Boogie left at the diner as NFL-hungry crowd runs off uptown


I like Boogie. Boogie's cool. I've been rooting for him. Who hasn't? The idea of Boogie Weinglass, an original Diner Guy, owning a professional football team in Baltimore, the ole hometown, is tremendously appealing. He has the potential of being an owner of the Veeckian kind, with lots of dazzling, cutting-edge promotions -- free clip-on ponytails for the first 10,000 fans; rock operas during halftime -- and the guy was sincere about reviving the local football spirit that existed when the pre-Irsay Colts played this town.

But I'm as jaded as the next guy. This decision by Don Donaldo, the Lord High Governor, to bring a millionaire from Cleveland into the forefront of Baltimore's effort to get a franchise was what suits call a business decision. "Nothing personal. Just business." And it's not just a line from a "Godfather" movie. In real life, men and women have been laid off and fired with those words ringing in their eyes. No matter who you are -- TV anchorman or mailroom clerk -- when the stakes get high, principles go low. Loyalty, hard work, enthusiasm . . . that's for sentimentalists, not sharks.

Baltimore threw some bait into the shark tank that is the National Football League. And the sharks didn't bite. By one account I've heard, the NFL owners' collective response to Baltimore's two ownership groups -- Boogie and the Glazers -- was "glacial." Now, Baltimore gets one more shot, and Baltimore has to try something different. Don Donaldo endorses Alfred Lerner. This is the governor's Hail Mary pass, and he's making it standing knee-deep in bad feelings.

So it's Lerner and it's low, and it's too bad for Boogie. But it's business. When this foul effort to get an NFL franchise is finally finished, all parties involved will need to bathe.

Daddy goes to Washington

Charles Pefinis, Towson businessman, was invited to meet Bill Clinton Monday as part of a presidential photo-op with 250 small-business owners who support the North American Free Trade Agreement. But Mr. Pefinis, representing his wife, Sandra's, company, Premium Office Products, countered with an invitation of his own. When he went to Washington, he took invitations to his daughter Maria's big Greek wedding this Sunday at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Baltimore. Pefinis maneuvered his way to the front of the receiving line at the Museum of American History to issue the invitations. But the first invitation Pefinis handed Clinton was not for the president and First Lady, but for White House aide George Stephanopoulos. (The GQ-smooth George is considered every yia-yia's -- that's Greek-American for "grandma's" -- dream. He's still among the eligible and, therefore, in demand at social events.) But Pefinis quickly pulled out another invitation. "Mr. President," he added, "I don't want to insult you so I am pleased to invite you and Mrs. Clinton, too." The president thanked him, congratulated him and handed the invitation to an aide. "Make sure he gets it!" Pefinis instructed the aide. Will the presidential appetite be able to resist the baklava? Stay tuned.

The beat goes on

Rhumba Club, Baltimore's popular Latin salsa band, played the Lower East Side of New York over the weekend.

Nine members of the band traveled there for a Saturday night fund-raiser for a neighborhood cultural education center on 9th Street, near Tompkins Square Park.

Friday evening, Jose Ruiz was unloading the band's equipment when suddenly he saw FBI agents. How did he know they were FBI agents?

"They were wearing windbreakers that said, 'FBI' on 'em," he says.

And there were a lot of agents. Ruiz saw one with a shotgun standing outside the building across the street.

Ruiz knew the building to be a shelter for troubled teen-agers, many of them runaways. Ruiz even knew the man who has operated the shelter for decades -- the Rev. Patrick Moloney.

What he didn't know, at least immediately, was that Father Pat was being arrested on suspicion of involvement in the fifth-largest armored car robbery ever in the United States, a $7.4 million theft in Rochester, N.Y., last January. The 61-year-old priest was arrested along with two other men, including a retired Rochester cop; all reportedly have connections to the Irish Republican Army.

"An FBI agent showed us his ID and told us we had to clear the area," says Ruiz, who grew up on the Lower East Side and now chairs the Maryland Governor's Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

"We were unloading our equipment from my car and this agent said we had to move because they were going to tow [Moloney's] truck, which was parked right next to us. So, believe me, I said, 'Si, senor,' and we moved.

"The fund-raiser the next night wasn't that well attended. The organization is hurtin' for money; they should have asked Patrick for some, right? We were joking, of course. But it's really sad because the guy had really done some beautiful work there over the years. Really sad."


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