Dan Rodricks is an award-winning columnist for The Baltimore Sun, writing commentary on local, regional and national news three days a week ...

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Dan Rodricks

Dan Rodricks

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How could Sheila Dixon not know of DeRay Mckesson?

How could Sheila Dixon not know of DeRay Mckesson?

February 5, 2016

Sheila Dixon, who wants to be mayor of Baltimore again, says she'd never heard of DeRay Mckesson before he filed as a candidate for the same office. In telling a Baltimore Sun reporter that, Dixon sounded out of touch. Or maybe she was being disingenuous. Either way, she does not look good.

  • O'Malley felt the Bern more than anyone

    February 2, 2016

    Martin O'Malley and Marco Rubio have something in common: They both finished third in Iowa. Of course, Rubio came within inches of Donald Trump on the Republican side while O'Malley's quest for the Democratic presidential nomination ended at virtual zero. The former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor did not even pull the tiny amount of support reported in a recent poll — 3 percent — that had CNN pundits declaring him "the most important Democrat in Iowa" the day before the caucuses.

  • Nobody asked me, but Fox missed a sting at Trump

    January 30, 2016

    Nobody asked me, but Fox News missed an opportunity for a sting at the debate-boycotting Donald Trump on Thursday night. They could have left an empty lectern to symbolize Trump's arrogant absence. It would have been an appropriately crass thing to do, in perfect pitch with the tone of the Republican presidential campaign. Alas, it did not happen.

  • Baltimore region's reaction to snow isn't amusing anymore

    January 26, 2016

    The first time I experienced Central Maryland's reaction to snow — preemptive school closings, alarmist television and radio reports, panic buying of milk and bread, dogs curling up with cats — I was shocked and amused.

  • Not as mountainous as 'Revenant' figure, but still a legend

    January 23, 2016

    The legend of frontiersman Hugh Glass, the basis for "The Revenant," Alejandro Inarritu's cinematic tour de force starring Leonardo DiCaprio, made me reach for a book about Maryland's own legendary woodsman: Meshach Browning.

  • To resolve O'Malley furniture tiff, call in appraiser

    January 16, 2016

    Among the things we like least in life — cilantro, the harpsichord, crinkly candy wrappers at the movies, head-banger music in diner jukeboxes, city-dwellers who trash city streets, drunken fishermen who trash riverbanks, people who can't utter a single sentence without profanity — there's the blowhard who gleefully points out problems but never offers a solution.

  • To resolve O'Malley furniture tiff, call in appraiser

    January 16, 2016

    Among the things we like least in life — cilantro, the harpsichord, crinkly candy wrappers at the movies, head-banger music in diner jukeboxes, city-dwellers who trash city streets, drunken fishermen who trash riverbanks, people who can't utter a single sentence without profanity — there's the blowhard who gleefully points out problems but never offers a solution.

  • Three things to make a better Baltimore

    January 12, 2016

    With his plans to improve mass transit (Baltimore Link) and to fund the demolition of vacant houses (Project CORE), Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has picked two of the most important things that could be done to improve life in Baltimore.

  • O'Malley is resilient, oblivious or just not lucky

    January 9, 2016

    Nobody asked me, but if I was Martin O'Malley, I'd be pretty grim about now — an ill-tempered sourpuss like Paulie Walnuts from "The Sopranos" when he loses a hand at poker. I couldn't take the humiliation, especially after only one guy showed up in Iowa to hear me talk and still couldn't commit to supporting me. I'd have to bow out of the presidential campaign. I'd leave a call-me-if-you-need-me note with the Democratic National Committee and find a real job.

  • Instead of baking another controversy, Maryland legislator should bake a cake

    December 19, 2015

    Here's a wish for the holiday season: If Del. Patrick McDonough manages to find out where poor people plan to live in Baltimore or Harford counties, he bakes them a cake, or maybe gingerbread cookies, or maybe a lasagna — anything that serves as a housewarming treat.

  • For Porter jury, a briar patch of questions and issues

    December 12, 2015

    Lawyers for the state and the defense will present closing arguments in the trial of Officer William G. Porter on Monday, and I can almost hear them now.

  • An appeal to Chris Davis to stay in Baltimore and help this city

    December 8, 2015

    Dear Chris Davis,

  • We should at least ask more police officers to be 'of Baltimore'

    December 5, 2015

    Officer William G. Porter is the first defendant among the Freddie Gray Six to stand trial. He is also the youngest and perhaps the most sympathetic. For part of his 26 years he lived in the same West Baltimore community that produced Freddie Gray. Porter chose a different path and, more than that, he chose to serve his hometown as a police officer. That's bound to win him some points.

  • Deaths of Laquan McDonald, Freddie Gray show need for citizens with cameras

    December 1, 2015

    One day historians will look back on this period in American life, in which something like a sea opened up to reveal profound problems between police and citizens, and they will attribute the parting of the murk to the mass marketing of small video cameras. The cameras have revealed what most people refused to believe. They empowered citizens. They forced the country into a painful but necessary self-examination.

  • Trying to give thanks in one of Baltimore's worst years ever

    November 25, 2015

    It's the public part of giving thanks that poses a challenge this year, the idea that there must be, perhaps in a Thanksgiving Eve newspaper column, some accounting of the things for which an entire municipality should be grateful. But I'm not feeling it. What I'm feeling instead are potholes. I'm sitting by the window of an MTA bus, watching the city go by as dusk falls, and the potholes rattle my bones. Could Baltimore have had a worse year than 2015?

  • Paris, Syria, fear-mongering make Trump ascendant

    November 21, 2015

    Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who together have the support of nearly half of all Republican primary voters, employ the same trick as they campaign for president, a kind of rhetorical hit-and-run.

  • 300 killings hark back to the bad old '90s

    November 14, 2015

    It has been 20 years since Baltimore was a city of 700,000 people. It has been shrinking ever since. We've lost about 80,000 residents since 1995. For that reason — the trend toward a smaller city — I started to believe that we'd never again see 300 homicides in a single year. There just can't be that much anger, stupidity and hatred in this city.

  • In terrorism war, as in domestic crime fight, lawful policing matters

    November 14, 2015

    Americans watching the horror in Paris should thank the National Security Agency and the nation's terrorist-watch establishment for keeping us generally safe from such attacks in the 14 years since our 9/11 nightmare. Even those who decried the NSA's massive data-gathering operations, as revealed by Edward Snowden, should feel some measure of gratitude for the thousands of anonymous, law-abiding NSA employees who keep an eye and an ear on things from inside that big, spooky building in Central Maryland.

  • Baltimore doesn't have 'perception' problem, it has a reality problem

    November 14, 2015

    I received one of those Baltimore-is-hell letters from a reader who perceives that crime has become so bad that the city is now "a nightmare that cannot get worse." I found it very depressing, but then I was already feeling dark when the letter arrived. A homicide count that we have not seen in 20 years — and that we thought we'd never see again — will do that to you.

  • Pluses and minuses of rewards for reporting shootings

    November 7, 2015

    As the stupid killings continue in Baltimore, pulling us back to the 300-a-year level we have not seen since the dismal, crack-infested 1990s, I have a question: If we offered fabulous rewards for information leading to the arrest of bad guys with guns — those who've just shot someone — could we slow the rate of homicides?

  • James Island losing ground in the Chesapeake

    November 3, 2015

    Maybe it was just the way the place looked from a boat on Saturday, or maybe it was Kent Mountford's essay that mentioned how the place used to be inhabited, or maybe it was due to the arrival of a new book about the Piscataway and other natives of Maryland — whatever it was, I found myself trying to imagine what life was like on James Island before the English arrived 400 years ago.

  • Nobody asked me about the Ravens, Mosby or bacon, but ...

    November 1, 2015

    Nobody asked me, but I think the 1-6 Ravens are going to come up winners in Sunday's games against the 1-6 Detroit Lions, who have scored 61 fewer points than their opponents. ... Wait. You say we're not playing the Lions? We're playing the 2-5 San Diego Chargers? Oh, well. As Emily Litella used to say: "Never mind."

  • A powerful and punishing finale in the Heather Cook case

    October 27, 2015

    For seventy-five minutes, the women who knew and loved Tom Palermo — his mother, his mother-in-law, his wife, his sisters-in-law — spoke for him while the woman who had killed him, Heather Cook, sat motionless at the trial table eight feet away, taking a punishment that will make seven years in prison seem like blessed relief.

  • Please do not dump more lost souls on our streets

    October 24, 2015

    To all the politicians, Republican and Democrat, who are currently experiencing an epiphany about this nation's world-leading incarceration rate, I make a modest request: Please don't start another round of deinstitutionalization without coughing up the money and services needed to avoid another human disaster on the streets of our cities and towns.

  • A Bostonian asks: Are you still bullish on Baltimore?

    October 20, 2015

    Luis Cardona asks a challenging question: "Are you still bullish on Baltimore?" He means, in light of the fallout from the death of Freddie Gray — the April looting and fires, the profiling of Baltimore by the national media as a city beset with profound social problems approaching the dystopian — am I still hopeful of the city's prospects?

  • A black pioneer honors his white mentor

    October 17, 2015

    When Victor McTeer left McDaniel College in 1969 — it was called Western Maryland College back then — he was not only glad to be done with the place, but bitter about his experience there. He was one of the first black students to attend the school, and only 16 years old in his freshman year. A graduate of Forest Park High School in Baltimore, McTeer had received a full scholarship to attend the college and play football; he been named to the Associated Press Little All-America team.

  • Through the legal weeds to a ruling in Freddie Gray case

    October 13, 2015

    Having made many visits to the place, I have long held the suspicion that those who did the interior decorating of Baltimore's Courthouse East, where the Freddie Gray hearings are held, never sat through a trial. The design team selected for the courthouse renovations 25 years ago certainly never sat through tedious arguments like those we heard Tuesday.

  • How Hogan can best help city deal with vacants

    September 26, 2015

    It's one of those things somebody says at a backyard barbecue when the subject turns to Baltimore and what needs to be done to make the city a better place: "For one thing, they should tear down all those vacant houses."

  • What happened to the Ben Carson Baltimore once knew?

    September 26, 2015

    Nobody asked me but … The Ben Carson thing is totally obvious. He's just trying to Trump The Trump, and he's had plenty of practice over the last 18 months. In fact, given Carson's record of offensive remarks, you could argue that Trump stole the strategy from the retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon. Saying anything that pops into your head, no matter how repulsive it might be, seems to work like magic. Trump and Carson were still leading the Republican presidential pack, according to polls, when Carson offered his latest scurrility over the weekend — that he could never support an American Muslim for president. It was cheap and ugly, but playing the Evil Islam card seems to serve his candidacy. "People in Iowa particularly, are like, 'Yeah! We're not going to vote for a Muslim either,'" said Carson's campaign manager, Barry Bennett. "I don't mind the hubbub. It's not hurting us, that's for sure."

  • Prosecutor's commitment makes a city neighborhood safer

    September 18, 2015

    Our City of Perpetual Recovery needs follow-through. It needs focus. Baltimore needs institutional grit and determination. It needs public servants with an abiding aversion to unfinished business. Whether carrying out the good or reversing the bad — a crime wave, an underperforming school, a street with a chronic trash problem — we need people with steely commitment. That's what I'm talking about.

  • 'Normalization' of marijuana doesn't necessarily mean wider use

    September 16, 2015

    I thought Republicans supported reason and free enterprise, and yet here's Steve Schuh, the Republican executive of Anne Arundel County, getting his socks in a knot about the prospect of someone growing, processing and dispensing marijuana for medical purposes along the banks of the Severn. He wants to ban in his county what a new state law allows. Schuh worries that people who get therapeutic cannabis might end up becoming dealers.

  • Baltimore needs stability in police ranks, big changes at City Hall

    September 16, 2015

    Forty-seven years ago — a time of social upheaval, severe racial division and demoralizing urban unrest (sound familiar?) — an incumbent mayor of Baltimore decided to sit out the next election. Before Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's surprise announcement on Friday, that was the last time it had happened.

  • Baltimore should give Davis a chance -- and a contract one year into next mayor's term

    September 16, 2015

    Asked one month ago why Kevin Davis, the “interim” Baltimore police commissioner, was “interim” commissioner -- and not simply commissioner -- Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake seemed put off by the question.

  • This year changed everything for Baltimore – and the mayor

    September 11, 2015

    "She's toast" has been the most common thing said about Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's re-election chances since the April 27 riot. I've also heard people describe her recently as "defeated." The other adjectives ("cool," "cold," "aloof") were always in the mix, but, when things were going well — that is, before the death of Freddie Gray — they were seen merely as character traits, not flaws.

  • Three questions for prospective Freddie Gray jurors

    September 10, 2015

    Now that Judge Barry "No Nonsense" Williams has ruled that the six police officers charged in connection with Freddie Gray's arrest and death must stand trial in Baltimore, I'm trying to imagine jury selection — the kinds of questions we might get during voir dire, and the answers we might give. It's a mind game nearly 300,000 jury-duty-eligible Baltimoreans can play.

  • Remembering the boy with a starfish in his hand

    September 6, 2015

    Once upon a time, he was a little boy with a starfish in his hand: Steven Krug. His father called him Stevie. They took a vacation trip to Puget Sound, in Washington state, in 1975. The Krug family traveled across the country in a Dodge conversion van to visit one of Tom Krug's buddies from the Navy, a fellow submariner who had moved to an artists colony near Bellingham. There was an outing in a raft, and someone took the picture of Stevie with the starfish.

