel after nearly 38 years of service to the people of this city, took place in the commissioner's board room first thing in the morning.

  • Vision lacking in Ehrlich’s comeback bid

    April 22, 2010

    Bob Ehrlich, running for governor for a third time, wants to repeal the 1-cent sales tax increase that Martin O'Malley wrought, and he wants to finish some "unfinished business." This is what he said on my radio program Wednesday. Wondering if he had something significant or inspiring to offer — a little more so than a penny tax reprieve (not that there's anything wrong with that!) — I pressed him on the "unfinished business" part.

  • 'Saving us more than saving them'

    April 6, 2010

    Thirty-five years have come and gone since Dan Schuster, just out of high school in Reisterstown, discovered something about the concrete business — he could do it better himself.

  • The marrying judge explains himself

    March 30, 2010

    G. Darrell Russell Jr., the Baltimore County District Court judge who married the defendant in an assault case to the woman he was accused of beating, has been condemned by advocates for abused women, ordered to desk duty by his superiors and suggested for retirement by this columnist. He's also remained silent about the three-week-old controversy, on the advice of District Court leadership.

  • No app can replace city's need for vibrant libraries

    March 16, 2010

    Interesting, these times we live in -- the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore reports a 20 percent increase in visitors through its doors, while Steve Jobs and Apple prepare to roll out the iPad, the computer tablet that allows you to download a book in seconds while you're anywhere within WiFi or 3G range, including your bathroom.

  • Criticism of archdiocese strikes nerve with readers

    March 9, 2010

    There has been so much response to my Sunday column on the Archdiocese of Baltimore's decision to close 13 schools, including Cardinal Gibbons School, I thought I would share some of the more interesting and thoughtful comments with all my other readers today.

  • Tragedy in Madeira stirs memories of paradise

    February 23, 2010

    News reports of the horrific flooding on the Portuguese island of Madeira refer to it as a popular tourist destination, and it is -- if you happen to be British or German. It is not so well known here, even among Americans affluent enough to take vacations abroad. In fact, before the scary videos of the mudslides hit television over the weekend, I would bet most Americans had never heard of Madeira, one of the most beautiful places on earth.

  • Media's evolution alters how we experience 'weather events'

    February 16, 2010

    Over the past two weeks -- and at different times over the last 30 years, whenever we had big snowstorms in Maryland -- I've tried to figure out what it is about them that's different than the ones I experienced growing up in another part of the country, where snow was more common but still a "weather event" that raised blood pressures and affected the behavior of the human beings around me.

  • Big Snow means Big Slow — a good thing

    February 9, 2010

    Maybe you've shoveled too much snow by now, or tried to walk or drive down too many clogged side streets by now -- or worried too much about three feet of snow on your flat roof by now -- to appreciate the pace-reducing power of a big storm. But I still see it, and I still like it.

  • A generational change the city needs

    February 4, 2010

    Starting today, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has an opportunity to recharge the city and become the leader of a new generation of public-spirited citizens who have the most to say about what kind of place Baltimore becomes in the next decade.

  • The crimes, forgivable. But that pension?

    January 10, 2010

    Sheila Dixon made history - the first woman elected mayor of Baltimore, and apparently the nation's first female big-city mayor to resign over criminal charges. Her trial took place in the courthouse where, in 1973, a vice president of the United States (and former Maryland governor and Baltimore County executive) named Spiro T. Agnew pleaded no contest to tax evasion in connection with thousands of dollars in kickbacks and bribes gladly taken during all but one of his 11 years in elected office.

  • For city, Rawlings-Blake a fine reflection of her father

    January 8, 2010

    In Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, Baltimoreans get a young, bright and serious new mayor who could bring some urgently needed stability to city government even as she faces one of the toughest fiscal challenges in municipal history. She's the No-Drama Queen, and that should suit everyone around here just fine. Faced with a projected budget shortfall of $127 million or more in the coming fiscal year, the last thing Baltimoreans need from City Hall is more drama.

  • An apology from Dixon? Forget about it and be glad it's over

    January 7, 2010

    And there you are, my fellow citizens - resignation by the mayor of Baltimore, and without a formal apology. But you can't always get what you want. Sheila Dixon was not about to say she was sorry for anything. If you were thinking that might happen, you need to see a doctor; your expectations are too high and you probably need to go on a reduced-Pollyanna diet.

  • Shot takes away what so much else couldn't

    December 27, 2009

    In one of the first phone calls he made from Afghanistan, Army Pvt. Clifford Jamar Williams took a moment to savor how much he had accomplished - much more than many of his peers back home in Baltimore could claim.

  • Questionable claims leave a-rabbers idle

    December 22, 2009

    This is the time of year when Donald Savoy Jr., one of Baltimore's last a-rabs, might have had two or three of his horse-drawn wagons parked on inner-city corners, loaded with tangerines and oranges and late-season greens. But Mr. Savoy and other men who sold produce from his wagons are idle in this Christmas week 2009. A heavy-handed move by the city last month – after breaking promises to help the a-rabs maintain their livelihoods -- led to the confiscation of Mr. Savoy's seven horses and eight belonging to his nephew and niece, James and Shawnta Chase.

  • What's appropriate sentence for Dixon?

    December 17, 2009

    The other day, while waiting for the bread dough to rise in my kitchen, I filled out a Maryland Sentencing Guidelines Worksheet for the mayor of Baltimore, and this is what it looks like: probation to six months, with the possibility of the judge hitting Sheila Dixon harder or softer - and I'll tell you why it could go either way in a moment.

  • Gifts for needy kids: Local group quietly shows how it should be done

    December 15, 2009

    The annual solicitation letter from Santa Claus Anonymous arrived in the mail the other day, with its trademark depiction of a classic Santa with his hat pulled over his eyes. The iconic drawing, of course, suggests a fundamental tenet of the 75-year-old organization – poor children who receive holiday gifts never need know they came from charity. Nor do donors need know the names of the children who benefit from their contributions; they merely trust that Santa Claus Anonymous delivers as promised. Giving and trusting in the city of Baltimore – imagine that.

  • Bloodsworth, prosecutor move on to new things

    December 7, 2009

    Kirk Bloodsworth, the first American death row inmate to be exonerated by DNA evidence, has lived to see something he never could have imagined -- an award named after him, and its first recipient a Democratic senator from Vermont.

