Journal Entries for April, 2004

click here for an index to archived entries

, April 30: Tonight on Ted Koppel's Nightline show the entire time is to be spent reading the names of those killed in the Iraq action.

Sinclair Broadcast Group is preempting the show on all it's Fox and ABC stations, including, I assume, Baltimore's Fox45. They have a statement on their website about why.

They believe the program is politically motivated. It might well be. Of course the Fox 45 news in Baltimore does exactly what it claims the other stations do: spin the story their way.  Every editorial is decidedly pro Bush and anything he does, including war. Every "story" on their national and world news spins for Bush. Some of their stories sound more like Republican National Committee commercials bought and paid for with that obscene campaign war chest. Maybe they are.

The SBG statement says they should read the names of all those killed by the terrorists. I guess they weren't paying attention when all the names of those killed by terrorists were read aloud at Ground Zero in a moving ceremony, widely televised. Iraq did not attack us on September 11. Not even the President has said that. He said Iraq had harbored terrorists, like Afghanistan, like Saudi Arabia (Osama bin Laden is a Saudi) and most other Middle Eastern countries filled with angry young men who hate America.

As nice as it would be to have a clear enemy, a traditional war, that's not what we have in Iraq. If we were at war right now with those who flew our planes into the WTC, I would be down there at the enlistment office pleading "I am not too old! I want to fight!" just as happened in WWII after Pearl Harbor. Instead, I'm left here, feeling helpless and out manned in my tiny battlefield here at home. Just another neglected battlefield among thousands.

I would guess Ted Koppel is against the war. Many intelligent, thinking people are. I just don't see how that matters. I don't see how it should matter to anyone on either side of the issue that some feel we should remember each and every day the sacrifice, the supreme sacrifice, our soldiers are making for us. As they have so many times in our history.

My politics are very clear to anyone who's read here for some time. I don't try to hide them but I try, not very well, to keep them out of this journal except when I feel there's a connection to what this site is about. To me, the salient point on this war is I wish this sacrifice was for taking back America. I wish we put even remotely as much effort into taking back America's cities from our own terrorists as we have into changing the politics of another country. I wish the 100+ billion dollars spent on Iraq was being spent to educate our kids, to adequately pay enough policemen to make our streets as safe as Mayberry, to provide adequate social services to help people stay in and return to productive society ... to do good right here in America.

Not that I don't want us to fight terrorists. To strike directly at them. To hunt them down and bring them to justice. I just feel like "Hey, guys, what you're doing there could be important, I don't know, but I do know there's a war right here outside my door. There's thousands of wars being lost every day around America. We could use some help."

I'm listening to the Masjid's Call to Prayer this afternoon as I write this. I'm learning to think of it as church bells now rather than as the battle cry it seemed way back on 9/11. I'm also listening to what sounds like some sort of revivalist meeting down the street. Some of the rhetoric I'm hearing, in pieces as the volume grows, speaks of the challenges right here, screams about the plight of our schools, the crime we deal with every day and the ever mounting anger we foster in so many of our own young men right here. The ones who to turn to drug dealing because they hate America and wish only to exploit it. One of our dealers in his huge Cadillac Escalade is driving down the street playing rap music about killing cops, raping women, etc. He's advertising he's here, in control and he's got the good shit so you too can get high and leave the hell he creates for you behind.

There's so much similarity between the angry young Middle Easterners who literally explode from anger, taking as many of the "enemy" with them as they can, and those dealers we see out our windows every day who have nothing but contempt for America, who flaunt our laws, destroy our own people with drugs and kill us all daily with gunshots and addictions, taking as many of us with them as they can.

Just as some, like Sinclair Broadcast Group, would have us do: pretend no one's dying in Iraq, there are those right here who would have us pretend no one's dying in Baltimore. Many of them have moved to the suburbs to bury their heads in the sand. "That's not my problem." Iraq is, not Baltimore.

I will watch Nightline tonight. I will listen patiently to the names of each of those killed in this campaign. I will shed a tear or more. I will marvel at the dedication and sacrifice of not just them but the thousands wounded. I will be proud of them. Of course, if you read here regularly you already know I'm crazy: I still sometimes stand when no one but me is home while PBS plays the Star Spangled Banner. You know, the tape with the fighter jets, Lady Liberty, the Mountains and the Plains. But that's not supporting our troops in Iraq any more than putting the words Support Our Troops on your bumper. Tomorrow I will try to do the best I can to be worthy of them right here. To do what I can, however lame or small, to help those who fight right here 24/7 to keep us safe and those who work to educate our children to make all of us safer tomorrow.

OK. I'll stop. Of course if you've read my drivel this far, you probably feel the same.

So, on to the home front again: If you'd like to do something to honor our troops tomorrow morning, buy a case of white copy paper ($20 at Sam's) and give it to a teacher at Eutaw Marshburn on your way to work Monday. Say "thank you for what you do." And next time you get a ticket from a cop, say "thank you for what you do." It's fun to see the expression on their faces. It shocks them. Their faces are the faces of our troops, just those right here. They are exactly the same Americans of character fighting and dying in Iraq today, equally worthy of our appreciation and respect.

And if you'd like to help us here in the little battleground we call the 1700 block of Madison Avenue, call Pedestal Gardens at 410.523.2341 and/or call HUD and ask them to put the lights back on in their building to help protect the children and moms who live there, so dealers can't do business there so easily and so our troops, oops, I mean  officers, can be safer when chasing them.

In the time I've written this, three more soldiers have been added to the price we're paying for Iraq.

Tuesday, April 27: Got this from an officer Sunday night ...

"The vehicle you described today, is consistently operated by ... a well known and long time established drug dealer in this area.  He had moved his business over to Druid Hill Avenue, after he assaulted Sgt. Kessler  couple summers back ... Reportedly he has been re-establishing his shop at the steps next to the store at Tiffany and Wilson during the day shift.  He shuts down his business when I come on duty, ever since the summer where I caught and embarrassed him in front of the other dealers.  ... Be careful around these guys, since they usually ... fight as a group since  ... They have been ingrained in the neighborhood for decades ..."

So much for paranoia.

Since Pedestal Gardens has allowed their building to be blacked out, completely without exterior lighting, the graffiti on the side of the building across the lot from them seems particularly ominous ...

The Darkside Gang
Fair warning to those who want this lucrative market for their brand crack and heroin.

That's the Darkside Gang's mark. More than likely, the lights were broken by the Darkside Gang to help the block live up to their name.

Not only is the darkness around that building here worrisome for me and my neighbors, it must be a particular worry for officers on patrol who are concerned about dealers marking territories and new colors coming onto the scene. The makings of turf wars. I'd say the stage is set right here, Commissioner Clark and Mayor O'Malley, for a few more additions to your homicide tally. Let's just incubate this market again a bit more and see what happens.

