Finally, somebody in Baltimore starts snitching. Ron Lipscomb seems to have flipped on girlfriend and bread man alike.
In a plea bargain this week, Lipscomb admitted to violating campaign finance laws and agreed to help state prosecutors in their corruption case against Mayor Sheila Dixon, an old flame who showered the developer with favors (municipal and otherwise).
Lipscomb turned on someone else he's been in bed with: John Paterakis, the baking-and-development magnate who made his fortune baking McDonald's buns.
In his plea agreement, Lipscomb claimed he and Paterakis split the cost of a $12,500 poll for City Councilwoman Helen Holton, who helped their Harbor East development win city tax breaks. Attached to the agreement was a copy of a $6,000 check from Paterakis' J&B; Associates to Lipscomb's Doracon, which initially picked up the whole tab for the poll. (State law caps campaign contributions at $4,000 per candidate.)
There are any number of legitimate reasons why Paterakis, whose lawyer has not returned calls seeking comment, would cut his business partner a check.
And it's easy to dismiss a snitch. Lipscomb tells himself, "You deserve a break today" and coughs up a statement for prosecutors. He sprinkles the bread man's name in there like so many sesame seeds on a Big Mac bun, and suddenly somebody else's keister is in the fryer.
It's worth remembering, however, that while Lipscomb can avoid incarceration by helping prosecutors, he could do time if he provides phony information.
When Paterakis' name surfaced the other day, someone remarked to me how it always smells so good down by his Harbor East bakery - even though what's actually baking are white-flour buns destined for the nutritional abomination that are McDonald's burgers.
If we really should smell a rat, let's hope the state prosecutor can sniff it out.
Feds fund bay movie?
Barry Levinson might make his next movie with an unlikely partner: government.
The filmmaker has been talking with state and federal officials about financing a documentary about the ailing Chesapeake Bay. He confirmed that he'd met with some state officials in Annapolis a few weeks ago to discuss funding the project, though he wasn't naming names.
Government agencies might have an interest in bankrolling such a movie as a way to spread the word that the bay is threatened and needs saving, Levinson said. Even as he pursues public financing, Levinson said it's unlikely he'll ultimately go that route - and not just because government funds are scarcer than PCB-free rockfish.
"A lot of these agencies, they just get tied up in so many knots, it's very difficult for them to move quickly on things," he said.
With or without public financing, Levinson said he's committed to making a movie about the bay, possibly for theatrical release, possibly for cable.
"I've just been trying to think of a way to really kind of get people's attention to the potential disaster that is just ahead in terms of the Chesapeake Bay," said Levinson, who has vacationed on the bay and has relatives who live there year round. "This can't be allowed to die. Forty percent of it is already dead."
Ulman absent but not AWOL
Rest assured, Howard County Exec Ken Ulman is not off hiking the Appalachian Trail, dancing the tango in Argentina or talking tan lines with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. "I am in Solomon's Island for MACO [Maryland Association of Counties] retreat," he Twittered on Thursday. "My wife and my staff know exactly where I am." Spokesman Kevin Enright wasn't backing Ulman up, however. "News to me," Enright e-mailed me. "He told me he was rollerblading thru Patapsco State Park." ... Naked sushi is off the table in Crabtown. Baltimore's liquor board last week denied an application from a pair who'd wanted to serve raw fish atop unclothed women. Don't blame the board for this tragic cultural loss. The would-be restaurateurs, who earlier this year proposed the joint for a former South Street coffee shop not far from The Block, never followed up with the board. "I think they walked away from it," board Chairman Steve Fogleman said. ... At a $125-a-head Maryland Democratic Party gala last week, the table where Deputy Mayor Salima Marriott and other city officials dined collapsed. Chicken, fish, green beans and drinks went flying. U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes was overheard saying it looked like "a Greek wedding." ... Two-time gubernatorial wannabe Ellen Sauerbrey lunched at Paul's Restaurant in Arbutus last week with a first-timer, Charles Lollar, chairman of the Charles County Maryland Republican Central Committee. Lollar told Clem Kaikis, co-owner of Paul's, that he's running for governor and is under the impression that Arbutian Bob Ehrlich will not seek a comeback. ... Further proof that Arbutus remains the center of the political universe, even with Ehrlich in exile: Paul's hosted former Attorney General Joe Curran this week.