Journal Entries for November, 2002
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Friday evening, November 29: Lost my only ally at 1704 Madison Avenue, the crack slum, today.
The old man with whom I shared the occasional beers over the fence last summer hates me now. Same one to whom we gave Greg's old refrigerator. Same grand dad, daughter and three kids we've gone out of our way to be a good neighbor to.
The Animal Control people took away his dog today. Or rather someone's dog in that building. No one was willing to admit to the responsiblitiy. The officer saw the conditions and had no doubts what had to be done. James blames me. I am responsible. For the dog's sake, I don't regret it.
I'm glad that the presence of the officers in the break room has greatly reduced the screaming and ranting at their children too. I used to hear it all the way up on the 2nd floor, two doors away. Investigations never showed sufficient proof of abuse. Sad, but it's easier to save an abused dog than children. Emotional scars can't be seen by social workers like welts and bruises.
But I digress. A couple cops were talking about the dog's whining and crying in the wee hours this morning when it was 28° with a wind chill of 20°. No shelter. I told them recently I had checked on him through an entire night of near freezing rain. Nothing but garbage to try to nest in. We shook our heads in dismay. I think one of the officers called it in. If I had done it, it might have taken weeks. Animal Control is way overburdened. You may have seen the report on TV recently about it.
Hettie, as he is called, has lived in the back yard of 1704 Madison Avenue for many months. Seldom did he get water unless I hit the bowl with the hose through the fence and always then he was very grateful. He was often fed pizza crust, take out chicken bones and other garbage. It was tossed from the third and second floor back windows into the yard below, along with the wrappers and boxes and bags. They've been feeding the rats along with Hettie this way for months. To supplement that meager fare and the cheap cereal thrown into the bowl intermittently, I've watched him consume a live rat, nearly whole. Good protein, but seeing it nearly made me vomit and I'm pretty stout. No dog license, of course. Far more importantly, considering the rats and kids who live there, no shots.
On rare occasion he got a kind word, if ever a touch. The kids were not allowed to play with him. No company. The bitch puppy they were hoping to breed it with escaped through the fence weeks ago. I don't blame it for wanting to take its chances elsewhere. Raising inbred Pit Bulls to sell at $100 a pop for fighting and as props for angry, impotent young men is a cottage industry around here. Just like selling crack to moms and kids.
Anyway, I was out running my dogs in the yard. The old man came out and unloaded a slew of vitriole. After 30 seconds of patience I sent the whole load right back at 200 decibels. He threatened to jump the fence. "Beat yo ass wit a pipe while you sleep! Get some boys [the dealer boys] to kill you." He's 77. I declined a fight with him, much as I might have enjoyed a fight right then with an equal. Mad as I am, I will not be fighting an old man with emphysema.
Later, I spoke to Vaughn, or rather yelled. He listened patiently for me to vent. Probably figured he was saving someone else from my ranting. Then he had some wise words. Not as rare an event as I might pretend. He reminded me "some of those people have no control at all over their lives. None at all. Or at least they feel that way. Same thing. Mess with the kids too much they get taken away and they might go to jail, but no one cares about an animal. They can take out their anger and frustration on it. That dog was the only thing he felt he had control over. And you took it away."
Whomever owns Hettie or cares enough can go to the shelter and get him back. They charge a small fee for boarding him. I don't know if they require the rabies shot or not. I hope they do. They should require neutering, too.
Anyway, now we have not even one reasonable voice in that crack slum since no one there listens to the five year old who lives with them. He's the smartest human being in the building. And he'll be a smart adult. If he's allowed.
I wonder if anyone of the many scum who prowl this block know how angry I am. How mad as hell I am. How long I've been seething and stewing. I sure hope no one tries anything. I'd be very careful to be within my rights, but the pent up anger I have should not be unleashed on anyone, however deserving. I'm going to try to channel it into getting that slum closed down more than ever now. I have to. Readers here will know 1704 Madison Avenue epitomizes all that's wrong with this city, in so many ways. It's either that house or us.
And even more infuriating: A reader offered to send a donation today on the paving bill. He wants to join the TechBalt.com group and colonize an abandoned block in the city as sweat equity homeowners. I think our efforts have been some inspiration. "I'm a student trying to move out of my parent's house and into the city ... I don't have a whole lot to offer monetarily but I'll do what I can [toward the bill]. I've ... slowly grown to realize that Baltimore is the city I've grown to love from living nearby my whole life and I'd like to put some work into making things better."
