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BALTIMORE’S FREE ALTERNATIVE WEEKLY ■ VOL. 33 NO. 10, MARCH 11-MARCH 18, 2009 ■ WWW.CITYPAPER.COM
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MARCH 11, 2009
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THE PAIN—WHEN WILL IT END?/68 MAAKIES/68 IMPORTANT COMICS/85 LULU EIGHTBALL/86 ON THE COVER: PHOTOGRAPH OF LAURE DROGOUL BY MICHAEL NORTHRUP
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BALTIMORE’S FREE ALTERNATIVE WEEKLY EDITOR: Lee Gardner ART DIRECTOR: Joe MacLeod MANAGING EDITOR: Erin Sullivan ARTS EDITOR: Bret McCabe MUSIC EDITOR: Michael Byrne ONLINE EDITOR: Tim Hill SPECIAL PROJECTS EDITOR: Anna Ditkoff SENIOR STAFF WRITER: Van Smith STAFF WRITERS: Edward Ericson Jr., Chris Landers CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Jeffrey Anderson, John Barry, Tom Chalkley, Charles Cohen, Raymond Cummings, Violet Glaze, Michelle Gienow, Cole Haddon, Geoffrey Himes, Henry Hong, Martin L. Johnson, Laura Laing, Brian Morton, Kate Noonan, Al Shipley, Vincent Williams, Mary K. Zajac CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS AND ILLUSTRATORS: Okan Arabacioglu, Emily C-D, Tom Chalkley, Ben Cricchi, Jennifer Daniel, John Ellsberry, Alex Fine, Emily Flake, Michelle Gienow, Mel Guapo, Sam Holden, Frank Klein, Daniel Krall, Hawk Krall, Uli Loskot, Christopher Myers, Michael Northrup, RaRah, Paige Shuttleworth, Deanna Staffo, Smell of Steve Inc., Jefferson Jackson Steele, M. Wartella, Autumn Whitehurst BALTIMORE WEEKLY EDITOR: Wendy Ward COPY EDITOR: Joseph Tropea ASSISTANT TO THE ART DIRECTOR: Wynter Towns INTERNS: Matt Garland, Jami Katz, Randi Leyshon, Kathryn Mastandrea, Awis Mranani, Chidinma Okparanta PRODUCTION DIRECTOR: Athena Towery (x211) SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Matt Walter CLASSIFIED PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR: Donald Ely GRAPHIC DESIGNERS: Frank Hamilton, Daria Johnson ADVERTISING DIRECTOR: Jennifer Marsh (x221) SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES: Andy Grimshaw (x222), Chris Ziolkowski (x219) ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES: Valerie Gatzke (x253), Nina Land (x220), Annie Simkins (x214), Dylan Smith (x226) CLASSIFIED MANAGER: Leslie Grim (x246) REAL ESTATE ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Ashira Jensen (x248) AUTOMOTIVE ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Bettina Wachter (x244) CLASSIFIED DISPLAY REPRESENTATIVES: Kathryn Hudson (x249), Patrick Martin (x245), Joy Sushinsky (x247) CLASSIFIED LINE SUPERVISOR: Nicole Urbain (x212) CLASSIFIED LINE REPRESENTATIVE: Gemma Gould (x213) ADVERTISING ASSISTANT: Linda Bernstein (x216) CLASSIFIED SALES ASSISTANT: Rob Farley (x208) EVENTS/MARKETING INFORMATION: x252 CIRCULATION DIRECTOR: Christine Grabowski CIRCULATION MAINTENANCE: Mike Grabowski DISTRIBUTION: Keith Bondurant, Kelly Carr, Evan Ebb, Lloyd Farrow, Harold Goldman, Mike Grabowski, Jean LeBlanc, Abe Mamot, Bonnie Mullens, Miroslav Muzyka, Michael Nelson, Marek Obrebski, Hector Rivera, Mark Scudder, Marek Seder, George Svezzese, James Tighe BUSINESS MANAGER: Nicole Seabrease RECEPTIONIST: Michelle Bollino NATIONAL ADVERTISING: The Ruxton Group, (888) 278-9866 GROUP PUBLISHER: Don Farley (x229) GENERAL SALES MANAGER: Jennifer Marsh (x221) PUBLISHER’S ASSISTANT: Susan Slike (x224) Volume 33, Number 10, March 11, 2009. City Paper is published ever y week by TimesShamrock communications. Letters and calendar submissions are welcomed; please see these sections for details. Unsolicited editorial submissions will not be returned. Subscriptions available for $150 per year, 1st class. No refunds. ©2009 C.E.G.W./Times-Shamrock. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the editor. 812 Park Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201 (410) 523-2300; advertising fax: (410) 523-2222; editorial fax: (410) 523-0138; Baltimore Weekly fax: (410) 523-8437. Get It Online: www.citypaper.com
A GOOGLE MAP OF PROPERTIES OWNED BY PATTERSON PARK CDC IS NOW UP AT CITYPAPER.COM/NEWS.
