First, O'Malley croons for O'Bama

The Baltimore Sun

If Danny Boy were on death row, he'd understand.

Yesterday was a great day for the Irish, except perhaps for Maryland's most prominent Irishman, who needed to be in two places at once.

In Annapolis, Gov. Martin O'Malley was due at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on a death penalty bill, one of the governor's top priorities. And in Washington, he was supposed to sing the Irish National Anthem at a lunch with President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen.

O'Malley chose the lunch.

Let's be honest: Given the choice, who wouldn't rather rub elbows with the leader of the free world than with a bunch of state lawmakers - even if said leader of the free world fails to give you a shout-out in his remarks?

O'Malley got to sit with Obama, Pelosi and Cowen. Then he dashed back to Annapolis and still had time to testify before the House committee. How'd he manage that? Helpful time-traveling leprechaun?

No, the committee delayed the death penalty debate by two hours to accommodate Maryland's Crooner-in-Chief, The Baltimore Sun's Julie Bykowicz reports.

"Both things are rare events," spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said. "It's rare that he would testify on legislation, maybe once a year. ... And he's honored to do that. But he's also honored to have lunch with the president, the speaker and the Irish prime minister. Sometimes there are just scheduling conflicts that need to be worked out, and we were grateful to the committee that they were willing to accommodate his schedule in this particular case."

How'd that go over with the committee?

Republican Del. Michael Smigiel's Irish was up.

"Well it's 3:10, and the Governor took one question from me and then I was cut off on the follow-up by the chairman and the Governor left for 'scheduling' reasons," he e-mailed me.

But Democratic Del. Sandy Rosenberg understood.

"Without the Governor's advocacy, we would not be considering legislation today that significantly reduces the likelihood that the State of Maryland could execute an innocent person," he wrote in an e-mail. "It has been 30 years since Maryland reinstated the death penalty. We can wait two hours for the hearing to begin."

Punctuate this

Reader Susan Panek wrote to thank me for my recent "apostrophe tirade." To her, grammatical errors are not meaningless slips. More like "sentinels of civilization's end."

"I once threatened to electrify the apostrophe key on a former staff person's keyboard if he didn't desist from misusing it," said Panek, a former college writing teacher.

One of her biggest pet peeves: the Korean War Memorial at Canton Waterfront Park, which honors the "MARYLANDER'S" who fought and died in the war.

"I tell you, the first time I saw it, when I first moved to Southeast Baltimore three years ago, I felt physically ill," she e-mailed me. "I took photographs of it, to prove the flaw, but I despaired of getting any response from that [state veterans] agency, since this monument is more than a decade old. ... I told friends that if I ever called them asking for a bailout from jail, it would be because I mixed up some faux granite, went to the park after dark, and filled in the [darned] apostrophes."

Another bad sign for civilization: "For years I passed a day care center whose sign read 'Rainbow's and Reason's' - always wishing I had white paint with me, so as to protect the little children from such an awful example."

Connect the dots

Has the Cindy Wolf-Industrial Complex gotten to me? Pauline Spiliadis of The Black Olive suspects so. In writing the other day about Baltimore magazine's restaurant rankings, I noted correctly that four Charleston Group restaurants, owned by Chef Wolf and husband Tony Foreman, had made the Top 13. But I reported incorrectly that one of them, Cinghiale, was No. 2. Cinghiale was actually No. 3. The Black Olive was No. 2. I told Spiliadis I was sorry I'd goofed up. She wasn't buying it. "I just thought it was a very interesting mistake," she said. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error, and the lack of conspiracy. ... Duff Goldman sat in for Ed Norris on WHFS the other morning. The Ace of Cakes star did not bring along dessert, but he took part in a sushi-eating contest - and won it.

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