Nobody asked me, but ... all that rigmarole in Annapolis about the proposed Guinness brewery in Baltimore County — how many barrels of beer it will be allowed to sell, and how many barrels other breweries will be allowed to sell, and during which hours — has given me a hangover.
Legislation regarding the project has been lobbied and amended to the point where the Guinness brewery might not even be allowed to sell Guinness beer. What nonsense. A Guinness destination brewery here could mean beer tourists from all over the country coming to Baltimore, and that can only be good for the other breweries and bars in the region. The resistance to this is ridiculous.
Nobody asked me, but ... while the latest census shows Baltimore losing population, a deeper dig of data shows poverty in decline and household income rising. In 2010, the Census Bureau's American Community Survey put Baltimore's poverty rate at 25.6 percent. The city's median household income was $38,738. The latest estimate, through July 2016, shows the poverty rate falling to 22.7 percent and household income at $42,241.
The trend fits with a statement from Mayor Catherine Pugh, who attributed a third of Baltimore's recent population loss — about 2,100 people — to the federal housing voucher program that empowers low-income families to move to the suburbs. That program has been underway for several years. It explains, at least in part, the trends reflected in the census. Andrew Kleine, the city's budget director, notes that Baltimore has 13,000 more households earning $50,000 or more and 13,000 fewer households earning less than $50,000.
That trend has been seen in other cities and metropolitan areas. Commenting on the latest census for Forbes, researcher and urban planner Pete Saunders writes: "Young singles, many highly educated and affluent, and older empty nesters, also highly educated and affluent, are moving to [cities], drawn by the allure of amenities, entertainment and access. As part of the flip, the suburbs may gain in the number of residents, but urban areas may gain in relative affluence."
Nobody asked me, but ... among all the impressive facts that Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership, offered in his annual report Wednesday morning, this one stood out: Eighty percent of tenants in 10 Light Street, the Art Deco bank building converted to apartments, are from outside Maryland. And Fowler says the owner of the apartments at 520 Park Ave. reported a similar trend there.
Nobody asked me, but ... we missed an interesting local angle when banker and philanthropist David Rockefeller died March 20: his connection to James Rouse and the development of Columbia.
The two men had a relationship that extended back to at least 1961, when Rouse met with members of the Rockefeller family about a possible development on land they owned in the hamlet of Pocantico Hills outside New York City. Later, Rockefeller's Chase Manhattan Bank became an investor in Columbia, and some 20 years after that, Rockefeller personally gave Rouse an important financial lift.
Charles F. "Chic" Reid, a former mortgage banker who had worked for Rouse, says that in 1987, the development company was short on assets and heavy on debt, and it came close to losing its line of credit with a Maryland bank.
Reid, who later worked for Paine-Webber and served as president of the Maryland Mortgage Bankers Association, says Rouse took a train to New York to visit the grandson of legendary tycoon John D. Rockefeller. "What David Rockefeller did, instead of beginning the lengthy process of arranging a line of credit at Chase Manhattan," says Reid, "was write Jim a personal check for approximately $10 million, which allowed Jim to increase the asset base of the company." When Rouse returned to Baltimore, says Reid, he went directly to a family dinner and showed everyone seated at the table the Rockefeller check.
Nobody asked me — and all due respect to the fine people producing scrumptious pizza throughout this city — but ... my first bite from Paulie Gee's in Hampden was one of the most incredible taste experiences of my life for under $20. I want to thank the couple seated next to me for recommending the Barry White — fresh mozzarella, garlic-infused olive oil, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, black pepper and Aleppo chili oil.
And speaking of pizza in Hampden: A salute to Ribaldi's on Keswick Road. While I waited for my takeout order, I was greatly entertained by the manager's animated presentation of driving directions to a perplexed delivery man. And the pizza was very good.
Nobody asked me, but ... two weeks ago, I saw my first Orioles spring training game in Sarasota, and that was the first time I had seen the Birds in Florida since the 1983 season, and that was the last time Baltimore won the World Series, and that's all I have to say about that.