  • Baltimore deserves better, needs better

    December 6, 2009

    So, here in the grand city of Baltimore, Mayor Sheila Dixon, who embezzled gift cards intended for poor children, gets to stay in office for who-knows-how-long - as if nothing has happened - while a city cop who took part in that goofy mock raid/marriage proposal at the behest of a politician gets charged with misconduct and could lose his job.

  • Dixon verdict: The cynics were wrong

    December 2, 2009

    All the cynics were wrong this time: A jury of her peers - nine women and three men, the majority of them black - found the city's first African-American female mayor guilty of a crime. We didn't have the jury nullification many had predicted - that is, acquittal in the face of strong, conclusive evidence, something that many lawyers, cops and judges have seen for years in the old courthouses on Calvert Street.

  • No one is above the law

    December 1, 2009

    The jury of her peers took seven days to find the mayor of Baltimore guilty of a charge that prosecutors proved in a few hours of impeccable testimony during her trial -- that she talked a major commercial real estate developer into buying gift cards for needy children, then used them for herself. That part of the state case seemed the most solid, almost like an old-fashioned shakedown by a politician of a mover-and-shaker, except the payoff was gift cards and not cash. Had the jury found Mayor Dixon not guilty of that charge, I would have been shocked.

  • Dixon trial just one of city's problems, but an important one

    November 23, 2009

    Of course, there are bigger issues, and bigger offenses against society, than the alleged theft of gift cards by the mayor of Baltimore. Monday morning, you could walk across North Calvert Street, from Courthouse East to the Mitchell Courthouse, and find an auctioneer in a suit on the broad sidewalk there and, promptly at the top of the hour, he started a sale of houses upon which a bank has foreclosed in the lingering aftermath of the subprime mess and the massive financial meltdown that pushed us into recession.

  • As Dixon trial nears end, a demand for 'equal justice'

    November 19, 2009

    I am sticking with my instinct: Lindbergh Carpenter Jr. could turn out to be the most effective witness for the prosecution in State v. Dixon. It wasn't so much the testimony he presented, because certainly that of the Baltimore developer Patrick Turner was the most damaging. But Lindbergh Carpenter gave the state an opportunity to remind the attentive jury in Circuit Court East of a principle engraved in the Supreme Court building in Washington and resonant in the memory of every American who paid attention in civics class: Equal Justice Under The Law.

  • Mayor's defense hopes silence is golden

    November 19, 2009

    When he instructs the jurors in the Dixon theft case, Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney will tell them not to infer anything from the defendant's silence during trial - and they certainly should not interpret it as a sign of guilt. The judge will do this, of course, because, by the time her underwhelming defense came to a rest Wednesday morning, Mayor Sheila Dixon had not uttered a single word.

  • The defense rests, and Dixon is silent

    November 18, 2009

    When he instructs the jurors in the Dixon case, Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney will likely tell them not to construe or infer anything from the defendant's silence. Mayor Sheila Dixon did not testify in her own defense against charges that she's a thief. This might have been the plan all along; having a defendant testify in any criminal case always comes with risks, and in this case they were probably big risks. But, still, the mayor of Baltimore doesn't speak? They say she took gift cards intended for needy children in her city, and she doesn't have an argument?

  • The Dixon case turns into an episode of CSI-Target

    November 17, 2009

    The last time I visited the Baltimore courtroom where Mayor Sheila Dixon is on trial, it was for a homicide case, and a medical examiner was among the many witnesses. This time, the alleged crime is theft and, instead of a medical examiner, the state calls to the witness chair the "asset protection manager" for a major retail chain.

  • Is taking some gift cards a big deal? Ask Lindbergh Carpenter — he lost his job for it

    November 17, 2009

    In the buildup to the trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon on theft charges, we did not hear much about Lindbergh Carpenter Jr. He was not billed as the leading man or even a star witness. He is not, as far as anyone knows, a former boyfriend of the mayor. He's not a current boyfriend, either. He's not a real estate developer. He's neither mover nor shaker.

  • Defense message: Dixon cares

    November 13, 2009

    The lawyers defending Mayor Sheila Dixon in her trial on theft charges will attempt to convince the jury -- the one in the courtroom and the much bigger one out here in the rain -- that that the only pattern of behavior in the case was a pattern of caring for the poor, of generosity and charity. You wait and see. It's coming up.

  • Mayor Schaefer kept it clean during dirty times

    November 10, 2009

    The irony is 7-foot-2 and made of bronze: A statue of William Donald Schaefer goes up along the Inner Harbor promenade just a week or so before the current mayor of Baltimore goes on trial, accused of stealing gift cards intended for the needy. What a town!

  • Why do they keep killing each other? Baltimore's most enduring question

    October 13, 2009

    I saw what looked like a drug transaction on a fairly busy corner of downtown Baltimore the other day. Six 20-something guys -- one white, the others black -- pulled together for a few minutes on Franklin Street and, while two of them took lookout positions, the others exchanged some items that appeared to be cash and small envelopes.

  • Au revoir to more than a father-in-law

    October 11, 2009

    Over the years, I've asked a lot of men about their fathers-in-law: whether they get along with them, whether they play a significant role in their lives. These conversations took place over a beer, or on a fishing trip, maybe at an Orioles game. I usually had to bring the subject up; in most cases, the guys I've known wouldn't do it themselves, or there just wasn't much to say. They had married the man's daughter, and that was about it.

  • How can state leaders still cling to death penalty?

    February 22, 2009

    The death penalty in the hands of politicians: Few things seem as twisted and as troubling as the matter of state-sponsored executions authorized by men and women with large nameplates pinned to their lapels. While in the ideal they might be devoted to public service and to representative democracy, what most of them seek, first and foremost, is name recognition and re-election. And in a nation as violent as ours, re-election has required being tough on crime, and being tough on crime has required support of capital punishment.