MARCH 11, 2009
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THE MAIL Cute Overload! Thanks for putting the BARCS animals in your paper! (Gimme Shelter, citypaper.com) What a wonderful thing to do! If you all would do a story on the puppy mills and the number of animals put down every year that would be great! LAURA DENNIS BALTIMORE
Editor’s note: Further details have been announced about Shoot. Score. Baltimore, City Paper’s first annual (we hope) short film contest. Some of the particulars are still being worked out, but if you direct your web browser to city paper.com/go/shortfilmcontest, you’ll find rules and guidelines and a downloadable entry form. One particular to keep in mind: The deadline for entries is April 24, so get crankin’.
Spring is Coming. to March in with Spring ence Conﬁd
FROM THE WEB From COMMENTS on citypaper.com:
Correction: Last week’s Councilmania (Mobtown Beat, March 4) misstated the number of cosponsors of City Council Bill 09-0289, the foreclosure chattels bill. Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and councilmembers James Kraft (D-1st District), William Cole (D-11th District), and Rikki Spector (D-5th District) did not co-sponsor the bill, as reported; all the other councilmembers did. Also, our EAT dining guide (March 4) listed an incorrect address for Goldberg’s New York Bagels. The correct address is 1498 Reisterstown Road. City Paper regrets the error.
EAT ME: “In Defense of Cooking” Actually, speaking as a long term (7year) raw foodie, I can admit to having used this whole enzyme conversation when I first started eating raw food. The truth is I didn’t understand what I was talking about, but I did not that raw food worked (when done right of course). Over the last 2 years, as I actually started working with MDs who support raw foods, they explained to me that “Yes, raw food does work, but it’s not because of the enzymes.” — “Dhrumil,” 3/4/2009, 10:56:52 A.M.
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FILM REVIEW: Watchmen Address letters to THE MAIL, City Paper, 812 Park Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201; fax: (410) 523-0138; e-mail: letters@ citypaper.com. Only letters that address material published in or policies of CP, are no more than 500 words long, and include the writer’s name, address, and daytime phone number will be considered for publication. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.
THIS MODERN WORLD
hopefully Brett Ratner’s version of LOST GIRLS will break the streak and bring Moore to the big screen the right way!! ... — “cexman, 3/4/2009, 5:20:42 P.M.
NEWS HOLE: “Michael Steele Imploding?” He apologized to . . . Rush Limbaugh of all people, but the kids at Fredrick Douglass do not get such royal treatment. — “Brandy_Baker,” 3/8/2009, 11:06:05 P.M. ■
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SOCIAL STUDIES STEELE AWAY MY WIFE AND I WERE LOOKING AT MICHAEL Steele on television the other day, and we came to the conclusion that he’s actually a fairly good looking guy and, with one or two small cosmetic changes, he could be a really smooth brother. For instance, we think it would do wonders for him if he cut that George Jefferson receded hairline deal that he has going on and opt for the straight bald head. Getting into real Married Eye for the Goofy Guy mode, we then opined that growing out his mustache into a salt-and-pepper goatee would further go toward giving the Republican National Committee chair a chiseled, distinguished look. But you know the bad thing? Both of us also quickly came to the conclusion that our mental exercise was just that, because there was no way Steele could navigate the halls of Republican power with a bald head and a goatee
BY V I N C E N T W I L L I A M S
pened in that incident vis-à-vis Steele’s blackness and his ability to reach out to other black voters. Steele failed what I call “The Farrakhan Test.” Since childhood, I’ve observed black folks commenting on what we see as the mainstream’s testing of black people, specifically, black men in the public eye. As I always say, when you’re black you’ve got to repudiate someone at some point that’s going to hurt you to let the white folks know you’re OK. I call it the Farrakhan Test because, all through the ’90s, Louis Farrakhan was the repudiation of choice. And, more often than not, people have buckled and bent and failed the test. When Barack Obama got going, we all waited for the Farrakhan Test. Obama’s Farrakhan Test wasn’t Farrakhan himself, of course, but Rev. Jeremiah Wright. And when seemingly the entire white community demanded he repudiate Wright, Obama stood by him. I remember the disgust my father and uncles expressed
