Tag: baltimore city

New Baltimore Grand Prix Group Beginning to Fall Apart

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After last year’s Grand Prix organizers dissolved, leaving fees to the city and state unpaid and investors in the lurch, Baltimore got right back on the horse — er, car — signing a contract with a new group, Downforce Racing, to organize the Baltimore Grand Prix for the next five Labor Days.

Now, with the race only months away, Downforce Racing’s director of public affairs Chichi Nyagah-Nash has announced her resignation, saying she “didn’t jell” with the rest of the group. That’s half their staff gone. And The Sun has reported that Dale Dillon — one-third of Downforce’s partners and the only one who has ever promoted an IndyCar race — will likely leave the group.

Oh yeah, also, Downforce has not yet signed an agreement with IndyCar or the Maryland Stadium Authority to be able to put on the race.

If Downforce doesn’t pull it together, maybe the city should just put an ad on craigslist: “[email protected]@K!: Large Maryland city needs auto race promoter. Must be trustworthy and make the city millions of dollars. BEEN BURNED BEFORE! No liars, no deadbeats. GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO SHINE!”

Stop the Baltimore City Beverage Tax Because…Well, Just Because!

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If you live in the city, you’ve probably caught wind of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s plan to increase Baltimore’s beverage tax by another three cents a bottle. And it’s not unlikely you first heard about it from Stop the Baltimore City Beverage Tax, a coalition of mostly beverage companies and food stores formed in 2010 to oppose the introduction of the tax. SBCBT has hit the airwaves as well as the streets with propaganda urging Baltimore City residents to oppose the increase with materials that are noticeably light on information.

I don’t know about you, but when I receive a post card covered in exclamatory phrases demanding that I take a stand on something — without presenting enough information to let me decide for myself — I feel insulted and suspicious.

A visit to the Stop the Baltimore City Beverage Tax website’s FACTS page yields a lot of claims but few hard numbers. The only verifiable “fact” on the page is that five cents is more than twice as much as two cents.

The most valid argument offered in SBCBT propaganda is that taxing a staple hits the poor the hardest. But this is only really a half-argument. The materials fail to either suggest an alternate revenue source, or even mention what the $10 million in additional funds would be spent on (by the way, it’s to fix dilapidated school buildings, and we mean dilapidated — at least one broken down portable classroom is “riddled with bullet holes”), let alone refute its necessity.

SBCBT, if you have a strong argument against the tax increase, don’t be afraid to disclose all the facts. Trust the intelligence of the people you mean to persuade.

Baltimore Homeowners Forced to Reimburse the City for Tax Errors

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When parking enforcement puts a boot on your car, after you pay off  your tickets and get the key to remove it, it’s incumbent on you to return the boot within 24 hours or its considered theft. That’s always rankled me. If I were headed to return a boot and I saw a police car parked illegally, I’d be tempted to slap the boot on, flee to Canada, and change my name to Jean-Pierre O’Clanahan. (Now, to be clear, I would never actually do this — even though it would make a great episode of Parking Wars — if for no other reason than I’m sure I’d never figure how to get it on the wheel.)

The point is — even if it’s legally justified — when the city places a demand on you, especially one with a quick, uncompromising deadline, it’s easy to resent the feeling of coercion. That must be how a few Baltimore City homeowners are feeling right now. They’ve been unknowingly receiving erroneous tax credits from the city for several years, and are now being required to cough up the total or face stiff penalties and interest. And get this, the city wouldn’t even be aware of these errors were it not for an investigative piece in The Baltimore Sun.

The affected homeowners, who have received in error anywhere from $1,700 to $9,200 over the course of several years, are being told to pay it all back in 30 days, or else. C’mon, city! Is the fact that this was largely your error any kind of mitigating factor here? You act like they went and stole the total in cash off your coffee table. The money isn’t just sitting in their homes in large dollar-sign bags while they figure out how to launder it.

If you’re one of these people who’s about to settle up with the city with a big honking check, promise me you’ll write something really classy in the memo line.

Baltimore Makes Yet Another List: BED BUGS!

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When Orkin released their 2011 list of top bed bug cities in the U.S. they could have just said, “These 50 cities have a lot of bed bugs,” but that kind of non-hierarchical statement smacks of socialism. For us, living in the meritocratic United States, ranking is nothing to fear. In fact it is a good thing; it inspires us to improve ourselves.

That’s why it is so crucial that we in Baltimore know the unvarnished truth, namely that our city ranks exactly 18th in nation in bed bug infestations. It’s a sobering statistic, sure, but when we bear in mind that we were tenth on last year’s list, we are right to feel proud of our dramatic improvement.

Now, I know that local politicians will rush to take all the credit for Baltimore’s bed bug decline, but the honor belongs to us all: you, who removed all material articles from the area around your bed, including clothing, towels, sheets, pillows, blankets and small rugs, and sealed them in clear plastic bags; you, who sealed up additional bed bug hiding spots with spackle; you, who applied double-sided tape along the floorboards all the way around the room and on the legs of bedroom furniture — some of you probably even set fire to things precious to you, all in the name of eradicating this most maligned pestilence. Thank you, all of you; you have made Baltimore a better place to go to bed.

Stars Get Starts in Local High School Theater Productions

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Are you ready for some teenage drama that will delight you instead of dizzy you? Teenage thespians are in full rehearsal mode for their spring performances. Most of the casts consist of 30 students, with many more working behind the scenes on set design and technical production.

Drama professors and faculty advisors have made ambitious selections this season for their students. Here’s a sample of what some of our schools are practicing to make perfect before their opening nights:

Baltimore School for the Arts — Junior Scene Night, a compilation of original scenes written and performed by the Junior Acting Ensemble.
City College — Up the Down Staircase
Friends — West Side Story
Gilman/Bryn Mawr/Roland Park Country School — Tartuffe and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
McDonogh — The Dining Room  
Park School — Student-directed plays and A Raisin in the Sun
Pikesville High — Cinderella
Poly — Aladdin
St. Paul’s — Spring Shorts: Student-directed and student-written one-act plays

Curtains go up starting this week for some schools and performances continue throughout March and April. Most tickets sell for around $10. That’s designer talent at a bargain price. Check out the schools’ websites for more information.

Plus, you never know when you might be watching a future celebrity. Tom Hanks and Anne Hathaway performed in their high school plays before becoming A-list stars.

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