  • A new low for corporate greed

    February 1, 2009

    Super Bowl Sunday fun: Try saying these words out loud, in the incredulous voice of former NFL coach Jim Mora in that Coors beer commercial:

  • Handmade signs signal persistent hope

    November 5, 2008

    Thirty-two years of elections in Maryland and I've never seen so many handmade signs. Someone told me weeks ago that you couldn't get your hands on an official, campaign-issued Obama sign anywhere; they ran out of them in Baltimore, which might explain all the hand-painted signs I saw yesterday. They were on the eastside and the westside. I saw one on North Avenue, one on Druid Hill Avenue, one on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

  • Slots aren't the answer to what ails the tracks

    October 28, 2008

    Here's what the people who run Laurel Park are willing to do to get you and me, betting customers, through the gates between now and the end of the year: half-price beers every time a randomly selected jockey wins a race on a Friday; a "special surprise" if one of us grabs the lucky rubber ducky out of the Laurel Lucky Duck Pond between 11 a.m. and noon Nov. 8; free apple or pumpkin pie to the first 5,500 fans on Thanksgiving Day; "Live Pasta Station" every Thursday in the Terrace Dining Room; free ice scraper to the first 4,000 fans Dec. 13.

  • Here's one way to call the slots tossup

    October 7, 2008

    The last poll I saw on slots showed about 54 percent of Marylanders still supporting a state constitutional amendment allowing the gambling machines. That support was not as large as it appeared to be eight or nine months ago, which fits a theory I have: The closer we get to Election Day, the more people will think about this, and the more they think about it, the more of a tossup the outcome. It all comes down to which of the following attitudes prevail.

  • The little boy who no longer lives here

    August 26, 2008

    I won't be reading this column today; it was hard enough just to write it. This is the father-notes-little-boy-growing-up column that I fought off a dozen times. Nick's high school graduation was in June. I attended, of course, and found myself too melancholy - and too much in denial - to write about it in public. Saturday was take-the-first-child-to-college day. I resisted, with full self-consciousness, taking up this space and your time with my little bit of miserable joy - what my Portuguese ancestors called saudade, the mixture of feelings one experiences at the landmark events of life. But it didn't work, so you'll just have to bear with me.

  • City's awash in arena visions

    August 3, 2008

    I need to ask the people who've been writing letters to the editor expressing nostalgic affection for the 1st Mariner Arena - and horror at the prospect of that outdated box being torn down and replaced - the following question: When was the last time you were there? When the Beatles played, or was it Herman's Hermits?

  • Integrity an early McKay hallmark

    June 8, 2008

    Back at the dawn of Baltimore television, when the Sunpapers owned the first station here, a 25-year-old Evening Sun reporter named Jim McManus agreed to work in front of the camera for $65 a week. It was 1947. The station, WMAR-TV, had to fill hours upon hours with original programming. So its crews did remote telecasts, running from the races at Pimlico to supermarket openings to professional wrestling matches at the old Baltimore Coliseum.

  • In face of violence, looking within

    February 7, 2008

    Parents and teenagers are walking around this week awed by the violence that destroyed the Browning family in Cockeysville - one of those events that are so shocking we all look at each other and wait for someone to make some sense of it. But there is no sense to it, and the explanation might never come.

  • Cultivating their future

    May 11, 2006

    They renamed the old, scary Maryland Penitentiary a few years ago and changed its purpose. It's now called the Metropolitan Transition Center, a place where inmates go when they are in the last couple of years of prison time. Given its purpose and potential, it's probably one of the most important institutions in Baltimore - a crossroads where men who once caused so much trouble in their home communities either beat the devil or re-up.

  • Trying to embrace St. Francis' message

    April 30, 2006

    Even though ex-offender threw away a second chance, don't throw in the towel on all

  • Get out by phone call or get out by bullet

    April 24, 2006

    Icompare the names in reports of killings in Baltimore with the names of men who called The Sun during the last 10 months to ask for help in finding jobs that might get them out of dealing drugs or other potentially deadly crimes. So far, I know only of one man who came in from the street for help, returned to his old lifestyle and ended up dead because of it.

  • The lesson for Easter: Life can be renewed

    April 16, 2006

    There are young men out there - teenage boys from Baltimore to Columbia, from Aberdeen to Annapolis - who will be making decisions this spring. Some will have to decide where to go to college in the fall, or which lacrosse team to play with this summer, or which girl to ask to a prom. Some will have to decide whether to continue to be a stickup boy or a young thug who sells heroin.

  • City officer strives to help break the cycle

    April 10, 2006

    Alittle more attention must be paid: Keith Harrison, The Sun's Police Officer of the Year for excellence in community service, has been deeply engaged in the effort to get drug dealers and drug addicts out of that miserable game. We kind of missed the story the other day when we reported on Harrison's selection from among dozens of nominees across Maryland. He's done more than "set up an office where citizens can talk privately to officers about their lives." Like street-corner missionaries, Harrison and his colleagues from the Baltimore Police Department's Get Out of the Game unit have been encouraging hard-core drug offenders to change their lives. Their work isn't about arrests; it's about breaking the dreariest of cycles in this drug-infested city.

  • Dealing, gangs, jail, release -- now what?

    March 26, 2006

    I can't use Chico's full name because he thinks he'll be killed for talking to a newspaper columnist. It's a small big town, Baltimore. Everybody knows everybody, or everybody knows somebody who knows somebody, and particularly in the miserable drug life - guys selling dope, or guys sticking up guys selling dope - it's all this kill-or-be-killed stuff among homie familiaritas in sales territories that have become even more compact under O'Malley-era police pressure.

  • After lure of the street, a return to honest life

    March 20, 2006

    On the morning of Sept. 5, 2000, Baltimore police conducted what drug dealers call "a house raid" on 43rd Street in a North Baltimore neighborhood that had been beleaguered by gang activity for several months. Police arrested four people and listed these confiscated items for a Sun reporter: 160 vials of cocaine; 19 ounces of pure heroin; 6 ounces of pure cocaine; $8,000 in cash; and a .22-caliber Intertec machine pistol with a silencer. Police placed the value of the heroin at $285,000, the cocaine at $20,000.

  • Jim's story highlights enigmatic lure of drugs

    March 5, 2006

    Sometimes I'll sit there - in a courtroom maybe, or at a desk with a phone to my ear - or I'll stand on a Baltimore sidewalk and do what they pay me to do, which is listen to people give their arguments, tell their stories and explain themselves, and it'll hit me: I couldn't be a psychiatrist.

  • Shining a light for a man in dark despair

    March 3, 2006

    This is for Jim, who called here the other day. I won't use the last name you left on The Sun's voice-mail system because I haven't been able to speak with you. It doesn't matter. You know who you are. There's only one person who called 410-332-6166 this week to say he was going to take his own life.