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that sexualized him. As young, urban, middle- over the way Jesse Jackson turned his back on class, home-owning, educated, and, frankly, Farrakhan, and I’m still heartbroken over the fairly conservative African-American voters, way Chuck D had to cut loose Professor Griff, so we intuitively believe that the GOP only wants that was a special moment. I watched that man emasculated people of color in their ranks. And outmaneuver the greatest political machine of this speaks to the fact that, for all his talk about the 21st century, snatch the Democratic nomiexpanding the base of the Republican Party, so nation, and win the office of president of the far Michael Steele has shown that he’s not really United States, but as one black man to another, that good at it. I’ve never been as proud of Obama as I was at The fact that he’s spent the last month trans- that moment. Regardless of what eventually forming into the Poochie of the Republican Party happened when Wright, y’know, lost his damn doesn’t help. There’s those garish zoot suits that mind and started ranting like a homeless guy he’s always wearing that make me think he’s in the park talking about Atlantis, at that moabout to burst into “Minnie the Moocher,” the ment, I knew Barack Obama was worthy of bizarre non sequiturial manner in which he my allegiance. peppers his speech with slang, the awkward In contrast, when Steele folded. Listening at best, vaguely racist at worst, interactions to black talk-radio shows like Tom Joyner and he’s had with the folks around him, Michael Baisden and through the e.g. his giving “Slum[dog] love” to conversations I’ve had with my Bobby Jindal. Speaking as the perfriends and family over the past GOT AN OPINION son he’s been trying to reach out to, week, the sentiment is that Steele ABOUT SOCIAL it’s been painful to watch. Michael “got bitched” by Limbaugh. And STUDIES? LEAVE Steele is the living embodiment of that’s not a good look. How can I A COMMENT AT Guy Trying Too Hard. possibly respect you as a leader if CITYPAPER.COM. And then, yes, there’s how quickly I don’t respect you as a man? Steele kowtowed and apologized Truth be told, I want Michael Steele to Rush Limbaugh after telling D.L. to be successful in reorganizing the Hughley that Limbaugh was “an entertainer” Republican Party into a viable choice for, well, and his show was oftentimes “ugly” and” inme. Yes, I would follow Barack Obama into the cendiary.” To give Steele any benefit of doubt gates of hell armed with a bucket of gasoline, that I can, I hasten to point out that apologiz- but I’d still like a choice, y’know? Sliced turkey ing to Rush Limbaugh for telling the truth breast and pepper jack cheese on marble rye about Rush Limbaugh is not a black thing, it’s is my favorite sandwich, but sometimes I like a Republican thing. Apparently all of them have a cheeseburger. Right now, my choice is either to kiss the ring of that troglodyte, although it that turkey sandwich or a “The Foundation of does sting a little bit more to see a black man the Culture of the Modern Iteration of This Party bow down to someone who once told a black Is Open Hostility Toward Black People” hoagie. caller to call back when he’d taken the bone So I need Steele to be a better messenger. And a out of his nose. haircut would be a good start. ■ But I think there’s something much more subtle and infinitely more important that firstname.lastname@example.org
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NATIVES ARE RESTLESS ABOUT 60 PEOPLE stood in the cold and gathering darkness at Annapolis’ Lawyer’s Mall next to the State House on President’s Day, as Susan Payne attempted to place the last few protest signs. “MARYLAND IS BROKEN—who wants to hold this one?” asked Payne, a voluble woman who heads an organization called Citizens First. “PROTECT CITIZENS—who wants to hold this sign?” The crowd, gathered to protest what they see as the growing problem of illegal immigration, was already bristling with signs with various messages—MARYLAND DEMOCRATS LOVE ILLEGAL ALIENS AND THEIR VOTES, for instance. Another resembled a Maryland driver’s license, read JOE TERRORIST, 123 YOUR STREET, YOUR TOWN, MD, and featured a turbaned man clutching a stick of dynamite. Another: DEMOCRATS MADE ME MISS MY DAUGHTER’S WEDDING. Brad Botwin, director of Help Save Maryland, the group that organized the rally, was the first in a series of speakers. “Welcome to freezing Annapolis,” he began. “For those of you who don’t know, Help Save Maryland is a statewide, multi-ethnic, grassroots organization dedicated to preserving Maryland, our cities and our towns, from the negative effects of illegal immigration.” If Botwin lingered a bit over the word “multiethnic,” it was not without cause. Help Save Maryland has been labeled a “nativist extremist” organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups in the United States. “Since 2000,” says Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, “we’ve seen an explosion of these anti-immigrant groups across the nation.” Beirich says that Help Save Maryland’s inclusion on the list means that the center believes the group has crossed a line between legitimate protest into fearmongering. “We created this distinction between a regular anti-immigration group and a nativist extremist