Baltimore Police Are Camera-Shy, Despite New Rule

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I don’t think it will necessarily be a YouTube hit — it’s not of a baby panda sneezing or someone falling off a porch — but the video of an arrest captured by a man in Federal Hill raises an interesting issue. In it, police officers ask the amateur filmmaker to leave. He reminds the police of “a standing order to allow people to record it,” meaning the arrest. He begins to walk away, apparently backwards, and continues to record. The video ends with several officers approaching the man. One asks him for his ID.

The “standing order” the man refers does exist. Not only that, it was only hours before this incident that the order was issued.

Since you asked for my opinion, here it is: I can’t but imagine that Baltimore is a particularly difficult city to be a police officer, and I’m sure if I were being videotaped by a stranger I would get annoyed. But transparency is a good guard against corruption, and videotaping (let alone watching) an arrest is legal. In an age in which everyone’s got a camera, it would be best if we just got used to it.

Alcohol Abuse Plays Big Part in Huguely Case

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Like many parents in Baltimore, I’ve been intently following the trial of George Huguely, former University of Virginia lacrosse player accused of killing his ex-girlfriend, Cockeysville-native and Notre Dame Prep grad Yeardley Love, also a former UVA lacrosse player. As the mother of two pre-teen children who are being raised in an environment that ranks the gifted student-athlete above most everybody else, the tragic story of Huguely and Love gives reason to worry as I look to my own children’s futures. 

I’ll admit that my husband and I have, since our children were about six, helped them strap on sports gear and have spent countless hours on the sidelines rooting them on. We also tirelessly review spelling words with them, help them figure out math problems, and push them to complete book reports. But we’re not living entirely in the moment. 

We sometimes wonder how all this will play out down the road. Will our kids get into the college of their choice? Will their athletic careers end after high school, or will we have an opportunity to cheer them on in college too? What we rarely consider is, after all this preparation, our kids — successful and well-prepared as they may seem — could very well wind up routinely spending their college weekends in a drunken haze. If it happens to elite athletes attending a prestigious university, then why not to our kids too? 

As an outsider who was neither a top-flight athlete nor scholar at a prestigious university, I do know — it’s impossible not to know, if you are from Baltimore — that UVA’s men’s and women’s lacrosse teams are two of the best in the nation. I’m also aware that UVA is one of the nation’s most prestigious public universities. Presumably, both Huguely and Love worked hard to earn coveted spots on the top-ranked teams at the top-ranked university. It appears both of them also fell easily into the recreational pursuits that seem to come with the territory: heavy alcohol consumption. Sure, most college kids drink, but the athletic students most of all.

Sobering statistics bear this out. According to the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, the profile of college students most likely to binge drink are male, white, under 24 years of age, involved in athletics and members of a fraternity or sorority. In Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses (Thomas Nelson, 2005), author Henry Wechsler, Ph.D. writes that half of college athletes — 57 percent of men and 48 percent of women — are binge drinkers, and experience a greater number of alcohol-related harms than other students. Lacrosse players are implicated even further: A recent NCAA study found that they are the heaviest users of illicit drugs among college athletes.

It’s pretty clear that at UVA, as in other colleges across the nation, recreational drinking is an integral part of student-athletes’ social life. On more than one occasion during Huguely’s trial, references have been made to copious alcohol consumption prior to Yeardley’s death. In fact, it’s described as the primary backdrop to the students’ weekend. Prosecuting attorney Warner D. Chapman, speaking at the trial said that, “There was alcohol consumed in significant amounts…by all who were involved.” Chapman also stated that George Huguely, “had been drinking virtually nonstop since early that Sunday morning” before approaching Yeardley Love’s bedroom that evening. Trial lawyers are rightfully hung up on whether Huguely’s actions were pre-meditated. But as blitzed as he must have been when he approached Love’s bedroom, how’s anybody to know what his addled mind intended? 

I’m sure it’s safe to say that neither Huguely nor his parents ever intended his actions to lead him where he is today. It’s not what parents envision for their children as they steer them along, supporting them through formative years on the athletic field and at the homework table. But as college cultural norms — exposed via this terrible tragedy — tell us, heavy drinking and the unintended consequences that can result from it are a very real, and sobering, possibility for young adults. Maybe it’s time to change that cultural norm. I’m open to suggestions. 