None of my emails on the subject or requests from the Pedestal Gardens officers seem to be having any effect. There is no reason these lights should be out for more than one night. There's plenty of money from HUD to pay for new lights if that's it. There's a Home Depot ten minutes away. A hundred electricians in the yellow pages. These lights were put  up in response to serious complaints to HUD about the building being overrun with dealers. The plain truth is management does not put a priority on this building anymore. They've become complacent, and apparently more interested in alienating PGP and micromanaging them than protecting the residents or neighbors of their building.

If you'd like to ask HUD why tax dollars can enrich the New York landlords of this Section 8 housing but not pay for proper, timely maintenance of things like security doors and security lighting, please feel free to call the Director of Multi Family Housing at Baltimore's HUD office at  962.2520 x3055. Here's his email address. Mr. Iber has been attentive to our concerns in the past though a bit too willing to entertain excuses for negligence at times, if you ask me. Perhaps the shrill, panicked, threatening nature of my last emails to them lately have affected my credibility too.

Work on our house has stopped. Planning for work on the house is on hold. Things are slipping back to what they were too fast. Yet again, I see no value in investing in a house in a block where no one is safe and the major landlord isn't helping.

Yesterday a child from our school was hit while trying to cross Wilson Street in front of NIMROD Center at closing bell time. (I don't know his condition.) There's no crossing guard there. She's busy with the much busier Eutaw Place side. Unfortunately the PGP were not playing crossing guard/dealer deterrent as they often do. They'd been called to the courtyard of PGP for something.

PGP Crossing/Dealer Guard

That's PGP Officer George in black uniform, watching the street as the kids get out of school. Nice to see. While standing there yesterday with the two officers who were helping with traffic as the paramedics responded, I asked about the three guys hanging out on the opposite corner. "That guy in the red jacket? He has that red Lincoln ..."

Steady stream of guys in their uniform of black t-shirts wandering back and forth between 1715-1717 down Wilson from McCulloh. The first of the month on a weekend
should be fun around here, especially with 80 degrees forecast and lights out everywhere,

I'm so glad so many have their priorities straight. Check out this article in the Sun this afternoon. Pathetic pandering to a Governor who doesn't give a flying Cicada's anus about Baltimore's people.

Sunday, April 25, 3pm: I was going to spend my afternoon at a friend's birthday party at 4 East Madison Inn, a beautifully restored guest house and courtyard at 4 East Madison Street. Would be a nice place to put up visitors when you don't have the room.

Anyway, I was looking forward to my walk, but a bit apprehensive.  Earlier when I was out with the dogs, I'd seen four guys sitting on the steps of 1704, the now boarded former crack house, talking, laughing ... and dealing. Lots of cars on the street, all attending church at Payne Memorial. When I left my door, they were nowhere to be seen. Looked around to see a newish, dark red four door Lincoln Continental with Maryland tags start up. Not unusual, most of the parishioners of Payne drive very fancy cars. This was odd, though because it had completely blacked out windows. Still, didn't think anything of it until I turned up Wilson Street to Eutaw and realized the car was driving, very, very slowly, staying behind me. I tried not to make it obvious I was aware of them, but stopped on the pretense of tying of my shoe against a tree. The car stopped. When I finished, I turned back toward Eutaw. The car started up again, again going very slowly until we got to Eutaw where it turned and sped past me to the light where it turned and came back up Eutaw behind me again.

Now, I was wondering which tree in front of the school was most bullet resistant and happy that it was a Sunday when the kids weren't there. There were no cops around. Very few cars. Only one person waiting at the bus stop. I decided against my little walk this afternoon, turned around abruptly and walked right toward them. The windshield was clear. At least one of the faces was that of the guys I'd seen earlier on the steps of 1704. Four guys in the car. Bright, exaggerated smiles on each. They floored it and continued around to McMechen where they turned west. I walked briskly back to my door, happy not to see them at Madison when I turned the corner.

This could be my paranoia getting the better of me. I don't know if the idea was mugging, or to find out if I was really going a distance away so the house would be empty, or if it was to scare the ____ out of me. I know that until I got back in the front door and saw I'd not been followed, I was more frightened than I've been here in a long time. And this afternoon I'm feeling a bit like a prisoner in my own house again. It's been a while since I was afraid to leave the house alone. I used to insist Vaughn or someone was here "on watch duty."

Yes, two officers have visited this afternoon to use the facilities and have lunch. Yes, there are three dogs always in residence. Odd thing there. I have often felt that if the house were attacked in some way while we were away, perhaps firebombed, I would really only mourn the dogs who've been so important in making us secure here. Anyone who's seen the house knows except for the substation, it's still a shambles. I cannot imagine what these guys were trying to do except make me nervous. They succeeded in that. I guess they're new and don't know me. I would wonder at anyone foolish enough to break in the house with police cars pulling up to the back of it unpredictably all day and night, but as I've often told Vaughn, it's not the noisy or the smart bad guys to fear: It's the not thinking, high on crack, or angry and fearless ones.

I haven't seen the car again or the guys from the steps around since. I've seen PGP officer Tyler on his foot patrol across the street. And the Sexton from Payne on his rounds between NIMROD and their church. There are kids in the playground. Not many if any suspicious types about just now. No reason to worry. Now I'm wishing I'd gone to the birthday party, but I know I would have been nervous every moment until I got back, trying hard not to think about what could be happening here.

I bumped into the Sexton yesterday in our alley. I thanked him for helping with the dump that someone had decided to make out of the church's end of our alley. Today I notice it's all gone. It's nice to see the church and Mrs. Cummings pitching in to keep it clean. Used to seem like a foolish effort on my own, especially when residents of the DHCDC building behind us would open their window and drop their dirty diapers nearly on my head while I was out picking up. Nothing like that's happened in a while.

Greg, my neighbor, the owner of 1710 is working on his house today. He's a postman. In the past year he's done a lot of work there to improve the apartments and has rented out a couple of them. I called him the other day to ask, quite facetiously, if one of his tenants was an Amway distributor. "Why would you say that?" "Well, he has a wide variety of visitors at all hours whom he meets in front or who go in for three minutes, hop in their cars and drive away fast. I figure they must be picking up their orders though I notice they are very tiny packages."

Greg said he's warned all his tenants that he won't tolerate dealing and added "it's gotten so much better, I'm not going to let it go back again." Greg credits the substation with his willingness to rent out apartments in that house again. For three years it was vacant. He couldn't find anyone he'd want to rent to who felt safe enough to live here. Anyway, he said he'd told this young man he to leave that stuff back in his old neighborhood and that he'd have a talk with him. I haven't seen the suspicious behavior since. Perhaps he's only being more discreet. Too soon to tell. And I don't think there's any connection to the red Lincoln.

