Journal Entries of May, 2004

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Thursday, May 27, 3pm:
An interesting morning. Did a favor for the former owner of this house whose been so kind to us. Showed up to meet the Sheriff and take back a house he owns in West Baltimore from the squatters who had lived there rent free for many months. Basically, they just broke in and set up house. Had to be evicted. They even showed up in court. Today, they were gone,  leaving their rubbish behind, water running, toilets unflushed. I imagine they're off to find new digs cheap. I find the man and woman who did this disgusting, but more feel sad for the kids and the grandmother with them.


While there, we met the neighbor. He invited us in. What a difference. Same house almost, but this one a warm little home. I gave him our phone number and asked him to call the police should anyone else try to get in after we rekeyed the place and locked the windows. He's understandably concerned about crack heads going in and setting the place on fire. I said we were local, the landlord wasn't. He asked where. Turns out he went to Eutaw Marshburn when he lived at Bruce Manor, the former name of Pedestal Gardens. I guess Bruce Manor had such a bad reputation, they decided to change its name when they put up the pedestal fences. Rather like Puff Daddy becoming P Diddy after his trial. PR. Also known as an alias in police circles.

Things aren't looking very bright for Pedestal Gardens now. The PGP guys are shorthanded. Out here alone on their shifts too often. The city police are aware of this and are trying to be more available. I don't understand how SPS is getting away with it again. But I'm not surprised. John Copinger has never been interested in the welfare of the residents and neighbors here. He's interested in his own welfare and made that abundantly clear often to those who can look at things here objectively. Seems like clear breach of contract to me. At the last HUD meeting I was at, HUD said there was room in the budget for two officers. It's a necessity with the way Pedestal Gardens is spread around four sites. I thought that was settled. Apparently not. I guess we have to have another fire or have one of the PGP officers hurt to get HUD to direct Pedestal Gardens management to do the right thing ...  yet again.

Quite the exchange in the guestbook between a regular reader, Mr. Klein, and former PGP Sergeant Kluver. While I don't encourage personal exchanges in a guestbook, I've left these stand. Both make good points. I suggest a read if you're one of those following the story of the challenge that is protecting Pedestal Gardens.

Thank you, John McGready, for your $50 check to help support the substation. I will send the money along to the paving guy who has been so very, very patient gettting his full payment for the parking pad.

Sunday, May 23, Midnight: Vaughn has his report about his ride along Saturday night ...

"Major Skinner and Sergeant Hess arranged for some community leaders and members to join the Officers in Blue today for a Ride-along. I understand from a long-time Officer that the last time something similar was done was almost twenty years ago for a bunch of D.C. VIPs.

After a tour of the Central District and Police Headquarters, we went one civilian per patrol officer on their 'beat'. The Central District is divided into a number of Sectors, each of which is patroled by up to a dozen officers per shift. Or, I should say, should be patroled by a dozen officers. Because of budget cuts, some sectors are manned by only half the officers they should have.

Even with a ride-along guest in his car, my officer kept his ear to his radio, listening to every call. He often shushed me, but I was not annoyed or inconvenienced. I was the one in the way of him doing his job.

In the three hours I rode along, I witnessed 3 arrests, 2 chases, one of them involving Foxtrot, and two other domestics incidences. During one of the chases, I and a number of the other riders were quite pleased to see some members of the community we were in surreptitiously point to where the man fleeing from the police was hiding.  It made all the difference in their catching him.

Having met, spoken to, and witnessed many officers in our neighborhood because of the Substation, I have long had much respect for the officers I see working every day. If it's possible, my respect for the entire force really increased today.

Last week there was talk in the papers of the City Council once again cutting the Police Department's Budget. I encourage everyone reading this to contact Council President Sheila Dixon, the Mayor and your Council-Person (http://www.baltimorecitycouncil.com/members.htm) and let them know that any cuts are NOT acceptable. I for one, am ready and willing to pay a cell phone tax or convince my church that it's time to pay an energy tax, if that's what it takes. Also, whether you use email or snail-mail, send a carbon copy to the Police Commisioner. The Police Department needs to know that the community stands behind them."

There will be hearings about the budget and they are open to the public. Council Presiedent Dixon has written that all "will have an opportunity to voice their issues at that time. Our hearing schedule is posted on our website at www. baltimorecitycouncil.com and our Taxpayer's Night will be held on May 24, 2004, at 7pm in the "Du" Burns Council Chambers."