Why infuriating you say? Because every single time I throw up my hands and say "I give up!!!," like I did today, something good happens or someone does something like this. Damn it! <g> How can you give up then?
Wednesday evening, November 27: With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us already, it seems a good time to thank all of you who've supported the substation, both tangibly and with your encouragement. Both have been essential for us and I know that the officers appreciate the warm, decent place very much.
Julie brought a fresh batch of snacks for the officers this week. The ones that can be heated are very popular. The new water cooler with its instant hot water has proved a convenient time saver for hot chocolate, tea and instant coffee, too. Davis and Ken continue to pick up things like coffee and sugar when they do their own shopping.
Anyway, she suggested I update the wishlist. She feels many would like to contribute, but don't know what. So I have. Click here to see it.
The biggest thing on the wish list is help paying the $1500+ bill for grading and laying the foundation for the parking pad in back. It was a dirt mud pit and now is a solid, well drained space exclusively for the squad and guard cars. Charles Palmer Paving did it for us the day before the BBQ. He kindly agreed to accept his fee over a six month period.
This improvement was necessary, especially because the Sergeant has told us repeatedly that in an emergency situation, like a blizzard, the substation would be a manned remote post, serving our whole area. It was the single most expensive part of the renovations for the substation. Mostly because it was something I couldn't do myself.
The Mount Royal Improvement Association MRIA (Bolton Hill's community association) generously voted to make a donation toward this last month, but we don't know how much that might be or when. Individual contributions would be enormously appreciated. Checks should be made payable to Charles Palmer Paving and sent along to us (so I can keep track of what's paid) at 1708 Madison Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217. We'll get it to him immediately.
Whether you've helped before or want to help now, whether you can provide cash toward the paving or a few rolls of towels, it is very much appreciated. I have met officers who are amazed that such diverse neighborhoods would come together to help and support our officers in this way. The officers do not take the space for granted or abuse it. They understand that not a single tax dollar is spent here. I have to encourage them to enjoy the coffee and snacks. They're cleaning up after themselves, too, even though they seldom spend more than 15 minutes using the restroom or gobbling down their lunches before they're called out again.
We have been inspired by the help of our neighbors, too. That support has helped see us through some extremely challenging and dismal times. I cannot thank you enough for that. With your continued help and encouragement, we hope to provide this substation for so long as it is needed by the fine men and women of the Baltimore Police Department.
Tuesday, noon, November 26: Yesterday afternoon while out in the yard, I heard stereo. To my right from down the alley in front of the school yard and to my left from over directly in front of the house as he strolled by: "GREENS, GREENS, GREENS!"
It's maddening. I can't get used to it.
I suspect our seeming success of late has had more to do with the normal slow down from the cold weather. Yesterday was sunny and almost warm.
We no longer have foot patrols. Seems there are enough cars now and the overtime money is getting spent.
The officers I know say the cars mean they can get their jobs done better. Still, I miss it. Walking is the only way to know a neighborhood.
Whether they're here to use the station or not, there are more drive throughs. That's a help, for sure. Last night I heard a bit of a commotion out front and saw a plainclothesman and uniformed officer frisking two suspects. Several people down the street watching, hopefully reconsidering doing business here.
The dealers so often remind me of rats. The infestation in the alley and the yards is proving to be an ongoing battle too. Worse now with the onset of winter as they try to find shelter. The city's response to my four legged rat complaints, tacking a paper sign to the telephone pole, accomplished about as much as the "Drug Free School Zone" sign. "Greatest City in America" and "Believe" are wonderful signs too. If wishing only made it so ...
I don't think dealers or the four legged rats read signs. They do eat. My neighbors toss food trash into their back yard to feed their dog and have no place to put their household trash so it just seems to find itself outside, front and back. Same with the convenience store and the people in the Section 8 housing across the alley who simply open their kitchen window and drop their juice bottles and wrappers to the alley below. Who needs a garbage disposer or trash can when you've got a window?
