The guy who supervises the crime lab for Baltimore City police is a crime novelist in his spare time. The department also has an officer who was assigned to the Western District around the time JFK took office - and is still there. Where can somebody see stories like these, the upbeat, human-interest side of Baltimore's finest? Newspapers? TV news?
Fat chance, says department spokesman Matt Jablow. With the media more interested in street-crime gore and police scandals, the department has decided to take its good news straight to the people - producing its own video features and posting them on www.baltimorepolice.org.
"Police officers do incredible things every day, and we intend to tell their stories on our Web site in a way that television stations, for the most part, don't," Jablow said.
The department's in-house video unit, which until now has mostly produced training films, produces the spots. Jablow, a former TV newsman, narrates. Is it propaganda? Jablow calls it progress.
"Fifteen years ago, police departments and corporations and other organizations, they had to rely on newspapers and [TV] because there was no other way to get their information out," he said. "We're not bypassing the media. ... We work very well with reporters in town. But we've got this incredible tool, and we're going to use it."
Take that wig and shove it
First, there's the sheer chutzpah of a no-budget U.S. Senate candidate going up against a sitting lieutenant governor with the backing of President Bush and his fund-raising machine. Then there's the wacky Web site with the list of two dozen "campaign issues," including "Maryland's Ugly Flag" and "Love." And, of course, there's the wig, the fluffy, Colonial-style number he wears campaigning. What's not to like about Daniel Vovak?
Plenty, judging by the e-mail Montgomery County GOP Chairman Tom Reinheimer sent him this week.
"Looks like my 17 year old son didn't kick your pathetic wigged [bleep] well enough at our LDD [Lincoln Day Dinner]," Reinheimer wrote. "I will put the word out that you are to be totally disrespected and humiliated by all children of Montgomery County. I understand that the wig man wears women's underwear and has debates with goldfish!"
Jeez! Even Karl Rove hasn't pushed the likes of goldfish or girly-pants rumors. Why is Reinheimer threatening that kind of smear campaign against a guy who could well win more laughs than votes? And what's with the reference to his son and bleep-kicking?
The chairman's son and the Wig Man, both seated at the kids' table at the recent dinner, got into an argument but never came to blows, said Reinheimer. The chairman said he's sick of Vovak needling primary opponent Michael Steele and other GOP leaders.
"He took shots at [state party Chairman John] Kane. He's throwing them at Michael," Reinheimer said. "One of my weaknesses - sometimes I bite."
Vovak is taking the e-mail as political validation. "The Republicans in our state are threatened," he said, "by a man wearing a wig."
Horse racing makes for strange bettors
Inquiring photographer Bruce Bereano just got his Pimlico pictures back from the developer, and all I can say is, whoa! There's a snapshot of Doug Duncan, a Democrat who wants to be governor, with John Kane, the state GOP Chairman, who very much wants otherwise. And then there's the shot of Mike Miller looking all palsy-walsy with Dick Hug. The Senate president pushed the "Dick Hug Bill," which forced Hug to choose between serving on the Board of Regents and raising cash for Bob Ehrlich. (He chose the gov.) With them is another regent who has been criticized for his extracurricular activities, former Gov. Marvin Mandel. Says Bereano: "The Preakness brings people together."
Connect the dots
District 44 Sen. Verna Jones airs campaign spots starting Monday - on The Larry Young Morning Show, hosted by the guy mulling a run against her. ... Baltimore NAACP President Marvin "Doc" Cheatham claims to have registered more people to vote over the years than anyone else in Maryland. And he has the home telephone number to prove it: 410-669-VOTE.