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Nobody asked me, but, with her vow to veto the Baltimore City Council's ban on plastic bags, the mayor has taken a stand on the wrong side of history. Email from readers and comments in social media suggest that people around here overwhelmingly approve of the ban as a way to reduce trash.

The mayor's vow of a veto might have establishment backing, but it's going to tick off a lot of civic-minded Baltimoreans.

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The mayor appears to be standing up for small retailers in an effort to counter all the flak she took, starting in 2010, for her tax on bottled beverages. (After the original 2-cent bottle tax went up to 5 cents in 2012, the trade publication Food World called Stephanie Rawlings-Blake "the nation's most anti-business mayor.")

The mayor's complaints that the ban did not get a proper public hearing thinly veil her displeasure with a surprisingly independent City Council taking bold action and getting all the credit. (Mayors hate when that happens.)

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So she can veto the council's ban on plastic bags, but she's going to lose the public relations battle because — call me Portlandish — this ban is going to happen some day. In fact, I predict a statewide prohibition on single-use plastic shopping bags before the decade's done.

Not taxing their backbones

Nobody asked me, but the City Council needs to get some spine. In fact, I don't know how some council members get to their feet. They're like those helpless, flattened chickens in the "boneless chicken ranch" of Gary Larson's "Far Side" cartoons. Councilman Bob Curran, a kindly back-slapper, voted for the ban on plastic bags, then announced that he would not vote to override the mayor's veto of it. What a tower of Jell-O.

Apparently others will do the same. Jack Young, the City Council president, doubts he can muster the 12 votes needed to override vetoes of the bag ban and the council's mandate that city police wear body cameras. That's stunning when you consider that the vote for the bag ban was 11-1 and for the body cameras 13-1. It appears that certain council members cast these votes with no real commitment, and the mayor knows it. That's a sad commentary on representative government in the Queen City of the Patapsco Drainage Basin.

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It savors of success

Nobody asked me, but there's a pretty good counter-argument to the claim that the Rawlings-Blake bottle tax hurt business in Baltimore, and you can find it at the front line of the battle — in the Highlandtown shopping center where Santoni's Supermarket used to be.

Santoni's owner was the vigorous leader of opposition to the bottle tax. He warned that taxing soda would kill his business. Santoni's announced its closure in October 2013, citing declining sales due to the bottle tax. Its departure left a hole in southeastern Baltimore's grocery scene.

But four months later, another supermarket, Gmart, signed a long-term lease and moved into the space on East Lombard Street. The store is part of a small chain called Gmart International Foods.

I visited the Highlandtown Gmart recently and found it to be like any general supermarket, but with definite Hispanic and Asian accents. It had appealing produce, fresh fish — including some still swimming in tanks — and an attractive array of meats, including fresh chorizo in both Mexican and Salvadoran styles. I would definitely return for more chorizo, which was delicious, and the seafood, including bacalao (dried, salted codfish). The mango prices were a bit disappointing — they were cheaper at Harris Teeter in Canton — but I made a good buy of red peppers and plantains.

There were plenty of customers when I was there on a Saturday morning. Given the growing Hispanic population on Baltimore's southeast side, Gmart appears to have found a good location — and hopefully better than the one the company picked in Frederick County. The Gmart there closed two weeks ago, according to the Frederick News-Post.

It will be interesting to watch Gmart in Highlandtown as a sort of test: Will catering to the new customer base bring enough business to offset any harm from the bottle tax? Sell enough chorizo and maybe you don't have to worry about how many bottles of the Dew go out the door.

The curmudgeon lives!

Nobody asked me, but it's pretty cool that, more than 90 years after he coined it in Baltimore, H.L. Mencken's great word, booboisie (a combination of "boob and "bourgeoisie": "a segment of the general public composed of uneducated, uncultured persons") pops up automatically in text messages on iPhones. That gives me an amusing picture of Mencken, cigar in mouth and smartphone at fingertips, using the word in tweets.

By the way, here's a comment about the writings of the young Sage of Baltimore that appeared in The New Republic on Nov. 24, 1917: "Mr. Mencken gives the impression of an able mind so harried and irritated by the philistinism of American life that it has not been able to attain its full power."

Dan Rodricks' column appears each Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. He is the host of "Midday" on WYPR-FM.

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