An idea ahead of its time


Today is one of those days in Maryland politics when anything could happen. It's a Wednesday. That's the day the Board of Public Works meets, every other week, for the purpose of conducting Maryland's often dull financial affairs and giving never dull William Donald Schaefer a platform for saying whatever's on his mind.

Any chance he'll weigh in on state Superintendent Nancy Grasmick's plan to take control of 11 Baltimore City schools? No telling, his office says.

Schaefer is pals with Grasmick and Gov. Robert Ehrlich. Not so with Mayor Martin O'Malley, who opposes the takeover and wants to unseat Ehrlich. But if Schaefer speaks out in favor of the plan, you can't call it election-year politics. He's been on the record since 1971, when O'Malley was 8 years old.

"Schaefer Urges Md. Takeover of Schools," reads an Aug. 2, 1971, headline in The Evening Sun, unearthed by diligent Sun researcher Paul McCardell.

The article begins: "William Donald Schaefer, a Democratic candidate for mayor, today called for a complete state takeover of the cost of running local schools."

In Speedos, they're easier to tell apart

Now Baltimore has two Michael Phelpses - the Olympic swimmer and the Baltimore Examiner publisher, whose newspaper debuts today. Here's how to tell them apart, based on the swimmer's official Web site, a quick interview with the publisher, and Sun archives.


Swimmer: June 30, 1985

Publisher: Nov. 9, 1945


Swimmer: Baltimore

Publisher: Terre Haute, Ind.


Swimmer: 6-foot-4

Publisher: 5-foot-9


Swimmer: 195 lbs.

Publisher: "200ish"

Career highlight

Swimmer: Winning six gold medals and a bronze at the 2004 Summer Olympics

Publisher: Launching The Baltimore Examiner

Personal lowpoint:

Swimmer: November 2004 drunken-driving arrest

Publisher: "Nothing that really stands out."

Fan club's membership

Swimmer: Lovesick teenage girls from around the globe

Publisher: Wife, Adrienne; daughter, Amiee; son, Jake; grandsons, Davis and Nathan


Swimmer: Speedo, Visa, Power Bar

Publisher: "My mother and father." Not to mention The Examiner's billionaire owner, Philip Anschutz.

It isn't politics - it's charitable giving

Doug Duncan's campaign sure sounded hospitable the other day when it sent out an e-mail saying it was looking for Dems to attend Saturday's Western Maryland Democratic Summit, where a straw poll in the governor's race will be taken.

"The campaign will provide [transportation] to and from the event as well as cover the $40 entrance fee," wrote Warren Hansen, president of Terps for Duncan.

But when I phoned up Hansen and told him I wanted to write about the offer, he hung up on me.

Duncan spokeswoman Jody Couser said the offer was not, as O'Malley campaign manager Jonathan Epstein suggested to The Washington Post, an attempt to buy votes.

"If you believe their spin on this, then I guess you can believe Mayor O'Malley's crime stats," she said. "The truth is that we wanted make a few seats available to supporters, particularly college students who may not have the money or transportation to get to this event."

The message went to the 345 people who subscribe to the Frederick County Democrats' e-mail list, said Patti Wolf, one of the list's three moderators.

Connect the Dots

Martin O'Malley was surrounded by 10 of the most beautiful women in America yesterday, as they made a promotional video for the April 21 Miss USA pageant at City Hall, reports The Sun's Doug Donovan, who selflessly checked this out for me. O'Malley's ice-breaker: "Been to Fort McHenry?" ... Still surprised to see state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, a reliably pro-business lawmaker, leading the charge against BGE? Maybe it's the electric bill at his 8,400-square-foot Stevensville home. What does it cost to keep that place cool and well-lit? His office was looking into it for me. ... Trash talkin' Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Elizabeth Dole, who bet Maryland crab cakes and North Carolina barbecue on Sunday's Maryland-UNC matchup, went double or nothing on last night's women's NCAA championship game, Maryland versus Duke. ... Josh White, former executive director for the Maryland Democratic Party, has joined O'Malley's gubernatorial campaign as deputy campaign manager for political outreach. "All the MD4Bush masterminds are back together," says state GOP spokeswoman Audra Miller. Republicans have tried to tie White to Joe Steffen's anonymous e-mail pen-pal. Democrats have disputed any link.

An item in Laura Vozzella's column yesterday misspelled the name of the daughter of Baltimore Examiner Publisher Michael Phelps. Her name is Aimee.The Sun regrets the error.
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