Antogonists get what they wish for….

I received a rather biting message about not posting from my favorite antagonist tonight. So here you go…

Who knew that my recent post about shopping and politics would be so fortuitous (but not in the happy way.) Let’s just say I was in the middle of a verrry important meeting when the most depressing email showed up in my inbox. What did it say? An announcement that my favorite shop is closing its doors January 31st. RIP Mary & Blanche! I sure I hope I don’t make any new friends who have awesome senses of humor because I have no place to buy them gifts. I hope I’m not rent-a-date to another white elephant party because where will I go? And by golly, where the heck am I going to go when I need to just find anything, last minute of course? But most of all, I think I’ll miss visiting the most…

As a downtown resident, I often found myself at Stevens Hardware to pick up whatever it was I needed. And now no more. While I wasn’t a regular patron of Madison Boutique or Plat du Jour, I often found myself walking through their doors to see if they had what I was looking for. My placemats came from Plat du Jour and my fabulous now-Pensacola girl got one of her favorite dresses from Madison Boutique. (And she looks damn good in it, too!) And both those stores are closing their doors.

I’m actually rather depressed. It’s the start of a new year, things are supposed to be good and happy. What does this mean about our town? We have shootings within city limits almost regularly now. We have a market house that well… we all know the status. And an old “Riordan’s” building that’s still closed.

My only hope is that things will quickly turn around, considering it’s an election year and all. And an election year with many vacant seats. In all honesty, this could be a most fascinating eleven months!

Instead of wallowing, I’m going to go watch Meredith Vieira on Rock Center. She’s interviewing one of JFK’s former flings. Quite scandalous. Could you imagine if such a scandal rocked City Hall…? Now THAT would definitely warrant a future post.

Midnight Madness… shopping and politics

Despite the fact that some folks consider this here blog a “news” source, we are actually a completely opinionated Web site that occasionally delves into local politics, City of Annapolis shenanigans, Annapolis rumors, and activities of the Annapolis Police Department. And tonight, we’re venturing out to a true passion- shopping!

I remember my first Midnight Madness quite memorably… had no idea what it was about and was invited to join my very-first-friend-in-Annapolis and her mother to check it out. I discovered Tin Can Allee, or something similar to that name, on the corner of West and Cathedral, that night. (that place was great) I’m not sure if it was the awesome company of the evening or the overall joy and excitement and genuine holiday spirit that filled the streets of Annapolis, but I knew after that night just how special and to some degree, magical, Annapolis truly is.

As a lover of downtown, a very seasoned shopper, a serious bargain hunter and someone who, even in their 30′s, has to take NyQuil on Christmas Eve because of my excitement for Santa’s visit, I live for events like this. My must-stop shops, always, are Mary & Blanche! and Lilac Bijoux. If you appreciate the humor in this blog, I can guarantee you’ll very much enjoy the crap (crap as in, best place to find a stocking stuffer or hostess gift for someone with a sense of humor) that Mary & Blanche! sells. And if you love fashion and sparkles and fun jewelry (or you have to buy a prezzy for someone who does) you can (usually) always find something on the tables at Lilac Bijoux. They also have some rad clothes, but until I return to the gym, I’ll stick to their jewelry. Both shops are on Main Street and both shop’s owners are all absolutely lovely people.

Since I can remember, I’ve maintained that Annapolis, and your opinion on the historic district, is usually based on your experience. No matter how delicious that $10 gourmet sandwich on goody bread (for an extra $2) is or how refreshing your $5 bottle of water is, if you don’t have a pleasant experience, you’re much less likely to return. Have to wait 30 minutes at a wine bar for a glass of water and be told they are “out of glasses”? Not really likely to buy another bottle, no matter how fabulous it sounds. Or if a business owner is your next door neighbor and is too good to speak (or even smile) to anyone on the block, you’re not going to support them. Because Annapolis is about the experience. And for many, it’s about the relationships built from your experience.

As a new reader recently wrote, “I like your clear, not-politically-correct approach” and the blog takes pride in calling it like it is, at least in our eyes. (it’s that whole totally subjective thing) So as one might imagine, our relationships are true and genuine. We obviously aren’t wearing Best Friends necklaces with City Council members, or married to the only Republican Alderman, but apparently someone out there is. And that relationship has clouded the city’s judgement, again, regarding Midnight Madness and the use of Market House. (And he’s planning on running for Mayor next year…)

