Politics & Business

Not in the Top Five Deadliest Cities Anymore? Not Bad, Baltimore


I have a friend who likes to say she came to Baltimore for the murders and stayed for the heroin. I’m not sure how many more like her are out there, but they might want to move elsewhere, now that Baltimore has dropped off the list of the nation’s five deadliest cities.

The announcement comes from data compiled by the FBI in 2011 and released this Monday. The city’s murder rate dropped 12 percent last year, with the total number of homicides coming in at 196. That’s an average of 31.3 killings per 100,000 people, which isn’t great compared to Philadelphia (21.2) or New York (6.3), but still an improvement for Baltimore, which saw 282 murders in 2007 alone.

The Kennedy Family’s Latest Star Makes an Appearance at Aunt Kathleen’s Ruxton Home

Does he look like a Kennedy or what??

Yesterday evening former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend hosted a fundraiser for her godson Joseph P. Kennedy III, the 31-year-old son of her brother Joe Kennedy II. The family’s latest rising star, a former Peace Corps volunteer and Massachusetts prosecutor, is running for the congressional seat vacated by the irascible Barney Frank.

Obviously, the Stanford and Harvard Law-educated Kennedy is not a Marylander (you would have heard of him by now), nonetheless his aunt was able to draw all the important politicos: Governor Martin O’Malley, Congressman John Sarbanes, former Senator Joe Tydings and old family friend (and the man who introduced the candidate’s parents, according to Townsend) Tommy Caplan and more.  Governor O’Malley made mention of the likelihood that many in the audience would also be at the Baltimore Hyatt Regency fundraiser today for President Obama, which he added, “makes for an exciting — and expensive — week in Maryland!”  The crowd was unfazed: Aunt Kathleen’s event raised over $65,000 for young Joe.

Baltimore’s Beach House Ripped Off by Volkswagen; Internet Drama Ensues


The problem with success is that it attracts the attention of sneaks, cheats, and people bent on exploitation. It may be an old story, but this particular spin on it is one we haven’t heard before:  the good guys are hometown heroes Beach House, and the baddies are Volkswagen. Yes, the car company.

A year or so ago, Volkswagen (via its ad agency DDB) started hassling Beach House about using the 2010 song “Take Care” in an ad. The duo declined the (generous) financial offer. DDB kept coming back and offering more money — and the band kept declining. Simple enough, right? Except that DDB apparently couldn’t take no for an answer. Instead, they hired a bunch of Beach House sound-alikes to make a close approximation of the song for the ad spot. The real song features Victoria LeGrand’s dreamy, soaring vocals promising “I’d take care of you”; the knock-off song in the ad has a suspiciously similar-sounding woman crooning “I’ll watch over you.” The songs are so close in sound that Beach House fans were tweeting about hearing the dream pop duo in the ad — which is apparently just what Volkswagon wanted. (Watch the ad and hear the original song below the jump.)

Worst Places to Work in Baltimore? Let the Nominations Begin!


Maybe you read about The Sun’s invitation to nominate your workplace as one of the best in the city. We’re inviting you to do something similar, but slightly different. We’ve all had terrible jobs. If you currently hate where you work, please tell us why, using plenty of good, concrete detail (or as much as you feel comfortable sharing). Feel free to post anonymously. The best worst stories will surely brighten other disgruntled laborers’ days, and the best of all wins special recognition on BFB. Let us hear!

Inside Office Space: Highlandtown’s Vitamin


Citybizlist continues its Pictorial Tour feature spotlighting  a local company’s office through pictures, with Baltimore design and marketing boutique Vitamin.

Founded in 2002, Vitamin provides brand strategy, print design, web design, and public relations services.

Its studio is located in Highlandtown among row houses filled with locally owned businesses, including the Creative Alliance at the Patterson Theatre. The studio was built out in 2005 to create a space that inspires a culture that is current, intelligent, relaxed, and goal-orientated.

Vitamin is led and owned by president and CEO Amanda Karfakis and COO Mike Karfakis (husband and wife team).

Its client roster includes Saint Agnes Hospital, Hamilton Bank, and 1st Mariner Arena, among others.

Without further ado, enjoy the digital tour through Vitamin’s Highlandtown office.

About Vitamin
Vitamin® is the Cure for the Common Brand. The firm is a rare boutique that integrates brand strategy, print design, web design, and public relations all under one roof. Vitamin’s studio is located in the heart of Highlandtown, among row houses filled with locally owned businesses, including coffee shops, restaurants, and the Creative Alliance at the Patterson Theatre. Vitamin will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. The studio was built out in 2005 to create a space that inspires a culture that is current, intelligent, relaxed, and goal-orientated. Vitamin is owned by Amanda and Mike Karfakis (husband and wife team); the firm employs 8, including a security officer, Alaz (Mike and Amanda’s German Shepherd).