It's nice to remember these things when others in red Lincolns seem to want to remind us how it used to be.

Friday, April 23, noon: There's a lot of talk about how to "support our troops."  Some think it requires approving our action, wrong or right and never questioning, voicing doubt. Some think it's about flying a flag from your car next to their "Go Ravens!" bumper sticker.

And some realize it's by doing what you can on the home front to be worthy of the sacrifice of soldiers across the sea.

Some like Baltimore City Sergeant Dave Wimmer whom I met at court this morning. Ran into him on the stairs as I was rushing to the court room this morning, late. I was summoned as a witness to a drug arrest. "It's OK. It was burn. Case dismissed." Burn is counterfeit drugs. In this case vials of a white powdery substance like Boraxo. Always dismissed. Apparently the court is not too concerned about protecting crack connoisseurs from fraud. I said, "so he wasted your time." The reply, "No. He spent a night in jail. He knows we're out there watching now." His work honors and supports our troops.

Some like Pedestal Gardens Sergeant Kluver who saw a handgun in the darkened stairs of Pedestal Gardens  night before last and heard it click, not firing (lights out now everywhere in their buildings). Some suggested he should have fired on the person as he ran away. He did not. "There are kids and good people behind those doors." His work honors and supports our troops.

And some like Eutaw Marshburn Principal Mitchell, who was in conference with a Comcast rep this morning to discuss their contribution to the school, when we dropped off a couple cases of copy paper. They were out again. (Next time you're at Staples or Office Depot, please consider getting them a ream or two and dropping it off.) Her work honors and supports our troops.

In their own way even the dog poo vigilantes of Bolton Hill honor our troops by exercising their right to fight wrong doing, however small an issue I might think it is.

One direct way you can help our troops is to help the USO. Visit their site at to find out how. Thank you, Michael, for suggesting the link.

A truly vital way to support our troops is to pick up the phone to report dealing and other crime. Just lifting a finger to help honors our troops and our country. And if you're afraid, and you have reason to be, call Kevin Cleary at the Mayor's office at (443) 984-2372 to get a Crime Watch number to protect your identity. You can be a soldier, a comrade in arms, with those risking their all in Iraq or on the streets of Baltimore, by just doing your duty as a citizen.

Oh, sometimes the sappy patriotism just overtakes me doesn't it? Still, perhaps it's a better indulgence than when I get involved in ego based bitching matches with neighbors over whose priorities are best.

Thursday, April 22, 11:00am: Last night's entry brought the expected complaints about my bashing some Bolton Hill residents whose priorities are so very different than ours. One reader who used a pseudonym but offered a very well thought argument suggested "By repeatedly criticizing them you are losing potential future allies." I don't see it that way at all.

I wrote back "I'm not hurting my cause by alienating spoiled, whining rich folk any more than I hurt it by alienating drug dealers. A surprising number of visitors read my site. I think it important to counter the many [trivial] complaints City Hall and the police get each day with a call for common sense priorities. I'm sure many police officers and leaders read yesterday's post and said here, here! .... Feel free to read the site, but don't expect me to be the Sun. That's not my job. And I'm not a politician. I don't have to be politically correct or worry about insulting stuck up, pretentious, self absorbed people who do nothing to help with the real problems in the city and who work so effectively to drain precious resources from real problems."

And it's important to note I am by no means criticizing all or even most Bolton Hillers. Just a very vocal, very needy bunch who wouldn't be happy if they were hung with a new rope, as my Dad used to say. Several Bolton Hillers have gone out of their way to help us with the substation and continue to do so. It could not have been done without their help. Or perhaps I should say it might not have been. Their contributions were as important to our motivation as to the monetary value. When I posted "News from the wrong side of the tracks" on the Bolton Hill Board nearly two years ago, I was floored by the support from Bolton Hillers who understand their problems are our problems, that we should be citizens of the whole city, not just our neighborhoods, and work together with common sense priorities.

Vaughn forwarded me this article today from the Sun about the armed burglar and rapist who was recently apprehended. The same arrest reported by the Major on the BH Board that was drowned out by complaints about dog poo. Click here to give it a read.  His observation: "I'm sorry, but these people need to wake up and just take a look at the whole city. This is where you live." He has nothing to feel sorry about.

Went down the substation last night to make some fresh coffee for the midnight shift. As I wrote, I was a bit down about the lights, wondering what was coming this "drug season." I found the Internet connected computer we provide there open to our guestbook. There's an overly kind entry from an officer I met last year when Baltimore Police set up their command center alongside the elementary school to coordinate their "attack" on the entrenched drug market that feeds ours over near Pennsylvania and Laurens Street.  That's in Upton, where the Bolton Hill burglar and rapist used to live. When I met Commissioner Designate Clark last year a few days after the City Paper article he said he'd work on curbing the open air drug markets like ours. Next month he did and continues to do so.

It's nice to think our work here is " a beacon of hope ... for the good people living in the beleaguered neighborhoods of Baltimore."  Such encouragement from an officer in the trenches was very timely for me. Like so many others in vast areas of the "real Baltimore," where we have no delusions of grandeur, I need all the hope I can get. Things are so much better than last year when I met Lt. Cappuccino, but I'm still hoping for the day when all we have to be concerned about is inconsiderate dog owners. Ah, how telling. Now we know what fuels my ire toward the Bolton Hill Dog Poo Posse: Must be I'm just jealous.

Wednesday, April 21, 10:30pm: I'm seriously thinking of taking my own advice to an irate property owner over on Eutaw: Leave the city before you get too bitter and angry. I'm afraid it might already be too late for me, though.

This afternoon I got into a nasty email exchange with a community activist from Bolton Hill over a plan to redecorate the Mt. Royal school grounds. I was irate at talk of redecorating the school in the wealthy neighborhood while our Eutaw Marshburn is out of paper yet again. Our very different perspectives and priorities were clear. The important issues to her seem to be the rampant dog poo crisis and the University's plan to demolish an old building across from the Lyric Opera House. I couldn't care less about either problem. In fact, I'd be happy if I could be concerned about such things.

A new reader here and on the Bolton Hill Bulletin Board wrote me a few days ago ...

"I really enjoy reading it and appreciate both the weblog itself, and the work you do in the neighborhood. But your April 8 entry bothered me a little. The jab about bolton hillers complaining about dog crap while we have larger problems to deal with. I DO care about the larger issues. I was punched and threatened with mugging last week!!! While I personally wouldn't use webspace on the bulletin board to complain about dog feces, I think the spirit was really that the person wanted people to care more about their neighborhood."