A week or so ago, I watched as a young woman strutted toward the substation door. I went down to see what she wanted, thinking perhaps she was actually looking for a policeman. When I opened the door there she was, squatting, not ten feet from the steps, on the bright white paving, under the floodlamp and the neighbor's windows, relieving herself.
And yet ...
Two days ago a friend was practicing her parking for her driver's test. Three bored boys, six to seven I'm guessing, who live next door began to hover about, asking questions. One offered to help pick up leaves and the others chimed in. Before I knew it, the four of us were all sweeping and chasing the leaves on the sidewalk and street while their mothers watched. They weren't the most efficient leaf picker uppers, but they had enthusiasm. For their efforts, they got thank yous and pumpkin pie from a church sale.
While I was getting some slices from the pie, which we'd put in the substation, an officer was eating his lunch. He was surprised when I told him what we'd been doing up front. I think he was imagining me and some of our dealer boys raking up leaves. When I told him it was the kids who live in the crack slum next door he nodded with a smile. We both know all kids start out a lot different than so many end up in Baltimore.
And we all know they're why we can't give up.
Wednesday, mid afternoon, November 20: Now that the word's gotten out and so many more officers are on foot around here, the substation is seeing a lot of use, as I've said previously here. There are so few places to use a bathroom and fewer still to get warm in these neighborhoods.
I notice that contrary to myth, all officers don't guzzle coffee and gobble donuts. In fact, bottled water and hot chocolate are the most popular. Most of the officers either bring their takeout lunches or microwave something from the fridge. I often see brown bags waiting for lunch break, whether that's noon or 3AM.
Beginning Friday, Tim Scott of Mountain Valley Water (800-256-8806) is donating a hot/cold cooler rental and an excellent price on his water. We won't have to lug bottles and we won't run out again. Hot chocolate and instant coffees will be much faster too. Sometimes they barely have time to zip up before you hear a "beep beep beep!" from the substation and see them trot or drive off in a hurry.
Last night I checked in and found a couple officers intently watching the 11:00 news about the shootings. They smile a lot in the substation, joke and are usually cordial and casual. Makes sense. They're on break. But while we watched in a hush, I was painfully reminded of what they do out there.
Monday, mid afternoon, November 18: About 3 this morning I met two more officers of our sector on foot patrol. The officers from earlier had run into them and invited them to dry out and warm up. They hadn't heard of the substation so they got the tour and 20 minutes to warm up and have some coffee. They also got keys for next time.
We spoke a bit about the "fun" they were having coming around corners and watching the dealers look of stunned surprise. The big white cars are so easy to spot long before they arrive at a scene. Officers on foot, walking through alleys and sometimes coming around opposite corners at the same time, quietly surrounding them, is stressful for the slingers. They must be going home after a long day's work at the market, complaining about how rough their day was and hoping the cops stop this proactive work.
It's a shame the foot patrols are probably only temporary. Community policing, as the Sun called it in the editorial after the substation opening, is the only way things are going to improve in Baltimore. When the cops on the beat are your neighbors, when you know them and they know you, their work is so much more effective. For the kids here, too often the cops are anonymous strangers they see only when mom or dad are in trouble. No wonder they grow up angry and suspicious of them.
Just got a call from Carlton Douglas, the funeral home owner around the corner and the only other owner occupant on this stretch of Wilson or Madison. "They're getting the house next door!" He was thrilled that some surveillance from his home had resulted in a search warrant and bust next door to him on McCulloh. Just as happy as I was when they barged into 1704 Madison week before last, next door to us, "in hot pursuit."
The dealers are looking for places to nest during the cold weather, just like the rats. They're not finding safe havens around here. Not this year.
A reader forwarded this link at the Washington Post to an excellent article on the Dawsons and our city.
From that article ...
"'We feel more secure now with the presence of the officers,' he says.
He nods toward the police car parked at Preston and Eden. The corner is under 24-hour surveillance.
'We don't understand why they find protection for a burnt-down house and they couldn't find protection when she was alive,' neighbor Katie Stanbery said earlier.
'Evidentiary reasons,' said Maj. Eads. The corner is a crime scene now.
And the crime scene must be protected."
Some officers were just in the substation, using the bathroom. The toilet had gotten stopped up. Those low flow toilets, you know. He was calling to let me know just as I opened the door. Nothing a plunger didn't clear. The floor needs a good mopping today too. Lots of foot traffic. Time to put on my janitor hat.