Last night, I started writing this post with the intention of it being all about shopping. And then found this article. I was SHOCKED. And then pissed. And now just downright disappointed. On so many levels. Disappointed that the City of Annapolis completely contradicts themselves and can’t even follow their own policies… the exact policies they so easily and quickly spout when asked a question. (Their law requires licenses for these events, which have to be approved by City Council.) They don’t play fair, ever. Disappointed that Mike Malinoff would make such a jackass comment. (What professional goes on the record with the media and says, “if so and so wanted it, he could have had it” like a 5 year old) Disappointed that the Market House is not being made available to any community group. Disappointed that the City of Annapolis obviously doesn’t think that maybe these craft fair type vendors would be competing with our local merchants who are part of downtown 365 days a year and pay taxes so they can operate. Disappointed that again, the City continues to display signs of an “old boys network.” And disappointed with some of the reactions shared at the end of the article. And to SafetyFirst, the individual who wrote, “This is just one of the many reasons I who am a long time resident of this city will not spend a penny on any business downtown” … it is because of people like you that one of the true landmark businesses of downtown is closing their doors.

And a simple disclaimer before people jump all over me, please know that my grandmother died of breast cancer. I work in women’s health. And I’m involved in a lot of charity work, and have been for over half my life. I get it.

So, much like the overall debacle of Market House, the City of Annapolis government again displays signs of total incompetency. I have no doubt tonight’s Midnight Madness will be an amazing evening full of energy, excitement, good will and holiday spirit. I’m excited to see this magical town decorated for the holidays, the sidewalks packed and many familiar faces on the streets. I’m not too excited about spending money, but I will. Not at the Market House, of course, but for no other reason than to show my support for my town. And I hope each of you do as well! Who knows, you just may see or hear something seriously Annapolis Chatter worthy…

Returning to City Council Meetings…

I returned to the halls of 160 Duke of Gloucester tonight for a few things. One, some (big and exciting) things are happening and I need to get back in to the groove, fast! Two, there was a presentation for the new and improved City Dock. Three, some shenanigans going on by my favorite Ward Four Alderman regarding the hiring of high ranking public officials on the agenda. And four, and perhaps the most important, I haven’t blogged this month so I needed something to write about.

Being the second child in my family, let’s start with reason #2: the presentation for an “improved” Annapolis City Dock. A few weeks ago, I received an email asking me to sign a petition. Its sender was CONNECTAnnapolis, a group of community-minded citizens who advocate for a  more cohesive community, through a greater pedestrian and eco-friendly environment in our city. And of course one of the driving forces behind this group is my favorite, @zignatures. The plea had four calls to action: sign the petition; speak at City Council; reserve a green balloon; and/or post on Facebook.

My two take-aways from the email: before the City Council meeting, they were meeting in Eastport. Now don’t get me wrong, I will forever be in love with Eastport. And I’m certainly appreciative that they weren’t gathering at the most phony “pro-Annapolis” establishment in town, but I do find it rather ironic. Because after all, they probably decided against meeting downtown because of the lack of parking. (Let’s just keep things real here.) My other favorite part was the call to reserve a balloon. Yes, a balloon. You can imagine my excitement when I read this! After all, nothing says eco-friendly like a balloon, right? Please tell me someone else finds the humor (and hypocrisy) in this? So when I showed up, I may have peed my pants in excitement (just a wee bit) when I saw all the balloons, full of HELIUM! Yup, that chemical element that we are in shortage of. And THEN, to put the cherry on top, they left their big over sized bags behind… didn’t even so much as throw them away or put ‘em in the recycling bins right outside chamber doors. I of course texted my truly green friend who taught me about those who “greenwash” and homegirl didn’t believe me. As I told her, I wish I was creative enough to make this stuff up. So kudos to you, CONNECTAnnapolis, for holding true to your mission. If you read anything I wrote, you’d know I was clearly supportive of the compromise garage, the one that your head-leader-in-charge pretty much single-handedly put the kabash on.

Reason #3 I attended the meeting tonight, well, it was postponed. I’m wondering if my bff Sheila is stuffing more things up her sleeves.

But I did sit through a rather interesting discussion regarding the Office of Elections, or lack thereof. Needless to say, the proposal to rent a space for this use was also postponed. I’m not exactly sure what kind of space they need, but I’m fairly certain I could find them something for less than $40k a year. Nor am I entirely sure how the City vs County thing works for elections, but that may be a fact finding mission for another day. Or not. I CAN tell you, however, that one individual has filed paperwork to run in the next election. The City Attorney didn’t specify the position, nor the individual, but I can only guess! After all, I have heard quite a lot of Chatter about different individuals who have their eye on the Ward One seat. And even the Mayor’s (corner) office…

“I would rather undergo a…”

“I would rather undergo a vasectomy via Weed Whacker than attend an opera,” wrote one of my favorite comedians, Dave Barry. Thank goodness I’m not in the market for a vasectomy. I am, however, in the market for a new form of entertainment. So I’m putting on my depends and attending the Annapolis Opera’s performance of Aida this Saturday night. I know you’re all thinking that I’m too young to attend the opera, but I figured that if this form of live entertainment has been around for as long as it has, than it can’t be that bad, right? I’ll let you know next week (or next year if I continue to blog at my current speed.)