Not many of us will attend beforehand.  Many of us will complain afterward.

Saturday, May 22, 8pm: For those who've bookmarked this page to bypass the home page, I think it's important to note that today we reached a body count of 799 in the Iraq campaign.

Saturday, May 22, 3pm: It's so hot this afternoon, there's not much dealing going on outdoors on the block. That wasn't true last night or this morning. Vaughn went out about 9am and saw two guys sitting across the street from our house. One said something about "giving you my ass." Vaughn didn't know what that meant. Just said "OK?", smiled and got in his car figuring, rightly, that he was dealing with too crazy jerks.

When he told me about it, I laughed. Night before,  I was awakened by a loud yelling match out of the second floor window of 1715. One guy yelling up to a resident. As I watched, fuming at his rudeness, muttering some words I won't copy here, PGP Officer Vogt drove up. Apparently he only asked the guy to leave. I guess it isn't illegal to disturb the peace here in Baltimore. We're just happy when some people aren't shooting each other. Anyway, the guy spoke a few words to Officer Vogt and began to walk away. Then he bent over, pointing his ass at Officer Vogt. I guess I respect Officer Vogt's self control. I would have jumped out and arrested the guy for disturbing the peace, loitering in a drug fee zone, anything I could throw at him.

The guy's well known as one of our entrenched scumbags. Deals to kids, moms, the elderly. He doesn't care. Can't seem to get him off the street. He apparently thought he was performing for one of the cameras we have placed around. He was. Nice shot of his face as he was doing it, too. Might be of interest to the Organized Crime Division, Flex Teams and interested officers on the beat.

I guess Vaughn will have a chance to ask that and many other questions of this Sector's supervisor this evening. He's been assigned to ride along with him. He's at role call with our officers downtown now.

Thursday, May 20, 11pm: Dealers were out in force all around the block this afternoon. The same guy who followed me along Wilson and Eutaw the other day has a brand new black Cadillac. Changing up the ride, the costume, the tactics. Very adaptable. Like the evolution of insects.

Steady stream of dealers and buyers from around the corner to and from 1715. The PGP were busy down at the 1200 block of Pedestal Gardens, but came up when they could. They "sat" on the dealers, sat in their cars, staring at them, until they decided to give up and move on.

The PGP are changing up some tactics, too. It'll be interesting to see how effective the changes are and how the dealers react.

One officer suggests they're trying to compete with the gang that controls the market across McCulloh on Wilson at Druid Hill. How comforting to know they're competing around here.

Saw a Flex team for a minute at the substation later. They'd made several arrests and were told they'd be spending some time at Central Booking because arrestees were lined up there waiting for processing. The rain is past, the weather warming up again. Such a mixed blessing in this neighborhood.

Major Skinner is inviting anyone interested to pair up with officers on duty Saturday night starting at role call at headquarters. I believe there are still a few slots left. I can't make it, but Vaughn is going. A van will be picking up ride along participants right next to the Savalot store on McMechen. If you're interested, email the Major at John.Skinner@BaltimorePolice.Org.

This is another good idea. Not original of course, but a good chance to learn what the city looks like from Blue and White. I suspect it looks much different. I always say a uniformed officer doesn't see dealing as often as someone from a good vantage point. They can only react to the results of dealing: car breakins, burglaries, muggings, shootings. The real intervention must be done by Flex and OCD Team officers who can work together, less conspicuously, targeting the problem.  I credit the Commissioner with this change in tactic to help drive dealing off the street.

Monday, May 17, Noon: It finally happened. An email asking why the number on the front page of the website and the helmet and rifle.

"Why do you have such a political statement on your website. There's nothing to do with Iraq there in Baltimore and your war on drugs."

I've always thought that was a good question. Have asked myself the same often. Between the flag link to the flag raising at the school and my "death watch" of soldiers killed in Iraq, the website does look like some right wing, John Birch Society type of thing. Of course, those who read here know I'm a bleeding heart liberal, born and bred. I just have a share of career Navy man in me and a deep appreciation of the sacrifice of our soldiers.

There is not a dichotomy in that philosophy. One can be enormously against the war and the strongest supporter of our troops. The character and honesty of a war do not necessarily reflect the character and honesty of the soldier. And in the case of Iraq, I believe that's clear.