  • Out of the 'wickedness' and into the kitchen

    February 26, 2006

    Iam regularly pleased by the number of Sun readers who ask about Harry Calloway Jr. I get it all the time. People ask how he's doing, what he's doing, whether he's staying out of trouble - and this continues several months after Calloway first emerged as a kind of poster child for second chances among drug dealers, drug addicts and all the miserable others who drained the life out of long stretches of Baltimore over long periods of time.

  • Obstacles on the road to a man's redemption

    February 12, 2006

    Take LaFawn Weaver, for instance. Here's a young man who admits to making bad choices and getting arrested a couple of times -- back when he was a teenager, primarily -- and blowing a good job because he liked to smoke reefer. OK. So it's time to move on. He says he's made a personal declaration to try again and do it right. But so far, Weaver hasn't been able to find the legitimate job that gets him off the street for good and into America's taxpaying, mainstream work force.

  • Feds are in the game, and they're serious

    February 5, 2006

    Guys with guns in the city of Baltimore: I got a Super Bowl Sunday gift for you. Some people pay $100 an hour to get this good stuff. You're getting it for free -- a little advice that could change your life. Here goes:

  • Ex-offenders need help finding way back to life

    January 22, 2006

    Take a guy like Eric Brooks, for instance. He's 30 years old and he's been in trouble for - here's a shocker - dealing drugs in Baltimore. Last year, Brooks received a taxpayer-financed trip to a Maryland prison for seven months. He went to the Metropolitan Transition Center, which is the old Maryland Penitentiary, that Frankenstein castle commuters see from the Jones Falls Expressway. Based on what state officials have told me, it cost us about $14,000 to keep Eric Brooks there.

  • Lend a hand or an ear to start year on right foot

    January 1, 2006

    Here's a suggestion for 2006: Be a mentor, be a mensch. Make a difference in the life of one man or one woman trying to stay off the drug corners and out of prison -- just by showing some interest. You could sign up for this service at an event Jan. 16 (see below), or you could phone in your support. Milton Bates did, and things have worked out pretty well so far.

  • Homicide clock ticks louder as year ends

    December 30, 2005

    Aclock ticks in Baltimore, and I don't mean the one in Oriole Park. It's the homicide clock. It's not something you can look up and see, but something you feel and hear - part of Baltimore's biorhythm - and every year at this time, the ticks get louder, the pulse grows stronger, and anyone who still cares about this stupid waste of life gets a headache.

  • Cause for ex-offenders crosses party lines

    December 22, 2005

    Mary Ann Saar, Maryland's public safety secretary, said it again last week at a breakfast honoring both ex-offenders who find their way into the mainstream working world and the companies that have the guts to hire them: "This is not a liberal issue. This is not a conservative issue. This is not a Republican issue. It is not a Democratic issue. This is a common-sense issue that will serve all of us."

  • Our city's firms must reach out to 51st state

    December 18, 2005

    America's 51st state - the state of Incarceration - has a citizenship of about 2.1 million now, making it just about as populated as Nevada or Utah. Incarceration USA had just 500,000 residents in 1980; the war on drugs, more than any other factor, contributed to its striking growth - and continues to fuel its remarkable retention rate. In 2000, nearly 605,000 inmates were released back into the other 50 states. In 2003, that number reached 656,320, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Despite this, Incarceration still boasts more people than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

  • Despite help, some still slip through the cracks

    December 11, 2005

    Just so you know, before I take you into the thorny stuff: I've heard from dozens of people - city and suburban families of longtime drug addicts - who say things are better now. Their sons, husbands, brothers, daughters, wives, girlfriends, sisters are clean, staying out of trouble and away from their old junkie friends, working and taking care of their children. There are a lot of stories like that.

  • Want to save Baltimore? Start with one person

    December 5, 2005

    One man, one woman at a time - let's try it that way. Let's say you own a small business, or let's say you're in middle management of a medium-to-large-to-extra-large company. Maybe you're even the CEO, or the COO or the CFO. Maybe you have an MBA, belong to the GBC, work in HRD, drive a BMW, or something GMC.

  • Access to drugs in jail was a death sentence

    December 4, 2005

    There's no question that Michael Rabuck should have been institutionalized. People and their property in the city and Baltimore County were safer with him off the street. But this drug-addicted man ended up in a maximum-security prison, the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup, where other inmates were eager to give him heroin - and willing to kill him if he did not get his family to pay for it.

  • Gratitude for second chances

    November 24, 2005

    Thanks to those who try to make life better for all of us by making life better for themselves. There are still too many homicides in Baltimore - though, at 242, not as many as the 259 last year at this time - and too many men and women addicted to heroin and cocaine. But there are people among us trying to get to a better place in their lives, away from the addictions that create the drug market that begets so much of the violence, and out of unemployment, crime and prison. We should praise and thank them for their efforts, against tough odds, because therein lies the progress of a city, a state and a nation - one man, one woman at a time.

  • Knocked down, but ready to try again

    November 17, 2005

    And so it begins again for Harry Calloway. Once more, he restarts his life. On Monday, Calloway started classes at Sojourner-Douglass College for the second time this year, and on Nov. 30 he'll be back at the Moveable Feast culinary class.

  • Savor the warmth of youth, family, summer

    October 13, 2005

    I need to get this out. My cousins, Vinnie and Eddie Voci, will close on the sale of Uncle Gene's cottage on Cape Cod tomorrow, and I'm pretty bummed out about the whole thing -- accepting it, but still bummed -- and I hope you won't mind the use of this space for a kind of elegy. I admit to being a baby boomer tossed into the mosh pit of middle age. Some guys drown in the melancholy. I get to write my way out of it, at least for a day or so.

  • Hope and despair for those who wait

    September 26, 2005

    I call them "ladies in waiting," the mothers and grandmothers, sisters, wives and fiancees who, with hope and prayer and superhuman patience, keep the faith that one day their men will straighten up, emerge from the drug life or prison and come safe home. I hear from them frequently.

  • Ex-dealer is no longer the man he used to be

    September 25, 2005

    A young, beautiful, dark-skinned woman, her hair in cornrows and her arms wrapped around her pregnancy, sits at the end of a park bench, silent and depressed, and for good reason: She's married to a 25-year-old drug dealer who suffered brain damage in a beating last spring, and he faces prison this fall. You can understand why she might want to avoid the conversation at the other end of the bench - the one between the father of her unborn child and the newspaper guy. The woman turns her back slightly and stares at the dry grass at her feet.