group because . . . a lot of groups attack policy related to illegal immigration, but these groups attack the immigrants themselves,” she says. “Protesting the policies is all well and good. That’s what you’re supposed to do in a democracy. But these in-your-face tactics are worrisome—they sow fear in these [immigrant] communities. It’s just scary for the people who are being targeted.” This year there are 173 groups defined by the law center as nativist extremist groups. Two years ago, the center counted 144. Before the rally, as activists walked the halls of the State House looking for politicians to lobby, Payne said she hoped to focus attention on taxpayer funding of CASA de Maryland, a group that lobbies for immigrants’ rights and runs education and workforce programs, but
Maryland anti-immigrant group called “extremist” by Southern Poverty Law Center
the speakers represented a broad spectrum of causes gathered under the anti-illegal immigrant banner, from the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, who want to make proof of legal residence a requirement for the Maryland driver’s license, to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which would like to limit all immigration, legal or otherwise. CASA de Maryland, through staff attorney Michelle Mendez, declined to speak for this article. Mendez said the group’s policy was to avoid commenting on anti-immigrant groups, citing e-mail and telephone threats against CASA staff and board members. An occasional politician passed through the square. Payne spotted Attorney General Doug Gansler, “We miss you in the barrio,” she shouted, before turning to explain, “that’s what we call Montgomery County.” Gansler hurried to his black SUV parked outside the State House. A number of politicians came to show their support—state delegates Pat McDonough (R-Baltimore County), Ron George (R-Anne Arundel County), Warren Miller (R-Howard County), Gail Bates (R-Howard County), Rick Impallaria (R-Baltimore County), and senators Janet Greenip (R-Anne Arundel County) and Andy Harris (R-Baltimore/Harford Counties). McDonough, introduced by Payne as “the best friend the state of Maryland has on this issue,” addressed critics of what he called a “citizens’ rights movement in America.” “We are always told that we are the ones who are intolerant, that we are the ones who are not the mainstream.” McDonough told the crowd. “That we are the ones who do not have compassion for the poor folks who come from Mexico and other lands just to get a job and feed their family. Let me tell you the kind of compassion we have as citizens: We have compassion for the taxpayers of Maryland who have to foot the bill for healthcare, and have to foot the bill for those who do not pay taxes. We have compassion for the victims of crime in this state—who illegal aliens, gangbangers, MS-13, people like that, bring victims to our state. That’s who we have compassion for.”
McDonough warned of a “golden age for illegal aliens” under President Barrack Obama, whose name drew boos from the crowd. “Just wait and see—millions more will come.” Among those singled out for praise by Help Save Maryland’s Botwin was Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, who became a hero to the movement when he instituted a program to check immigration status on arrestees there. Rising crime due to illegal immigration was a recurring theme at Help Save Maryland’s rally—a claim that Southern Poverty Law Center’s Beirich calls unsubstantiated, pointing to studies like one done in 2007 by the American Immigration Law Foundation, which found that the incarceration rate of foreign-born men was far less than that of those born in America. She says anti-immigrant groups rely on a few highly publicized cases to make the argument. “It’s argument by anecdote,” she says. “There’s no question that this population is far less criminal than white people like me.” Reached by phone, Jenkins characterizes his immigration-status program as a popular success, He says that legal status is identified while arrestees are being booked, and that more than 300 people have been referred to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement as a result. “The feedback I’m getting is overwhelmingly positive,” Jenkins says. “I would say over 90 percent of the citizens here in Frederick County support it. In written testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security on March 5, Jenkins said that despite opposition from the ACLU, CASA, and the NAACP, the program had not harmed relations with Frederick’s immigrant community. Guy Djoken, who heads Frederick’s NAACP branch, disputes that claim. “It’s certainly not true,” Djoken said in a phone interview. “The immigrant community has been traumatized. . . . We have a vested interest in rooting criminals out of our midst, but this is not the way to go about it.” CHRIS LANDERS
KEEPING TABS ON THE CITY COUNCIL’S ACTIVITIES SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO B Y E DWA R D E R I C S O N J R .