Stopped up toilets, dirty floors, noisy big drug busts next door. Until moving here, I would never have thought such things could make me smile.
Sunday late night, November 17: We have foot patrols! And officers doing 12 hour shifts in cars and on foot. Don't know for how long we'll have either, but I'm not complaining.
They've been walking through the whole sector, all the way over to Mt. Royal, along Eutaw and over through McCulloh.
I came down to let the dogs out and heard several voices in the substation. That seemed odd because I didn't see any cars in the parking area. When I looked in, there were two Baltimore officers and two SPS guards. I've come to know them all. One of the officers asked if it was OK he'd turned the heater up to help dry out their hats and coats. They've been on foot patrol since 4 this afternoon and their shift doesn't end until 4AM. They were cold and wet, but not complaining. And about to have some coffee and chocolate once they'd warmed their hands.
I cannot think of a night when the substation was more worthwhile.
Saturday night, November 16: Julie from Bolton Hill, one of the first to help with the substation, brought over a coffee cake for the officers she got at a bake sale this morning for the Baltimore Blizzards.
I saw a couple squad cars come and go this afternoon. When I checked on supplies there a bit ago, I saw this "thank you" scrawled across the label. It made me smile. I think the cake and some hot coffee have made an officer or two smile on this wet, cold afternoon as well.
I once read appreciation is always ranked highest in polls of American workers. More important even than pay.
Last night an officer called me very early, predawn. "There was a report of gunfire at 1704, are you OK?" I hadn't heard it. A few moments later five squad cars were out front of 1704. I don't know what happened. No ambulances, so I gather no one was hurt. Perhaps I'll run into an officer tonight who can tell me.
Otherwise, it's been pretty quiet. The weather has slowed business way down. And there seem no safe places on the block to do business out of anymore. I wonder what it's like around the corner.
Friday afternoon, November 15: Davis, our neighbor in Spicer's Run, brought to my attention the Mayor's officer has put out this press release about the city's response to the Dawson tragedy ...
Already an impressive list of accomplishments in that neighborhood. I'm sure no one's ungrateful, but it is a pity this sort of action had to wait until after five children were burned alive.
I suppose the most important part is Norris saying that reports of drug dealing to 911 will be handled more effectively, including a special unit. Maybe I'll actually call in drug dealing observations again. Pretty much gave up on it unless it involved a gun, a fight or specific death threats. Dealing on this corner is simply commonplace. And yes, I'll say it again, right in a "Drug Free" school zone.
There was an SUV parked out on the street a few days ago. Guy and his girlfriends smoking crack while selling it. Two officers drove up. Gave him a field sobriety test. He gave them permission to search his car. No sweat, one of his girls had already taken the crack into the house. They did roust him, though, and drive home the message he'd be watched. One of the girlfriends heckled the officers about their violating his rights, etc. The officer's showed enormous restraint and decorum. A lot of people don't think smoking crack in your car while dealing is a constitutional right.
I've noticed more and more instances where either someone else is calling the police or the officers are simply keeping a closer eye on this corner. Perhaps both, I'd like to think.
It'll be one week tonight that officers descended on 1704 and took away the kid and two adult dealers, along with seizing some crack vials and $2000 cash. I can't help but think they'll be less conspicuous tonight, but we'll see. I'm already seeing signs the crackhouse at 1704 is getting stocked for the night's business.
Davis also advised me the city council has on its upcoming agenda a resolution about our national policy on Iraq. Davis, a staunch Republican, and I, a bleeding heart Democrat, agree that the city council needs to concern itself with terrorism here, not international policy. No one gives a damn what our city council thinks about international relations. We'd like to know what they're doing about the terrorism that exists in our neighborhoods right here. The kind of terrorism that burns a family alive while they sleep.
Sunday, very early, November 9: Annette, my neighbor from the crack house next door is walking around in circles tonight, scouring the sidewalk in search of a small vial with a brightly colored cap that might have a tiny speck of unused crack. She's jonesing, as I think the kids used to call it. Until last night, her apartment in the ground floor front of Clarence Weston's slum house at 1704 was a warehouse of crack and heroin. In return for her letting them use her place, she got all she wanted. Mostly just to shut her up. Often she's been abused by these same dealers, roughed up for getting in the way. From the looks of her tonight, she'd gladly take some abuse for just one more hit.
