It's hard to unravel all the wheeling-and-dealing the government says Tommy Bromwell was up to, and those FBI transcripts of him cussing and drinking and bragging are almost too entertaining to shed light. But I think I?m onto his central scheme, and as someone who can?t afford HBO, it thrills me to report it involves Comcast.
No, I'm not talking about the part where the former Democratic state senator and current RICO defendant is caught on tape saying that he saved the cable giant $75 million through a late-fees bill, and that "If I run for county executive and lose, I've got a job with Comcast Cable." Nor is it the part when he says: 'Both my sons work for Comcast Cable."
It looks like the scheme goes deeper than a well-placed state senator and a private company allegedly doing favors for each other. This one reaches all the way into cable programming: Bromwell seems to have duped the FBI into producing a taxpayer-funded screenplay for The Wire -- right down to the sound effects!
Bromwell: Listen, you can't put any more than five thousand in cash in the bank. ... I just want you to be careful.
Business associate/FBI informant Paul Matthews: Okay.
Bromwell: Cause if that happens, and the FBI comes in and thinks you're a drug dealer ... I mean I don't give a [BLEEP]. I just don't want to pay the tax on it.
Matthews: Okay. And it?s twenty ... twenty-two ...
Bromwell: Twenty-two, 2, 7, 6, 0, 6.
Matthews: Twenty-two, 276, 06. There you go.Okay. (Pause ? sound of money being counted)
Matthews: Are we just gonna call this Arbros [Communications], Tom?
Bromwell: Yeah, just say it's, ah ...
Matthews: Arbros Poole and Kent Bromwell: ... on the job. (Pause -- sound of money being counted) ...
Bromwell: What you got?
Bromwell: Six? Okay.
(Pause ? sound of money being counted)
Bromwell: Count four there. (Pause -- sound of money being counted)
Matthews: That's it.
Bromwell: And that?s twenty. ... So that's twentytwo, 2, 7, 6, 0, 6. Now ... (Sound of something being zipped up)
Bromwell: ... this I can put in the bank.
Nice work, if you can get it
Asked about Bromwell's claim that he'd have a job with the cable company if he ran for Baltimore County exec and lost, Comcast spokeswoman Beth Bacha said: "Comcast hires its employees in accordance with standard hiring policies and procedures."
What about Bromwell's sons? Do they still work there? ?We honestly don?t talk much about employees,? she said. When pressed, she said: ?Neither is employed by Comcast."
While we were on the subject of politically connected employees, I asked about Kendel Ehrlich.When she was first lady of Maryland, Ehrlich had a $55,000-a-year part-time job producing 16 half-hour shows called Live Right, aimed at keeping kids off drugs. Is Ehrlich still on the payroll?
"Yes, she is employed by Comcast," Bacha said. "She's producing video-ondemand episodes ... similar to what she had been doing." The new series will offer childrearing tips to parents.
Pleasant on the phone, useless on the street
Unhappy that a free newspaper keeps landing on his doorstep, a Catonsville man who?d rather get his news online has turned to ? whom else? ? Maryland's attorney general.
Hanno Beck thought he could solve the problem with a call to the Examiner's circulation department.That was back in November.Since then, he said he?s placed about dozen more calls. Each time, an Examiner staff member politely promised to stop delivery. But the paper keeps coming.
So the 46-year-old software engineer filed complaint No. MU-129767. It was one of about a dozen complaints filed recently by unwilling Examiner recipients, said AG spokeswoman Raquel Guillory.
(The Examiner didn?t return my call seeking comment. I?m still waiting to hear back about the real estate promo it ran on CEO Michael Phelps? house!) I know Doug Gansler pushes the whole ?people?s lawyer? bit, but do unwanted newspapers really fall under his purview?
?There?s nothing we can do by statute,? Guillory said. But an official with the consumer protection division tried to help anyway by calling the paper a couple of weeks ago. The Examiner said it would take Beck and the other complainants off its list, Guillory said.
As of yesterday, Beck said, the papers were still coming.
Connect the dots
The Orioles? home opener inspired The Gallery, the Inner Harbor shopping mall, to dye the water in its fountain orange.Nice gesture,even if the color came out an unfortunate shade of yellow. I?m told it looked better during football season, when they went purple for the Ravens. ... What is it about Baltimore City Hall that requires its leaders to be fitness fanatics? The weight-lifter mayor moved on, only to be replaced by a black belt. And now City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake seems to be Getting In On It. In a press release announcing that fitness guru Richard Simmons will appear at a healthy-kids event in May, it was noted that Rawlings-Blake ?recently shed nearly 30 pounds through healthy eating and exercise.?