  • Calling all those who said they needed help

    September 22, 2005

    You know who you are. Kenneth, Leon, William, Joseph and Walter. You know why I'm calling your names out in print today. And Arthur, Tina, Gordon, Andre, Tory and Shawn - where are you?

  • After falling so far, coming back can be a long, hard climb

    September 18, 2005

    HERE'S WHAT happens in the big city: A 42-year-old man, who wasted half his life in jails and prisons because of heroin, announces that he's clean and wants out. No longer will he do dope or deal dope. He wants to leave the ranks of the thousands of men and women who for years helped suck the life out of vast stretches of Baltimore. "I just want to get back to working, and being productive," the man says. He sounds earnest.

  • High cost of drug sentences in Maryland

    September 15, 2005

    I ASKED Donta Ellerbe, a 28-year-old Baltimorean who spent too much of his young life selling heroin in his hometown, what he would like to do for a living, now that he's sworn off the hustle, and this is what he said: "I'm a good people person. I think I would be good at customer service."

  • Ehrlich can put money behind good intentions, expand drug treatment

    September 11, 2005

    BALTIMORE DRUG dealers and former dealers, drug addicts and recovering addicts didn't vote for Bob Ehrlich in 2002. Check me if I'm wrong, brothers and sisters, but many of you either have felony convictions, which means you weren't allowed to vote, or you were incarcerated at the time of the gubernatorial election. Others were just "distracted," committing crimes to feed your addictions, and therefore not engaged in that grand thing we call democracy. And even if you were, you were not inclined to vote for a Republican.

  • An excavation company offers a second chance, and six ex-dealers take an important first step

    September 1, 2005

    LIVING DRUG-FREE, feeling part of the working world and the progress of your city, making $10 an hour for a new company owned by people who believe in second chances, knowing your relatives are glad to see you and that your neighbors might even respect you - all that beats hustling heroin for $50 a day. Any way you measure it, the lives of Thomas Willis, Ricky Smith, Sean Wright, Craig Wright, William Taylor and Melvin Richardson are better at the start of September than they were at the start of August - and so, by a small increment, is the quality of life in Baltimore.

  • An FAQ for readers of previous columns

    August 28, 2005

    AT A MEETING of recovering drug addicts in West Baltimore the other night, there were more answers than questions, which is a good thing in group therapy - it means there's honesty in the room. Everyone seemed to feel free to recount their struggles and express their feelings, and no man put his brother on the spot with questions - until they got to me.

  • Taking family's pain public takes courage, and a lot of love

    August 25, 2005

    DEAR NICOLE Sesker: Your stepdaddy must love you a lot. He's the police commissioner of Baltimore, and yesterday Baltimore and the world learned what you, the commissioner and some of his officers have known for a long time --- that you're a heroin addict.

  • A troubled soul, another tragic ending in the 'other Baltimore'

    August 21, 2005

    RALPH E. "Casey" Kloetzli died in an alley behind an abandoned house on a short side street I had neither heard of nor visited in my 27 years in Baltimore. Until two weeks ago, he had lived a tormented life in the "other Baltimore," the subculture of addiction and distress that so many of us know only from a distance.

  • Weary dope dealer aims to go straight into a new line of work

    August 18, 2005

    LISTENING to a man named Troy talk about his life as a drug dealer -- with 20 clients who buy marijuana from him on a regular basis, Troy didn't want his full name printed because of the legal ramifications -- I think to myself: This guy could have been somebody.

  • O'Mayor could have a little more passion about city hotel plan

    August 15, 2005

    BEFORE THE Baltimore City Council votes on Mayor Martin O'Malley's proposal for the public financing of a $305 million convention center hotel, it would be nice to hear from Mayor Martin O'Malley. Exsqueeze me? Have you noticed that O'Mayor has been relatively low-key on this high-profile project?

  • Updates give hope for life off the street

    August 14, 2005

    TWO MONTHS and two days have passed since the first profiles of men and women caught up in Baltimore's drug life -- and eager to get out of it -- appeared in this space. The contact count is up around 150 now, and today's column is an update on where the many hours of conversations with present and former dealers and addicts (or their mothers and grandmothers) have led.

  • Weary mothers, grandmothers also are victims of drug trade

    August 11, 2005

    DRUG DEALERS: Your mothers have been calling; your grandmothers too. I speak with them almost daily. The conversations are always pleasant, but the subject is always sad, and the subject is always you - the sons and grandsons who hustle drugs on the streets of Baltimore.

  • City hotel can provide a start for jobs plan

    August 7, 2005

    DEAR BALTIMORE City Council: Several of you are questioning the proposal to have the city finance the construction of a $305 million hotel to give the downtown convention business a boost. You're in rare form. We're not used to the City Council doing this sort of thing - challenging the mayor, demanding a better deal for taxpayers. I'm impressed.

  • Prison won't heal Baltimore's blight, but helping out its victims would

    July 31, 2005

    BALTIMORE'S drug cancer has eaten away at people, families and whole neighborhoods for more than three decades. It has affected the entire region in some way and, considering the thousands of citizens involved in this problem, seems intractable, a lost cause.

  • Taking a leap off the street, into a job hunt

    July 28, 2005

    DOZENS OF Baltimoreans have contacted The Sun during the past six weeks to express a desire to end their roles in one of the city's most serious problems - the drug trade that supplies thousands of city and suburban residents with heroin and cocaine, ruins families and neighborhoods, and fuels the violence that keeps Baltimore high on the homicide charts.

  • Drug dealers offered an exit to get out of game

    July 24, 2005

    LEONARD HAMM, the Baltimore police commissioner, could be standing on a street corner watching his officers make a drug arrest, or he might be attending a community event, walking into a barber shop, or just sitting on the front steps of his house. It could happen any time, and often does. Someone recognizes Hamm, walks up to him and says: "Commissioner, I got to get out of the game."

  • If you stay in the drug life, you are choosing your death

    July 21, 2005

    DEAR BALTIMORE drug dealers: It's like this. You either want to live a long, relatively happy life or die young and horribly (or, if you're lucky, maybe middle-aged and horribly). You either want to have a home, family and friends (maybe even DirecTV), or go back to prison.