Technicality Prompts Baltimore to Refund 3,145 Speeding Tickets.


If you were one of the 3,145 drivers caught speeding by the speed camera at the 4500 block of Wabash Avenue between December and April, you probably received the $40 citation in the mail without noticing anything out of the ordinary. And in fact hardly anything was, just that the site of your misdeed was incorrectly listed as the 5400 block.

I find it hard to believe that the city would give up $125,800 in ticket revenue over an address that’s nine blocks off. I mean, no one believes the drivers were not speeding.

Not all drivers cited had paid the fine by the time the city discovered the error, so it’s not $125,000 in cash that the city is paying out, and the camera vendor will “absorb” 25 percent of the refunds besides, but still!

I wish I could generate some sort of conspiratorial angle on this one, but I can’t. If you’ve got a paranoid, cynical explanation for the city’s unusual forthrightness, leave it in the comments section.

What to Leave Off Your Resume: Tips from the Towson Career Center


What to leave off your resume - tips from the Towson Career CenterMaybe you’re a newly minted grad on the hunt looking for a summer job, or perhaps you’re just someone who hasn’t updated her resume in way, way too long — in any case, a few resume tips are always in order. These come straight from Lorie Logan-Bennett (via Business News Daily), who heads up the Career Center at Towson University. While most career counselors spend a lot of time telling you what you should fill up that one page with, Logan-Bennett gives some much needed advice as to what you should skip:

(1) Incorrect contact information. Duh, right? But this is one that too many people get tragically wrong… and it’s the one that people spend the least time proofreading. As Logan-Bennett notes, the whole point of the resume is to get you an interview — so a mis-typed phone number or other “minor typos in this section of the résumé have major consequences.”

(2) Useless information. Consider what your potential employer wants or needs to know about you — and leave everything else off. It’s great that you worked at an ice cream shop for a few months 10 years ago — but the person making hiring decisions at the non-profit of your dreams probably doesn’t care. Same goes for minor academic interests and most of what happened in high school.



Roundabout to be Removed and Replaced with Traffic Signal beginning Friday, June 8 with Weekend Bridge Lane Closures, Ramp Detour, and Flagging Operations

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) is entering the final phase of the I-695 (Baltimore Beltway) / MD 139 (Charles Street) bridge replacement and interchange reconstruction project in Lutherville.

Beginning 7 p.m. Friday night, June 8, crews will remove the existing roundabout at the intersection of Charles Street and Bellona Avenue; activate two new traffic signals, one at the former roundabout location and the other at the ramp from the outer loop of I-695 to Charles Street; open the new ramp from Bellona Avenue Extended (Lutherville side) to the outer loop of I-695 and northbound I-83 (Baltimore-Harrisburg Expressway).

Is Maryland Poised to Turn Red?


In a recent Maryland Reporter article, David Ferguson, the executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, counts 158 Republicans and 157 Democrats currently in elected office in county governments in the state. For Ferguson it’s enough of a lead to pronounce Maryland “red” — at least at the local level. I don’t know, sounds pretty purple to me. I mean, 50.2 % isn’t much of a lead, is it? Still, given the dearth of Republicans in the General Assembly and among Maryland’s Congressional representation, it’s a little surprising. But can that strong Republican presence at the county level “trickle up” and change Maryland’s politics statewide?

Anti-tax Republican and nationally famous political gridlock-creator Grover Norquist thinks so. At a Reagan Day dinner in Queen Anne’s County a couple weeks ago, he told Republicans that they could “change Maryland,” citing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as an example of just that kind of change. Wisconsin “is a different place than it was two years ago,” Norquist said.

On the one hand, what do we expect him to say — “Maryland’s a lost cause so just give up?” Of course he’s going to be positive. But, looking back at the seemingly unnecessary GOP-strangling Congressional gerrymander Maryland Democrats perpetrated last October, I wonder if Dems are taking this new Republican optimism seriously.

What do you think? Is Maryland destined to turn red?

In Baltimore County, the Master Plan No Longer Rules


The Baltimore County Council unanimously passed a bill that changes the county’s development approval process. Whereas before Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) were required to work within both the county’s master plan and the relevant community plan, now PUDs can be approved as long if they comply with either of those plans or if the planning office simply approves, which, as Teresa Moore, of the Valleys Planning Council observed, “makes the master plan moot.” I’m with Teresa — the master plan ain’t a master plan if no one has to follow it!