He hadn't read the Bolton Hill Board and said he would, then wrote he could see what I mean. And I do agree that a clean neighborhood is usually a safer one in many ways, especially that it represents the residents care.

I try not to read the board often. The silly, petty complaints annoy me. One Bolton Hill resident suggests today that every time your car is broken into because you've left something valuable in it to call the police because "As the old saying goes: "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." The more we squeak about these nuisance crimes, the more likely we are to get additional police patrols." Oh yes, call the police to get more attention so one can leave stuff in the car. We know our streets are crawling with addicts and others who think nothing of taking advantage of your carelessness. It's not nice to say, but people who leave valuables visible in their car in this city deserve to lose them. When you know it's going to happen, why ask for it? It'd be nice if we could all leave valuable stuff out without it being stolen. It would be nice not to have to lock our doors too. But we don't live there, if such a place still exists anywhere. The police have more important things to do than protect people's stuff from their own foolishness. They need to concentrate on armed robbers, burglars, rapists and killers.

Amongst the spoiled whining, I did find the announcement of the "Prostitution Meeting" with the CD Major worthwhile. It's tomorrow night at the Memorial Episcopal Church Parish House on Lafayette between Bolton and Park. 8pm. We should all go to help the police explore means to attack the problem of the oldest profession. Of course, after bashing the attitude of some BHers yet again here, I may not be welcome. <g> Prostitution along Eutaw and here is down. As is dealing over last year (so far). Not coincidence. The prostitutes and their customers often buy drugs together. The prostitutes know where and who to buy from. Just another reason our neighborhood is so attractive to dealers.

The lights of course remain off at the Pedestal Gardens building. The maintenance crew there is not motivated to fix anything obviously. And of course the management and motivational skills of the property management were amply demonstrated by the insult she helped the security company deliver to the PGP last week.  I'm sure my threatening, demanding email didn't help motivate them to fix it either. Diplomacy and tact is not my strong suit.

Now, the street lamp which controls a dozen others is flickering off and on. It's only been a bit over a year since I confronted someone repeatedly bashing into it with their truck. He told the police he was "straightening my bumper." The officer nodded his head and did nothing. The lights didn't go on that night. Took almost a week to get if fixed even with a dozen calls a day to the city and at least a dozen calls a day to report the increased dealing. I don't think it's coincidence that lights are mysteriously going out around here now..

Early last summer when the power went out all around, Mr. Douglas, from the McCulloh and Wilson Street funeral home, had all the tires on his hearse slashed. They assumed his cameras weren't working. Things were going bad fast until then Major Gutberlet sent in a serious show of force, squad cars flashing their lights and demanding people go inside.

There's a reason one of our drug gangs calls itself the Dark Side. There's a reason you see the word "Dark" around here on the sides of buildings. This used to be the dark side of Pedestal Gardens, renown as the block to buy your crack and heroin 24/7. And it seems some supposedly good residents don't care if it goes that way again. God knows our problems don't rank up there with dog poo or maximizing profits on Section 8 apartments.

New vial top colors are popping up in the alley, our yard and the sidewalk. More blacktops. A fancy bright fuscia. Some yellows. Not just greens anymore. I sure hope there's enough business to go around to support the different brands. Battling for market share is not pretty, especially in Baltimore.

I'm sure many would be happy if I finally threw in the towel. I've come so close, so often, I pretend to myself it's just a joke. Please don't email asking me to stay, that's not why I'm saying this. I know many care. You're a large part of why I've stayed on. 

An officer just drove out of the substation. Good timing. I'd just made a fresh pot of coffee. Another reason I've stayed. Who would run the substation?

Likely, I only need a vacation, but I couldn't leave the house untended for long, especially now that things are heating up around here in more ways than one.

More on some issues around here soon. I've got some Baltimore spring cleaning to do: the shot gun.

Update 2am: It may be dark outside, but it's also extremely quiet. Perhaps my fears are unfounded. Paranoia from too long at the front. But then I've seen some real patrolling out there, too, including a buzz over by Foxtrot with its searchlight blazing. Saw PGP Sergeant Kluver having a quiet word with his city colleague. Awful nice to see them out there.

Ahh, wait. Foxtrot is quite busy, buzzing over Pennsylvania near Wilson and Laurens. I hear their loudspeaker. Can't make out what they're saying.

Monday, April 19, 10am: I know you visit here for news of the neighborhood and the efforts to make it livable, not national news, commentary or to find out what movie I saw over the weekend like some kid's blog, but this morning there seems one thing more important to any Baltimorean and American than anything I could report here ...


Saturday, April 17, 5pm: Late last night I was chatting on the phone with my family on the other coast when I saw one of our PGP officers in a shouting match with several men in front of 1715. It looked like it was going to get ugly so I dialed 911. Within a couple minutes, Foxtrot and at least ten squad cars arrived on the scene. One of the Hayes brothers was arrested. The others were not happy and thought they could intimidate the PGP officers. They needed a reminder that the city police consider the PGP colleagues and are eager to back them up. It was a good show of force where the dealers are doing their spring thing, testing the waters, seeing what they can get away with. Today has been fairly quiet so far.

4-16-04 arrest

Heard some odd noises and talking behind the house this afternoon. Poked my head out the back window to see. Rather than watching someone dumping in the alley or taking a dump, there were four neighborhood kids, a trim woman and fellow cleaning up. Yes, you read right. Cleaning up, They were sweeping out their yard, clearing their part of the alley. Went out to say hi and met Mrs. Cummings, who has lived there with her family in one of the houses facing McCulloh since last year. Real pleasure to meet her and talk like the neighbors we are about our mutual problems: rats, drug dealers on our steps, trash.

Met David Rocah of Bolton Hill at Sumpter Park this morning about 8. Neighbors have spent the day cleaning up the park, putting a truck load of mulch the city provided in the tree wells, pruning out deadwood, reseeding bare spots in the grass. I spent a couple hours helping and loaned them our wheel barrow and rake. When I went by just an hour or so ago, David and a crew of a dozen or more were still at it. The park looks great.

City Officer Witter was sitting in his car in front of 1712 a bit ago. I saw nothing awry so I walked up and said hello. Turns out he was trying to find the owner of a car parked there since last night with counterfeit Virginia temporary tags. He noticed it last night when he responded to help the PGP officers. He showed me the counterfeit. Not bad looking until you see the real thing. He had a whole collection of them. I had a sense this was a pet peeve of his: people falsifying tags and not having insurance. I was happy to see him and gave him a new substation key.