The relevance? 130 billion dollars and so far today, 785 lives. That's the relevance to Madison Avenue. If you wanted to take back from drug dealing gangs those vast areas of Baltimore, Detroit, Dayton, Edmonton ... that have been lost for near on two generations, that would do it.

And it would be worth the cost. Iraq? I don't think so.

No doubt replying to this email will result in more emails and perhaps another unpleasant series of exchanges. I've had a few of those. Usually shills for those with money interests in the continued failure of this neighborhood. Sometimes just crazies. In this case, I think perhaps a valid question. One I hope I've answered. So, Gene, I hope I've answered your question respectfully and clearly. I hear your opinion, I just don't have to agree with it. Because of the very reason American soldiers have fought and died for 200 years.

Sunday, May 16, 7:30pm: PGP was shorthanded today ... again. The heat has brought out the worst in a few Pedestal Gardens residents and visitors. Most of them are just like me, though, trying to enjoy the warm day.

Watched a resident of 1715 in the middle of a verbal fight with someone in the parking lot. Went on for a long while. Lots of "I ain't your Momma, I ain't yo Momma, I ain't yo Momma!" My rather loud reply, directed mostly to the dogs was "I wish someone was both your Mommas." They didn't hear that. Too busy screaming. Called 911 when it looked like it was going to come to fisticuffs. "You've reached the Baltimore Police Department. All operators are busy. Please do not hang up ..." It must be summer.

Rang the PGP Officer on duty this afternoon, all alone. He was busy in the main courtyard of Pedestal Gardens where the kids and dealers have taken over it seems. It was odd to hear Officer Tyler say things in the 1200 block of Pedestal Gardens were amazingly serene. Some of the neighbors there were barbecuing together.

Saturday, May 15, 11pm: Adam replied to my entry the other day to say that the Techbalters are indeed submitting a proposal for eight of the properties on Linden being sold in a bundle by the Housing Department, as I'd mentioned I hoped they could. They're working in conjunction with a local contractor. That's good to hear. I hope their proposal impresses the committee with its viability and value to the city.

Officer Vogt was grateful for the rain this evening. He said yesterday it was crazy how many kids, teenagers, pre teens, were out all night long. "I was busy with them until 4 or 5 [this morning]!" He took three kids in and made their parents come to get them, warning that being out after curfew again and he'd take them to Juvenile Detention. Where are the parents? We need to hold parents responsible.

PGP Sergeant Kluver emailed me the other day about arresting the troublemaker who eluded officers early Tuesday morning ...

"5/12/04 1:27am: A little while ago, I got a call in the substation about loud music from a car which matched the description of Tonka Hayes. Notified Ofc. Fry and responded to the main courtyard, where I walked into the crowd of about 12 "Steel Side" gang members and apprehended Tonka Hayes for Ofc. Fry. I ordered the gang members to depart, as this wasn't a spectator event and even if it was none of them bought tickets.  Ofc. Fry arrested the guy for trespassing from last night and tonight, to which I will act as a witness to verify his banishment from the property. Ofc. Fry was thankful for my assistance and the gang members actually seemed relieved that I apprehended Tonka."

I had wondered what happened to them after they seemed so comfortably set up next door. Now I know. Thank you Kirk.

Sergeant Kluver's last day is Thursday, next week.

Tuesday, May 11, 6:30pm: Yesterday was interesting. Not in a good way.

From about school closing time at 2:30 to 3:55pm, the dealers we know operate out of 1715 set up shop on the steps of 1710 with their new "friends" or should I say business partners. Blatant dealing, a car parked among the three with its stereo on at 180 decibels, advertising no differently than the Mr. Softie ice cream truck. Called 911 twice. Described the cars. An officer may have driven through fast. I don't know. I did see a shiny black "unmarked" police car, Mercury Marquis four door, in the alley. The one the Major usually drives. Anyway, nothing happened until Pedestal Gardens Officer Brown came on duty exactly at 3:55. He walked by them on his way to the substation to get a cold bottled water. They all left.

"Yes, they know I'll stare them down and wait for them to deal and then arrest 'em," he said when I caught him in the substation and asked him if he'd just come on.