But tonight, it's pretty quiet. The only activity has been a few sullen dealers sauntering down the street. No one hanging out except the occasional bewildered customer pulling up, wondering where their dealers are. Some have even honked, waiting. I'm sure as the bars close, I'll see it more and more though no doubt a few brave guys will surface nearby to cover the demand.
Still it won't be what it has been thanks in large part to two beat officers, part of the extra officers we've had assigned to prevent the murder rate from going over the target. These two officers accomplished this:
That's two adults and one kid sitting in front of a QRT (Quick Response Unit) car. They were followed into Annette's apartment on hot pursuit by the two officers I mentioned who took it upon themselves to watch, look and understand what's been under our noses here for a long time. According to one officer, $2000+ and many vials were found. Powder was all over the toilet as the warehouse clerks tried to dump the inventory before the door was opened. All the officers and SPS guys agreed it was great to see, but could have been much better. We know they were on the down part of the cycle. Would have been so much better to catch them freshly stocked. But I'm not complaining.
I hear over and over again, from Commissioner Norris on down, that the youth of our department is a drawback. That they are young, inexperienced and lazy. Too lazy to trust with a toilet/break room, even. Yesterday, in response to a question about why officers are doubling up (and I personally know of occasions when they've had to triple up) in their cars due to backups in maintenance, a colonel said basically, that's OK. We need more officers on foot in the most violent areas, though they'd prefer to be in their cars. Again, our beat officers are lazy.
You know what? The only hope our police department has, and the only reason you and I sleep well at night, if and when we do, is because of these young men and women. They didn't join for the pay, that's for sure. They don't stay with Baltimore because of the support and encouragement of mid and upper management. I believe they stay with the department because they think they can make a difference in spite of its management. I could name a dozen names, but I won't. Too many of their supervisors are threatened by a beat officer who takes initiative and does anything more than the minimal. They don't want to be challenged.
I recently heard an officer at a community meeting say "I only have three years to my retirement and no one's taking that." She was full of "no, we [the department] can't to do this or that. It's the courts fault, the state's attorney's fault, etc. For example: She told us we had foot and bicycle patrol officers when we all know we don't. Not here. She told us it was unprofessional for an officer to warn loiterers on a notorious drug market block to disperse on their loudspeakers. Mr. Douglas and I both like that sound of an officer doing his job. Sure beats listening to "greens, greens, greens out!" all night long.
I've had the same experience with three sergeants supposedly concerned with this area. (Sergeants are the beat officers direct supervisors.) "We can't do that. Which officer said that? [so I can warn him never to speak frankly to civilians] We don't need his help. [referring to Mr. Douglas and my offers of surveillance posts based on what we see out our window every day]"
I say it again, the young officers are the ones who care about their jobs. Not about their pensions. Not about their next promotion. Not about politics. Not about favors or turf. They still care about what they joined the department to do. We citizens should be thankful for these young officers every day.
The mayor and commissioner should realize the youth of our department is its greatest asset and stop using that fact as one of its many scapegoats for not improving the safety of Baltimoreans. Better statistics are great, but short of reduced murders, I don't see much of an improvement in the battle weary areas of this town. Last night was a big exception for this small part of town. And it was because of the initiative of beat officers who wanted to do their job.
We have the right beat officers. They just need leadership that supports them.
Wednesday midday, November 6: Thanks to the election and the priorities of news directors, the follow up on our crackhouse slumlord will be delayed until Friday, but there will be follow up, I am assured.
I hope the powers that be at City Hall, the State's Attorney's offfice and the Police Department are finally taking the situation seriously and will do something.
We have found a buyer for the lien certificate on this building. He's looking into the details now. I'm doing everything I can to help. But that's a longer range solution. Could take months. We desperately need real action now.
A big thank you to the many who've written and called City Hall. We all know that's what progress takes.
Tuesday, 8PM, November 5: Clarence Weston, the owner of the crack house next door has been there all afternoon. Still there tonight. Never seen him here at night before. Saw him taking one of the many broken windows seen on TV to be fixed. Brought in some tiles later. Appears he's frantically trying to fix it up. If the city has "taken over" his building, as the Mayor's spokesmen said, they never told him.
