All rise for the Clerk of Court

The Baltimore Sun

Frank Conaway has the best mustache in Maryland politics, but he's hardly the most powerful pol around. Until now. The governor and the mayor of Baltimore suddenly find themselves at the mercy of the Circuit Court clerk.

Sheila Dixon wants Martin O'Malley to administer the oath of office at her inauguration Dec. 4. That was the plan until Friday - when Conaway got wind of it.

"I am surprised that the Mayor's Office is not aware that, by law, the Clerk of the Court is responsible for carrying out this task," Conaway wrote to Dixon's deputy chief of staff, Beatrice Tripps.

Conaway administered the oath to Dixon in January, when she took over for the new governor. The clerk went on to run against Dixon in September's Democratic primary. But politics has nothing to do with Dixon's desire to swap Conaway out, said mayoral spokesman Anthony McCarthy. He pointed out that Conaway still was being invited as a dignitary.

"Her preference is to have the governor swear her in because of their long-term partnership," McCarthy said. "That is still her desire."

Dixon had been assured that the governor had the power to administer the oath, but her office now understands that is not the case, McCarthy said. There is a way for Dixon to get what she wants, however.

"[A] provision in State Government 16-105 would allow a sworn deputy of the clerk to administer the oath," Conaway wrote. "Should Governor O'Malley wish to undertake this task, I suggest that you have him contact me with a request to be deputized in this matter. I assure you, upon receipt, I will give such a request my full attention."

Which isn't quite the same thing as saying Conaway would approve such request from O'Malley, whose office declined to comment.

"I didn't say that," Conaway told me. "I said I would consider it."

A kidney forfeited, but a disciple gained

Bob Kaufman needs a kidney again.

It looked as if Baltimore's Socialist candidate for everything had a donor, when a guy who'd seen him in the August mayoral debate offered one of his kidneys. But the man just learned his blood pressure is too high.

"I think he's more disappointed than I," said Kaufman, who has needed a transplant since a near-fatal beating and stabbing in 2005.

Now Kaufman would like to help his would-be donor, who asked not to be identified by name, find a job.

When I talked to the man last month, he described himself as a salesman in his 50s. With the man's permission, Kaufman has filled in a few blanks: He sells hot dogs at a kiosk and also works as a Salvation Army Santa Claus. He's looking for indoor work. Kaufman thinks he'd make a reliable clerk.

If you've got a job for the guy, call Kaufman. Remember, even though he's A. Robert Kaufman, he's listed in the book under Robert A. and Fang.

Last month, when prospects for the donation looked good, the man told me he wanted to help Kaufman in spite of the perennial candidate's "futile" politics. Since then, the man has met Kaufman and even sat in on his Baltimore Free University class, "The Class Struggle and the Road to Socialism." Kaufman thinks he's starting to see the light.

"As I explain things, he's agreeing more and more," he said. "I may have lost a kidney, but I found a very good friend and hopefully a comrade."

Connect the dots

Cynthia Norman of Cedarcroft and a group of friends are making Thanksgiving pies for their neighbors. The best part is not that the money - $12 for pumpkin, $15 for apple and pecan - will go to a good cause. (They're sending it to Africa to help orphans and single moms, through Greater Grace World Outreach Church.) No, here's the best part: The buyers may supply their own pie plates if they wish, so they can pass off the pies as their own. ... The Junior League of Annapolis has just come out with a cookbook, A Thyme to Entertain. Among the contributors: Kendel Ehrlich, who provides a recipe for Maryland Vegetable Crab Soup. Government House chef Medford Canby once told me Bob Ehrlich "loves soup." He must like it spicy. The recipe, which makes six to eight servings, calls for a quarter of a cup (or more) of hot red pepper sauce.

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