  • Effort's goal is to make solid citizens of criminals

    July 17, 2005

    TOMI HIERS, who serves in the Ehrlich administration with a half-mile title - executive assistant to the deputy secretary for operations, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services - believes the Republican governor of Maryland means to do what no Democrat in recent memory was able to do: turn criminals into productive citizens, give a guy a second chance. The administration wants to stop wasting taxpayer money - $24,000 per year per inmate - on a revolving door. "We are trying to change the culture of corrections," Hiers says.

  • A longtime addict wants out; he needs helping hand

    July 7, 2005

    HERE'S DARRYL Logan. Here's a 45-year-old lifelong Baltimorean, a graduate of one of its venerable independent schools - and a longtime drug addict. He seems like a bright guy. He's certainly a congenial conversationalist. And he's one of our estimated 40,000 heroin users.

  • Here's a choice: Burn out or really start cooking

    July 3, 2005

    DEAR BALTIMORE drug dealers: Tired of your loser life? Tired of being used to spread the poison in your hometown? Tired of living with your mother because, despite what people think, you can't afford a place of your own? Tired of the prospect of going to jail again, or ending up with a bullet in your head?

  • Passing on hard-learned lessons on Father's Day

    June 19, 2005

    THIS IS Berson Tyner's first Father's Day as a free man in 10 years. For most of the past decade -- and for several of the years before that -- he was a prisoner in the Maryland correctional system. If he saw his three sons on Father's Day, it was probably in a guarded visiting room, in Hagerstown or Jessup.

  • Former drug abuser finds a chance to regain happiness lost to addiction

    June 16, 2005

    UPON HEARING her story, a consoling preacher might have been tempted to give Towanda Reaves that old, hopeful proverb about doors -- when one closes, another one opens. We found out yesterday that the door Reaves thought had been closed to her forever is still open a crack. It's hard to see from about five years away, but there's definitely a small opening.

  • Program envisions a chain of mentors pulling kids from street life

    June 13, 2005

    STEVEN "Take Back The City" Mitchell is certainly dedicated to the cause, and he's always trying to get other men - black, white, Asian, Republican or Democrat, city or suburban - to join him in taking on one of the most persistent and daunting challenges in our midst. He's all about saving Baltimore kids from drugs, thugs and violence.

  • Why they sell poison, and why many can't stop

    June 12, 2005

    FOUR MEN - one in his 40s and tired of going to jail, one who just barely escaped the bullets that killed his best friend, one under pressure from police and family to change careers, another who left the streets six years ago to work toward a middle-class life - all agree: Many who sell drugs in Baltimore will never stop, unless arrested or killed, but many more would prefer another way to make a living. If there were more decent jobs and more employers willing to give a felon a second chance, there might be fewer dealers competing for corners and this city might be a less deadly place.

  • Act of forgiveness sets example for the world

    April 3, 2005

    BY THE TIME he came to Camden Yards in Baltimore on that sun-splashed autumn Sunday in 1995, Pope John Paul II had for more than a decade been encased in glass when he traveled among crowds. The "popemobile" circled the baseball field and turned along the warning track, and for a few memorable seconds, as a reporter free to roam in the grass of left field, I had my audience with the Vicar of Christ. He looked right at me - I swear, right into my eyes - and gave the papal blessing from behind bulletproof glass.

  • Exploiting the tragedy of Terri Schiavo

    March 24, 2005

    MAYBE YOU know the feeling - that you're about to see or hear something that's really someone else's private business, and it makes you embarrassed and uncomfortable. You're a sucker for human drama in all forms, but you'd rather not be caught gawking.

  • A grieving mother brings this war home

    November 18, 2004

    I TOLD MARTINA Burger, who was very accommodating and who gave me more of her time than I ever expected, that I would not debate the war in Iraq with the grieving mother of a Marine who was killed there.

  • Once again, young guns shatter hope

    May 9, 2004

    SOMETIMES, SOME days, you wish you could just reach right in and rewire the brains of fools - like the fat one who apparently drove up to Randallstown High School Friday afternoon and decided to open fire on a crowd of kids after a charity basketball game. What do you suppose was the gunman's story this time? Had he been dissed by someone in the crowd? Did someone owe him money? Or was he just upset about the Krispy Kreme plant closing?

  • Ehrlich, O'Malley sparring over schools may be Round 1

    March 11, 2004

    WAS THAT a risky thanks-but-no-thanks Martin O'Mayor sent to Bobby Governor the other night, or the first shot in the 2006 gubernatorial campaign? Is this precious? Do we live in interesting times? Is this shaping up to be a battle of political frat boys, or what?

  • Given failed war on drugs, Lewis charges no surprise

    March 4, 2004

    ALITTLE news for the many Jamal Lewis fans -- of whom I am one -- who think the Baltimore Ravens' great running back is a victim of an overzealous federal prosecutor reaching too far to make a case out of the word "Yeah," uttered during a cellular telephone call four years ago: We're still at war.

  • Ehrlich realizes we all have a stake in the city's schools

    February 26, 2004

    MORE HIGH-FIVES to Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. of Arbutus for his leadership in Baltimore's school crisis. Last week, the governor pledged a $42 million loan to help the school system pay its bills, and this week, with the deficit numbers looking even worse, Ehrlich came closer to advocating a complete state takeover of the system, declaring himself its new guardian with these words: "I have 90,000 children in Baltimore City schools."

  • Ehrlich's gamble on the city shows glimmer of greatness

    February 19, 2004

    ROBERT L. Ehrlich Jr. of Arbutus is just the man to cure Maryland of its "pre-existing antagonism." No doctor can do it. O'Malley can't do it. Nor Sarbanes. Nor Mikulski. Nor Mfume. Not even Ripken. But the state's first Republican governor since Spiro T. Agnew could lead the way on regional big-think, and the sooner he realizes it the better. He has a choice - to be a statesman who unites modern Maryland across jurisdictional, economic, class and racial lines, or go down in history as "Bobby Slots."

  • City should have put brakes on Fast Eddie a long time ago

    December 11, 2003

    THOSE WHO find themselves lost in the sordid details of the indictment of Fast Eddie Norris, and terribly lacking in knowledge of fashion, should please note: Il Bisonte is a line of leather goods from Italy, and Faconnable is a clothing line with a store in Manhattan.