Yesterday afternoon I left the house about 11:30. Came back about a half hour later to find the dealers had set up shop in front of 1710 and 1715 and were doing a big business. Apparently they had waited until I left cause they were definitely surprised and not happy at my return. I surmised this from the finger gestures and angry sneers. Unlike the cops, I don't have a blue and white car they can spot blocks away. When I left again, I noticed two police cars a block over in the median of Eutaw Place, obviously on traffic detail to catch speeders down the avenue. A worthwhile deployment of course. I called the Major and asked if he might ask one of those officers to just loop through our street.  "You just want to send a message?" "Yes, please."  He must have asked right away because when I came back half an hour later there were no dealers at all. While I was back home, in fact, I saw a police car cruise through very slowly, obviously just to reinforce the message. It was quite effective. On my way outagain, I pulled up alongside Officer Harvin and thanked him. I wonder if he realizes what a big difference a two minute patrol makes.

Now as I write this, I hear kids playing, an ice cream truck wailing, some rakes and a broom, a neighbor tinkering with his car, cursing quietly at some stubborn bolt. I imagine the crew at the park is wrapping up for the day. My canine roommates are snoring loudly after an hour or two playing in the sunshine in their yard. We have all the elements of a great place to live here. It's just hard to see them sometimes. On a day like this the challenges of life in what was the second worst open air drug market in Baltimore seem worth the effort. Of course, talk to me again about 2am. <g>

Friday, April 16, 10am: The dealers at 1715 have checked in early this morning. Did what's become their usual: make a lot of noise so the customers know the shop is open. Too early for PGP. No city officers around either. It was inevitable dealers would set up there again just as soon as the emphasis on securing that building was lost. I guess it'll have to spiral out of control again to get back the attention it requires.

Got word that a certain person I've referred to in this journal is threatening to sue me for libel or slander, he doesn't know which, for the less than flattering things I've said. How amusing. I do wonder that anyone would think I'm easily intimidated and would stop saying what I see or what's on my mind. Maybe I could write good things about him if he simply gave a damn about this neighborhood and didn't just see it as a profit center. Bring it on, I say. I'd love to tell a court and the public even more. And since truth is an absolute defense to libel, be prepared to pay the lawyers.

Van sent us a follow up on the Easter baskets. I was mistaken. They put together far more than I heard.

"We ultimately delivered 193 baskets to soldiers, spouses and kids staying at one of the out-patient facilities at Walter Reed. It was an extremely well received event, and brought joy to many people. These two photos show some of the baskets after assembly at the church and then one of the soldiers' kids with me.

Easter Baskets

If any of your readers want to do more to help the veterans, the Red Cross at Walter Reed could use more volunteers. There are nightly flights with wounded soldiers that arrive and the Red Cross volunteers meet the flight and help in-process the new arrivals, among many other things that they do. If anyone is interested in more info the Red Cross phone number at WRAMC [Walter Reed Army Medical Center] is 202-782-6362 (phone is answered 8-4 M-F)."

Every morning I update the number of soldiers killed in Iraq so far. Though I'm awestruck by their dedication to duty and country, I find it very disheartening. I can only imagine how it must be to wait on the tarmac for the wounded, to greet them, attempt to be cheerful, to comfort them. I sure wish we could be certain this sacrifice is worthwhile. I wish the Iraqis seemed to appreciate it. I still wish such heroic sacrifices and Herculean efforts were made in a war to reclaim the lost frontiers of America's cities, to save American lives lost here every day to drugs, crime, prison and death. I know that would be a cause worth the cost. And I know most of our natives would appreciate the effort.

Thursday, April 15, 1:30pm: Vaughn went to the Pedestal Gardens resident's meeting last night. Kevin Cleary with the Mayor's Crime Watch program was there again. Bad turnout. Only three residents, not even the property manager. But Sweetie was there. She's the social services director, I think that's her title. She also runs the computer lab there at 325 McMechen. Vaughn was impressed with Sweetie. I've noticed a no nonsense attitude with her too. She was surprised at Vaughn talking about the drug gang operating so boldly out of 1715 and that two of the residents here knew all about it, but were obviously nervous about pointing the finger. Hopefully, she'll look into it and do something.

On his way back, Vaughn ran into a young woman screaming that she had been confronted with a knife in front of the questionable little store on our alley at Tiffany Lane and Wilson Street. We dialed 911. Officers responded within two minutes. Took the report. Looked down the alley and around for the suspect to no avail. We wondered just how innocent the victim was. She didn't seem shaken up at all later when we saw her chatting with boyfriend and some dealers in the street. An officer mentioned he thought it entirely possible it was a deal gone bad. If crack were legal, at least you wouldn't have to worry about the dealer mugging you.

Meeting Leslie at 3 to look at dumpster park between NIMROD and 1715 in the hopes of brainstorming some better uses for it. She's volunteered to give us some renderings of possibilities. I think we need to show our neighbors what it could look like to get their support and help in making it happen. For too long it's just been an eyesore, vacant lot with one defining element: a big dumpster.

Saturday morning at 8, we're going to loan ourselves and our wheel barrow to the volunteer crew spreading the mulch around Sumpter Park. The city is dropping it off. I guess not so many people have a wheel barrow. Not that many people are fortunate enough to have a yard. I thank God and DHCD bureaucrats for ours. It's been a huge advantage here and it's just nice to have some private space for the dogs and some plants. The red maple is about to explode with leaves in the little garden we planted there last year.

For some reason, I have not noticed the call to prayer from the mosque around the corner lately. Wondering why. Vaughn thinks I'm just used to it. I don't think that's it.

It's very, very quiet around here just now. I don't know if the PGP officer is responsible for the lack of dealing on the street just now or if the dealers are all off enjoying the day. It won't be quiet when school lets out of course, but who cares. I've always enjoyed the sound of kids playing, except at 1am. And it's too nice a day to complain about anything much.

Got a nice email from Gary, our neighbor on Eutaw the other day. He was writing in reply to my suggestion he touch base with the Major about the possibility his burglar was the same one city police arrested a couple weeks ago. Gary, some of his neighbors on Eutaw, and I all clashed after the July 4, 2002 fires when they wanted all of Pedestal Gardens closed down. I'm sure he still wants PG closed down. At times so do I. But he ended his email quite cordially ...

"Again, thanks for you concern. Let's hope not only for a better summer, but for a better relationship."

It would be nice to mend fences with our neighbors across the way on Eutaw. We share most of the same problems, just have some different ideas about how to fix them. Lord knows we need to look out for each other more.