ON THE AGENDA FOR MARCH 2 BILL 09-0291—GUN OFFENDER REGISTRATION. In 2007, Baltimore began requiring those convicted of gun crimes to register with the police. The addresses remain on file for three years, and the penalty for not keeping current is a year in the slammer, or a fine of not more than $1,000, or both. This would expand the registration requirements to include some juvenile offenders. THE READ: The bill looks like a cleanup of the original language, but includes some curious provisions. The bill changes the time a gun offender is required to acknowledge their duty to register from when-convicted to “when requested to do so.” Also, in the definitions section, the bill changes the word “adult” to “person,” presumably to include juveniles charged with gun crimes in the adult court system. The council sent the bill to committee without comment, but the bill, submitted by the mayor’s office, raised eyebrows during the council’s work session, according to Councilman Bill Cole (D-11th District). “I was incredulous,” he says. “I don’t understand how, if a juvenile was charged as a juvenile, I don’t know how you could compel them to register,” because juvenile case records are secret. BILL 09-0293—DOWNTOWN MANAGEMENT DISTRICT— ADJUSTMENT OF BOUNDARIES. This would extend the Downtown Management District—a special taxing district that provides enhanced cleanup and security in exchange for a 13-cents per $100 of assessed value property-tax surcharge—one block west from Howard Street to Eutaw, from the 300 block to the 800 block. THE READ: Tom Yeager, executive vice president of the “clean and safe” program for the Downtown Partnership, says his organization has been cleaning the streets at no charge for about two years anyway, as part of the partnership’s efforts to bolster Lexington Market. “We sent letters out to all the property owners” seeking comment on the move to start charging, he says. None of the 29 business property owners came to the Jan. 30 public hearing, he says. (Non-profits, and the 53 residential properties in the area, would be exempt from the tax.) 08-0252—SNOW AND ICE REMOVAL—SIDEWALKS. This is to transfer responsibility for clearing the sidewalk from tenants to property owners. THE READ: The idea is that the property owner is always responsible; the bill, now in third reader, would make the city’s snow-removal ordinance conform to the other ordinances involving property maintenance. It is still legal for a lease to require a tenant to shovel the walk, but if it doesn’t get done, the owner will get cited, not the tenant. Says Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke (D-14th District): “I would just like to say to those watching on TV, this bill is being voted on now—go shovel your walk.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK “It’s free to every child in Baltimore City, from the federal government, so let’s eat!” —Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, endorsing expansion of the school breakfast program in Baltimore. THE CITY COUNCIL’S NEXT MEETING IS SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 16 AT 5 P.M.
