Before Annapolis officials released the results of their background investigation into Harold Robbins, the city's new police chief, they made reporters agree that two parts of the report wouldn't wind up in the newspaper: His bank account and health records.

The request was an easy one to honor. After all, I know how embarrassed I'd be if the contents of my bank account were made public. And I'm not proud of all the things I've been to a doctor for.

So I let the parts of his background check marked "Bank Account" and "Health Records" stay closed, and just asked the one question I felt you, the reader, would want to know.

"So how healthy is his bank account?" I asked City Administrator Michael Mallinoff.

Rim shot, please.

Mallinoff, being a good public servant, answered the question anyway.

"He's not rich," Mallinoff replied. "He has three kids."

Incidentally, the background report was positive, with a cross-section of St. Petersburg, Fla., residents giving Robbins high marks for for his professional skills and personal demeanor. Robbins, 43, worked as a deputy chief in St. Petersburg before starting work in Annapolis yesterday.

That said, here are some of the things you should know about your new police chief.

Fact No. 1 About Your New Police Chief: He has a criminal record.

Yes, there it was, buried in the middle of the inch-thick report: The chief received a traffic citation for careless driving when he was 17. He could not be reached for comment on the charge.

Fact No. 2: He looks like Robert Conrad.

I'm not making this up. No less a luminary than Director of Public Information and Tourism Thomas Roskelly noted the similarity between Robbins and the famous actor, who is best-known for putting a battery on his shoulder and daring you, the reader, to knock it off.

Robbins is tough, too, as you would expect of anyone who looks like Robert Conrad. In 1973, while making a drug arrest, he was shot in the chest and so badly wounded a priest administered last rites. A month later, he was back on the streets.

Fact No. 3: He married his high-school sweetheart. They are still together.

This guy is too much.

SOURCE: Paul Shread


Could that have been Abraham Lincoln at last week's County Council meeting, risen from the dead to warn us that a town center divided against itself cannot stand?

Was that the Great Emancipator himself who intoned: "(There has been) a lot of destruction to the community . . . . Neighbor pitted against neighbor, family against friends, family against family?"

And could it have been Scarlett O'Hara proclaiming, "Tomorrow is another day?"

No, it was just Dave Boschert, the Democratic councilman from Crownsville, waving the white flag after losing the Battle of Odenton.

Boschert tried everything to keep the council from passing the Odenton Town Center Growth Management Plan last week. When he lost, he accepted defeat in grandiose style, drawing on some of America's immortals for inspiration.

Boschert leaned toward the microphone and, in appropriately sober tones, launched a speech that was part Lincoln, part Kennedy and a -- of Scarlett O'Hara: "The evaluation of the bill before us has really done a lot of destruction to the community. It's done a lot of destruction, and hatred too. Neighbor pitted against neighbor, family against friends, family against family . . . .

"The community's integrity is at stake, and I do feel it is incumbent upon me as county councilman representing Odenton -- that community that I really enjoy being around and love -- I have to do what I can to heal the wounds that have been plagued on this community in the last few weeks.

"This issue has eroded long-standing friendships between me and a few people . . . . All I have been saying is, 'Don't rush this bill through.' This community has a lot to lose if it's not done right.

"I have the strength of my conviction -- I am sticking to the guns. I have taken a lot of heat, and I know I am right in what I have done.

However, we in West County are in this together . . . .

"Let us begin to work for a positive resolve to our difficulties and keep our community integrity alive . . . .

"The fabric of the community has been shredded, and I have to do what I can to resolve this and put it all back together again.

"I have fought the good fight, and I have lost, but the community has not lost, because this is a new beginning, and we will work toward a common goal of community integrity and viability . . . .

"From this point forward, let it be known . . . that there will never be another 45-day bill before this County Council as long as I am on it, because this has been terrible."

It was a wonderfully dramatic speech, though you have to admit -- the ending would have been even better if Boschert had invoked Scarlett again by saying, "As God is my witness, we'll never have 45-day bills again!" and then thrown a handful of Odenton soil into the audience.

SOURCE: Elise Armacost

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