Tuesday, April 13, 3:30pm: Six members of the Hayes Gang, as we'll call 'em, just drove past the substation in the alley, yelling loudly yet I couldn't make out what they were saying, they'd sped around through the church parking lot before I could get close enough to hear clearly. They just screeched up and jumped out of their old gray Lincoln in front of 1715 Madison Avenue and made a big show of entering. No doubt to tell all their loyal customers they're "in the house."

Called the cell phone of the PGP officer on duty. Not in service. No where to be seen. (That does not mean he isn't working elsewhere at Pedestal Gardens, just that he's not in place to help here.)

Then called the Pedestal Gardens Officer's Dispatch number in Essex, 410.780.0010. "They don't come in until 4:00." So there is no dispatch on the radios we worked so hard to procure until after 4 yet the officers start hours earlier than that. What does the officer on duty alone do for backup? There is no other link to city police, as we'd expected to see.

I've emailed the Major to let him know, but since they're not doing anything much obviously wrong, a call to 911 seemed a waste. Uniformed officers would only stop them until the officer disappears again. With all the "intelligence" the PGP officers have on this gang and the apartment(s) they operate out of, you'd think something could be done.  But if the PGP officers are feuding with their management and the property management, I don't suppose much can be expected.

Monday, April 12, 7pm: Vaughn drove down to the Columbia church putting together the baskets Thursday night. They were looking for something salty to add to the treats in each basket. Among Vice Principal Jackson's contributions: 60 packages of salty chips, pretzels, etc. They were making 60 baskets. With the contribution he brought along of $50 in cash, they were able to make up 78 Easter baskets delivered on Saturday to wounded service members recuperating at Walter Reed. Thank you to our friends Carl, Peggy, Marcia and Sue for your help.

On the sunny afternoon two days ago, before this deluge began, a long time gang of drug thugs was strolling over to 1715 where their Mom lives. They smiled and waved at us as we waved back. Seemed like old friends reminding each other spring is here. The game begins again in earnest. Officer Vogt told us these boys weren't happy. He and Officer Kluver had arrested their younger, juvenile brother yet again the other day. He's a Junior Achiever. Arrested many times already at 15 for possession. He once avoided being run in by telling an officer where he could find a gun: near a trash can, just outside the courtyard of Pedestal Gardens. I am always suspicious of deals, but this one netted one gun off the street permanently. The boy always gets back on the street within hours.

Odd development in the Peyton Place known better as Pedestal Gardens. We learned that SPS management and the Pedestal Gardens property manager had "raided" the new substation office for the Pedestal Gardens Officers in the former apartment at 1715. They apparently removed some of the officers' property along with the computer system we'd loaned them for writing reports and accessing the criminal information database when "running" suspects. The computer was clearly marked as the property of our new neighbor's association. Management knew we'd loaned it to the officers, yet it found itself at the Essex office of Security Administration Services. Only after a few calls and emails threatening to file charges of theft, including a courtesy call to them by the City Major, did the computer find its way back here.

Got this lame email apology from SPS Owner John Copinger afterward ...

"We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you! There was absolutely no ill-intent on our part, only verification that the loaned equipment was being used for security related duties and not personal amusement while our personnel were on duty."

An excerpt of my reply ...

"Removing the equipment, knowing full well it was not your property and only acknowledging your removal and possession of it after I found out and called last night was far more transgression than mere inconvenience. Further it was not acceptable that you returned it later than promised even after I was patient enough to delay filing charges. I am extremely annoyed that I had to trouble a City Police Major because of something you should have known better than to do and very much appreciate his calling you to assure this matter was handled as efficiently as possible.

The proper course of action here would have been simply to call me and inform me that you no longer wanted this equipment there for the officers and offering to return it across the street and then thanking us for its use. Pathetic that would not be obvious to you."

I verified that the computer was not there for amusement's sake. No games, in fact, there were many files of arrest reports, logs, etc. The data has been deleted after making it available to the officers who authored the files.

Friday at 1pm I met the PG property manager to remove the tables we'd loaned for their use, too. She was going on about how "I had to do something, this place is a mess." It was dusty and the floor dirty. It was apparent people had been in there rummaging, searching through things. I suggested that the officers assigned to Pedestal Gardens Patrol shouldn't be expected to be their own janitors, better to be out on patrol. She has maintenance people who do the floors in her office. She replied with her favorite response to me, "I don't intend to discuss this matter with you." She likes that line, even though more than once she's found herself discussing my very point with her superiors.

I cannot fathom what's going on or why except a petty power struggle. The SPS owner and the PGP site manager have worked together in this escapade to show as much disrespect as possible to the Pedestal Gardens officers. An unexpected teaming with a destructive outcome. Neither understands what the Pedestal Gardens officers do. Obviously neither understands how to supervise and motivate either.

I am very concerned at what this will do to morale and retention of the good commissioned officers. But, as I've said, I want nothing to do with SPS's owner. I've known his motivations for a long time and seen them repeatedly demonstrated. The new property manager does not know what this property was like a year or two ago, or even last spring. She obviously does not understand what the Pedestal Gardens officers have helped to accomplish.

But, hey, it's not my business until I see their property go out of control again, something it swings precariously close to often even without mistakes from those supposedly on our side. If it does, I won't waste time with security company profiteers or rental secretaries, I'll just go direct to HUD. HUD has made it abundantly clear they require this property be properly secured and controlled. In fact, they authorized turning that apartment into a special police office for just that reason.  I wonder what they will think of this childish power struggle over the officers keeping their room clean.

I'd hate to find myself working with the residents of Eutaw Place who see no solution to the problems of this building and Pedestal Gardens in general except closing it down and kicking out the poor people who adversely affect their property values. I know very well that most of the residents of PG are good people. But for their sake as well as that of all PG neighbors, we will do whatever's necessary to make sure that no landlord here allows their property to facilitate crime, whether property owners like Clarence Westons or Pedestal Gardens. And we look forward to continuing to work together when we can to make our neighborhood safer and better though we obviously don't agree in all areas about how.

Thursday, April 8, 11am: Eutaw Marshburn Vice Principal Jackson emailed yesterday ...

"Bryan, I'd like to help with the baskets for the servicemen at Walter Reed. Can I bring the items to your substation at Madison Avenue on Thursday afternoon or should I just call the number listed in the journal? I'm going to Walmart and can get some of the items in bulk like candy, phone cards, socks. pens etc. Just want to help. I really am awestruck at the amount of lives lost daily in the war abroad and at home..."

We're heading down late this afternoon with our donation and those of a few others. If you'd like to contribute, please email me immediately so we can make arrangements. I have the numbers and address of the church where the baskets are being assembled tomorrow if you'd like to go directly.

Since I wrote about this worthy Easter Holiday effort on Monday, over 40 soldiers have lost their lives. I have no idea how many have been injured. No doubt many more.