  • Mosby's chief deputy steps forward to defend her

    September 2, 2015

    Michael Schatzow is the very serious man with the curly white hair who stands behind Marilyn Mosby at news conferences. On May 1, when the state's attorney loudly announced charges against the Freddie Gray Six — now the Freddie Gray One-At-A-Time-Times-Six — the nation got its first look not only at Mosby, but also at Schatzow, a longtime attorney who came out of retirement from a prestigious law firm to become her chief deputy.

  • Last round of arguments about the OMG Orioles of 2015

    September 2, 2015

    Guy in a bar wants to argue about the Nelson Cruz thing. We're in Rocket to Venus in Hampden, and it's happy hour, which means you can get three eight-ounce drafts for $4, and it's Tuesday, which means the chicken wings are half price. So the place gets busy fast, and everyone seems to be happy during happy hour — until someone mentions the Orioles.

  • Remembering Marvin Mandel, an amiable pipe-smoker in a real-life soap opera

    August 31, 2015

    If you are too young to remember the trials of Marvin Mandel, let me provide a highlight from that political soap-opera: Pipe-puffing Jewish-American governor from Baltimore leaves his wife of 32 years for a younger woman from southern Maryland gentry; the spurned First Lady, known as “Bootsie,” refuses to leave the governor’s mansion; the governor moves into an Annapolis hotel. Making only $25,000 a year at the time -- “He loved beyond his means,” quipped the late columnist Mary McGrory --  the governor turns to friends and an order of Roman Catholic priests for help financing his divorce.

  • Dancing the Patapsco Tango

    August 29, 2015

    At the bus stop at Maryland and North, a middle-aged guy named Frank — I know his first name immediately from the patch on his uniform shirt — greets me in the sunshine of Friday morning. It's a beautiful day in Baltimore, and Frank is headed to work, and that's the good news. He spent several months looking for a job before finally landing one at Jiffy Lube. But here's the bad news: Frank hasn't had a steady income long enough to keep up with his rent, so he's facing eviction; to avoid eviction, he spends his spare time visiting charities looking for help. He says he's raised about half what he owes.

  • A '12 O'Clock Boys' theme park for Baltimore

    August 27, 2015

    Lotfy Nathan spent about five years working on "12 O'Clock Boys," his 75-minute documentary about Baltimore's dirt-bike culture, its title taken from the vertical position to which the riders aspire when they pop wheelies in the streets near Druid Hill Park.

  • Commissioner responds to a citizen's complaints, but what next?

    August 24, 2015

    With William Donald Schaefer as mayor of Baltimore from 1971 until 1987, those of us in the local press were used to same-day service. That is, Schaefer read the local newspapers each day and, if he spotted something that appeared to warrant the city's attention, from grime to crime to a business about to relocate, he'd get on it right away.

  • Ben Jealous opts for 'social-impact investing' over mayoral run

    August 21, 2015

    People fretting about the city's future and looking for new leadership have asked Ben Jealous to consider running for mayor of Baltimore — certainly one of the toughest jobs in America — and there should be no surprise in that. A Columbia graduate and Rhodes Scholar, Jealous was just 35 when he became president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In the five years he spent at its Baltimore headquarters, he returned the NAACP to relevance, re-energized the organization and improved its finances. He's only 42 now, and based in Baltimore with a venture capital firm with a social conscience.

  • Living at the edge of the struggle for a decent Baltimore

    August 19, 2015

    The mayor of Baltimore — either the one we have now or the one we get after the election in 2016 — must find a way to help the man I met Wednesday morning. The mayor of Baltimore must find a way to keep him from moving his family out of the city. He already has one foot in Baltimore County, and it would be a shame — a tragedy, really — if we lost him for good. His departure would augur poorly for what remains of the city's middle class.

  • Harvest improves, but guilt-free crab still elusive

    August 17, 2015

    Nobody asked me — because I'm still abstaining from eating crabs — but … Apparently, the 2015 harvest has picked up.

  • Where's the Republican candidate for mayor?

    August 15, 2015

    Another email arrived the other day from a citizen who blames Democrats for everything bad about Baltimore — for the poverty and the potholes, the homicides and homelessness, the high property taxes and the trash in the Inner Harbor. These assertions have been arriving in a moderate flow since the April riot, framed between harsh criticism of Baltimore's Democratic mayor and soaring praise for Maryland's Republican governor who "saved the city."

  • Judge Nance goes beyond 'inappropriate' this time

    August 12, 2015

    It must be tempting at times for a judge to tell trial lawyers, in chambers or even during a bench conference, just how bad they are. Judges who themselves had respectable careers as attorneys — and presumably most of them did — must cringe at what they hear from time to time from inexperienced, obnoxious or over-the-top attorneys.

  • On Baltimore crime, dirt bikes, arabbers and buses

    August 10, 2015

    Nobody asked me but … Kevin Davis, who took over as Baltimore police commissioner last month, faces the tallest challenge of anyone who has held that position in recent history, and I'm including Donald Pomerleau in that. Pomerleau was top cop during the riots of 1968, and he faced a police strike in 1974. The strike lasted two weeks. Pomerleau lasted 15 years, a breathtaking feat when you consider that the city has had 12 police commissioners in the 34 years since he retired. Pomerleau's Baltimore saw years of 300-plus homicides — the last of his tenure was in 1972 — but the city had 275,000 more residents than it does today. So not only is the new guy, Davis, facing a rate of shootings and killings not seen since the crack-infested 1990s, but he's dealing with a recalcitrant rank-and-file, cops who feel burned by the Freddie Gray case. They are not on strike, as they were in 1974, but it certainly feels like a lot of them have taken a knee. So, mustering the troops to stop the bleeding as a city tries to heal from a riot and prepare for a high-profile trial of six police officers — Kevin Davis might have, in the moment, the toughest job in the country.

  • 40 years later, ex-cop supports once-notorious felon's release

    August 7, 2015

    Forty years ago, Wendell Beard achieved considerable notoriety in our part of the world. Baltimore police knew him first and knew him best; they arrested Beard 36 times, once for manslaughter, before his 18th birthday.

  • A 'fishable' Baltimore Harbor, but is it safe?

    August 5, 2015

    Now that I've tried it a few times, with a little success, I can say this about fly-fishing for rockfish from the Inner Harbor promenade: You have to watch out for joggers on your back-cast. If you're not careful, you'll hook one, and that could mean litigation, and that could take all the fun out of fishing.

  • Three ways to stop violence from happening

    August 5, 2015

    Nathan "Pop" Thomas Sr., a leader in the 300 Men March anti-violence movement, calls himself a "recovering thug" who once supported his family by dealing drugs. Eight years ago, his brother, David Thomas, was murdered in the Rosemont neighborhood of West Baltimore. "And I swore vengeance," Pop Thomas says, "not against the person who killed my brother, but against violence itself."

  • Kamenetz taking leadership on transit, housing

    August 1, 2015

    As for that idea I floated a few months ago: that Gov. Larry Hogan and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake should work together on a comprehensive, post-Freddie Gray, post-riot plan for the city's recovery. Forget about it. There are no takers.

  • In post-Freddie Gray Baltimore, the need for body cameras

    July 29, 2015

    What we have here is a he said/he said story originating with a West Baltimore man's complaint about how police and federal agents treated him one morning two weeks ago. It's the kind of story that, pre-Freddie Gray, I might have skipped, because concluding who's wrong and who's right is too hard. There's no cellphone video.

  • A 'new' O'Malley talking criminal justice reform in Iowa

    July 27, 2015

    If he had not been planning to run for president for several years — with many of his decisions and positions as Maryland governor poured into that calculus — I would be tempted to say that Martin O'Malley's views on criminal justice had "evolved," that his current beliefs resulted from a thoughtful process free of political calculation.

  • Dan Rodricks: Making homelessness 'rare and brief' a work in progress

    July 24, 2015

    Here's a strange thought from several years ago, when Our Daily Bread, perhaps the best-known of Baltimore's soup kitchens, moved from its original location, a rowhouse on Franklin Street, to a new building at the corner of Franklin and Cathedral. I looked at the new place and wondered why it had been built of brick and mortar instead of canvas or cardboard. The brick and mortar seemed so ... permanent.

  • Marylanders who opposed gas tax hike reap its benefits

    July 22, 2015

    Here's what I'd like to see, and I know many readers will join me in the wish: a Maryland elected official who stands on principle and refuses to be a hypocrite. That would make my day. How about yours?

  • Martin O'Malley is no Donald Trump, and good for him

    July 20, 2015

    Here's a quick study in contrasts from the weekend: Donald Trump, surging in the Republican presidential polls, mocks John McCain's service during the Vietnam War, then refuses to apologize for it, while Martin O'Malley, last in the latest poll on the Democratic side, apologizes for saying "all lives matter" to a group of "Black Lives Matter" protesters who heckled him.

  • Living dangerously in Baltimore, texting while skating

    July 19, 2015

    Texting While Skating: I've seen it three times now — most recently Friday afternoon — while waiting for the bus at St. Paul and 23rd in Baltimore: A young guy, fashionably urban, sporting a baseball cap, smartphone in hand, earbuds in ears, texting while skateboarding, living dangerously.

  • Who knew Hogan, Rutherford were such transit geeks?

    July 15, 2015

    It takes something — gall, maybe, but certainly a lack of humility — for a man who has no expertise in public transportation or urban planning to tell those who do that they've got it all wrong. That's what Maryland has in both Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford.

  • Baltimore crime fight meets battle of pessimism vs. optimism

    July 14, 2015

    That the mayor of Baltimore and the new police commissioner want to establish a "war room" approach to curtailing the surge of shootings and killings — that, during another of our crazy-bloody weekends, they called a Sunday evening news conference to announce it — was optically effective. It looked good. It conveyed a sense of urgency that we haven't seen for a while.

  • Dan Rodricks: From gang killing to Gray case, the book on depraved-heart murder

    July 13, 2015

    The line from the murder of 15-year-old Adrian Edmonds on July 14, 1992, to the death in police custody of Freddie Gray runs from West Baltimore to the grand old courthouse on Calvert Street, to Annapolis and Maryland's highest court, and from there into a trusted textbook on the various forms of homicide by a widely respected judge who lectures other judges on the subject.

  • Marching across Baltimore, city in perpetual recovery

    July 11, 2015

    Friday evening, on my way to the 300 Men March against the hideous surge in killings across Baltimore, I happened upon one of those odd and amusing scenes that rise from the city's creative spirit and its flair for organized spontaneity — men, women and children gathered on a corner lot to make spoons.

  • Davis takeover offers break in Baltimore's season of pessimism

    July 8, 2015

    At noon on Tuesday, in a sudden break from the pessimism that has been as pervasive as the spring-summer rains, I allowed myself to feel some promise for Baltimore in the presence of a fellow in a brown suit named Kevin Davis. He sat for an hourlong interview on my radio show, answered questions and spoke openly about the Baltimore Police Department's need to restore trust with citizens in order to stop the killings.

  • A few words about Sheila, Blaze and Buck

    July 3, 2015

    Missing an adjective: I left on my cluttered desk a four-letter word I meant to use in Thursday's column about Sheila Dixon wanting to be mayor again: weak. That best describes the half-hearted, five-years-too-late apology Dixon offered on WJZ-TV in May for her 2010 embezzlement conviction. You don't need to be a Clintonian word-parser to see that "I am sorry for what happened" is evasive and quite different from what Dixon needs to have said: "I am sorry for what I did." The former sounds like she's just sorry for getting caught and causing a fuss.

  • Breaking down Baltimoreans on Sheila Dixon

    July 1, 2015

    All Baltimoreans who were here for her trial knew this day was coming — the day Sheila Gift Card would announce her intention to regain the office she dishonored. I'm guessing we split into three camps:

  • Supreme Court ruling supports push for affordable housing

    June 29, 2015

    A vote by the Anne Arundel County Council in January smelled like a lawsuit waiting to happen, and if anyone was thinking of bringing one, the Supreme Court last week might have provided more grounds than already existed.

  • Hogan, Rawlings-Blake blow opportunity born in unrest

    June 27, 2015

    So much for opportunity born of diversity -- that is, the idea that the Republican governor of Maryland could form a partnership with the Democratic mayor of Baltimore in the smoky aftermath of April's riot to address the long-festering problems that shackle the city and make it a drag on the entire region. It's not going to happen, and both Gov. Larry Hogan and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake are to blame.

  • Expert disagrees with 'homicide' conclusion in Gray's death

    June 24, 2015

    Opinion: Asked about the Maryland medical examiner's conclusion that Freddie Gray's death from injuries sustained in police custody was a homicide, Dr. Vincent DiMaio, one of the nation's leading forensic pathologists, said: "I'd have to respectfully disagree, and I know a number of other medical examiners do. It would be more appropriate to have classified this case as either an accident or 'undetermined,' because the way it's being called a homicide is, in a way, something that a jury has to decide. A medical examiner is not a lawyer, is not a jury. … They're saying [Gray's death] was not an unforeseen event. That's something for a jury to decide, not the doctor to decide."

  • Hogan announcement forces personal reflections in all of us

    June 22, 2015

    The words "cancer," "very advanced and very aggressive" scare the mightiest of men and women. Gov. Larry Hogan's announcement late Monday afternoon was the second such announcement from an accomplished middle-aged man within the last week, the other coming to me in an email from a friend. But it was also the second declaration of resolve and determination within the last week — the second time I heard courage and even humor from a man faced with the greatest challenge of his life.

  • First son, now grandson taken by Baltimore violence

    June 13, 2015

    Here we go again — to Jessie Snead's house at the corner of Reisterstown Road and Hilldale Avenue in Northwest Baltimore. And just in case I don't remember the location, the woman known to some of her children and grandchildren as Mama Bell says, "You'll see the balloons."