Roland Park Robbery Victim Bounces Back with Petit Louis Dinner

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Remember a few weeks ago when community leader Sally Michel’s purse was stolen outside of Petit Louis Bistro?  She felt awful about the bad publicity it brought to her Roland Park neighborhood and to the restaurant, so she and her fans (and she has many!) have decided to make something positive out of the crime.

To celebrate her pluck and her birthday, Petit Louis will hold “Fill Sally’s Purse!” on Tuesday, February 28 (Sally’s actual birthday), from 5 p.m. until close. The restaurant will donate 20 percent of all checks for the night to Sally’s pet project, the Parks & People Foundation, where she is chairman of the board.

It’s right that the foundation should stand to benefit from the crime: Sally joked after the robbery that the only thing that the thief found in her purse was a stack of solicitation letters addressed to potential donors of the Parks & People Foundation!

For reservations, please call (410) 366-9393 and mention that you are dining to Fill Sally’s Purse!

 

Baltimore Ranked One of Best Cities for Singles — Really?

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On paper, Baltimore has an attractive resume for a single gal interviewing potential cities to live in. Between Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland systems, Baltimore is bursting at its waterfront seams with doctors, lawyers, dentists, and academics. And compared to nearby D.C., the cost of living is reasonable.

The number crunchers at Kiplinger, a financial planning outfit, felt the same way. They’ve ranked Baltimore among the “Top 10 Best Cities for Singles.” Their rankings are based primarily on median income and cost of living. They pre-screened cities for their study like a woman screens her calls, ignoring the cities with too high of a percentage of married households. It makes sense right? We wouldn’t want a study to encourage adultery.

Kiplinger concluded that Baltimore is one of the best cities to be single because, “More than half the population is single, three in 20 hold a graduate degree, and the average date is pretty cheap.” In fact, they report that the average date, which they consider to be two movie tickets and a bottle of wine, costs $28.75 in Baltimore. Maybe if the couple forgoes the wine for a six-pack of Natty Boh, the person picking up the check could spare no expense and splurge on some sweet potato fries.

What Kiplinger could measure, lackluster cheap dates aside, is the number of people satisfied with the single life versus the number dating to find that one person. When I first moved to Baltimore over ten years ago, I wasn’t looking. I even dumped my Indiana sweetheart of four years because I was wooed by the “plenty of well-salaried fish in the Bay” story. I spent the next six years fishing in some pretty murky harbor water before I found Mr. Right.

Many of my friends were also looking to update their status from “single” to “in a relationship.” The string of lame dates laying down lame game sent some of my friends packing to cities not on Kiplinger’s list, like Boston and Houston, where they became seriously involved or engaged. My single friends who remain in Baltimore have moved on from serial dating to hobbies, continued education, and more meaningful careers and friendships to enrich their lives.

So Baltimore, does a city of singles live happily single ever after?

For Your Consideration, a Fail Safe Baltimore Business Plan

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Okay, I’ve got this business model I’ve been working on. This is a sure thing, hear me out. I start an auto repair shop. You know how many cars get in accidents every day? Anyway, the point is, I get police officers who arrive at car accidents to refer the drivers to my shop exclusively. I’d pay the officers, say, $300 per referral.

But get this. Here’s how I maximize profits: when the cars come in, I damage them a little more — knock out the mirrors, beat in the doors, whatever. Then I put in a bigger claim on the insurance company (and get a little exercise in process). It’s not really the driver’s money, and it’s not like they’d notice anyway. It’s basically a victimless crime. Not even a crime, really — a business model. Anyway, I think I’ll only need maybe 50 or 60 police officers in on it for it to work. What do you think?

What’s that you say? It’s been tried?

Well I’ve got this other idea where I stand by the Washington Monument in Mt. Vernon and charge tourists $100 apiece to look at a photograph of the statue so they can see what it actually looks like. It requires less start-up capital anyway.

City Strikes Five Year Deal on Baltimore Grand Prix

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Courtesy of Citybizlist – Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake will announce the details of a new 5-year agreement on Wednesday with Downforce Racing, a motorsport promoter, regarding the city’s Grand Prix Race, according to abc2news.com.

From abc2news.com:

“Contract term — the agreement provides that the race will be conducted annually for an initial five year term beginning in September 2012 and ending in September 2016.