The prospect of declaring war on a crack house on the other side here doesn't make me want to keep at it much. Vaughn suggests a meeting in the substation with that owner. "We can tell him what we're seeing and gently advise him we know how to close crack houses now." Unlike Clarence, that neighbor's always seemed very supportive. He even said tenants were more willing to live here now thanks to the substation and us. Perhaps so, but at this point it's looking like at least two of the new neighbors moved in next door to take up where 1704 left off last spring.

I wrote Major Skinner about the afternoon, talking about how uniformed officers just driving through don't do anything for the problem. I also mentioned that the Pedestal Gardens officers are a mixed lot now as far as their effectiveness here. Some are either not interested in their jobs or on assignment elsewhere, unable to do their jobs. Supervision is abysmal. SPS at work again, providing as little as a too often negligent property management firm will allow or doesn't notice.

About nightfall, The Wire trailers returned. This time in force. As one trailer was backing up, I was watching through the door, saw the parallel parking of the trailer going badly again, angling right toward our old pear tree on the street in front. I went out and said "please don't bang the tree again." The guy directing the parking looked at me ugly, began to raise his hand and middle finger at me and then just shrugged and motioned the driver to stop. Last time they were here, they'd nearly knocked it down exactly the same way and then they ripped a branch off it when they left. I pretty much feel this is typical of The Wire. No regard for the people they exploit. They're about money, nothing more. Good PR aside.

About 3am, I awoke to squealing tires front and back of the house and looked out to see Baltimore squad cars chasing about, back and forth. Went on for nearly half an hour. Turns out our graveyard officer Fry had attempted to stop one of the guys who deals out of 1717. The driver decided to just drive off. Same guys who'd set up shop that afternoon with the neighbors.  Same ones well known to officers and Pedestal Gardens property management. Same guys who've operated out of there for years. According to one officer, we likely won't see him here for a few days while he waits for them to stop looking ... again.

Early this afternoon, not long before school closing bell, I was leaving for a bit and ran into Baltimore Police Sergeant Wimmer and two other officers I didn't recognize in an unmarked car.  They were pulling up to the substation to get some cold water and use the restroom. The Flex crew. I introduced myself to the other officers and was embarrassed to recognize Officer Shaeffer almost as I said I couldn't recall his name. He was the one who, just a few months ago, protected our Bolton Hill neighbors, the Warmath's, from a thug who seemed bent on retaliation for their reporting him. Officer Shaeffer was knifed above the eye that time and had to shoot the suspect in the alley. This is the same officer I watched the first year I lived here trying to arrest a fleeing suspect, showing enormous restraint in the midst of the struggle, as he attempted to subdue him.

I don't know if the appearance of the plain clothes and unmarked car Flex team had anything to do with my email to the Major. Likely not. I doubt my input is that important to him. Perhaps he and the officers simply noticed what's happening. We can hope.

After I got back this afternoon, just an hour ago, Vaughn watched as a scantily clad woman got into a car with two guys, idling in front of our house. She came back about an hour later, strutting down the middle of the street. Dressed as a whore. No other possibility would be reasonable from her dress, demeanor, or the fact it was apparent she'd obviously been dropped off after her gig. She used her key and let herself into her new abode at 1710.

Crack dealers and prostitutes. Just like rats and roaches, they will appear wherever they are allowed. It sure seems like the progress made in closing 1704 is already evaporating as fast as the temperature warms.

Sunday, May 9, 10:30pm: A long time reader who seems to know, disagrees with my assessment that The Wire isn't that helpful to the local economy ...

"I wanted to have you rest assure that a lot of people from Baltimore are employed by The Wire. Most of the writers are Baltimore natives, as well as the office production staff, and almost all of the staff on set are locals. The caterers are, and ... lunch [is] catered in every day by of course local restaurants. Even the casting director is local! Carpenters, make up artists, wardrobe people, electricians, assistants, PA's, the works, all local. Also, they step into the schools and city to scout for non professionals for acting roles, and actively recruit local musicians to use for background music."

I'll keep that in mind tomorrow when we deal with them again taking over our street. I'm guessing the clouds and threatening weather Friday weren't good for some outdoor shots.

Odd thing Friday night: Latte was at the window, very interested in a man sitting on our steps with one cell phone at each ear, having an animated conversation. I figured it was one of the The Wire staff. Just as I looked out, I saw Officer Tyler walking over to us. As he did, the man on the steps stood up and walked away quickly.