  • All state's attorneys are political, Marilyn Mosby just more so

    June 10, 2015

    Marilyn Mosby, the state's attorney for Baltimore and the woman who very publicly brought charges against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, has been accused of — how shall I put this? — being political. There's a flash. Defense lawyers for the accused officers say Mosby ought to recuse herself because of a political relationship with Billy Murphy, the attorney for the Gray family, and because she's married to a city councilman who represents the district where Gray's arrest took place.

  • A plan to lift Baltimore region from good to great

    June 8, 2015

    I have read a lot of reports and recommendations for improving life in metropolitan Baltimore over the years — some interesting, some scathing, many bland or puny-minded, most ignored or forgotten. The regional plan released Monday by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council goes further in describing our problems than any report I've seen from a local government entity; it's refreshingly honest about the area's racial, economic and social issues, and it provides a road map to a "shared regional destiny" that is clear and even bold.

  • How history and voters will judge Hogan, Rawlings-Blake

    June 6, 2015

    Let me repeat: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has an opportunity to not only reverse the fortunes of Baltimore, but to give the entire metropolitan region a huge boost by mounting a bipartisan, city-suburban, public-private effort to address the deep-seated problems that surfaced with April's rioting and turmoil.

  • How Baltimore can save $415,000 and be safer

    June 3, 2015

    The Rawlings-Blake administration has allocated more than $400,000 over two years for an anti-violence program, even though a similar approach already has been tried by Baltimore police and federal prosecutors — with great success, and at a fraction of the cost.

  • No longer a Clinton Democrat, O'Malley moves left

    May 30, 2015

    Until Saturday morning, Martin O'Malley was a centrist Democrat who made his bones as a tough-on-crime Baltimore mayor and as a competent Maryland governor who led from behind on issues that would have marked him as liberal before he saw any political advantage to it.

  • In Baltimore's bloody May, Safe Streets keeps peace

    May 27, 2015

    I'm looking at some numbers and speaking with James Timpson, who runs the Safe Streets violence prevention program in Park Heights, and I'm wondering: Why aren't these guys in every high-crime corner of the city? If the mayor and police commissioner want to make some "adjustments" to curtail the shootings and killings in Baltimore, why not expand Safe Streets — and now?

  • Dan Rodricks: In Oakland, Md., tradition demands a Memorial pause for those departed

    May 25, 2015

    OAKLAND — In this "great small town" at the western edge of Maryland, they have observed Memorial Day on the last Monday of May every year since 1893, with a procession up the hill from Third Street and a ceremony under an oak tree and a hemlock in the town cemetery.

  • Dan Rodricks: Time for leaders to do right thing for Baltimore's poorest kids

    May 23, 2015

    I posed a question to Barbara Mikulski: Does Maryland's long-serving senator, a Democrat and former social worker, regret playing a key role 20 years ago in killing the federal Moving To Opportunity project, given new research that shows Baltimore's poorest children face the worst prospects in the nation for the kind of upward mobility MTO was meant to foster?

  • Talk of moving Preakness last thing Baltimore needs

    May 20, 2015

    Allow me to send a facetious thank-you to Sal Sinatra, the second-year general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club who, just a week after one of the worst periods in Baltimore's history, publicly raised the idea of moving the Preakness out of town. Great, and thank you very much.

  • Owner of burned-out liquor store unsure about reopening

    May 16, 2015

    More than 400 people have donated more than $32,000 to a "rebuild fund" for John Chae, the West Baltimore liquor store owner who was beaten and burned out of business during the April 27 rioting. But while grateful for the support, Chae is not sure he will rebuild his store — and he's well aware that some people will be pleased to hear that.

  • After Freddie Gray, mayor needs governor for Baltimore's big fix

    May 13, 2015

    Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has taken the full force of derision for her handling of the riots. All kinds of experts, both the self-asserted and those lettered in criminology, have offered hours of merciless criticism of Rawlings-Blake, and she's still dogged by the ludicrous allegation that she told police to give rioters "space" to destroy property.

  • Gang members quelled riots, should stop Baltimore's bleeding

    May 12, 2015

    Here's an idea: Let's have Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young call on those gang members who helped quell violence on Riot Monday to help quell violence the other 364 days of the year.

  • Baltimore had lots of warning about issues surrounding Freddie Gray

    May 11, 2015

    This year marks two decades since two important events in the efforts to get Baltimoreans to face hard truths about Baltimore — David Rusk's warning that a city in decline could pull the whole metropolitan region down and the filing of a major class-action lawsuit to end decades of segregative housing policy that left the city with a disproportionate share of the region's poor.

  • Gov. Hogan has a grand opportunity to help Baltimore

    May 9, 2015

    Gov. Larry Hogan has an opportunity to not only reverse the fortunes of Baltimore, but to give the entire metropolitan area a boost while charting a new course for the Republican Party — right through the heart of a city that represents all that's wrong with racial separatism, neglected social problems and partisan politics.

  • A quiet Monday turns into riot and fire

    May 2, 2015

    Monday afternoon, before the rioters reached him, John Chae found the streets around his West Baltimore liquor store unusually quiet.

  • Baltimore can improve from crucible forged by Freddie Gray

    May 2, 2015

    The arrests of a police lieutenant, a sergeant and four officers in the death of Freddie Gray take Baltimore deeper into the crucible, where everything is being tested, everything is on the line -- the system of criminal justice and civil order, the relationships between the black and white citizens who live and work here, the very future of the city and perhaps the nation.

  • At Resurrection Intersection, holding on to what's important

    April 28, 2015

    Someone set a BMW on fire in front of the rowhouse where Elder C.W. Harris lives on Presstman Street in West Baltimore. It was Monday night, one of the worst in the history of the city, so the minister and his wife, Amelia, walked up to the corner known as Resurrection Intersection to make sure the things they care about survived.

  • The 'other Baltimore' breaks through

    April 28, 2015

    It was hard to tell exactly where the music was coming from — perhaps from the large yellow van at the corner of North Avenue and Monroe Street — but the song was clear and loud: Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror," which goes: "I'm starting with the man in the mirror, I'm asking him to change his ways." A skinny man danced to the song on the roof of the van, washed in the flickering blue-white light from a police helicopter.

  • Elijah Cummings' powerful voice and heavy heart

    April 27, 2015

    I don't know if he could ever stop teenagers from doing stupid and violent things, but, if any man could command attention — and even persuade his fellow citizens to keep the protests of Freddie Gray's death in the days ahead forceful but peaceful — it's the 64-year-old congressman who stood front and center to make such a plea Sunday at Bethel AME Church in West Baltimore.

  • The fragile dream of the Next Baltimore cracks

    April 25, 2015

    Saturday afternoon, when things were still peaceful and the Freddie Gray marchers first reached Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, that long asphalt barrier that separates some of the poorest neighborhoods of West Baltimore from the central part of the city, first boys on bicycles, then men with raised hands brought traffic to a halt at the busy intersection with Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • Freddie Gray a victim of America's longest war

    April 23, 2015

    Owing likely to the diligence of a clerk, the Maryland District Court records on Freddie Gray already have been updated. The disposition of Case No. 5B02287290, in which Gray was charged with attempted distribution of an unspecified illegal drug, appears capitalized and in boldface: ABATED BY DEATH.

  • Eyes wide open to problems experienced by black men

    April 20, 2015

    "Innocent people don't run from cops," a follower posted on my Facebook page, a comment on the circumstances that ultimately led to the death of Freddie Gray. To which I respond: "Easy for a white man to say."

  • Video of Gray arrest begs faster answers to troubling questions

    April 20, 2015

    We now have, thanks to a court document examined Monday by Sun reporters Justin Fenton and Jessica Anderson, the first bit of light about why Baltimore police arrested Freddie Gray a week ago Sunday.

  • Where giving second chances is a company ethic

    April 18, 2015

    Here's what we hope for today — that Raekwon Newman, age 19, fully understands that he's much better off with a rake in his hands than with a gun. Nothing about that means he'll spend the rest of his life raking mulch. It just means his pursuit of happiness will likely go better if he stays on the path he's on now — no concealed weapon, and a job with a company run by men who care about him.

  • Standing on a principle about baseball and A-Rod

    April 15, 2015

    I was really tempted to turn my back on A-Rod when he came to bat for the Yankees with two outs in the top of the ninth Tuesday night at Camden Yards, but good thing I didn't. I would have missed his lame grounder to short that ended the game.

  • Maryland's junior senator steps into bigger spotlight

    April 14, 2015

    Six weeks ago, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski announced that she would not seek re-election in 2016, signaling the end of a long and loud career in Congress. Though she slowed down a bit in recent years, Mikulski always garnered more media attention than other members of the state's congressional delegation, and certainly far more than Paul Sarbanes, the brilliant but quiet man conservatives once ridiculed as Maryland's "stealth senator."

  • Visa issue forces landscaper to try hiring local again

    April 11, 2015

    Unable to find and retain reliable workers who are citizens of these United States, Gibson "Gibby" Porter did what many employers in the landscaping business did: He imported help from Mexico, and he did it legally, within the limits of a government-controlled program.

  • Avoid regrets, make a Baltimore Bucket List

    April 4, 2015

    I herewith present a Baltimore Bucket List — that is, an inventory of things in Baltimore you think you have done, but actually have never done, or have not done for a long time, and if you do not do these things soon, you or these things might no longer be here and you will suffer Haussner's Regret.

  • Enablers of 'bad guys with guns' hard to trace

    April 1, 2015

    Many years ago, I worked a breaking news story about a Baltimore businessman who had been shot to death outside his office on the way to the company's annual Christmas party. I got one of the victim's business associates on the phone and asked him a bunch of questions, including: "Did you do it?"

  • Beyond race, building a movement for economic fairness

    March 30, 2015

    With regard to all the recent public discourse on race and racism, I say this: Highlighting, protesting and reducing instances of excessive force by police is important. Curtailing violent crime among young black men deserves new urgency, especially in Baltimore. But more important is the need for a populist movement to change an economic system that leaves millions of Americans — black, white and brown — running in place or falling behind.

  • Nearly 40 years later, Debbie Harris will get her ring back

    March 28, 2015

    If it's OK with you, I'd like to start today's column with a happy ending and some thanks. The thanks go to Mike McGee of Courtside Investigations in Towson for finding the woman whose Douglass High School class ring appeared in a photograph with this column on Tuesday.

  • On saving boys from violence, 'We gotta be one city'

    March 25, 2015

    I asked Cameron Miles, who has been mentoring Baltimore boys for nearly 20 years, what a white guy can do. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has called for black men to enlist in a campaign against violence by mentoring boys and young men, and she drew a large crowd of potential volunteers, most of them black, to Empowerment Temple on Tuesday night.

  • Seeking owner of a ring left mysteriously by his dad

    March 23, 2015

    We might never know where or when Charles Stran came across the ring. The man was a painter in Baltimore for nearly 50 years, so he might have found it in one of the many properties, commercial as well as residential, where his work took him.

  • For Under Armour, why not 'UA Made in the USA'?

    March 21, 2015

    When I consider what Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour, has going on — running a global sports apparel company that broke $3 billion in sales last year; developing a new hotel in Fells Point across the harbor from UA's Baltimore HQ; rolling out a sparkling vision for the redevelopment of Port Covington, including a whiskey distillery; raising thoroughbred racehorses on historic Sagamore Farm — all I can say is: Whew!

  • Baltimore housing still segregated, but Jim Crow is gone

    March 18, 2015

    Does Baltimore have a race problem? The nation has a race problem. Why should we be any different? But cutting through the thicket and thorns of general racism to get to the specific issue raised by the city's police commissioner takes some paring and parsing.

  • Making users of the 'magic pipe' pay for pollution

    March 9, 2015

    Among men who work on the big ships that carry cars and trucks from Asia to North American ports, including the busy one in Baltimore, it's known as the "magic pipe," apparently because it can make thousands of gallons of oily waste-water disappear from a ship at sea in the middle of the night.

  • O'Malley's star rises a little as Clinton's gets tarnished

    March 7, 2015

    Nobody asked me, but I'm pretty sure the chances of Martin O'Malley being the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee moved from no-way to just far-fetched in the last week. (Definition of "far-fetched" from "Highly imaginative but unlikely.")

  • Mikulski's legacy starts with the 'battle of the road'

    March 2, 2015

    By the time Barbara Mikulski ran for Congress in 1976, you could see the scorched earth of the battles she and others had fought against a federal highway plan that would have turned downtown Baltimore and some of its best neighborhoods into an ugly savannah of concrete.

  • End 'rain tax' ridicule rap, repeal and replace law

    February 28, 2015

    I don't know about anyone else around here, but I am sick of hearing about the "rain tax," which is the clever shorthand the snarkosphere came up with three years ago to describe something that takes a lot more than two words to explain.

  • A freed man, Chris Conover lived under shadow of doubts

    February 25, 2015

    If Chris Conover's attorneys ask Maryland's Republican governor to approve a pardon that his Democratic predecessor rejected, they will have a new, irrefutable argument to make: Conover is no threat to society, if he ever was. He took his own life last week.

  • Baltimore man helps Christian militia fight ISIS in Iraq

    February 23, 2015

    Matthew Van Dyke, the native Baltimorean, self-made freedom fighter and film documentarian, emerged from the shadows last week to report his latest adventure with a Tweet: "I am in #Iraq helping to raise a Christian army to fight #ISIS."