One of his tenants this evening caught both Vaughn and I in front and said "Thank you for that thing you did on TV. He ain't even turned the heat on yet." There are at least five kids under six in that building, broken windows, no heat, crack dealers and all.
While he's been there, $50,000 SUVs have pulled, up, idling. Obviously making deliveries. The neighborhood's drug dealers have dropped by, one by one, to get their stashes for the night and business has carried on just as usual.
An unmarked police car pulled up the corner a bit ago and the two officers inside appeared to go into 1700 or around the corner. For a good ten minutes I watched as one of our local dealer boys hung out, peering around the doorway of 1704, waiting to see if they would go away so he could risk leaving. No doubt he had a pocket full of crack to sell and didn't want to risk getting caught.
Here is Clarence Weston ...
I was able to get this picture this afternoon even though he had people looking out to see if the guy with the camera was gone. I'd hoped to get his picture and ask him a question, but he was busy hiding.
He doesn't answer calls from me or reporters or housing inspectors trying to serve him citations, so here's the question, in case he's reading:
Mr. Weston, what share do you get on the crack and heroin sold out of your building?
I used to think he was just aware of the problem and negligently ignoring it. I wanted to believe that. Now, the obvious dawns on me. Duh. From today's behavior and his company, added to everything I've seen over two years, I have to think not only is he aware some of his rent is paid with crack money, but that he must be taking a share. Just a theory. I don't know.
I'd like to hear his side of the story. So would Reporter Jon Leiberman. So would the taxpayers of the city from whom he collects his paycheck and to whom he owes over $20,000 in delinquent taxes and fines for six slums.
We're tired of it Mr. Weston. Your house has been destroying this block too long.
Mr. Weston's picture will be on Fox45 news tomorrow at 10PM and on WB54 at 6:30PM in a follow up they are doing. They're not going to let this go. And neither are we. We've worked too hard and too long to give up now.
If you missed the TV report, the expose can be read at http://www.foxbaltimore.com/news/02/110402.htm
While writing this, Mr. Weston has gone home. Another SUV, a regular dealer here, has pulled up in front of his house again.
Another note to Clarence: I sure wish you and your family had to sleep here. And in the morning, send your grand kids to the elementary school 50 yards away.
Monday, 10:30PM, November 4: Just finished watching Jon Leiberman's report again. This time, he reported what the Mayor's office had to say. Their response was that the city has no program in place to identify city employees like this and that the city had "taken over" these properties.
Totally untrue, as Leiberman reported. The city has NOT taken over this property, unless it happened today or recently only as a result of the reporter's questioning. We believe Mr. Weston continues to collect rent there. I saw him at the house last week. One thing for sure, it continues to be a slum and a crack house. If the city has taken it over, they should be fixing it right now and protecting their tenants from the dealers who use it.
And that the city has no program in place to prevent its own employees from helping destroy the very city that employs them should be an embarrassment. Perhaps the good people who work for the city can't imagine the audacity. I know I doubted it until I saw Mr. Weston in a city truck. Or perhaps some city employees think their friends in the right offices will help them steal from it, by looking the other way. How can we expect hard working, tax paying citizens to tolerate their own city employees doing this?
I had asked the Mayor's office to look into this matter a long while back. Weeks ago I suggested he be aware of the issue because the press was going to look into it. I can only hope the lame replies I got were written by staffers who were just giving me lip service. I can't believe the Mayor himself would not take this seriously. His inspiration and our hopes for his leadership have been important in helping us stick it out here.
Mr. Leiberman will be following up. Especially now that he's heard a Mayor's spokesman tell him something that is unlikely and that the city has done nothing about the larger problem. If there is one city employee like this, owing over $20,000, are there others? Out of thousands of city employees, if there are only a dozen like Mr. Weston, that's a quarter of a million dollars. I'd like to think he's the only one, but what do you think?
Fox45 is already working to correlate city delinquency roles, housing violation complaints and city employment records They're having to use the Freedom of Information Act to get the information. Is this an entrenched bureaucracy trying to protect its own?
