Stokes' new undertaking

The epitaph for Carl Stokes' citywide political career could read: He came, he ran, he lost. Twice - once for mayor in 1999, and again for City Council president Sept. 9, 2003. So what is the one-time council district representative and school board member doing now? He recently left his health care job and will work as a lobbyist during the Maryland legislative session starting this month.


Who will Stokes lobby for? The Maryland Free State Cemetery & Funeral Association, he says.

"I hope that's not foreshadowing of the future," he said joking.


Perhaps not the political future, but it definitely says something about his political present.

-Doug Donovan

A highway's final exit

Now that Boston's 14-year, $14.6 billion Big Dig is nearing an end, several steel beams from that city's late, unlamented Central Artery are headed to Baltimore for a meltdown.

Steelworkers cut away last week a blocklong section of the elevated highway that, since the 1950s, has obscured Boston's harbor views and severed historic neighborhoods from the downtown business district. It was one of the last steps in a costly, complicated, problematic effort to move the city's downtown freeways underground.

International Steel Group has bought about 100 tons' worth of the Central Artery's scrap steel, said John Lefler, vice president and general manager of the company's Sparrows Point plant. The first green-painted beam arrived here on a flatbed truck last week. Workers cut it into five-foot lengths and fed it into the company's remelter, which recycles about 40,000 tons of scrap into new steel each month. Another seven or eight beams from Beantown's former eyesore will arrive over the next few weeks, Lefler said.

-Heather Dewar

Where TVs go to die


Think about Baltimore County, and what comes to mind? The rolling horse country in the north? An expansive Chesapeake Bay shoreline to the east?

How about recycling? Turns out, the county is the electronics recycling capital of Maryland. At the last countywide recycling event in November, 930 cars dropped off 74,000 pounds of items. That's more than 10,000 pounds - 5 tons - more than the previous one-day record, according to the county.

Residents got rid of more than 22,000 pounds of computer monitors, 19,000 pounds of televisions, 11,000 pounds of personal computers and 22,000 pounds of other electronic equipment.

In a statement released by the county, Sarah Manning, co-owner of Subtractions LLC, the company that will reprocess the electronic junk, seemed taken aback by the county's total. "Incredible and unbelievable," she said.

- Don Schiller

Fortunate son


With the rebirth of Baltimore County's waterfront, the quirky and sometimes mysterious names of the area's creeks and coves are constant topics of conversation.

And, invariably, the story of how former County Councilman and Essex attorney Norman W. Lauenstein got his name remains a favorite.

In 1927, in her home on Cape May Point in Essex, Anna Lauenstein gave birth to her fifth child. A few days after the happy arrival, Mrs. Lauenstein was pacing around the house and thinking about the baby's first name. She looked out the window, gazed upon Norman Creek, and thus her son was named.

Good thing she didn't walk to the other side of the house and receive inspiration from the inlet there, Hogpen Creek.

- Joe Nawrozki

Elaborate tidings


Most government agencies send holiday cards. Baltimore Development Corp., the city's economic development agency, super-sized it this year, mailing veritable holiday booklets to developers, city offices and the like.

BDC's elaborate "card" consists of five two-sided panels. Unfolded, it stretches about 45 inches across. On one side are four images - Mount Vernon, the Inner Harbor, Port Discovery, Camden Yards - and the word "Joy." On the other side is a list of 65 staff members.

The glossy document is handsome, substantial and sure seems pricey. We put the cost question to M.J. "Jay" Brodie, BDC president. He noted that the design was done in-house but said Sharon Grinnell, his chief operating officer, knew all the cost details.

"We haven't looked at that yet," Grinnell said. She went on to say about a thousand cards were sent and the cost all told may be $1,000 or $1,500, not more than $2,000. When it was suggested even $2,000 sounded low with metered postage of $1.06 for each card, she referred us back to Brodie.

"I find it interesting," she said briskly in closing, "the Sunpaper wants to spend its time tracking down how much a holiday card costs."

Brodie, alas, still didn't know the cost and offered a verbal shrug. He said only, "I would take her estimate that the total was $2,000."


- Scott Calvert