  • Being taxpayers at a time when big bills come due

    February 21, 2015

    Nobody asked me, but if members of the Baltimore City Council are shocked that the schools are running up a $60 million budget deficit, then some of them need to be shocked by voters in the next city primary (April 5, 2016).

  • Real-time tracking could mean new riders for MTA

    February 18, 2015

    It is the best of times and the worst of times for the launch of the Maryland Transit Administration's online, real-time bus-tracking system, now available on the MTA website via desktop computer and mobile phone.

  • Tax breaks come back to bite Baltimore

    February 14, 2015

    Back during the first wave of Big John absurdity — huge property tax breaks for politically influential developers of commercial real estate in Baltimore — I made jokes about it. I thought it was ridiculously funny. It was also outrageous. But one had to laugh or one's head would explode.

  • More 'Agony in the Garden' over Cook arrest

    February 11, 2015

    The Episcopal Church's very public "Agony in the Garden" over the Heather Cook case — with most of the angst focused on whether church leaders knew about her drinking problem before they made her a bishop — continues. Now a high-ranking official is calling for the national church to officially "repent for our role" in the death of bicyclist Thomas Palermo.

  • Taking comfort in the warmth of homemade blankets, quilts

    February 9, 2015

    The brain can only take so much confirmation of depravity — that is, the daily news of people doing violence to others, down the street or across the oceans.

  • Going after the enablers of 'bad guys with guns'

    February 8, 2015

    Where do criminals get guns? I'll explore that question a lot this year because the supply of guns to people prohibited from having them remains a principal cause of Baltimore's violent eruptions. When a convicted felon can allegedly walk out of his house with an AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle and a 9 mm handgun and kill two men in a dispute over a parking space, we need to know: Who enabled him? Where'd he get the guns?

  • As Harris votes again for repeal, constituents get Obamacare

    February 5, 2015

    Once again, the mostly male, mostly well-insured Republican majority of the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the law that extends health insurance to millions of Americans through Medicaid expansion, subsidies and mandates. Those who keep count say this was the 56th time Republicans voted to kill Obamacare.

  • Let's help the poor, but not too close to home

    February 2, 2015

    We recently got a good dose of John Grasso's bilious blather about poor people and the idea that government should help provide them with a place to live at affordable rents. The poor "have issues," the Anne Arundel councilman said, adding that affordable housing policy was largely to blame for Baltimore's problems. "What I don't want," he said, "is that situation of Baltimore City migrating its way to Anne Arundel County."

  • With new governor, Maryland gets new, cheesy greeting

    January 31, 2015

    "We're Open For Business" is now Maryland's official state greeting. That cheesy expression appears on 20 yellow-and-white welcome signs on roads leading into the state. The words were added a couple of weeks ago, at the same time State Highway Administration crews attached Gov. Larry Hogan's name to the signs.

  • Hogan misses Republican dad's lesson on pollution

    January 27, 2015

    Early in his inaugural address last week, Maryland's new Republican governor invoked his father, Lawrence J. Hogan Sr., and the lesson the one-time congressman taught his son about "putting aside partisanship in order to do the right thing."

  • Seeking the Mighty Wonders of Aquasco, singers of one fine gospel tune

    January 24, 2015

    Keep in mind now: The only reason we're looking for the Mighty Wonders of Aquasco, Md. is so they might know just how great we think their arrangement and performance of "Old Ship of Zion" was. Let's be clear: We would not bother if the Mighty Wonders were just an average obscure acapella gospel group from the 1960s. It's the recording of that song — or, rather, the Wonders' version of it ("Nothing But Love in God's Water") — that gives me goosebumps and sends me on a quest.

  • Welcoming Gov. Hogan's bureaucracy-oscopy

    January 21, 2015

    OK, so he's not much of a speech-maker. Larry Hogan's inauguration address was 100 Snore Street, Annapolis. But glorious speechifying is not what Marylanders voted for when they made Hogan our governor. What they voted for was:

  • In Frederick, a tragic reminder of pit bull ruling

    January 20, 2015

    Last April, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed into law what I call Maryland's pit bull anti-discrimination measure. The legislation negated the 2012 ruling of the Maryland Court of Appeals that ownership of a pit bull should bear special liability because the dog is "inherently dangerous," and it applied the same legal standards to all dogs.

  • How did accused parking-space killer get guns?

    January 17, 2015

    One of the sickest, saddest crimes we've seen around here occurred on the afternoon of Jan. 9, when a man in Northeast Baltimore allegedly used an AR-15-type assault rifle and a 9mm handgun to kill two men — a 47-year-old neighbor and a 40-year-old contractor who had done some work for him.

  • Looking to mark history at the local Rite Aid

    January 15, 2015

    When he visited Baltimore a few months ago, I told Andy Carroll, a young man on a mission — you might call him a Monuments Man — that he ought to commission a plaque to mark the site of Spiro T. Agnew's no-contest plea. I don't think such a thing exists, but it should.

  • A Baltimore family fears the worst about missing son

    January 12, 2015

    Robert Branch stepped into his house in West Baltimore Thursday night, breathless from the cold. I wanted to ask about his 33-year-old son, also named Robert, who is listed with police as a missing person. Branch, a UPS driver, was eager to talk, but he had to catch his breath first.

  • Some of Grasso's own constituents likely 'freeloaders'

    January 10, 2015

    We should thank John Grasso, the gentleman from Glen Burnie, for expressing an American ideal: That, with hard work and prudence, grit and determination, anyone can own a nice house and a fine car. "Work harder," the Anne Arundel county councilman said last week.

  • On Palermo tragedy, 'Agony in the Garden' and the Next Baltimore

    January 8, 2015

    There are three narratives from the death of Tom Palermo, bicyclist and builder of bikes: The outpouring of support for the man's family; the unusual efforts of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland to tell us about the involvement of its second-ranking bishop in the collision that caused Palermo's death; and the emergence of the bicycling movement as a power in shaping the Next Baltimore.

  • Counting simple gifts as tumultuous year ends

    December 25, 2014

  • For too many in Washington, a phantom recession

    December 21, 2014

    It seems as if the Great Recession never happened — that it was an apparition, like Marley's ghost. It clearly had no direct or dire effects on President Obama, members of Congress or the regulators at the Federal Reserve who were supposed to be watching Wall Street. Two developments of the last 10 days suggest that no one responsible for the oversight of the banks that caused the financial crisis of 2007-2008 suffered a layoff or furlough or foreclosure. I can't imagine that any of them had to apply for unemployment benefits or food stamps.

  • A breakthrough for U.S., Cuba and fishin' the flats

    December 17, 2014

    Excuse me if I don't Rubio on the Cuba thing. I'm among millions of baby boomers, old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis (1962), who think the Big Chill between the U.S. and Isle de Castro went on way, way — two ways — too long. And I think I speak for several hundred thousand American sports anglers who heard yesterday's news about the thaw with Havana and asked: "How's the fishin' down there?"

  • No thanks to litterbugs, Baltimore is a cleaner city

    December 16, 2014

    I tell people I think Baltimore is cleaner than it used to be, and some of them — though not all of them — tell me I'm nuts. They say the city is filthy with trash, and they blame the present administration in City Hall for the mess. I tell them they need to get around a little more, that their idea of the present reality is based on an outdated perception.

  • Larry Hogan has a chance to be a green governor

    December 13, 2014

    This week, Larry Hogan promised poultry farmers that his "first fight" as governor will be to scrap new rules from the Maryland Department of Agriculture to curb the amount of phosphorous from chicken manure running into the Chesapeake Bay.

  • On a bus, imagining a new message for litterbugs

    December 11, 2014

    I wish I knew what to say to you. I wish I knew how to say it. What you just did — just a few minutes ago, on the No. 3 bus in the 1100 block of St. Paul St. — was disgraceful, but I'm not sure you know what that means. You just did the kind of thing that hurts the city of Baltimore day in, day out. It makes most of us who live and work here groan and sneer and shake our heads.

  • In post-Ferguson America, pushing toward a tipping point

    December 6, 2014

    Six points about Ferguson, the Eric Garner chokehold case in New York, the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, and the eagerness to outfit police officers with body cameras:

  • After Ferguson, looking back at Baltimore police shooting

    December 3, 2014

    In light of Ferguson, it strikes me as remarkable that the Hamilton Park case in Baltimore sparked little outrage. Not only was the victim in that case young, black and unarmed, but he was shot in the back by a police officer. Given how people in Missouri and across the nation reacted to the shooting of Michael Brown in August, I wondered why the death of Edward Lamont Hunt in 2008 hasn't set off more than one candlelight vigil here.

  • The Ray Rice Rehab Machine hits top speed

    December 2, 2014

    It's human nature to want to fix the things we've broken as fast as possible, but when it comes to human beings and what we think and feel and believe, time is the greatest healer.

  • Giving thanks for buses, birds, songs and squash

    November 27, 2014

    Let us bow our heads and join hands, my friends, as we gather around the table to give thanks and praise. On this Thanksgiving 2014, we should all feel blessed. And if not blessed, at least grateful. If not grateful, at least mildly appreciative. And if not mildly appreciative, please sit still, keep your pie-hole shut and your hands off the walnuts.

  • There's a lot about Baltimore to be thankful for

    November 25, 2014

    I stood in the press box in October 1991 and watched dozens of men who had played for the Orioles over four decades emerge from the home-team dugout and take their old positions. The last game at Memorial Stadium had just ended and, melancholic as the moment was, I remember thinking how lucky I was to have been there for that emotional roll call of old Birds.

  • Nobody asked me, but City Council needs spine

    November 22, 2014

    Nobody asked me, but, with her vow to veto the Baltimore City Council's ban on plastic bags, the mayor has taken a stand on the wrong side of history. Email from readers and comments in social media suggest that people around here overwhelmingly approve of the ban as a way to reduce trash.

  • Behind 'sleazy' deal, a good idea about food

    November 20, 2014

    Lost in the buzz about political influence in the Wick Farm deal — the O'Malley administration's plan to buy the place for $2.8 million and lease it for $1 a year to an organic farmer who donates generously to Democratic campaigns — was a good idea: Marylanders growing, harvesting and selling food to Marylanders.

  • With Obamacare, health insurance leads to better health

    November 18, 2014

    As Maryland enters the second year of enrollment for subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, we might ask this question: Is anybody feeling better? I don't mean about the ACA, or Obamacare, though we'll get to that subject in a moment. I mean, has the ACA made anyone healthier?

  • Share this advice and maybe save a life

    November 15, 2014

    Could someone please clip this column and hand it to the next person likely to kill another in the city of Baltimore?

  • We adapted to recycling, we can live without plastic bags

    November 13, 2014

    This year is the 20th anniversary of John Waters' "Serial Mom," starring Kathleen Turner as Beverly Sutphin, a sweet but homicidal housewife in suburban Baltimore. She's married to a dentist (Sam Waterston), and they have a couple of teenage children (the daughter played by Ricki Lake). Life is good.

  • Ten things on which Americans can probably agree

    November 8, 2014

    Republicans can declare the results of the midterm elections a complete repudiation of President Obama and every last Democrat from here to Anchorage, but they shouldn't get too excited. Obama's approval rating might have sagged to 44 percent, but the rating for Congress is less than half that.

  • Dan Rodricks: 'Never been so ambivalent about an election'

    November 5, 2014

    As expected, other parts of the country had most of the fun on Election Day 2014. In Maryland, the biggest race was for governor, and I wouldn't exactly call it fun.

  • Dan Rodricks: Terps could learn sportsmanship from high school boys

    November 3, 2014

    This is about football and life lessons and sportsmanship, stemming from two very different incidents in two games — one that might have made you grimace, one that might have made you cry. I'll start with the grimace.

  • Scanning the globe for viruses, from Baltimore

    November 1, 2014

    Somewhere in our conversation about Ebola and other viruses, Dr. Robert Gallo mentions crows. The man's mind works at warp speed — even without the jolt of caffeine from a midafternoon coffee at his office in West Baltimore — and he rattles off opinions, quips, facts and anecdotes so fast you'd better grab something and hold on. I grab "crows."

  • Pleading parking stupidity might be the ticket

    October 31, 2014

    I am preparing my argument for leniency in the matter of a $77 parking fine, and it looks like, for the first time in my life, I will have to enter the Rodricks Plea.

  • Still befuddled by Maryland's strange judicial elections

    October 25, 2014

    Sitting judges once again are on ballots across the state, which means Marylanders once again will be asked to vote for or against men and women most of us know nothing about. That's how it works under our state constitution.

  • Still befuddled by Maryland's strange judicial elections

    October 25, 2014

    Sitting judges once again are on ballots across the state, which means Marylanders once again will be asked to vote for or against men and women most of us know nothing about. That's how it works under our state constitution.

  • Is Maryland's business scene as bad as Hogan says?

    October 24, 2014

    Larry Hogan, the Republican candidate for governor, smartly focuses his campaign messaging on the need to give the Maryland economy a lift. It's not an original idea, and certainly de rigueur for any Republican in any election year. But as he builds a case for placing a pro-business businessman in the governor's office, Hogan makes Maryland sound like a fetid economic backwater.

  • Nonprofit takes on Liberia's 'other crisis'

    October 21, 2014

    Much is made of the fact that the Baltimore region has no Fortune 500 companies — and only a few in the Forbes 1000 — but you hardly ever hear anyone brag about the number of international do-good organizations with headquarters here. Let me name a few:

  • Vigilance for viruses requires money, bipartisan support

    October 18, 2014

    Last year, I interviewed both Dr. Robert Gallo, co-discoverer of the virus that causes AIDS, and Dr. Alfred Sommer, whose work on vitamin A deficiency is credited with saving millions of lives around the world. Without prompting, both men expressed profound concern for biomedical research: Washington, they said, had stopped supporting it at levels commensurate with national and global need, forcing young doctors to choose other careers and causing research gaps that could have dire consequences.