On the local front: At times the street outside is quieter than the countryside. So it had been this morning until I awoke about 3am to the sound of a loud and vicious argument near the Linden Street and Madison corner. Seemed to come from the 1717 Madison Avenue building. I called 911. I was impressed with the three minute response time. Looked to be Sergeant Wimmer, who's in charge of our sector on the grave yard shift. Of course, whomever was fighting stopped when they saw the police, but seeing the officers likely kept it from escalating.

It appears the burglar, allegedly armed, who was caught in the act at a home facing Eutaw Place in our hundred block was the one apprehended two days later by the city police. PGP Officer Vogt, who chased him down the alley into a basement window at 1708 Eutaw, and City Police Major Skinner are coordinating. Hopefully, he'll have another charge to add to his list of burglaries and rapes. Says Officer Vogt, "I was at the right place at the right time," but couldn't catch him, "he got away through an unlocked basement window and out the front door." Hopefully security at both properties has been improved.

Unsecured properties like those used for that escape facilitate crime and make the owners accomplices because of their negligence...

Dealer's Welcome Door

For some reason, the doors at 1715-1717 have been broken for months now. And it's spring, the time for new growth and renewed dealing. Though Mr. Eckrote with IRM, Pedestal Garden's Property Management Company, said something about finally getting them fixed "next week" at last month's Pedestal Gardens resident's meeting, they haven't been touched ... except by dealers who use them to enter the building and disappear into the halls and friend's apartments. They used to break the locks frequently with screw drivers and hammers. This time they popped the door apart so it won't even close. This apparently is beyond the skillset of the regular PG maintenance crew, though I could show them a repair that could be made in a couple hours involving sheet metal screws and a drill. This was simply lax maintenance. It's now negligence. Come on, PG, just secure the doors already!

BPD Officers have been very busy throughout the city, as no doubt you've read in the Sun. Including overtime for officers in the Eastern District. The coming of Spring is a mixed blessing for Baltimoreans. More people out on the streets = more crime, certainly more dealing.  No time for breaks. Visits to the substation have been very brief, obviously to answer nature's call when they're nearby and grab a cold water to take back out. That's what it's here for. Last night at the end of a the afternoon shift an officer came in to microzap and eat the lunch he'd brought from home. "I was getting cramps," but there was no time to eat.

Monday, April 5, noon: A reader called this morning to ask if we'd be interested in contributing to a project of his church: They're putting together Easter Baskets for wounded soldiers convalescing at Walter Reed ...

...our goal is to simply provide a caring reminder to those wounded soldiers who are not able to be with their families that they are remembered on this Easter holiday. 
If people wish to donate "stuff" that could include phone cards, journals, stationary, stamps, pens, socks, puzzles, books, postcards, books on tape [for soldiers blinded], music CDs, baseball caps, etc.  Candy, too, of course.  Money donations will be used to buy things that will make the baskets reasonably equitable.
We are not looking for children items - only adults.  The few visiting children have been taken care of.  All donated items will be assembled into baskets, wrapped and tied with a bow, and delivered to the Malogne House at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  That is for patients who aren't required to be in the hospital, but still require therapy, plus family members of wounded soldiers. 
If you get a lot of contributions, we would just increase the number of baskets being delivered (from our current goal of 60).  The total number of people in the Malogne House exceeds 250.

They're putting these baskets together on Friday for delivery on Saturday. If you'd like to contribute, please call Van Beal at 443.286.7421 or Donna Stinchcomb at 410.465.4995. The church is Glen Mar United Methodist in Ellicott City. We'll be taking our contributions down there Friday morning and would be happy to include anything you might want to contribute. Just let me know. This is not a religious or political effort. Just people wanting to comfort those who so deserve our appreciation.

Van thought we'd be interested in helping because of our interest in our soldiers and the lives lost. Already 616 deaths. More each day. We should remember that there are thousands more wounded, whose lives have been enormously changed.

This seems a great way to celebrate the Easter Holiday. I met Van when he and other volunteers were cleaning out an alley in a bad city neighborhood. Just doing it because it needed to be done. Rather like soldiers.

Sunday, April 4, noon: Some readers have written lately that this site is looking like some patriotic propaganda piece. I guess it's the red, white and blue motif, the flag and the helmet and rifle with the ever mounting death toll. I think they're not really reading. I'm that odd sort who waves the flag proudly not as a symbol of might and right, but as a symbol of hope. Hope for progress, hope for dreams, hope for equality and opportunity for all. I wanted that flag for the kids at our school for that reason, not because flying it supports our troops, our president, or does anything more than symbolize the opportunities we all should have.

I have enormous pride and respect for our troops in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Korea and so many other frontiers, some long forgotten by the press and public. I know the dedication of our soldiers. I was raised by a career Navy Chief. I vividly recall loud arguments at the dinner table about the war in Vietnam with my older brother who was a teenager in the late 60's. I know my father did not approve of our tactics in Vietnam. He felt we should either fight to win the war or get out. He was worried for my brother. We all were. If I remember correctly, the closest he got to the Vietnam War was on a destroyer off the coast of North Vietnam. I'm glad of that. He would have served in any capacity required and would have given his life if so ordered. A fine example of the American fighting man. The reason we're still America.

I recall one day asking if he was ashamed that Richard Nixon signed the discharge papers that were framed on the wall. I was young, insolent, a stupid teenager. Today, I regret the question very much. His reply, "He was my Commander in Chief, son."

This site keeps the death toll of soldiers lost in Iraq because it seems to me there's no more important news. Each morning I'm adding another few. I shouldn't do it because I dread reading of the previous day's carnage, hoping no one's died there ... or here for that matter. I feel like I should begin doing the same for those lost in the drug wars here in Baltimore, too. We're on track to 260 murders this year. And we all know most of them are victims of the drug war. Doesn't matter to me that so many are willing participants. I take little solace that "it's just drug dealers killing each other," as more than one reader wrote.

I don't agree with so many of my neighbors who feel drug dealing is a legitimate way to make a living either, but I also realize that for poorly educated people who can't find work, what choices really exist? The dealers shooting each other are victims, willing or not.

There are troops fighting right here every day with little support. Policemen and women doing their jobs ... the short term solution.  Teachers battling fiercely to educate ... the long term solution.  My mom was an English teacher. I'm as proud of her as any courageous soldier. She taught in some of the worst schools in the worst neighborhoods because that's where she was needed most. I see that dedication in the staff of our school across the street. I see that dedication in the smiling face of the officer who came back to work on our streets a week after returning from a year in Iraq.

