To see more than 400 people show up in Catonville over the weekend to audition for "Survivor" -- some waiting as long as 14 hours -- had me thinking about just what it would take to compete on the reality TV show. Moxie? Cleverness? Fortitude? Personality? A good body? All of the above? My vote would have gone to the 62-year-old retired Marine who beat colon cancer. That's doing real battle and he has the scars to prove it.
But when it comes to surviving, how about The Senator Theater? It's been on life support and its creditors were ready to pull the plug. But Mayor Sheila Dixon has decided to step in and save the theater from a pending auction and uncertain future. She is seeking Board of Estimates approval to pay off its $900,000 first mortgage, which is in default. That would put the city in the best position to influence what happens next with the grand old movie house, a cultural institution in Baltimore and the reason Mayor Dixon took action. As part of the plan, the city would then foreclose on the $600,000 note it holds on theater. Once the city gained control of the Senator, it would seek proposals for an owner or operator with community input. The theater is closed now and needs about half a million dollars in repairs.
The city's proposal is part of an agreement reached with Senator owner Tom Kiefaber that would allow him to keep his home in Sparks -- it had been put up as collateral for one of the theater's loans. Another property owned by Mr. Kiefaber would be sold to reduce the city's costs of paying off the mortgage to First Mariner Bank, according to a statement from the mayor's spokesman.
This is government working for the citizens of Baltimore and in the interests of the city. The Senator has been a cultural and community anchor in North Baltimore, and with new management and a clear balance sheet, the historic landmark should be able to continue providing the Baltimore region with a singular movie-going experience.