She didn't mean kitty-cat

The Baltimore Sun

Lesley Stahl used a naughty FIVE-letter word in her commencement address at Loyola College, a grad tells me. It came as the CBS newswoman came to the word "pusillanimous" in her speech.

"Now there's a good SAT word," she said, according to the keep-my-name-out-of-it grad. "It's derived from [BLEEP], right?"

"It received a mixed response consisting of deep intakes of breath and few isolated chuckles," reports the grad, who confessed to laughing. "The girl next to me muttered, 'She knows she is at a Jesuit school, right?'"

A CBS spokesman told the New York Post, which first reported Stahl's comment, that she really said "pussycat," the newspaper reported.

Loyola spokeswoman Courtney Jolley said, "We're not commenting on this particular story."

Would she release video of Stahl's entire commencement address? "Not at this time, no." There is a snippet of her speech on the school's Web site, but darn it all to heck, there's nothing racy there.

Well, it was fun while it lasted

Way to suck the fun out of civic life.

Just weeks after it rolled out New York Post-style headlines, The Examiner is already toning them down. Word came down Wednesday from Clarity Media HQ: No more screamers on crime stories.


Examiner Editor Frank Keegan did not return my call seeking comment (not to mention info about that voice mail job offer). So I rely on my spy at the paper, who tells me sensational heads are still OK for stories not involving crime.

But it seems Charm City has seen the last of "'Demon' baby slain by cult," "Bludgeoned!" and "INSANE?"

Fun while it lasted.

The Maryland Zoo: Why not the best?

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore has just made it into a book called America's Best Zoos. Really.

The same zoo that's struggled financially for years? That needed the Abell Foundation to co-sign a loan last month to meet payroll and pay bills? That could lose its national accreditation unless it completes costly repairs by September?

Those problems aside, the place still offers a good zoo experience, said Allen Nyhuis, who wrote the book with former zookeeper Jon Wassner. Nyhuis visited the zoo in July.

"I was disappointed because it's severely changed from what I had remembered from about a decade ago ... [but] what they do have there is excellent."

He's especially big on the polar bear exhibit and children's zoo. He said the latter is "showing a little bit of age, but is still one of the very best in the country."

The zoo is one of 60 included in the book. Its children's zoo is listed among the country's top 10.

Ideas, ideas and more ideas

Well, I've heard from a few Armchair Innovators.

I wrote the other day that Mayor Sheila Dixon is offering cash to city employees who come up with ideas that help the city save or make money. I asked ordinary citizens, who aren't eligible to participate in the official "Innovation Bank," to send their ideas to me.

Mark Hannon of Locust Point writes: "I have a suggestion that will improve the business climate and increase the City's income. Have the City canvass all the local business associations, and ask them what they believe are the ten most useless and aggravating fees and taxes that the City imposes (such as the health inspection fee, fire inspection fee, etc.). Add up the revenue these fees and taxes bring the City. Then, eliminate these fees and taxes, and reduce the subsidies (tax breaks, TIFs, etc.) to developers and others by the same amount. Businesses will be encouraged to stay and locate here, subsidies available only to the politically connected reduced, Baltimore's businesses will improve thanks to the city's acts of tax and fee relief, the city's revenues will increase, and more jobs will be created."

Joan Kelly writes: "We need trash containers at bus stops. Riders are not allowed to take food and drinks on to buses. Riders throw the items down in the street as they board the buses." She adds: "Years ago, the street cleaner was a fixture in Baltimore - put to work some of the idle teens doing this."

Also heard from Keith B. Orem of Denton. Don't let the Eastern Shore address fool you. "I lived in Baltimore over 57 yrs. (born & raised)," he writes.

He offers this "simple solution" for keeping garbage out of the Inner Harbor: chicken wire. "why not put some kind of screening ... around the curb side storm drains. this would stop bottles" from washing into the water. "if you like this idea," he writes, "i have more."

Send 'em on, Keith - and anybody else out there.

Connect the dots

Happy in his work? A Baltimore police officer assisting sheriff's deputies at what appeared to be an eviction in the 600 block of N. Bentalou St. yesterday wore his feelings on his T-shirt. A Freddy Krueger claw against the Baltimore skyline. "WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE," it read, as The Sun's Gus Sentementes reports. ... Richard Sandomir, sports media reporter for The New York Times, was impressed with most of NBC's coverage of the Preakness, but for the bit with Martin O'Malley. "I thought Martin O'Malley, Maryland's governor, had been dispatched when he popped up for a short welcome early in the broadcast," Sandomir wrote. "But he reappeared at the trophy ceremony, burbling about the 'terrific day' and 'terrific race' for an eternity of 38 seconds. Don't they ever learn?"

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