"That's the guy with the Continental," Tyler said later in the substation.


"You mean the red one with the blacked out windows?"

"Yes."

I do wonder what business he had on my steps and why he chose them. I wouldn't have been a happy camper had I recognized him down there. Tyler added that he walked away just as soon as he saw him approaching. The "No Loitering" signs would have come in quite handy had he stayed there.

Seemed a sleepy summer day around here. Very little dealing that I saw. Officer Vogt was here early to do some paperwork. Five arrests in the last week create a lot of that and since their computer was confiscated, it means extra hours writing in longhand. Still makes no sense to me that management seems to go out of its way to make the job as difficult as possible.

Officer Vogt tells me he plans to stay on here. Says he finds it rewarding. From an email the other day ...

"I know these kids are happy when they see us. I had one little girl on Fri said Hi Mr Jimmy we missed you and I said well I had 3 days off.... I stop to think this is what keeps me here some times the kids are and the smiles are worth more than a pay check"

I wish these guys got a decent wage. It's still a mystery to me that HUD doesn't require subcontractors to pay a livable wage for community policing. The maintenance guys at Pedestal Gardens, the same ones who have trouble moving a folding table without complaint, make as much. For that matter, senior burger flippers make as much, but I guess the work wouldn't be as satisfying. Helping protect kids is a worthy day's work. I know he and Sergeant Kluver and Officers Tyler and Brown have allowed me to sleep many a night. Hard for me to put a price on that.

Adam Meister emailed today ...

"I have been keeping up with the spray paint saga on your page. It's a damn shame that people can not go after other more serious law breakers with as much passion as people seem to be going after this guy. Perhaps it's because everybody knows that this student won't retaliate once he's caught. It all seems pathetic to me and some what pointless. Sort of like the big deal everybody is making out of dog poop."

One person wrote me that people do what they can do, what doesn't frighten them. Fighting dog poop and spray paint is likely a bit safer than confronting a gang of young dealers cruising around the hood in a blacked out Lincoln. It is better to be involved in some way, however small, if that's all you can do. I doubt irresponsible dog owners follow people in blacked out cars to try to scare them.

Adam also has some news for his neighborhood ...

"Next Saturday at 9 AM there is a very important community meeting that will effect those that live in Bolton Hill and your area. It will take place up here at the elementary school on Brookfield. The meeting is for community input on what they should do with the Empty lots on whitelock and Druid Hill Park drive. Most likely there is going to be commercial built here. Any bit of viable commercial will be beneficial to all in the area (because it will be in walking distance) so everybody deserves a say in what they are going to put there. So spread the word. The Reservoir Hill improvement council made me in charge of "marketing" this event to the community. The more average citizens that turn up, the better."

I'm glad Adam and his TechBalt cohorts are putting their considerable energies into their new neighborhood. He's getting pretty well established there along with Stephen and Lenny. Paul's house is coming along on schedule. He should be moved into his "brand new" house in just a month or so. Amazing to me that he's essentially built a brand new house amidst many abandoned houses. That's faith. That's believing in Baltimore.

The deadline for proposals for a package of 23 Project 5000 properties in the 2200 blocks of Linden and Callow in Reservoir Hill, Adam's neighborhood, is fast approaching, May 26. To get these properties well renovated will help those like Paul and Adam who've made their investment already. Many Techbalters are angry that these houses are not being given to individuals like themselves. Adam made his point rather well in a letter to city officials and anyone who'd listen. I'm mixed on this issue. I can see the city's point: if you can't afford to rehab, don't buy. God knows I've been unable to do half what I'd hoped when we moved in. We still live in a house most would say is uninhabitable. It's a tough road to try to restore an abandoned house with limited cash and banks not keen on the neighborhood. Not something I'd wish on most people. I'm reminded of the $1 house program of years ago. Many people got into the houses cheap. Didn't fix them. And they ended up abandoned yet again.

I wish Techbalt or a similar group of well intentioned, would be Baltimore homeowners could organize themselves, arrange financing and contractors, etc, to create a viable proposal to compete with developers. But individual's abilities and resources vary too much. A neighborhood one might say has its challenges, another might run from in terror. We can just hope that this method of putting these houses back into use results in more new homeowners who take pride in their new neighborhood. A lawyer from Housing once told me that rentals are an important part of any healthy neighborhood. I suppose that's true, but here, the problem is too many rentals, Section 8 and otherwise. Far too few people are invested here, both in hard earned cash and the emotional investment it requires to persevere in places like this.