  • In Reservoir Hill, the Power Project offers kids hope

    October 16, 2014

    The hard sweat of building a better Baltimore takes place every weekday in hundreds of classrooms across the city, where teachers make the difference in the lives of children who grow up in the long shadow of poverty. We always come back to this. Every serious conversation — about crime and drug addiction, about public health and the quality of life, about jobs and the middle class, about Baltimore's amazing potential — comes back to the education of the children who start out with so many disadvantages.

  • Ebola case raises concern about everyday hospital safety

    October 14, 2014

    If the transmission of the deadly Ebola virus from a now-deceased patient to one of his nurses occurred because of a "protocol breach," what does that say about the general state of patient and caregiver safety in hospitals across the country?

  • Did Brown attack ads enhance Hogan's candidacy?

    October 11, 2014

    It might seem counterintuitive, but constantly speaking ill of your political opponent can work to his advantage. And that might be what's happened in the Maryland gubernatorial campaign between Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, the Democratic candidate, and real estate executive Larry Hogan, the Republican.

  • Marking time and life's milestones with the Orioles

    October 9, 2014

    One of the things I like about baseball — and there are a lot of things to like, especially when the Orioles reach the American League Championship Series — is the way it marks time. You don't have to be a stats freak to remember the milestones. When your team is alive in October, the year of that happy development registers forever.

  • Looking for silver lining in the ugliness of the Rice case

    September 27, 2014

    Even as we continued to dissect the National Football League's mishandling of the Ray Rice case and millionaires associated with the matter apologized (again) for being obtuse to domestic violence, the conversation seemed to turn toward a silver lining. To wit: Maybe good will come of this ugliness.

  • If we only loved water as much as the waterfront

    June 12, 2014

    Two years ago, during bicentennial commemorations for the War of 1812, I was struck by how important the waterfront is to Baltimore. That might seem like an odd thing for a Baltimorean to say, but unless you own waterfront property, work near it or regularly take visitors to see it, you take it for granted.

  • Getting a greener generation to buy into the aquarium

    May 27, 2014

    Here are some words that appeared in this column in November 1990: "The National Aquarium and its promoters are out to lunch. They don't have a clue. Their facility is better called the National Anachronism. The new Marine Mammal Pavilion, featuring captured dolphins in a huge tank of water, does not belong to the times in which we are living. It belongs to the times from which we just emerged. It belongs to the age of P.T. Barnum."

  • Expecting the horrible is the American way

    January 25, 2014

  • Mike Miller, marijuana and the right side of history

    January 9, 2014

    Turns out, I am glad that Thomas V. Mike Miller gives no hint of retiring from his position as president-forever of the Maryland Senate. I know that sounds odd coming from me, but that's how I feel today.

  • Rodricks: Incident shows our vulnerability to disaster

    August 22, 2012

    "We love our children with all our hearts," Gordon Livingston, psychiatrist, philosopher, author and twice-bereaved parent says from his home in Howard County. "We imagine that they will bury us. Then fate intervenes and we must bury them. Nowhere is the fragility of life or the randomness of death more apparent than in the deaths of children."

  • Rodricks: Marveling at Phelps' heroic journey

    August 1, 2012

    Baltimoreans who witnessed his odyssey unfold will remember the first 12 years of the 21st century as the Michael Phelps era. If you mark the life of this community by our shared experiences and our heroic figures — the sources of civic pride that keep us from despairing and sinking into the Patapsco — there's no getting around Phelps.

  • Fishing with Flanny

    August 26, 2011

    "There is no guarantee that when a middle-aged man enters the dark forest where the black dog is waiting, he will come out healed. It is possible to be broken there beyond hope of repair." -- Howell Raines, from "Fly Fishing Through The Midlife Crisis"

  • Schaefer: Politics as performance art

    April 18, 2011

    I stepped into his City Hall office to ask William Donald Schaefer, the mayor of Baltimore, a question. He was watering his African violets and did not appear to be soothed by that labor of love. In fact, he was upset about the reason for my visit — an audit had turned up lots of billing errors at what was then called City Hospital, now Bayview — and he avoided eye contact with me.

  • Honor is not for cowards

    March 1, 2011

    Before he went out last Wednesday to arrest 15 of the officers charged in the Majestic towing scandal, the police commissioner of Baltimore attended a morning retirement ceremony. It was for a cop who had had a long and honorable career and who, a few years ago, risked it all to expose some bad police work within the ranks. The farewell for Mike Andrew, who retired as a lieutenant colonel after nearly 38 years of service to the people of this city, took place in the commissioner's board room first thing in the morning.

  • Vision lacking in Ehrlich’s comeback bid

    April 22, 2010

    Bob Ehrlich, running for governor for a third time, wants to repeal the 1-cent sales tax increase that Martin O'Malley wrought, and he wants to finish some "unfinished business." This is what he said on my radio program Wednesday. Wondering if he had something significant or inspiring to offer — a little more so than a penny tax reprieve (not that there's anything wrong with that!) — I pressed him on the "unfinished business" part.

  • 'Saving us more than saving them'

    April 6, 2010

    Thirty-five years have come and gone since Dan Schuster, just out of high school in Reisterstown, discovered something about the concrete business — he could do it better himself.

  • The marrying judge explains himself

    March 30, 2010

    G. Darrell Russell Jr., the Baltimore County District Court judge who married the defendant in an assault case to the woman he was accused of beating, has been condemned by advocates for abused women, ordered to desk duty by his superiors and suggested for retirement by this columnist. He's also remained silent about the three-week-old controversy, on the advice of District Court leadership.

  • No app can replace city's need for vibrant libraries

    March 16, 2010

    Interesting, these times we live in -- the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore reports a 20 percent increase in visitors through its doors, while Steve Jobs and Apple prepare to roll out the iPad, the computer tablet that allows you to download a book in seconds while you're anywhere within WiFi or 3G range, including your bathroom.

  • Criticism of archdiocese strikes nerve with readers

    March 9, 2010

    There has been so much response to my Sunday column on the Archdiocese of Baltimore's decision to close 13 schools, including Cardinal Gibbons School, I thought I would share some of the more interesting and thoughtful comments with all my other readers today.

  • Tragedy in Madeira stirs memories of paradise

    February 23, 2010

    News reports of the horrific flooding on the Portuguese island of Madeira refer to it as a popular tourist destination, and it is -- if you happen to be British or German. It is not so well known here, even among Americans affluent enough to take vacations abroad. In fact, before the scary videos of the mudslides hit television over the weekend, I would bet most Americans had never heard of Madeira, one of the most beautiful places on earth.

  • Media's evolution alters how we experience 'weather events'

    February 16, 2010

    Over the past two weeks -- and at different times over the last 30 years, whenever we had big snowstorms in Maryland -- I've tried to figure out what it is about them that's different than the ones I experienced growing up in another part of the country, where snow was more common but still a "weather event" that raised blood pressures and affected the behavior of the human beings around me.

  • Big Snow means Big Slow — a good thing

    February 9, 2010

    Maybe you've shoveled too much snow by now, or tried to walk or drive down too many clogged side streets by now -- or worried too much about three feet of snow on your flat roof by now -- to appreciate the pace-reducing power of a big storm. But I still see it, and I still like it.

  • A generational change the city needs

    February 4, 2010

    Starting today, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has an opportunity to recharge the city and become the leader of a new generation of public-spirited citizens who have the most to say about what kind of place Baltimore becomes in the next decade.

  • The crimes, forgivable. But that pension?

    January 10, 2010

    Sheila Dixon made history - the first woman elected mayor of Baltimore, and apparently the nation's first female big-city mayor to resign over criminal charges. Her trial took place in the courthouse where, in 1973, a vice president of the United States (and former Maryland governor and Baltimore County executive) named Spiro T. Agnew pleaded no contest to tax evasion in connection with thousands of dollars in kickbacks and bribes gladly taken during all but one of his 11 years in elected office.

  • For city, Rawlings-Blake a fine reflection of her father

    January 8, 2010

    In Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, Baltimoreans get a young, bright and serious new mayor who could bring some urgently needed stability to city government even as she faces one of the toughest fiscal challenges in municipal history. She's the No-Drama Queen, and that should suit everyone around here just fine. Faced with a projected budget shortfall of $127 million or more in the coming fiscal year, the last thing Baltimoreans need from City Hall is more drama.

  • An apology from Dixon? Forget about it and be glad it's over

    January 7, 2010

    And there you are, my fellow citizens - resignation by the mayor of Baltimore, and without a formal apology. But you can't always get what you want. Sheila Dixon was not about to say she was sorry for anything. If you were thinking that might happen, you need to see a doctor; your expectations are too high and you probably need to go on a reduced-Pollyanna diet.

  • Shot takes away what so much else couldn't

    December 27, 2009

    In one of the first phone calls he made from Afghanistan, Army Pvt. Clifford Jamar Williams took a moment to savor how much he had accomplished - much more than many of his peers back home in Baltimore could claim.

  • Questionable claims leave a-rabbers idle

    December 22, 2009

    This is the time of year when Donald Savoy Jr., one of Baltimore's last a-rabs, might have had two or three of his horse-drawn wagons parked on inner-city corners, loaded with tangerines and oranges and late-season greens. But Mr. Savoy and other men who sold produce from his wagons are idle in this Christmas week 2009. A heavy-handed move by the city last month – after breaking promises to help the a-rabs maintain their livelihoods -- led to the confiscation of Mr. Savoy's seven horses and eight belonging to his nephew and niece, James and Shawnta Chase.

  • What's appropriate sentence for Dixon?

    December 17, 2009

    The other day, while waiting for the bread dough to rise in my kitchen, I filled out a Maryland Sentencing Guidelines Worksheet for the mayor of Baltimore, and this is what it looks like: probation to six months, with the possibility of the judge hitting Sheila Dixon harder or softer - and I'll tell you why it could go either way in a moment.

  • Gifts for needy kids: Local group quietly shows how it should be done

    December 15, 2009

    The annual solicitation letter from Santa Claus Anonymous arrived in the mail the other day, with its trademark depiction of a classic Santa with his hat pulled over his eyes. The iconic drawing, of course, suggests a fundamental tenet of the 75-year-old organization – poor children who receive holiday gifts never need know they came from charity. Nor do donors need know the names of the children who benefit from their contributions; they merely trust that Santa Claus Anonymous delivers as promised. Giving and trusting in the city of Baltimore – imagine that.

  • Bloodsworth, prosecutor move on to new things

    December 7, 2009

    Kirk Bloodsworth, the first American death row inmate to be exonerated by DNA evidence, has lived to see something he never could have imagined -- an award named after him, and its first recipient a Democratic senator from Vermont.

  • Baltimore deserves better, needs better

    December 6, 2009

    So, here in the grand city of Baltimore, Mayor Sheila Dixon, who embezzled gift cards intended for poor children, gets to stay in office for who-knows-how-long - as if nothing has happened - while a city cop who took part in that goofy mock raid/marriage proposal at the behest of a politician gets charged with misconduct and could lose his job.

  • Dixon verdict: The cynics were wrong

    December 2, 2009

    All the cynics were wrong this time: A jury of her peers - nine women and three men, the majority of them black - found the city's first African-American female mayor guilty of a crime. We didn't have the jury nullification many had predicted - that is, acquittal in the face of strong, conclusive evidence, something that many lawyers, cops and judges have seen for years in the old courthouses on Calvert Street.

  • No one is above the law

    December 1, 2009

    The jury of her peers took seven days to find the mayor of Baltimore guilty of a charge that prosecutors proved in a few hours of impeccable testimony during her trial -- that she talked a major commercial real estate developer into buying gift cards for needy children, then used them for herself. That part of the state case seemed the most solid, almost like an old-fashioned shakedown by a politician of a mover-and-shaker, except the payoff was gift cards and not cash. Had the jury found Mayor Dixon not guilty of that charge, I would have been shocked.

  • Dixon trial just one of city's problems, but an important one

    November 23, 2009

    Of course, there are bigger issues, and bigger offenses against society, than the alleged theft of gift cards by the mayor of Baltimore. Monday morning, you could walk across North Calvert Street, from Courthouse East to the Mitchell Courthouse, and find an auctioneer in a suit on the broad sidewalk there and, promptly at the top of the hour, he started a sale of houses upon which a bank has foreclosed in the lingering aftermath of the subprime mess and the massive financial meltdown that pushed us into recession.

  • As Dixon trial nears end, a demand for 'equal justice'

    November 19, 2009

    I am sticking with my instinct: Lindbergh Carpenter Jr. could turn out to be the most effective witness for the prosecution in State v. Dixon. It wasn't so much the testimony he presented, because certainly that of the Baltimore developer Patrick Turner was the most damaging. But Lindbergh Carpenter gave the state an opportunity to remind the attentive jury in Circuit Court East of a principle engraved in the Supreme Court building in Washington and resonant in the memory of every American who paid attention in civics class: Equal Justice Under The Law.

  • Mayor's defense hopes silence is golden

    November 19, 2009

    When he instructs the jurors in the Dixon theft case, Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney will tell them not to infer anything from the defendant's silence during trial - and they certainly should not interpret it as a sign of guilt. The judge will do this, of course, because, by the time her underwhelming defense came to a rest Wednesday morning, Mayor Sheila Dixon had not uttered a single word.