  • No one can tell grieving family of city Marine how to feel

    March 24, 2003

    THE BALTIMORE family of Staff Sgt. Kendall D. Waters-Bey, killed Thursday in a helicopter crash in southern Iraq, took some heat over the weekend - from talk radio, what else? - for suggesting that the 29-year-old Marine died in an unjust and pointless war, not in a noble cause to make the Middle East safer or to free an oppressed people.

  • Referendum on slots wouldn't be a gamble

    February 28, 2003

    ILIKE the idea of referendum. It's a bright, blunt instrument of democracy -- people voting not on men but on ideas and laws, specific issues of significant public importance. If from time to time we present large questions on the ballot that ultimately affect the quality of life in a place -- say, the state of Maryland -- what's the harm? In fact, a great good might be served; government might better reflect the wishes of the little people.

  • Take a break from shoveling and check your quiz score

    February 19, 2003

    IN CASE YOU missed it - and chances of that are pretty good - I promised to produce answers today to the Winter Day Quiz, presented in this space Monday as a public service to snowbound readers of The Sun.

  • 30 questions for all stuck at home on a winter's day

    February 17, 2003

    IWOULD LIKE to start off today's column by thanking all the intrepid men and women involved in the production and delivery of today's newspaper. If you can read this -- and I don't mean online through Baltimoresun.com -- hug your carrier. I would further like to thank the three guys who stopped in the middle of my street yesterday at noon to give my snow-stuck motor vehicle a push into a position out of the way of traffic and the city snowplow that will -- in my dreams -- make it down my street some day this month. Good snows make good neighbors.

  • Slots number becoming game of high-low

    January 27, 2003

    FIRST WE heard that the racing industry wanted 18,000 slot machines in Maryland. Then the number fell to 13,500, and by the end of last week Bobby Governor reportedly was pulling back even more to find some palatable number. Pete "Cut Me In" Rawlings, the city delegate and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was talking 10,000. By the time you read this, they might be agreeing to ask for 11 slots and a mahjong table at the Royal Farm store in Hampden.

  • In sniper shootings, prison, not death, is best outcome

    October 30, 2002

    PERHAPS ALL the federal and local prosecutors who want to take the sniper case should have a televised drawing on Saturday night - something on the order of Mega Millions or Powerball - to see who gets to kill the guys. Until yesterday, when the feds stepped in, there seemed to be a considerable argument brewing over which county in which state should get to do the rest of us the big favor of prosecuting the sniper suspects and giving them a long dirt nap. So, settle it with a drawing.

  • Fight to take back streets can't be forgotten

    October 25, 2002

    IDRIFT UP to Preston and Eden again, the firebombed, Formstone Dawson house, and I think it should be turned into a shrine -- a memorial to a martyred family who in the first years of the new century died in the civil crusade for a better Baltimore. We could put up a memorial to Angel Dawson, her husband and kids, and I would go for an engraving about the price of liberty being eternal vigilance, something otherwise reserved for the headstones of soldiers.

  • Normal people, living amid abnormal danger

    October 23, 2002

    CHARLES MOOSE, the police chief in Montgomery County, thinks it was unwise for the governor of Maryland to call the sniper a coward, apparently because such public name-calling is counterproductive in the delicate "dialogue" the police are trying to establish with this killer. "The governor's training is not in the law enforcement field," Moose said. "I am convinced the governor will never do that again."

  • Tragedy on E. Preston St. can't shake faith in future

    October 18, 2002

    BY YESTERDAY morning, word had spread through the neighborhood about the Bible, and a few people came by to see it where it lay - open and still readable, flat atop the pile of ashes and embers from the rowhouse fire that killed Angel Dawson and her five children.

  • A primer on 'real Democrats' in era of blurred party lines

    October 2, 2002

    LET ME TELL you something," Melvin A. "Mickey" Steinberg, the former lieutenant governor, said in Glen Burnie Monday, the day he and about 20 other former Democratic officeholders endorsed a Republican for governor. "Real Democrats care about the state of Maryland."

  • One last vision of a Unitas-to-Berry pass

    September 18, 2002

    RAYMOND BERRY was at the lectern, giving his fond eulogy for Johnny Unitas, when I looked up at the nearly 90-foot ceiling of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen and had the strange, fleeting and irreverent vision of a football spiraling perfectly through the somber atmosphere, under the contemporary-Gothic buttresses, all the way from the back of the great place and through the main nave to the sanctuary.

  • Unitas' reach extended past Md. borders

    September 16, 2002

    PLEASE PARDON this personal memory of Johnny Unitas, even though it does not stem from the few special times I was actually in his company here in Baltimore. While natives can attest to seeing him throw footballs at Memorial Stadium -- or buy shirts at Hamburger's -- my experience was limited to what I saw, until about 1969, on black-and-white television.

  • On sad anniversary, a lesson for the kids

    September 11, 2002

    IWOULD LIKE to say something to the kids today, so you grown-ups will have to excuse me. All memories of the year past have me thinking of the future, and the future is where children live. So this is for them.

  • Hyannis Port high society won't help Townsend's cause

    August 16, 2002

    KATHLEEN K. Townsend is a Kennedy and there's nothing she can do about that. But she could have skipped that $2,000-a-head Hyannis Port party last month - the $4,000-a-plate one two summers ago, with chocolate mousse boats and white-chocolate sails bearing KKT's initials, was bad enough - and maybe she could chill on the out-of-state fund raising and the cocktail parties at Uncle Teddy's house. If I were advising this woman - and who isn't these days? - I'd tell her to lay off the lobster-and-Chablis fetes because those events come with a pretty high gag factor among the Great Unwashed.

  • The anger of the faithful a dire wound for the church

    May 20, 2002

    IGO BY WHAT I hear from my 88-year-old mother, Rose, the most ardent Catholic I know. She's disgusted with the whole thing. I don't get any of the Roman Catholic warrior stuff from her on this one. Rose is more angry than sad, and so, based on this -- the most accurate measure available to me -- I believe the church is in bigger trouble than it realizes.