MARCH 11, 2009
city paper | 9
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MURDERS THIS WEEK: 4 MURDERS THIS YEAR: 42 ACCORDING TO POLICE, the Jan. 11 killing of BY AN NA DITKOFF Shawn Green, a 17-year-old African-American male, of the club. Edwards and her friend walked to their was ruled justified by the State’s Attorney’s Office car, and her friend got inside. Before Edwards and removed from the homicide tally. However, the could join her, a dark-colored SUV pulled into the State’s Attorney’s Office says it has not made a ruling on this case yet. As a result, there is a dis- block and the woman they had argued with earlier reportedly got out. The woman had a metal pipe crepancy between the number of 2009 homicides and started beating Edwards with it, then went recorded by this column and the number counted back to the car and got a gun. She shot Edwards, by the Baltimore Police Department. then turned to the friend in the car and shot her. The death of Roger Dennis has been added to the homicide rolls. Dennis was shot more than a She again shot at Edwards, who tried to run, but collapsed. The woman stood over Edwards after decade ago. On May 24, 1997, Dennis, an AfricanAmerican who was 13 years old at the time, was she fell and continued firing. During the shootstanding in the 1900 block of West North Avenue ing, a 27-year-old African-American woman, who was not involved in the dispute, was also shot. when a young man rode up on a bicycle, pulled out Edwards was dead by the time help arrived. The a gun, and shot the child twice—once in the chest other two women survived. and once in the spine. Dennis died 11 years later on Aug. 1, 2008. He was 25. His death was ruled a result of the 1997 shooting. As of press time, SUNDAY, MARCH 8 9:20 P.M. Police found Wayne Robinson, a 22-yearpolice could not explain why it took nine months for his death to be counted as a homicide. old African-American man, lying on the sidewalk There was also a police-involved shooting this in the 3400 block of East Baltimore Street. He week. On March 6, two officers from the Violent had been shot repeatedly and died at an area Crimes Impact Division were in the 2800 block of hospital 25 minutes later. This is the second West Garrison Avenue near Pimlico Racecourse murder in the Baltimore Highlands neighborhood working on a narcotics investigation. During the this week and the third this year. investigation, Shawn Cannady, a 30-year-old African-American man, and another man allegedly UPDATES got into a car and tried to run one of the officers Lewis Brock, a 27-year-old African-American man, down. The other officer fired his weapon, hitting has been charged with the March 1 stabbing at Cannady in the head. Cannady died at a local Kolper’s in the 1500 block of Clipper Road just hospital on March 8 at 9:20 P.M. The other man outside of Hampden. Nelson Gause, a 29-year-old African-American man, was at a party at the bar was questioned by police, but was not charged when he was stabbed in the chest. Another man with a crime. Police found narcotics in the car. ran after the assailant and was also stabbed, but Police would not release the name of the officer survived. Brock was taken into police who shot Cannady, but did reveal that custody that night. he had been on the force for less than WANT THE LATEST On March 2, a Baltimore City four years and had been involved in ON HOMICIDE Grand Jury indicted Lamont Harrell, two previous shootings, both of which ARRESTS AND a 24-year-old African-American man, were ruled justified by police. Cannady CONVICTIONS? is the fourth person fatally shot by the READ THE MURDER for the murder of Anthony Brown, a 20-year-old African-American man. police in just over two months. INK UPDATES AT Brown was shot on March 4, 2007, The name of the man shot to CITYPAPER.COM/ while sitting in a car in the 700 block death in the parking lot in front of GO/MURDERINK. of North Curley Street. According to Greenspring Overlook Apartments on police, Harrell’s DNA was found at Feb. 22 has been released. He was the scene. Harrell is already serving two life Raymond Williams, 21-year-old African-American sentences for the murders of Allen Coates, a man from Randallstown. 36-year-old African-American man, and Andre Jones, a 28-year-old African-American man. All FRIDAY, MARCH 6 three murders took place within two months. 9:39 P. M . Herbert Carsten Jr., a 17-year-old Eddy Castillo-Diaz, a 21-year-old Hispanic Caucasian male from Essex, was standing with man, was arrested on March 3 for the murder of a 15-year-old Caucasian male in the 100 block of Jose Escobar Peña, a 26-year-old Hispanic man. South Eaton Street, just north of Highlandtown. Peña was stabbed to death in the 3500 block of Someone approached and started shooting at Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown on Feb. 22. them. The 15-year-old was shot and taken to an On March 4, Troy Dukes, a 39-year-old Africanarea hospital in serious condition. Carsten was American man, was convicted of the murder of shot in the head and died at the hospital less Edward Jeter, a 28-year-old African-American than a hour later. Carsten is the seventh person man. Jeter was shot in the head on March 31, under 18 murdered this year. 2006. Dukes was sentenced to 50 years in prison. SATURDAY, MARCH 7 Donnell Johnson, a 35 -year- old African1:56 A.M. A group of women, including Sctario Tia American man, was convicted on March 6 of Edwards, a 25-year-old African-American, and her murdering Byron Dickey, a 28-year-old Africanfriend, a 26-year-old African-American woman, American man. Dickey got into an argument with were dancing at Coconuts Café, a lesbian bar Johnson in the 2100 block of Barclay Street. at 311 W. Madison St. in Mount Vernon. They Johnson pulled out a gun and Dickey ran. Johnson bumped into another woman on the dance floor chased Dickey for several blocks shooting at him and an argument erupted. The other woman left and striking him three times. ■ the club. At closing time, people started filing out
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MARCH 11, 2009
city paper | 11
NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH Patterson Park CDC files for bankruptcy, leaving the area’s future in question
BY ERIN SULLIVAN PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRANK KLEIN 12 | city paper
MARCH 11, 2009
IT’S AROUND 4 O’CLOCK on a February afternoon, and the 100 block of North Port Street is deserted save for a couple of cats yowling for attention. The wind blows candy wrappers and empty potato-chip bags around on the sidewalks, until they collect in the doorways of one of the vacant buildings that dot this particular block. 106 N. Port looks like it may have burned, based on the blackened-looking Formstone framing some of the windows and doors, all of which are covered with fresh sheets of plywood. 112 N. Port has been foreclosed—three stickers from Safeguard Properties are posted to the door. 117 bears a banner announcing that this is ANOTHER FINE CUSTOM HOME FROM JKM PROPERTIES, but a search in the city’s building-permits database shows that the last permit pulled to work on this house expired in December 2008. 129 N.