  • The defense rests, and Dixon is silent

    November 18, 2009

    When he instructs the jurors in the Dixon case, Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney will likely tell them not to construe or infer anything from the defendant's silence. Mayor Sheila Dixon did not testify in her own defense against charges that she's a thief. This might have been the plan all along; having a defendant testify in any criminal case always comes with risks, and in this case they were probably big risks. But, still, the mayor of Baltimore doesn't speak? They say she took gift cards intended for needy children in her city, and she doesn't have an argument?

  • The Dixon case turns into an episode of CSI-Target

    November 17, 2009

    The last time I visited the Baltimore courtroom where Mayor Sheila Dixon is on trial, it was for a homicide case, and a medical examiner was among the many witnesses. This time, the alleged crime is theft and, instead of a medical examiner, the state calls to the witness chair the "asset protection manager" for a major retail chain.

  • Is taking some gift cards a big deal? Ask Lindbergh Carpenter — he lost his job for it

    November 17, 2009

    In the buildup to the trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon on theft charges, we did not hear much about Lindbergh Carpenter Jr. He was not billed as the leading man or even a star witness. He is not, as far as anyone knows, a former boyfriend of the mayor. He's not a current boyfriend, either. He's not a real estate developer. He's neither mover nor shaker.

  • Defense message: Dixon cares

    November 13, 2009

    The lawyers defending Mayor Sheila Dixon in her trial on theft charges will attempt to convince the jury -- the one in the courtroom and the much bigger one out here in the rain -- that that the only pattern of behavior in the case was a pattern of caring for the poor, of generosity and charity. You wait and see. It's coming up.

  • Mayor Schaefer kept it clean during dirty times

    November 10, 2009

    The irony is 7-foot-2 and made of bronze: A statue of William Donald Schaefer goes up along the Inner Harbor promenade just a week or so before the current mayor of Baltimore goes on trial, accused of stealing gift cards intended for the needy. What a town!

  • Why do they keep killing each other? Baltimore's most enduring question

    October 13, 2009

    I saw what looked like a drug transaction on a fairly busy corner of downtown Baltimore the other day. Six 20-something guys -- one white, the others black -- pulled together for a few minutes on Franklin Street and, while two of them took lookout positions, the others exchanged some items that appeared to be cash and small envelopes.

  • Au revoir to more than a father-in-law

    October 11, 2009

    Over the years, I've asked a lot of men about their fathers-in-law: whether they get along with them, whether they play a significant role in their lives. These conversations took place over a beer, or on a fishing trip, maybe at an Orioles game. I usually had to bring the subject up; in most cases, the guys I've known wouldn't do it themselves, or there just wasn't much to say. They had married the man's daughter, and that was about it.

  • How can state leaders still cling to death penalty?

    February 22, 2009

    The death penalty in the hands of politicians: Few things seem as twisted and as troubling as the matter of state-sponsored executions authorized by men and women with large nameplates pinned to their lapels. While in the ideal they might be devoted to public service and to representative democracy, what most of them seek, first and foremost, is name recognition and re-election. And in a nation as violent as ours, re-election has required being tough on crime, and being tough on crime has required support of capital punishment.

  • A new low for corporate greed

    February 1, 2009

    Super Bowl Sunday fun: Try saying these words out loud, in the incredulous voice of former NFL coach Jim Mora in that Coors beer commercial:

  • Handmade signs signal persistent hope

    November 5, 2008

    Thirty-two years of elections in Maryland and I've never seen so many handmade signs. Someone told me weeks ago that you couldn't get your hands on an official, campaign-issued Obama sign anywhere; they ran out of them in Baltimore, which might explain all the hand-painted signs I saw yesterday. They were on the eastside and the westside. I saw one on North Avenue, one on Druid Hill Avenue, one on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

  • Slots aren't the answer to what ails the tracks

    October 28, 2008

    Here's what the people who run Laurel Park are willing to do to get you and me, betting customers, through the gates between now and the end of the year: half-price beers every time a randomly selected jockey wins a race on a Friday; a "special surprise" if one of us grabs the lucky rubber ducky out of the Laurel Lucky Duck Pond between 11 a.m. and noon Nov. 8; free apple or pumpkin pie to the first 5,500 fans on Thanksgiving Day; "Live Pasta Station" every Thursday in the Terrace Dining Room; free ice scraper to the first 4,000 fans Dec. 13.

  • Here's one way to call the slots tossup

    October 7, 2008

    The last poll I saw on slots showed about 54 percent of Marylanders still supporting a state constitutional amendment allowing the gambling machines. That support was not as large as it appeared to be eight or nine months ago, which fits a theory I have: The closer we get to Election Day, the more people will think about this, and the more they think about it, the more of a tossup the outcome. It all comes down to which of the following attitudes prevail.

  • The little boy who no longer lives here

    August 26, 2008

    I won't be reading this column today; it was hard enough just to write it. This is the father-notes-little-boy-growing-up column that I fought off a dozen times. Nick's high school graduation was in June. I attended, of course, and found myself too melancholy - and too much in denial - to write about it in public. Saturday was take-the-first-child-to-college day. I resisted, with full self-consciousness, taking up this space and your time with my little bit of miserable joy - what my Portuguese ancestors called saudade, the mixture of feelings one experiences at the landmark events of life. But it didn't work, so you'll just have to bear with me.

  • City's awash in arena visions

    August 3, 2008

    I need to ask the people who've been writing letters to the editor expressing nostalgic affection for the 1st Mariner Arena - and horror at the prospect of that outdated box being torn down and replaced - the following question: When was the last time you were there? When the Beatles played, or was it Herman's Hermits?

  • Integrity an early McKay hallmark

    June 8, 2008

    Back at the dawn of Baltimore television, when the Sunpapers owned the first station here, a 25-year-old Evening Sun reporter named Jim McManus agreed to work in front of the camera for $65 a week. It was 1947. The station, WMAR-TV, had to fill hours upon hours with original programming. So its crews did remote telecasts, running from the races at Pimlico to supermarket openings to professional wrestling matches at the old Baltimore Coliseum.

  • In face of violence, looking within

    February 7, 2008

    Parents and teenagers are walking around this week awed by the violence that destroyed the Browning family in Cockeysville - one of those events that are so shocking we all look at each other and wait for someone to make some sense of it. But there is no sense to it, and the explanation might never come.

  • Cultivating their future

    May 11, 2006

    They renamed the old, scary Maryland Penitentiary a few years ago and changed its purpose. It's now called the Metropolitan Transition Center, a place where inmates go when they are in the last couple of years of prison time. Given its purpose and potential, it's probably one of the most important institutions in Baltimore - a crossroads where men who once caused so much trouble in their home communities either beat the devil or re-up.

  • Trying to embrace St. Francis' message

    April 30, 2006

    Even though ex-offender threw away a second chance, don't throw in the towel on all

  • Get out by phone call or get out by bullet

    April 24, 2006

    Icompare the names in reports of killings in Baltimore with the names of men who called The Sun during the last 10 months to ask for help in finding jobs that might get them out of dealing drugs or other potentially deadly crimes. So far, I know only of one man who came in from the street for help, returned to his old lifestyle and ended up dead because of it.

  • The lesson for Easter: Life can be renewed

    April 16, 2006

    There are young men out there - teenage boys from Baltimore to Columbia, from Aberdeen to Annapolis - who will be making decisions this spring. Some will have to decide where to go to college in the fall, or which lacrosse team to play with this summer, or which girl to ask to a prom. Some will have to decide whether to continue to be a stickup boy or a young thug who sells heroin.

  • City officer strives to help break the cycle

    April 10, 2006

    Alittle more attention must be paid: Keith Harrison, The Sun's Police Officer of the Year for excellence in community service, has been deeply engaged in the effort to get drug dealers and drug addicts out of that miserable game. We kind of missed the story the other day when we reported on Harrison's selection from among dozens of nominees across Maryland. He's done more than "set up an office where citizens can talk privately to officers about their lives." Like street-corner missionaries, Harrison and his colleagues from the Baltimore Police Department's Get Out of the Game unit have been encouraging hard-core drug offenders to change their lives. Their work isn't about arrests; it's about breaking the dreariest of cycles in this drug-infested city.

  • Dealing, gangs, jail, release -- now what?

    March 26, 2006

    I can't use Chico's full name because he thinks he'll be killed for talking to a newspaper columnist. It's a small big town, Baltimore. Everybody knows everybody, or everybody knows somebody who knows somebody, and particularly in the miserable drug life - guys selling dope, or guys sticking up guys selling dope - it's all this kill-or-be-killed stuff among homie familiaritas in sales territories that have become even more compact under O'Malley-era police pressure.

  • After lure of the street, a return to honest life

    March 20, 2006

    On the morning of Sept. 5, 2000, Baltimore police conducted what drug dealers call "a house raid" on 43rd Street in a North Baltimore neighborhood that had been beleaguered by gang activity for several months. Police arrested four people and listed these confiscated items for a Sun reporter: 160 vials of cocaine; 19 ounces of pure heroin; 6 ounces of pure cocaine; $8,000 in cash; and a .22-caliber Intertec machine pistol with a silencer. Police placed the value of the heroin at $285,000, the cocaine at $20,000.

  • Jim's story highlights enigmatic lure of drugs

    March 5, 2006

    Sometimes I'll sit there - in a courtroom maybe, or at a desk with a phone to my ear - or I'll stand on a Baltimore sidewalk and do what they pay me to do, which is listen to people give their arguments, tell their stories and explain themselves, and it'll hit me: I couldn't be a psychiatrist.

  • Shining a light for a man in dark despair

    March 3, 2006

    This is for Jim, who called here the other day. I won't use the last name you left on The Sun's voice-mail system because I haven't been able to speak with you. It doesn't matter. You know who you are. There's only one person who called 410-332-6166 this week to say he was going to take his own life.

  • Out of the 'wickedness' and into the kitchen

    February 26, 2006

    Iam regularly pleased by the number of Sun readers who ask about Harry Calloway Jr. I get it all the time. People ask how he's doing, what he's doing, whether he's staying out of trouble - and this continues several months after Calloway first emerged as a kind of poster child for second chances among drug dealers, drug addicts and all the miserable others who drained the life out of long stretches of Baltimore over long periods of time.

  • Obstacles on the road to a man's redemption

    February 12, 2006

    Take LaFawn Weaver, for instance. Here's a young man who admits to making bad choices and getting arrested a couple of times -- back when he was a teenager, primarily -- and blowing a good job because he liked to smoke reefer. OK. So it's time to move on. He says he's made a personal declaration to try again and do it right. But so far, Weaver hasn't been able to find the legitimate job that gets him off the street for good and into America's taxpaying, mainstream work force.

  • Feds are in the game, and they're serious

    February 5, 2006

    Guys with guns in the city of Baltimore: I got a Super Bowl Sunday gift for you. Some people pay $100 an hour to get this good stuff. You're getting it for free -- a little advice that could change your life. Here goes:

  • Ex-offenders need help finding way back to life

    January 22, 2006

    Take a guy like Eric Brooks, for instance. He's 30 years old and he's been in trouble for - here's a shocker - dealing drugs in Baltimore. Last year, Brooks received a taxpayer-financed trip to a Maryland prison for seven months. He went to the Metropolitan Transition Center, which is the old Maryland Penitentiary, that Frankenstein castle commuters see from the Jones Falls Expressway. Based on what state officials have told me, it cost us about $14,000 to keep Eric Brooks there.

  • Lend a hand or an ear to start year on right foot

    January 1, 2006

    Here's a suggestion for 2006: Be a mentor, be a mensch. Make a difference in the life of one man or one woman trying to stay off the drug corners and out of prison -- just by showing some interest. You could sign up for this service at an event Jan. 16 (see below), or you could phone in your support. Milton Bates did, and things have worked out pretty well so far.

  • Homicide clock ticks louder as year ends

    December 30, 2005

    Aclock ticks in Baltimore, and I don't mean the one in Oriole Park. It's the homicide clock. It's not something you can look up and see, but something you feel and hear - part of Baltimore's biorhythm - and every year at this time, the ticks get louder, the pulse grows stronger, and anyone who still cares about this stupid waste of life gets a headache.

  • Cause for ex-offenders crosses party lines

    December 22, 2005

    Mary Ann Saar, Maryland's public safety secretary, said it again last week at a breakfast honoring both ex-offenders who find their way into the mainstream working world and the companies that have the guts to hire them: "This is not a liberal issue. This is not a conservative issue. This is not a Republican issue. It is not a Democratic issue. This is a common-sense issue that will serve all of us."

  • Our city's firms must reach out to 51st state

    December 18, 2005

    America's 51st state - the state of Incarceration - has a citizenship of about 2.1 million now, making it just about as populated as Nevada or Utah. Incarceration USA had just 500,000 residents in 1980; the war on drugs, more than any other factor, contributed to its striking growth - and continues to fuel its remarkable retention rate. In 2000, nearly 605,000 inmates were released back into the other 50 states. In 2003, that number reached 656,320, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Despite this, Incarceration still boasts more people than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

  • Despite help, some still slip through the cracks

    December 11, 2005

    Just so you know, before I take you into the thorny stuff: I've heard from dozens of people - city and suburban families of longtime drug addicts - who say things are better now. Their sons, husbands, brothers, daughters, wives, girlfriends, sisters are clean, staying out of trouble and away from their old junkie friends, working and taking care of their children. There are a lot of stories like that.

  • Want to save Baltimore? Start with one person

    December 5, 2005

    One man, one woman at a time - let's try it that way. Let's say you own a small business, or let's say you're in middle management of a medium-to-large-to-extra-large company. Maybe you're even the CEO, or the COO or the CFO. Maybe you have an MBA, belong to the GBC, work in HRD, drive a BMW, or something GMC.