  • Death penalty support looks tough but does no good

    May 13, 2002

    SUPPORTING the death penalty -- saying so in public -- is a way for an otherwise liberal and progressive-thinking man or woman to flash tough-on-crime bona fides. Personally, they might think capital punishment to be barbaric; they might believe in their hearts that no society that puts criminals to death can consider itself civilized. But they flash support for the ultimate penalty anyway. This has been the trend among Democrats as they've played catch-up-to-Republicans since the Reagan Revolution.

  • Church is blind to damage caused by vow of celibacy

    April 5, 2002

    AND NOW, having read the sordid details from the police report, we regard the pathetic pastor of St. Clement I Catholic Church, caught in a lie of fear and desperation, his license to practice suspended, his whereabouts for a week known but to his attorney and, one assumes, God. All because he did that which his vows forbid him to do, and allegedly lied to a Baltimore County police officer to cover it up. Another one bites the dust, and while the development was decidedly regrettable, one assumes there were sighs of relief among Father Steven Girard's superiors that a little boy wasn't involved.

  • Newfound friendship between local, N.Y. firefighters cut short

    September 26, 2001

    BACK ON Jan. 28, Super Bowl Sunday, the phone rang at a Baltimore County fire station, and LeRoy Edmunds picked up. This is Vinny Princiotta, the caller said. New York City Fire Department, Engine 16/Ladder 7. "We wanna make a bet on the game."

  • Americans enter a test of will with new clarity

    September 17, 2001

    "INEVER was much for putting out a flag," I heard a woman say in the weekend sunshine, "until now." She went into the basement of her home and fetched two small ones - starchy cloth flags on sticks - and stuck them in the potted plants in front of her house.

  • A plea for peace to the one God of Muslims, Christians and Jews

    September 14, 2001

    JUST BEFORE sunset last night in the old basilica in Baltimore, with the nation still shattered by ungodly acts of terrorism, an imam sat next to a cardinal who sat next to a rabbi, and they prayed for peace and healing in the face of terror and hate. They did the difficult thing that people expect of them - they tried to use words to restore hope in a week that tested a believer's faith in a merciful God.

  • Events shake belief in a better future

    September 12, 2001

    We organize the tools in our garage and line up the shoes in our closets. We trim the hedge and water the lawn. We shop in malls. We jog. We walk the dog. We sip dark-roast coffee. We drive reliable cars with full tanks of gas. We go to work. We come home. We watch Monday Night Football. We read a novel. We sleep soundly. We have a pretty good life -- orderly, even routine, comfortable, plentiful. We keep going. We believe in the future.

  • Firefighters deserve high-fives and another fete

    July 23, 2001

    NOW THAT was a cool coincidence: "Firefighter Appreciation Day 2001" at Oriole Park fell in the midst of the diehard, underground inferno that put the city's Fire Department to an extraordinary test. Too bad many of the firefighters who deserved the tribute could not attend, though they were near Camden Yards. There will have to be another honor for those who worked so hard to end the danger posed by derailed tankers of hazmats stuck in a downtown tunnel fire that burned as hot as 1,500 degrees and turned railroad steel red.

  • Stream of consciousness

    June 17, 2001

    I can hear him now: "All that for that?" I can pretty much see him, too, in his khaki trousers and white T-shirt, over in the small clearing by the honeysuckle thicket on the little river I love. My father is watching me fish in the way I have chosen to fish in the years since his death: With a fly rod and tiny lures fashioned of feathers to look like the bugs that finicky trout eat. I can hear him now, as I stand knee-deep in the river and extend a small, delicate net for a trout that's all green, yellow and white with brown spots, about 10 inches of God's glory. I hold the trout in my hand for a moment so that my father might appreciate it. But he only laughs: "All that for that?" And when I ease the little fish back into the river, he laughs harder and disappears into the woods.

  • Destructive and creative sides of man in tug of war

    February 16, 2001

    ADIGITAL photograph of the one they call "Crazy Frank" appeared on my computer screen at home Wednesday afternoon as I clicked through The Sun's Web site -- swollen face, large ears, deep-space eyes, arms pulled behind him for the handcuffs. My son, who is 10, looked over my shoulder.

  • Bargain-basement justice not much of a deal for city

    February 14, 2001

    YESTERDAY, IN what used to be the basement of a department store, a prosecutor named Patricia Deros called 106 minor criminal cases - drug possession, trespassing, theft, perverted practices, rolling dice for money - in Early Disposition Court, the one the wise-guy mayor of Baltimore promoted last year, in stick-figure terms, as a remedy to the city's clogged judicial system.

  • As prodigy matures, his light still burns bright

    February 12, 2001

    LOCAL MEMBERS of the Piano Technicians Guild, who 13 years ago logged 700 hours rebuilding that old Stieff baby grand for the shockingly talented baby pianist Jermaine Gardner - he was only 4 at the time - will be pleased to know that both are thriving. The piano fills a third of the front room of the Gardner house, off The Alameda in Northeast Baltimore, and the other night Jermaine sat behind it to play Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 18, the allegro. He performed it wonderfully. I felt lucky to have been there.

  • City that needs hope has a way of killing it

    February 9, 2001

    PAY ATTENTION long enough - say, two weeks - and you notice that a lot of people around here tend to look at almost everything in terms of the health of the city of Baltimore. Martin O'Malley gets elected mayor, and that's good for the city. The Ravens win the Super Bowl, and that's great for the city. A gunman kills the owner of a popular and thriving Mount Vernon cafe, and that's not only an unspeakable tragedy for a family and the man's friends, it's bad for Baltimore.

  • Uncommon valor yields all-too-common response

    February 7, 2001

    THURSDAY afternoon, Rob Bruns, who operates a brake shop in Waverly, had a flash about a doughnut -- the kind with vanilla icing he likes so much. He can usually find one, even by late afternoon, in one of the glass cases at the 7-Eleven two blocks away. It was 4:30. Bruns decided to indulge his craving.

  • Archive: Old broom factory sweeps into present

    April 26, 1999

    NINETY-TWO years ago, August Rosenberger built a four-story brick factory at the corner of Baylis and Boston in the Canton section of Southeast Baltimore. His workers made Little Lady and Little Nugget brooms, and Rosenberger shipped them all over the country under the Atlantic-Southwestern Broom Co. banner. The broom boom at Baylis and Boston ended in 1989.

  • Wounded family gets healing hand

    October 9, 1995

    On a day when he extolled the power of faith and family, Pope John Paul II held the hands of a man and woman who had their faith and family shattered.

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