12:30am: Called Jimmy to say hi, to check in with him as I often do. He was at Central Booking. He found a man and a woman about to engage in the world's oldest profession in the alley behind 1715. A search turned up a "rather large rock" of crack, according to the city officer who assisted and took it to the evidence department for him.

Friday, May 7, 4pm: Officer Vogt's gotten many calls in response to the posting about his arrest of the MICA kid caught spray painting "LTS" around the neighborhood. Apparently several calls have been  from neighbors in Bolton HIll who've noticed this mark elsewhere. I guess they're being added to the counts against him. He's also gotten calls from MICA security and from students wanting to know who it was. Of course he can't share that information with the general public. It's not public record until he's charged and arraigned. I was surprised to hear it's possible he's going to be expelled from school. That's harsh, to me. I'd rather see him have to scrub and sand blast and repaint 1,000 square feet of graffiti around the city with the city graffiti crew.

The Haddad trucks and trailers are starting to take over the block. Will be here until midnight. Must be The Wire again.

Haddad

You can hear generators everywhere. They seem to be filming on the corner of Wilson and McCulloh, likely at Mr. Douglas's funeral home again. He seems to like it. Perhaps it's the money. Perhaps the "excitement." I don't like it all and would never do it again. I regret allowing them to shoot here last year. Like whoring out one's own home so others can make a fortune on the misfortune of the city. I know some say it brings money here. I doubt that. All of the cast and help come from DC and NYC. A few incidental day jobs locals get has no value to us when compared to the simple disruptions in the city and the really sorry publicity it brings. Still politicians and common folk fall all over themselves to see it, to maybe be some small part. My attitude toward them is not helped by the arrogance of the producers and staff I met.

Posted a little sign on the Pear tree in front of the house this time.

signs

When they took over the street last fall, they nearly knocked over the tree, gouging it badly. They also removed a parking sign Vaughn and I had reattached and never put it back. Both examples of their lack of respect for the city they exploit.

I've spray painted my own graffiti on the front boards here and at 1704: "No Loitering." Officers have told me that with a no loitering sign up, they can disburse people who set up camp on the doorstep. I don't care if people living in houses come out to sit on their steps all night long and have their friends over, but I sure do care when the dealers set up shop, as they are doing more and more on the steps of 1704 and 1712, just two doors north and directly across from the Pedestal Gardens building.

Watched yesterday as a resident of 1715 Madison walked across the street, bought from the three young men in black shirts sitting there at 1712 and then ran back to her apartment to do her drugs. No police around. No Pedestal Gardens officers either. There is only one PG officer on during the day and PG management, in its infinite wisdom, seems to keep him busy elsewhere, oblivious to the fact this is the worst part of the PG problem and always has been by all accounts. Officer Tyler and I chatted yesterday. He says he keeps getting called to handle problems in the courtyard or to conduct surveillance of apartments and the like, things which take him off patrol. Possibly this is important work he's being assigned, but his absence allows the dealers unfettered access to this building during most of the day. Perhaps we need another PG officer during the day if one is to be used elsewhere during most of his shift.

The radios paid for with tax dollars have turned out to be something of a waste. SPS's John Copinger uses them as his personal communications equipment with employees more than as backup for these officers. Reportedly, he's buying more radios to use the repeater company wide. The red buttons don't summon help as we'd spec'd, they're not programmed. There's no one in the office to even listen to the radio until after 4. Who can blame the lone PGP officer on before then for not wanting to confront a half dozen nasty dealers? And there is no link to the city police at all. Thanks to all the foot dragging on the part of John Copinger and property management, the new Major backed down on that offer. I think he suspected how the radios would end up being used. They certainly aren't what we intended. The only good thing I can say for them, and this is important,  is they give the PG officer a slightly better chance in an emergency than the pathetic walkie-talkies John used to use. Those didn't even work in basements or in some of the buildings and John was content with that. These radios at least cover the entire beat and allow the officers to communicate with each other even if their dispatcher in Essex can't hear them over the TV. No, I'm not worried about telling the dealers this, though I doubt many read this site. They know it already.

