Nobody asked me but ... on Dance, Waters, homeless camp

Nobody asked me, but ... it's hard to believe that Dallas Dance, the Baltimore County school superintendent, could take a consulting job with a company that does business with the school system he runs and not see that as a problem. He says he "didn't recognize" a conflict of interest at the time. Here's what I'd write on his report card: "Dallas needs to work on making better choices. I suggest a summer camp for the ethically challenged."

Instead of just closing down another encampment of homeless people, maybe Baltimore officials can find a place for them and their tents, a small campground with running water, for the toughest cases — people who, for various reasons, do not fit into any of the city's current programs to reduce homelessness. Find a patch of land. (Like, we don't have any vacant lots in this town?) Run a water line to it. Fund a volunteer organization to supervise the place from March to December. Keep it small, keep it under limited control.

I think it's ridiculous that Comcast can't deliver programming from the Baltimore-area commercial television stations (including MASN) to Western Maryland, leaving the Marylanders who live in Garrett County stuck with only Pittsburgh stations (and Pirates and Steelers games). Apparently, there are numerous other areas of the country like this, "orphan counties" with no in-state commercial television programming. Comcast could fix this if it tried — or was forced to. Congress should insist on it before the Comcast-Time Warner merger.

Nobody asked me, but ... a Marylander who complains that Maryland's economy depends too much on federal spending and our proximity to the hub of the federal government is like an Iowan complaining that too much of that state's economy depends on farming and corn. It is what it is; we are what we are.

Virginia is the latest state to refuse millions in federal funds for health care for its poor. Republican leaders in the state legislature succeeded Thursday in preventing the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Afraid to support anything associated with Obamacare, especially after Rep. Eric Cantor's primary defeat, they're playing politics with people's lives. If you were to perform back operations on these guys, you wouldn't find spines; you'd find mean streaks.

Nobody asked me but ... "Carsick," John Waters' book on hitchhiking from Baltimore to San Francisco, would be even better with a companion documentary film. John needs to get back on the road, miked up, and with a GoPro on his head.

And somebody, please, give J.W. the $5 million he needs to make his Christmas movie, "Fruitcake." The dear boy isn't getting any younger, and neither are we.

Also, someone needs to write and direct a film about split loyalties in Baltimore during the Civil War.

Or the oyster wars on the bay — plenty of good material there, too, and it would give Johnny Depp another chance to play a pirate.

Nobody asked me, but ... I know a fig tree when I see one, and I've seen a bunch of them in Baltimore over the years — gorgeous ones in Greektown and Little Italy, in particular. During a recent stroll-and-gawk, I was sorry to see that some fig trees in Little Italy had died over the long, harsh winter. That includes a large beauty in a backyard on Trinity Street. Una furtiva lagrima.

The national anthem before last Monday night's Orioles' win over the Red Sox might have been one of the best ever — a great arrangement performed beautifully by the touring company of "Sister Act" from the Hippodrome. Their final show in Baltimore is Sunday evening.

By the way, did you know that Francis Scott Key's son was gunned down in the District of Columbia? It's true. His name was Philip Barton Key, son of the Baltimore lawyer whose poem became the lyrics of the national anthem. Phil Key was U.S. attorney in Washington before the Civil War, and he was supposedly the handsomest guy in the district. In 1859, his dalliance with the wife of a New York congressman got him shot. His killer, Dan Sickles, was acquitted after pleading temporary insanity; he went on to some infamy as a Union officer in the Civil War. But I digress.

Nobody asked me but ... An open primary in Maryland, like the one in Virginia, with cross-over voting, would be a lot more interesting than our current system.

I also think more Maryland college professors should consider running for Congress. That's what's happening in Virginia now, in the race to replace Cantor. Maryland had at least two college professors who served in Congress — Republican Roscoe Bartlett and Democrat Clarence "Doc" Long. Surely there are others who would like to get into the game.

And, nobody asked me but ... Orioles right-fielder Nick Markakis — strong, silent, looks like DeNiro in "The Deer Hunter" — deserves to be in the All-Star game this season. So don't forget to vote for Nick ... and for the candidates of your choice in the Maryland primary election, June 24.

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

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