Port’s front door is now boarded up and stamped with a NO TRESPASSING , NO LOITERING warning. A breeze blows around some ratty curtains that hang in knots in the open upstairs windows. Jimmie Ray Oxendine is standing on the front steps of 105 N. Port, a Formstone-covered rowhouse he rents near the corner of East Fairmount Avenue. He points out which houses are rentals, which have been worked on recently, and which have been neglected for years. A handful, he says, are owned by absentee landlords who own multiple properties in the area and don’t do anything with them except collect the rent. Two, three, even four families (mostly LatinAmerican) crowd into some of these narrow single-family homes, paying rents as high as $1,800 per month. “Slumlords,” he says, are all over this neighborhood and things have only
been getting worse since the economy has plummeted. There are 40 properties on this block of North Port, according to the Maryland State Department of Assessment and Taxation, but only seven of them are owned by the people who actually live in them. The others are mostly owned by property developers, landlords, real-estate speculators. Records indicate, however, that nine of them belong to the Patterson Park Community Development Corporation (PPCDC), an ambitious nonprofit community revitalization and development organization that rehabbed and then rented or resold hundreds of properties in this part of East Baltimore. The view from Oxendine’s front steps is completely different than the view from the steps of any of the houses just one block south on Port,
where several years ago the PPCDC bought up as many of the decrepit buildings as it could and poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into them. It removed faded Formstone to reveal the handsome brick facades hidden beneath. It gutted interiors and installed gourmet kitchens, central air, gas fireplaces, and whirlpool tubs. It turned some of the narrow alley houses into 2,000-square-foot doublewides with state-ofthe-art kitchens, 20-foot ceilings, and floating fireplaces. These homes, redubbed the Palaces on Port Street, were priced at $400,000 and up. Instead of sheets of plywood and NO TRESPASSING signs, there are welcome mats and decorative planters on the first block of Port. The majority of the people who live here own their homes and many of them paid a tidy sum for them, but scattered between the higher-end homes
THE FIRST BLOCK OF NORTH PORT STREET (OPPOSITE PAGE), WHERE THE PATTERSON PARK CDC HAS REHABBED A NUMBER OF HOUSES; THE 100 BLOCK OF PORT STREET (ABOVE), WHERE PATTERSON PARK CDC OWNS HOUSES THAT IT HASN’T WORKED ON YET. are more modest houses—some appear rehabbed, others not. Blocks like this, according to Ed Rutkowski, founder and former executive director of the PPCDC, represent the organization’s greatest success. “The neighborhood is an amazing, stable mix of black, white, and brown,” Rutkowski says in an e-mailed response to questions about the PPCDC. “There aren’t many neighborhoods of this size in the entire country of which that can be said.” The Patterson Park Community Development Corporation, which is largely credited with
stabilizing and turning around the neighborhoods north of Patterson Park over the course of the past decade, declared bankruptcy last month. It cited the crumbling U.S. economy and the fact that one of its lenders, Bradford Federal Savings Bank, placed liens against some of the organization’s properties, putting its ability to pay back other creditors in jeopardy. Bradford Bank representatives did not return calls for this story. PPCDC’s bankruptcy means that the fate of these two blocks of North Port Street—and the many other nearby blocks where PPCDC owns
MARCH 11, 2009
city paper | 13
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