Amusement Tax Lock Box– Each ticket sold will include a 10 percent admission and amusement tax, which will be collected at the point of sale and placed into a lock box escrow account held by a City appointed trustee.”

Read the rest of the story at Citybizlist.com

Baltimore’s Baby Lemur Grows Up; Still Cute (Video Proof)

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Kids — they grow up so fast! Why, it was just the other day that Baby Nero, the Maryland Zoo’s ridiculously cute baby lemur, was clinging to his mother’s stomach, unable to get around on his own. Now that he’s three months old, though, Nero spends more time riding around on his mom’s back — when he’s not jumping, bouncing, and climbing.

“Nero is becoming more and more independent,” zoo officials say — and do we detect a note of nostalgia in their voice? If you need video proof that Nero has lost none of his adorable-ness, watch a video of him scampering around here:

Nero is the youngest member of the zoo’s family of Coquerel’s sifaka, an endangered species of lemur native to Madagascar. His mom, Anastasia; father, Gratian; and brother, Otto can be found in the zoo’s chimpanzee forest exhibit.

JHU Admissions Staff: What Makes Applications Stand Out?

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We’ve mentioned before — a few times, actually — how much we like the Johns Hopkins admissions team’s website, Hopkins Insider. They give lots of detailed information, but with a lighthearted spirit; they’re clearly trying to demystify the college admissions process for students, and help everyone — students and parents alike — chill out a little bit. Which is why we like their candid, helpful responses about what makes an application essay stand out:

Admissions Counselor Bryan Nance:  “When I get a chance to understand who an applicant really is and how they will fit into the Hopkins community.”

Admissions Counselor Shannon Miller:  “When someone takes an everyday topic and makes it their own – don’t start your essay with something like ‘The most inspirational person in my life is my mom,’ or ‘Interact has been my most meaningful activity.’ I know you can be more creative than that!”

Admissions Counselor Dana Messinger:  “A good college essay is personal.  No matter how well written it is if I don’t feel like I know the student any better at the end, it doesn’t really stay with me.  The best essays are the ones that let me picture what the applicant is like in some facet of his or her life.”

Admissions Counselor Rachel Cowan Jacobs:  “An essay that goes beyond the surface stands out for me.  It can be challenging to write a deep essay without going into too much story-telling. I find those to be effective essays because they tell me more about the applicant and showcase his or her writing ability.”

Admissions Counselor Sarah Godwin:  “When it is something only you could have written about. For example, being on a soccer team is a fairly common experience that many people can write about,  but growing your own organic garden or telling me about your elaborate take-out menu collection and how it defines who you are, well that is an “only you could write that” kind of essay.”

Admissions Counselor Sherryl Fletcher:  “When a student is writing in an authentic voice, their own experiences stand out as unique views of who he/she is and the potential to contribute within the classroom and within the Johns Hopkins community.”

Admissions Counselor Daniel Creasy:  “It absolutely needs to be personal. I need to have a better sense of who the applicant is after reading the essay. In fact, I want applicants to think of it less as an essay and more as a personal statement. Being personal makes an essay effective, being original and creative makes an essay stand out.”

Admissions Counselor John Birney:  “The topic needs to be unusual and interesting.  I love to find out those characteristics of students which are rarely known.’

Prosecution Expected to Rest Today in the UVA Lacrosse Murder Trial

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Yesterday was another day of graphic testimony in the trial of former UVA lacrosse player George Huguely in the death of Cockeysville native and Notre Dame Prep alum Yeardley Love. The Washington Post story, Doctors in George Huguely Case Cite Bruising in Yeardley Love’s Brain gives further details on Love’s injuries and what actions doctors believe could have led to the damage.

This CBS News video on the Washington Post website also gives details about yesterday’s testimony.

In Prosecution to Rest Wednesday in Huguely Trial, the Baltimore Sun gives its account of yesterday’s testimony, along with details about the defense’s attempts to counter the prosecution’s claims.

In Looking for Answers in Faces and Facts, Baltimore Sun veteran reporter Jeanne Marbella notes the changes to George Huguely’s appearance since he was arrested almost two years ago.

An FYI – Most Baltimore Sun stories on the case post after 8 p.m. each night, so if you are looking for daily updates of the trial, that is the best time to check.