  • Access to drugs in jail was a death sentence

    December 4, 2005

    There's no question that Michael Rabuck should have been institutionalized. People and their property in the city and Baltimore County were safer with him off the street. But this drug-addicted man ended up in a maximum-security prison, the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup, where other inmates were eager to give him heroin - and willing to kill him if he did not get his family to pay for it.

  • Gratitude for second chances

    November 24, 2005

    Thanks to those who try to make life better for all of us by making life better for themselves. There are still too many homicides in Baltimore - though, at 242, not as many as the 259 last year at this time - and too many men and women addicted to heroin and cocaine. But there are people among us trying to get to a better place in their lives, away from the addictions that create the drug market that begets so much of the violence, and out of unemployment, crime and prison. We should praise and thank them for their efforts, against tough odds, because therein lies the progress of a city, a state and a nation - one man, one woman at a time.

  • Knocked down, but ready to try again

    November 17, 2005

    And so it begins again for Harry Calloway. Once more, he restarts his life. On Monday, Calloway started classes at Sojourner-Douglass College for the second time this year, and on Nov. 30 he'll be back at the Moveable Feast culinary class.

  • Savor the warmth of youth, family, summer

    October 13, 2005

    I need to get this out. My cousins, Vinnie and Eddie Voci, will close on the sale of Uncle Gene's cottage on Cape Cod tomorrow, and I'm pretty bummed out about the whole thing -- accepting it, but still bummed -- and I hope you won't mind the use of this space for a kind of elegy. I admit to being a baby boomer tossed into the mosh pit of middle age. Some guys drown in the melancholy. I get to write my way out of it, at least for a day or so.

  • Hope and despair for those who wait

    September 26, 2005

    I call them "ladies in waiting," the mothers and grandmothers, sisters, wives and fiancees who, with hope and prayer and superhuman patience, keep the faith that one day their men will straighten up, emerge from the drug life or prison and come safe home. I hear from them frequently.

  • Ex-dealer is no longer the man he used to be

    September 25, 2005

    A young, beautiful, dark-skinned woman, her hair in cornrows and her arms wrapped around her pregnancy, sits at the end of a park bench, silent and depressed, and for good reason: She's married to a 25-year-old drug dealer who suffered brain damage in a beating last spring, and he faces prison this fall. You can understand why she might want to avoid the conversation at the other end of the bench - the one between the father of her unborn child and the newspaper guy. The woman turns her back slightly and stares at the dry grass at her feet.

  • Calling all those who said they needed help

    September 22, 2005

    You know who you are. Kenneth, Leon, William, Joseph and Walter. You know why I'm calling your names out in print today. And Arthur, Tina, Gordon, Andre, Tory and Shawn - where are you?

  • After falling so far, coming back can be a long, hard climb

    September 18, 2005

    HERE'S WHAT happens in the big city: A 42-year-old man, who wasted half his life in jails and prisons because of heroin, announces that he's clean and wants out. No longer will he do dope or deal dope. He wants to leave the ranks of the thousands of men and women who for years helped suck the life out of vast stretches of Baltimore. "I just want to get back to working, and being productive," the man says. He sounds earnest.

  • High cost of drug sentences in Maryland

    September 15, 2005

    I ASKED Donta Ellerbe, a 28-year-old Baltimorean who spent too much of his young life selling heroin in his hometown, what he would like to do for a living, now that he's sworn off the hustle, and this is what he said: "I'm a good people person. I think I would be good at customer service."

  • Ehrlich can put money behind good intentions, expand drug treatment

    September 11, 2005

    BALTIMORE DRUG dealers and former dealers, drug addicts and recovering addicts didn't vote for Bob Ehrlich in 2002. Check me if I'm wrong, brothers and sisters, but many of you either have felony convictions, which means you weren't allowed to vote, or you were incarcerated at the time of the gubernatorial election. Others were just "distracted," committing crimes to feed your addictions, and therefore not engaged in that grand thing we call democracy. And even if you were, you were not inclined to vote for a Republican.

  • An excavation company offers a second chance, and six ex-dealers take an important first step

    September 1, 2005

    LIVING DRUG-FREE, feeling part of the working world and the progress of your city, making $10 an hour for a new company owned by people who believe in second chances, knowing your relatives are glad to see you and that your neighbors might even respect you - all that beats hustling heroin for $50 a day. Any way you measure it, the lives of Thomas Willis, Ricky Smith, Sean Wright, Craig Wright, William Taylor and Melvin Richardson are better at the start of September than they were at the start of August - and so, by a small increment, is the quality of life in Baltimore.

  • An FAQ for readers of previous columns

    August 28, 2005

    AT A MEETING of recovering drug addicts in West Baltimore the other night, there were more answers than questions, which is a good thing in group therapy - it means there's honesty in the room. Everyone seemed to feel free to recount their struggles and express their feelings, and no man put his brother on the spot with questions - until they got to me.

  • Taking family's pain public takes courage, and a lot of love

    August 25, 2005

    DEAR NICOLE Sesker: Your stepdaddy must love you a lot. He's the police commissioner of Baltimore, and yesterday Baltimore and the world learned what you, the commissioner and some of his officers have known for a long time --- that you're a heroin addict.

  • A troubled soul, another tragic ending in the 'other Baltimore'

    August 21, 2005

    RALPH E. "Casey" Kloetzli died in an alley behind an abandoned house on a short side street I had neither heard of nor visited in my 27 years in Baltimore. Until two weeks ago, he had lived a tormented life in the "other Baltimore," the subculture of addiction and distress that so many of us know only from a distance.

  • Weary dope dealer aims to go straight into a new line of work

    August 18, 2005

    LISTENING to a man named Troy talk about his life as a drug dealer -- with 20 clients who buy marijuana from him on a regular basis, Troy didn't want his full name printed because of the legal ramifications -- I think to myself: This guy could have been somebody.

  • O'Mayor could have a little more passion about city hotel plan

    August 15, 2005

    BEFORE THE Baltimore City Council votes on Mayor Martin O'Malley's proposal for the public financing of a $305 million convention center hotel, it would be nice to hear from Mayor Martin O'Malley. Exsqueeze me? Have you noticed that O'Mayor has been relatively low-key on this high-profile project?

  • Updates give hope for life off the street

    August 14, 2005

    TWO MONTHS and two days have passed since the first profiles of men and women caught up in Baltimore's drug life -- and eager to get out of it -- appeared in this space. The contact count is up around 150 now, and today's column is an update on where the many hours of conversations with present and former dealers and addicts (or their mothers and grandmothers) have led.

  • Weary mothers, grandmothers also are victims of drug trade

    August 11, 2005

    DRUG DEALERS: Your mothers have been calling; your grandmothers too. I speak with them almost daily. The conversations are always pleasant, but the subject is always sad, and the subject is always you - the sons and grandsons who hustle drugs on the streets of Baltimore.

  • City hotel can provide a start for jobs plan

    August 7, 2005

    DEAR BALTIMORE City Council: Several of you are questioning the proposal to have the city finance the construction of a $305 million hotel to give the downtown convention business a boost. You're in rare form. We're not used to the City Council doing this sort of thing - challenging the mayor, demanding a better deal for taxpayers. I'm impressed.

  • Prison won't heal Baltimore's blight, but helping out its victims would

    July 31, 2005

    BALTIMORE'S drug cancer has eaten away at people, families and whole neighborhoods for more than three decades. It has affected the entire region in some way and, considering the thousands of citizens involved in this problem, seems intractable, a lost cause.

  • Taking a leap off the street, into a job hunt

    July 28, 2005

    DOZENS OF Baltimoreans have contacted The Sun during the past six weeks to express a desire to end their roles in one of the city's most serious problems - the drug trade that supplies thousands of city and suburban residents with heroin and cocaine, ruins families and neighborhoods, and fuels the violence that keeps Baltimore high on the homicide charts.

  • Drug dealers offered an exit to get out of game

    July 24, 2005

    LEONARD HAMM, the Baltimore police commissioner, could be standing on a street corner watching his officers make a drug arrest, or he might be attending a community event, walking into a barber shop, or just sitting on the front steps of his house. It could happen any time, and often does. Someone recognizes Hamm, walks up to him and says: "Commissioner, I got to get out of the game."

  • If you stay in the drug life, you are choosing your death

    July 21, 2005

    DEAR BALTIMORE drug dealers: It's like this. You either want to live a long, relatively happy life or die young and horribly (or, if you're lucky, maybe middle-aged and horribly). You either want to have a home, family and friends (maybe even DirecTV), or go back to prison.

  • Effort's goal is to make solid citizens of criminals

    July 17, 2005

    TOMI HIERS, who serves in the Ehrlich administration with a half-mile title - executive assistant to the deputy secretary for operations, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services - believes the Republican governor of Maryland means to do what no Democrat in recent memory was able to do: turn criminals into productive citizens, give a guy a second chance. The administration wants to stop wasting taxpayer money - $24,000 per year per inmate - on a revolving door. "We are trying to change the culture of corrections," Hiers says.

  • A longtime addict wants out; he needs helping hand

    July 7, 2005

    HERE'S DARRYL Logan. Here's a 45-year-old lifelong Baltimorean, a graduate of one of its venerable independent schools - and a longtime drug addict. He seems like a bright guy. He's certainly a congenial conversationalist. And he's one of our estimated 40,000 heroin users.

  • Here's a choice: Burn out or really start cooking

    July 3, 2005

    DEAR BALTIMORE drug dealers: Tired of your loser life? Tired of being used to spread the poison in your hometown? Tired of living with your mother because, despite what people think, you can't afford a place of your own? Tired of the prospect of going to jail again, or ending up with a bullet in your head?

  • Passing on hard-learned lessons on Father's Day

    June 19, 2005

    THIS IS Berson Tyner's first Father's Day as a free man in 10 years. For most of the past decade -- and for several of the years before that -- he was a prisoner in the Maryland correctional system. If he saw his three sons on Father's Day, it was probably in a guarded visiting room, in Hagerstown or Jessup.

  • Former drug abuser finds a chance to regain happiness lost to addiction

    June 16, 2005

    UPON HEARING her story, a consoling preacher might have been tempted to give Towanda Reaves that old, hopeful proverb about doors -- when one closes, another one opens. We found out yesterday that the door Reaves thought had been closed to her forever is still open a crack. It's hard to see from about five years away, but there's definitely a small opening.

  • Program envisions a chain of mentors pulling kids from street life

    June 13, 2005

    STEVEN "Take Back The City" Mitchell is certainly dedicated to the cause, and he's always trying to get other men - black, white, Asian, Republican or Democrat, city or suburban - to join him in taking on one of the most persistent and daunting challenges in our midst. He's all about saving Baltimore kids from drugs, thugs and violence.

  • Why they sell poison, and why many can't stop

    June 12, 2005

    FOUR MEN - one in his 40s and tired of going to jail, one who just barely escaped the bullets that killed his best friend, one under pressure from police and family to change careers, another who left the streets six years ago to work toward a middle-class life - all agree: Many who sell drugs in Baltimore will never stop, unless arrested or killed, but many more would prefer another way to make a living. If there were more decent jobs and more employers willing to give a felon a second chance, there might be fewer dealers competing for corners and this city might be a less deadly place.

  • Act of forgiveness sets example for the world

    April 3, 2005

    BY THE TIME he came to Camden Yards in Baltimore on that sun-splashed autumn Sunday in 1995, Pope John Paul II had for more than a decade been encased in glass when he traveled among crowds. The "popemobile" circled the baseball field and turned along the warning track, and for a few memorable seconds, as a reporter free to roam in the grass of left field, I had my audience with the Vicar of Christ. He looked right at me - I swear, right into my eyes - and gave the papal blessing from behind bulletproof glass.

  • Exploiting the tragedy of Terri Schiavo

    March 24, 2005

    MAYBE YOU know the feeling - that you're about to see or hear something that's really someone else's private business, and it makes you embarrassed and uncomfortable. You're a sucker for human drama in all forms, but you'd rather not be caught gawking.

  • A grieving mother brings this war home

    November 18, 2004

    I TOLD MARTINA Burger, who was very accommodating and who gave me more of her time than I ever expected, that I would not debate the war in Iraq with the grieving mother of a Marine who was killed there.

  • Once again, young guns shatter hope

    May 9, 2004

    SOMETIMES, SOME days, you wish you could just reach right in and rewire the brains of fools - like the fat one who apparently drove up to Randallstown High School Friday afternoon and decided to open fire on a crowd of kids after a charity basketball game. What do you suppose was the gunman's story this time? Had he been dissed by someone in the crowd? Did someone owe him money? Or was he just upset about the Krispy Kreme plant closing?

  • Ehrlich, O'Malley sparring over schools may be Round 1

    March 11, 2004

    WAS THAT a risky thanks-but-no-thanks Martin O'Mayor sent to Bobby Governor the other night, or the first shot in the 2006 gubernatorial campaign? Is this precious? Do we live in interesting times? Is this shaping up to be a battle of political frat boys, or what?

  • Given failed war on drugs, Lewis charges no surprise

    March 4, 2004

    ALITTLE news for the many Jamal Lewis fans -- of whom I am one -- who think the Baltimore Ravens' great running back is a victim of an overzealous federal prosecutor reaching too far to make a case out of the word "Yeah," uttered during a cellular telephone call four years ago: We're still at war.