Something's got to change. And I think it's priorities set from the top that need to change. We need to turn our attention, our money and our manpower to our own frontiers right here. Sound like an isolationist, don't I? Maybe I am. I just don't think Americans would be burned alive and dragged through the streets of Baltimore for trying to make it safe.

As I listen to the Muslim call to prayer from the mosque around the corner, I'll close this little diatribe and apologize for my ranting. You know what? I'm grateful I have the time to rant about issues larger than dealers on my doorstep. Last night, Vaughn drove up to the house in front and said "I'm always amazed they're gone" or something like that. I agreed. It's different here. Better. Because of a lot of hard work by very proud Americans, our officers and our neighbors. And I wave our flag proudly in celebration of their work and the dedication of so many soldiers willing to dedicate and risk their lives on so many battlefields.

Saturday, April 3, 9am: This sleeping normally is amazing. I was up at 7:30 this morning, fully rested. Of course, a rowdy crowd of boys woke up the block about 3:30am, but when I saw City Police Sergeant Wimmer and PGP Officer Vogt talking to them at the corner, I knew we were in good hands, turned over and went back to sleep, grateful.

Officer Vogt told me about a mom who called to thank him for helping her 19 year old son, a student at UMBC. He'd been partying with his buddies at a big hotspot here in town. Was supposed to catch a UMBC bus, but instead began wandering and found himself up here in the wee hours of the morning, drunk and lost. He lives with his mother in Severna Park. Boy was he out of place. Fortunately, Officer Vogt found him before anyone else.

There's a nice note of thanks on the guestbook from Sergeant Wimmer to PGP Sergeant Kluver for his help in evacuating a house on fire the other night. It was well out of the Mr. Kluver's beat, but it's another good example of our city officers working together with our Pedestal Gardens guys. And that's a big part of the reason I sleep like a normal citizen now. It's been a long time since I cleaned my shotgun at 3am and watched Carlton Sheets all night to drown out the dealer's mantra.

One day soon perhaps I'll take sleeping like a normal person for granted. Maybe then I can rail against dog poop like my neighbors in Bolton Hill.  My God, those entries are embarrassing. And they continue. A regular reader here, and resident of BH, had this to say ..

I was wondering when you'd see the absolute idiocy going on on the BH Bulletin Board. I was WAITING for that kind of response when the sgt. [Central District Major] posted the news about catching the rapist, but NO ONE responded. I don't know if he got any email personally thanking him and the police officers who brought this human predator off the street, but I always think that public congratulations and gratitude are a much better gesture. 
It also worries me that the bickering and apparent lack of gratitude, not to mention revealing where the shallow priorities of a few vocal folks lie may put off the police. They put their lives on the line for us, get a result that can sometimes take months instead of DAYS, and a fight about dog shit is more important than apprehending a rapist? Maybe it's because the rapes/robberies took place on the fringes of BH or in apartments.
I mean, seriously, would you have second thoughts about taking a bullet for people like that? I know that's extreme, but you know what I mean. Get a life people, as shit happens!

Perspective and priorities are different in neighborhoods like this. We're happy not to hear gunshots very often.

Friday, April 2, 3pm: Must be the first of the month. I've heard and seen dealers coming and going most of the day. Across to the 1715 building from Madison and even watched what was likely a deal happen about 15' from the doorway to the substation in back of the house.

officers search car

Heard a siren blip a couple hours ago and looked out to see officers with three young men kneeling next to their car, hands behind their heads, while officers searched it. Don't know what exactly aroused the officer's suspicions. Apparently they found nothing because after a few minutes of conversation the officers left. The young men walked across the school yard, laughing. They hung out at the corner of Madison and McMechen for a while next to the main courtyard of Pedestal Gardens then walked back across the school yard to their car and raced off fast. Perhaps the PGP officer discouraged them. I wonder where they had their stash. Smart boys.

Visits to the substation have been light yesterday and today. That always means officers are busy. Not much time for breaks. Still, we're keeping hot coffee, chocolate, waters, apples and Krispy treats stocked, as always. Looked out the back window yesterday in time to see an officer with two bottles of water, an apple in his mouth, fumbling for his keys, he and his partner smiled and waved as they drove off. Plain clothes. I'm guessing we have increased plain clothes patrols right now thanks to it being the first of the month. I've heard and seen intense Foxtrot patrols the past two afternoons too. Smart cops.

Thursday, April 1, 7pm: Amongst the idiotic, spoiled whining about dog poop by so many of the conrtibutors on the Bolton Hill Bulletin board lately, I found this rather worthwhile one ...

"My name is Major John Skinner and I am the Commanding Officer for the Central District (Baltimore Police Department). I wanted to take this opportunity to update everyone in Bolton Hill on some developments in recent crimes occurring within your neighborhood. Over the past two months there has been a noticeable increase in burglaries to private residences. These incidents were occurring in a time frame beginning in the early mornings and ranging to the late afternoons. In many of the cases, residents left for work in the morning and returned home in the evening to find that their residence had been broken into. In recent weeks this time pattern changed and several incidents were reported where houses were broken into at night while the residents were sleeping. During this same time period three separate sexual assaults were reported within the neighborhood. In these cases, the women were attacked by a single male after he had broken into their residence while they were sleeping. The Baltimore Police Department has been aggressively investigating all of these cases and has significantly increased the number of police officers working within the neighborhood. As a result of these efforts, today (3/30/04) we arrested and charged a Gregory Rich (Male, Age 39) for the majority of these cases. Currently Rich has been formally charged with all the sexual assault cases and a separate home invasion type robbery. Additionally, we believe that Rich is also responsible for numerous other burglaries within the community and additional charges are pending. We are expecting Rich to remain incarcerated without bond until his future trial date. Please feel free to contact my office at 410-396-2410 with any questions or concerns. We are monitoring crime patterns within the neighborhood on a daily basis and we will continue to aggressively work to keep Bolton Hill a safe and prosperous community."

I've said it before: Boy will I be happy when I have only dog poop to bitch about. Some of us, apparently the Major included, are involved in more serious issues. Some neighborhoods really do have to get real. Their whiining is just that. And too few people are actually doing
anything to help. They confuse complaining with community activism. Too many of the postings on the Bolton Hill board of late remind me of why I never thought anyone would help here. I thought the loudest complainers spoke for most of the residents. They don't. I know well that in Bolton Hill and neighborhoods like it there are people who have their priorities straight. They're too busy working on helping than to whine about petty problems.

Like Baltimore's real neighborhoods, we have problems enough getting human beings not to urinate and defecate in the street here, let alone not to copulate for hire, dump truckloads of trash, buy and sell drugs 24/7 and stab each other in the middle of the night.  
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Copyright 2004 Bryan Taylor, all rights reserved, except where copyright is noted otherwise.
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