Please hold for that number Directory: Baltimore City Hall finally has a new telephone book, but hundreds of names are missing -- and some that should be are included.


Baltimore's new City Hall phone directory is here -- 10 months late and a couple of hundred names short:

State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy is one of those missing in action, along with everyone else whose name begins with J. Same goes for the I's and some K's.

Want to contact City Council members? Fewer than half are there. But, oddly enough, many of the council members who have been voted out of office still have published numbers.

And even longtime employee August J. "Augie" DiEmidio Jr., who died in June of a heart attack at his desk in City Hall, still has an office listing and phone.

The price to taxpayers? About $10,000, not including what it will cost to fix it.

The gaffes were known for months, even before the directory went to the printer. City officials explained they went ahead with the publication because it was already late. They concluded that a new directory -- however flawed -- was better than an old one.

"We recognized there were errors," said Purchasing Department head Ella H. Pierce, who printed the directory. "We sent it back for corrections. We were told that the mistakes would be corrected in 1997."

For many, that's way too late.

"This directory is good for recycling," said 5th District Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector.

A minifuror over the directory has erupted in City Hall. Fingers are pointing everywhere as department heads try to shift the blame.

The phone guide was prepared by the Municipal Telephone Exchange, which is part of Comptroller Joan M. Pratt's office.

Rochelle Young, director of the telephone exchange, apparently knew about the mistakes.

The work orders to print the directory as written were "signed and approved by the director," Pierce said.

Young would not return several calls to his office this week.

B. Harriette Taylor, deputy comptroller, said Young told her there was a problem with the disk that contained the names.

"I don't like what happened, but I have to focus on a solution," Taylor said.

She said an addendum is planned and shouldn't cost more than $1,000.

Upset, Council President Lawrence A. Bell III fired off a letter of complaint to Pratt. He wants her office to print a new book.

Meanwhile, as city leaders wrangle over the flawed directory, those who are missing seem resigned to waiting it out.

"It is amusing but sad, because so many people were looking forward to getting it," said 5th District Councilwoman Stephanie Rawlings, who is not listed. "My staff has been at a loss. We are doing the same thing we did before we got the directory."

Pub Date: 10/25/96

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