We have a new PGP officer. I haven't met him yet, though I hear he knows what he's doing and isn't afraid to do what needs to be done. That's good. They've had some trouble finding an officer who is actually willing to do his job. It does take a special character, and I mean character in both a flattering and not so flattering way, to do this type of community police work on this beat for $10 an hour.

Speaking of Pedestal Gardens Police characters, PG Sergeant Kluver is leaving us next month. He's put in his notice. I'm glad. Not for us, but for him. He's put in too much time here. He needs to go on to find something that pays a livable wage. Like me, I think he has a problem knowing when to give up for one's own sake. We will miss him. He's helped a lot in all the progress made over the past couple years.

Just read that police say five or six have been shot at Randallstown High School.  No other information there yet. That puts my little complaints into perspective, yet again.

Wednesday, May 5, 11pm: Let there be light!

The lights are back on at 1715-1717 Madison Avenue again...

lights

Here's a photo from a scene not long ago showing the bright illumination of the grounds of the building. For the past few weeks, that bright green grass you see, and more importantly, the alley and parking lot behind, were dark and scary. I don't know for sure what happened. Pedestal Gardens management ignored several requests from me, but I do know more than one reader here emailed HUD and asked what's up. 

To them, readers and whomever fixed those lights, I say, thank you! I'm sure officers on patrol here feel the same.

Monday, May 3, 11am: PGP Officer Vogt sent me an email this morning from his video phone ...

LTS

"Bryan, On May 3rd at 2:45 [am] I arrested a white male from MICA, in the 1200 blk of eutaw while I was on a patrol. I observed this male spray painting on city property. The pic I sent you is the tag (LTS) I also spotted this 25 feet away on a street sign, fresh paint as well. We believe that he could have possibly done more through out the Bolton Hill area. Please post this pic on your website and if readers in the area spot any more of this (LTS) anywhere have them contact me via cell phone 410 493 8359. We have charged him so far with 2 counts of malicious destruction of property.

thank you
Jimmy."

While graffitti like this is right up there with dog poo in my book, it is a very annoying nuisance. I don't think in this case we're talking about a drug gang marking its turf, just a boy making his mark, but I don't know. I would have expected a MICA student to do something a bit more imaginative. I do know removing spray paint is tough and the city spends a great deal remove it.

Readers here may be amused to know I've been plagued by a dog walker here on the block whose left several of his furry friend's deposits in the parking space in front of the substation. Poetic justice. I don't think this is retaliation for my comments about Bolton Hillers who seem to think this is crime at its worst. <g> This morning about 6, I was awakened by a man yelling angrily. Couldn't make out what he was saying until I got to the window to see him yelling repeatedly at his dogs who weren't on their leash, as usual. I hollered at him "please stop letting your dogs poo in the parking space in back!" I couldn't bring myself to yell the word actually in my mind at that hour. To my surprise, he replied "alright." Not a hint of sarcasm or anger. Perhaps he saw some of my other neighbors who were at their windows, too. I guess we'll see if he was being sincere.

Sunday, May 2, 11am: Friday night's Nightline show was profoundly moving. I did not see it as a political ploy at all. There wasn't time to editorialize. The faces and names said it all. April was a very tough month on the troops in Iraq. One year since the President's landing on the aircraft carier to say the war was won.

Dan Rodricks in today's Sun has a good say on the subect. I think he's got it right.

Around here, last night was pretty quiet. Surprisingly so. I expected a lot more trouble, it being warm and the first of the month. Perhaps not all the checks have been cashed yet. PGP Officer Vogt reported he had to clear 1717's halls a few times, but said most of the trouble was over in the main court yard of Pedestal Gardens. I heard few sirens and saw only one police cruiser last night.

Of course, the lights at Pedestal Garden's buildnig here remain out. The block is so much darker because of it. I can't see as much. Maybe that's a plus to those who'd prefer I didn't see and report anything: dealers and negligent property managers alike.

Said good morning to Payne's Sexton again yesterday. Thanked him for finishing the cleanup down their end of the alley. He wondered who put several bags of clothes there the day before. I told him I found several shirts and dresses and sweaters hung on the fence to 1706 too. Seemed odd.

I've posponed it long enough. The substation floor badly needs a thorough stripping and waxing. If the day stays gray and rainy, that's where I'll be.

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