  • Ehrlich realizes we all have a stake in the city's schools

    February 26, 2004

    MORE HIGH-FIVES to Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. of Arbutus for his leadership in Baltimore's school crisis. Last week, the governor pledged a $42 million loan to help the school system pay its bills, and this week, with the deficit numbers looking even worse, Ehrlich came closer to advocating a complete state takeover of the system, declaring himself its new guardian with these words: "I have 90,000 children in Baltimore City schools."

  • Ehrlich's gamble on the city shows glimmer of greatness

    February 19, 2004

    ROBERT L. Ehrlich Jr. of Arbutus is just the man to cure Maryland of its "pre-existing antagonism." No doctor can do it. O'Malley can't do it. Nor Sarbanes. Nor Mikulski. Nor Mfume. Not even Ripken. But the state's first Republican governor since Spiro T. Agnew could lead the way on regional big-think, and the sooner he realizes it the better. He has a choice - to be a statesman who unites modern Maryland across jurisdictional, economic, class and racial lines, or go down in history as "Bobby Slots."

  • City should have put brakes on Fast Eddie a long time ago

    December 11, 2003

    THOSE WHO find themselves lost in the sordid details of the indictment of Fast Eddie Norris, and terribly lacking in knowledge of fashion, should please note: Il Bisonte is a line of leather goods from Italy, and Faconnable is a clothing line with a store in Manhattan.

  • No one can tell grieving family of city Marine how to feel

    March 24, 2003

    THE BALTIMORE family of Staff Sgt. Kendall D. Waters-Bey, killed Thursday in a helicopter crash in southern Iraq, took some heat over the weekend - from talk radio, what else? - for suggesting that the 29-year-old Marine died in an unjust and pointless war, not in a noble cause to make the Middle East safer or to free an oppressed people.

  • Referendum on slots wouldn't be a gamble

    February 28, 2003

    ILIKE the idea of referendum. It's a bright, blunt instrument of democracy -- people voting not on men but on ideas and laws, specific issues of significant public importance. If from time to time we present large questions on the ballot that ultimately affect the quality of life in a place -- say, the state of Maryland -- what's the harm? In fact, a great good might be served; government might better reflect the wishes of the little people.

  • Take a break from shoveling and check your quiz score

    February 19, 2003

    IN CASE YOU missed it - and chances of that are pretty good - I promised to produce answers today to the Winter Day Quiz, presented in this space Monday as a public service to snowbound readers of The Sun.

  • 30 questions for all stuck at home on a winter's day

    February 17, 2003

    IWOULD LIKE to start off today's column by thanking all the intrepid men and women involved in the production and delivery of today's newspaper. If you can read this -- and I don't mean online through -- hug your carrier. I would further like to thank the three guys who stopped in the middle of my street yesterday at noon to give my snow-stuck motor vehicle a push into a position out of the way of traffic and the city snowplow that will -- in my dreams -- make it down my street some day this month. Good snows make good neighbors.

  • Slots number becoming game of high-low

    January 27, 2003

    FIRST WE heard that the racing industry wanted 18,000 slot machines in Maryland. Then the number fell to 13,500, and by the end of last week Bobby Governor reportedly was pulling back even more to find some palatable number. Pete "Cut Me In" Rawlings, the city delegate and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was talking 10,000. By the time you read this, they might be agreeing to ask for 11 slots and a mahjong table at the Royal Farm store in Hampden.

  • In sniper shootings, prison, not death, is best outcome

    October 30, 2002

    PERHAPS ALL the federal and local prosecutors who want to take the sniper case should have a televised drawing on Saturday night - something on the order of Mega Millions or Powerball - to see who gets to kill the guys. Until yesterday, when the feds stepped in, there seemed to be a considerable argument brewing over which county in which state should get to do the rest of us the big favor of prosecuting the sniper suspects and giving them a long dirt nap. So, settle it with a drawing.

  • Fight to take back streets can't be forgotten

    October 25, 2002

    IDRIFT UP to Preston and Eden again, the firebombed, Formstone Dawson house, and I think it should be turned into a shrine -- a memorial to a martyred family who in the first years of the new century died in the civil crusade for a better Baltimore. We could put up a memorial to Angel Dawson, her husband and kids, and I would go for an engraving about the price of liberty being eternal vigilance, something otherwise reserved for the headstones of soldiers.

  • Normal people, living amid abnormal danger

    October 23, 2002

    CHARLES MOOSE, the police chief in Montgomery County, thinks it was unwise for the governor of Maryland to call the sniper a coward, apparently because such public name-calling is counterproductive in the delicate "dialogue" the police are trying to establish with this killer. "The governor's training is not in the law enforcement field," Moose said. "I am convinced the governor will never do that again."

  • Tragedy on E. Preston St. can't shake faith in future

    October 18, 2002

    BY YESTERDAY morning, word had spread through the neighborhood about the Bible, and a few people came by to see it where it lay - open and still readable, flat atop the pile of ashes and embers from the rowhouse fire that killed Angel Dawson and her five children.

  • A primer on 'real Democrats' in era of blurred party lines

    October 2, 2002

    LET ME TELL you something," Melvin A. "Mickey" Steinberg, the former lieutenant governor, said in Glen Burnie Monday, the day he and about 20 other former Democratic officeholders endorsed a Republican for governor. "Real Democrats care about the state of Maryland."

  • One last vision of a Unitas-to-Berry pass

    September 18, 2002

    RAYMOND BERRY was at the lectern, giving his fond eulogy for Johnny Unitas, when I looked up at the nearly 90-foot ceiling of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen and had the strange, fleeting and irreverent vision of a football spiraling perfectly through the somber atmosphere, under the contemporary-Gothic buttresses, all the way from the back of the great place and through the main nave to the sanctuary.

  • Unitas' reach extended past Md. borders

    September 16, 2002

    PLEASE PARDON this personal memory of Johnny Unitas, even though it does not stem from the few special times I was actually in his company here in Baltimore. While natives can attest to seeing him throw footballs at Memorial Stadium -- or buy shirts at Hamburger's -- my experience was limited to what I saw, until about 1969, on black-and-white television.

  • On sad anniversary, a lesson for the kids

    September 11, 2002

    IWOULD LIKE to say something to the kids today, so you grown-ups will have to excuse me. All memories of the year past have me thinking of the future, and the future is where children live. So this is for them.

  • Hyannis Port high society won't help Townsend's cause

    August 16, 2002

    KATHLEEN K. Townsend is a Kennedy and there's nothing she can do about that. But she could have skipped that $2,000-a-head Hyannis Port party last month - the $4,000-a-plate one two summers ago, with chocolate mousse boats and white-chocolate sails bearing KKT's initials, was bad enough - and maybe she could chill on the out-of-state fund raising and the cocktail parties at Uncle Teddy's house. If I were advising this woman - and who isn't these days? - I'd tell her to lay off the lobster-and-Chablis fetes because those events come with a pretty high gag factor among the Great Unwashed.

  • The anger of the faithful a dire wound for the church

    May 20, 2002

    IGO BY WHAT I hear from my 88-year-old mother, Rose, the most ardent Catholic I know. She's disgusted with the whole thing. I don't get any of the Roman Catholic warrior stuff from her on this one. Rose is more angry than sad, and so, based on this -- the most accurate measure available to me -- I believe the church is in bigger trouble than it realizes.

  • Death penalty support looks tough but does no good

    May 13, 2002

    SUPPORTING the death penalty -- saying so in public -- is a way for an otherwise liberal and progressive-thinking man or woman to flash tough-on-crime bona fides. Personally, they might think capital punishment to be barbaric; they might believe in their hearts that no society that puts criminals to death can consider itself civilized. But they flash support for the ultimate penalty anyway. This has been the trend among Democrats as they've played catch-up-to-Republicans since the Reagan Revolution.

  • Church is blind to damage caused by vow of celibacy

    April 5, 2002

    AND NOW, having read the sordid details from the police report, we regard the pathetic pastor of St. Clement I Catholic Church, caught in a lie of fear and desperation, his license to practice suspended, his whereabouts for a week known but to his attorney and, one assumes, God. All because he did that which his vows forbid him to do, and allegedly lied to a Baltimore County police officer to cover it up. Another one bites the dust, and while the development was decidedly regrettable, one assumes there were sighs of relief among Father Steven Girard's superiors that a little boy wasn't involved.

  • Newfound friendship between local, N.Y. firefighters cut short

    September 26, 2001

    BACK ON Jan. 28, Super Bowl Sunday, the phone rang at a Baltimore County fire station, and LeRoy Edmunds picked up. This is Vinny Princiotta, the caller said. New York City Fire Department, Engine 16/Ladder 7. "We wanna make a bet on the game."

  • Americans enter a test of will with new clarity

    September 17, 2001

    "INEVER was much for putting out a flag," I heard a woman say in the weekend sunshine, "until now." She went into the basement of her home and fetched two small ones - starchy cloth flags on sticks - and stuck them in the potted plants in front of her house.

  • A plea for peace to the one God of Muslims, Christians and Jews

    September 14, 2001

    JUST BEFORE sunset last night in the old basilica in Baltimore, with the nation still shattered by ungodly acts of terrorism, an imam sat next to a cardinal who sat next to a rabbi, and they prayed for peace and healing in the face of terror and hate. They did the difficult thing that people expect of them - they tried to use words to restore hope in a week that tested a believer's faith in a merciful God.

  • Events shake belief in a better future

    September 12, 2001

    We organize the tools in our garage and line up the shoes in our closets. We trim the hedge and water the lawn. We shop in malls. We jog. We walk the dog. We sip dark-roast coffee. We drive reliable cars with full tanks of gas. We go to work. We come home. We watch Monday Night Football. We read a novel. We sleep soundly. We have a pretty good life -- orderly, even routine, comfortable, plentiful. We keep going. We believe in the future.

  • Firefighters deserve high-fives and another fete

    July 23, 2001

    NOW THAT was a cool coincidence: "Firefighter Appreciation Day 2001" at Oriole Park fell in the midst of the diehard, underground inferno that put the city's Fire Department to an extraordinary test. Too bad many of the firefighters who deserved the tribute could not attend, though they were near Camden Yards. There will have to be another honor for those who worked so hard to end the danger posed by derailed tankers of hazmats stuck in a downtown tunnel fire that burned as hot as 1,500 degrees and turned railroad steel red.

  • Stream of consciousness

    June 17, 2001

    I can hear him now: "All that for that?" I can pretty much see him, too, in his khaki trousers and white T-shirt, over in the small clearing by the honeysuckle thicket on the little river I love. My father is watching me fish in the way I have chosen to fish in the years since his death: With a fly rod and tiny lures fashioned of feathers to look like the bugs that finicky trout eat. I can hear him now, as I stand knee-deep in the river and extend a small, delicate net for a trout that's all green, yellow and white with brown spots, about 10 inches of God's glory. I hold the trout in my hand for a moment so that my father might appreciate it. But he only laughs: "All that for that?" And when I ease the little fish back into the river, he laughs harder and disappears into the woods.

  • Destructive and creative sides of man in tug of war

    February 16, 2001

    ADIGITAL photograph of the one they call "Crazy Frank" appeared on my computer screen at home Wednesday afternoon as I clicked through The Sun's Web site -- swollen face, large ears, deep-space eyes, arms pulled behind him for the handcuffs. My son, who is 10, looked over my shoulder.

  • Bargain-basement justice not much of a deal for city

    February 14, 2001

    YESTERDAY, IN what used to be the basement of a department store, a prosecutor named Patricia Deros called 106 minor criminal cases - drug possession, trespassing, theft, perverted practices, rolling dice for money - in Early Disposition Court, the one the wise-guy mayor of Baltimore promoted last year, in stick-figure terms, as a remedy to the city's clogged judicial system.

  • As prodigy matures, his light still burns bright

    February 12, 2001

    LOCAL MEMBERS of the Piano Technicians Guild, who 13 years ago logged 700 hours rebuilding that old Stieff baby grand for the shockingly talented baby pianist Jermaine Gardner - he was only 4 at the time - will be pleased to know that both are thriving. The piano fills a third of the front room of the Gardner house, off The Alameda in Northeast Baltimore, and the other night Jermaine sat behind it to play Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 18, the allegro. He performed it wonderfully. I felt lucky to have been there.

  • City that needs hope has a way of killing it

    February 9, 2001

    PAY ATTENTION long enough - say, two weeks - and you notice that a lot of people around here tend to look at almost everything in terms of the health of the city of Baltimore. Martin O'Malley gets elected mayor, and that's good for the city. The Ravens win the Super Bowl, and that's great for the city. A gunman kills the owner of a popular and thriving Mount Vernon cafe, and that's not only an unspeakable tragedy for a family and the man's friends, it's bad for Baltimore.

  • Uncommon valor yields all-too-common response

    February 7, 2001

    THURSDAY afternoon, Rob Bruns, who operates a brake shop in Waverly, had a flash about a doughnut -- the kind with vanilla icing he likes so much. He can usually find one, even by late afternoon, in one of the glass cases at the 7-Eleven two blocks away. It was 4:30. Bruns decided to indulge his craving.

  • Archive: Old broom factory sweeps into present

    April 26, 1999

    NINETY-TWO years ago, August Rosenberger built a four-story brick factory at the corner of Baylis and Boston in the Canton section of Southeast Baltimore. His workers made Little Lady and Little Nugget brooms, and Rosenberger shipped them all over the country under the Atlantic-Southwestern Broom Co. banner. The broom boom at Baylis and Boston ended in 1989.

  • Wounded family gets healing hand

    October 9, 1995

    On a day when he extolled the power of faith and family, Pope John Paul II held the hands of a man and woman who had their faith and family shattered.