State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy spoke tonight at the Madison Park Association meeting. Vaughn was there. He asked her about crack houses and drug abatement suits and described the problems of this block and 1704 in particular. I don't think she was aware it was so bad here, right next to her very own church. She said for him to get her the information tomorrow and she would do something about it. He suggested she watch Fox 45 news tonight. I hope she did. We will also forward all the other information we have about the building and its use as a crack house.
She really didn't have to campaign in this race beyond the primary. It seems no one wanted the position. Working with police management and a mayor who have often blamed her alone for the city's law enforcement woes must be a thankless job. I hope she'll show us what her office can do about this classic example of what's ruining the city of Baltimore.
Those of you I suggested write the Mayor might include Mrs. Jessamy in your comments about this matter. Her address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Her number is 410.396.4001. Please challenge her to take up this affront to those of us who still care about the city. It might be interesting to see which of these public servants, too often adversaries, actually gets something done here.
Monday, 11AM, November 4:
Jon Leiberman of Fox45 TV was out this morning to talk to us about 1704 Madison Avenue and the slumlord I've written about many times (click here for that) here. He surprised us with the news that Mr. Weston, who works for the city, owns six properties here and owes the city over $20,000 in back taxes and housing violation fines.
I know how damaging this house is to this block. I wonder if his other properties are as bad. Not only do his tenants live in squalor, well documented by the city and the "consent orders" he's repeatedly violated, but his choice of certain tenants who allow rampant dealing out of his building make it a menace to us all.
We're still wondering who he must know among his fellow city employees that he can get away with this.
Mr. Leiberman's report will be airing tonight on Fox45 at 10:00 and tomorrow's morning show between 6 and 9 as well as WB54 News. He's promised to follow up on this story. I have a feeling many of his viewers, particularly those like us who work hard to help their neighborhood, will be shocked to see a man who does such damage to the very city he works for.
Please watch, and if you're as outraged as we are, please email the mayor at email@example.com. A copy to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com would be appreciated.
While he was filming, a young man watched from across the street. When he was done, the boy approached. I overheard him tell Mr. Leiberman he was in the 8th grade. Jon asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. "A journalist." When they were done talking, the boy ran off with Jon's business card in hand and a big smile on his face.
Update: 7PM: I thought the report was excellent. Caught it on WB54 at 6:30. City Hall's response is promised for the 10:00 report. Let's hope they do something.
Sunday, about noon, November 3: The market was very quiet both Friday and Saturday night. Had a lot to do with this cold snap, I'm sure, though I'm told most people won't pick up their checks until tomorrow. There were customers in and out of 1704 and dealers working out of 1700 at the corner where they have a vantage point of the corner from one of those apartments. There must have been some brisk business indoors. I saw our mid level dealers driving up regular as clockwork, restocking the 1704 dealer substation.
One of the officers did his best: he parked with headlights on, just up a bit so the parking in front of 1704 was lit. He was there a couple of times I noticed, writing his reports. Unfortunately, when he drove off, it went right back to normal. Uniformed officers can't stop the dealing alone.
Julie surprised me this morning. She thought the dealers had hacked the site. I was a bit shocked until she wrote back that she had typed the address with an additional .org on the end. She wasn't entirely awake apparently. We were both relieved, she said "Thank goodness. To think you had drug dealers/hackers is a leap I'm not sure I can make."
I understand the morning fog. The other day, out of coffee, in my robe and desperate, I went down to the substation to steal some. Made a pot. While standing there coaxing out a cup, I realized I had locked the interior door leading to the house. No keys and remarkably solid locks in both directions. Between frantic sips, I heard a car pull up. "No, he did this on his own, it's in his house." And then a key in the door. I retreated to the bathroom where I attempted to look like I was dutifully cleaning the sink. I didn't want to admit to the officers that I was stealing coffee. Fortunately, they had a cup and were impressed I would be up so early, making them coffee and cleaning. The perfect host. After they left, I had to slide out the window, robe nearly strangling me in the process, to the side yard where my fuzzy slippers immediately found a booby trap left by the dogs.
It has been encouraging to see some clean up and work beginning at 1706 Eutaw Place. Work has been going at a good clip on 1708. I do love the sound of hammers and saws in the morning as opposed to "greens, greens, greens out!" These were the apartment houses heavily damaged on July 4 by vandals with fireworks. Click here for my take on that.
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