But really, I follow a lot of weird trends and I’ve noticed “younger” folks attending more arts focused events over the last few years. And I heard a rumor that the Annapolis Opera is hoping to soon start a club for young people, so I want to get in on the action while I can. Plus, I need to start broadening my horizons, getting out more, and being more involved in ALL of Annapolis. Details on that to follow at a later date.

So here’s what I do know. The fine folks over at Eye on Annapolis wrote a piece about it here highlighting 3 things you probably never knew. Annapolis has had its own opera for 40 years and this year marks the 30th year of the music director. In February, Little Red Riding Hood will come to life, complete with some young, cute kids. And then if I haven’t been turned off, I’ll try and hit performances in March and April.

If you aren’t able to attend, I heard that someone will be live tweeting Aida. If I can get my stuff together, I’ll tweet (and Facebook) as well… but can’t promise it will be about the opera though. My ADD may kick in if one of our fine city council members, or mayor, are in attendance. I’ll be sure to make note of their fashion choices, especially any elected official that is in favor of hiring a decorator to come to City Hall to pick out paint chips. You think I’m kidding? Then you didn’t read this.

I’m hoping that after Saturday, I’ll have plenty of material to blog about. Both the performance and who and what I see. And I’m hoping you’ll join me, and if nothing else, provide me with future content for this here blog…

No sir (or ma’am.) I will not walk.

Parking is perhaps the number one complaint in this town. And as I listen to different sides,  I start to really wonder just how lazy are we? Don’t get me wrong, I drive to City Hall for City Council meetings and I live maybe a quarter mile away.

This past weekend, I watched people over and over park illegally near the downtown playground, get out and take children across the street to play. Parents complained about children not getting enough exercise over and over at the marathon meeting. Parents talked about the playground being a neighborhood gathering place. I wonder if these are  the parents that signed the Save The Playground petition. They don’t want a parking garage, but they think it’s okay to park illegally so they don’t have to walk? I hope others see the irony.

Last night at City Council, the point was made again that people don’t like to walk.

First, it’s important to understand there’s currently a “moratorium” on events that occur in Downtown Annapolis. That being said, every event that wishes to use City property at City Dock or close roads, must get City Council approval. And the City is a ‘lil behind on permits for such events. (They are now just approving May and June events.) One event on the docket last night was the concert series by the Naval Academy Band.

A nice Chief all decked out in khakis was present to testify. He pleaded with City Council for them not to take away their reserved parking during these events. His argument – some of the instruments are really heavy and essentially, too heavy to carry.

The United States Naval Academy recently spent a pretty penny to build an entrance that is essentially spitting distance to City Dock. You know, the one right there on Prince George and Craig St. by Gibson’s Lodging. Last time I checked on Google Maps, there is ample parking inside the gates of the Naval Academy. And because each member is a member of the United States Navy, they have access to this (free) parking. Most organizations that use City property do not have this privilege. I understand that they don’t necessarily want to carry some of the heavier instruments, but when I want don’t want to carry heavy items long distances, I drop off said heavy items and then go park. Is that asking too much? And if they’re concerned with someone stealing, they can have someone watch it. But I’m not sure how easy stealing a tuba would actually be.

Additionally, at the end of the day, they are members of the United States Navy. I get that they’re musicians and I appreciate that they offer entertainment for folks to enjoy. But the mission of the United States Navy is “to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.”  I really hope they’re never called to combat because if they cannot carry a musical instrument a few hundred feet, I’m not confident they could carry a fellow service member from danger.

And sadly, not a single member of City Council asked that question last night. I’m trying to figure it out… who gets to host events down at City Dock and who doesn’t. Who does City Council question and who do they not? Other events on the docket were:

  • APD 1-Mile Challenge, May 19. No one from APD was present to testify. A few questions were asked about road closures but sadly no doughnut references were made.
  • Greek Festival, May 27. No one was present but the event organizer is a heavy hitter in the City. No questions were asked.
  • Zooma, June 2. No one was present and the organization’s Executive Director lives down the road in Arlington. Quite a few questions were asked.
  • Corvettes on the Bay, June 16. They had about 10 people present and they stayed until the vote. They were questioned quite a bit.
  • USNA Band Concerts, July 24, July 31, Aug. 7, Aug. 14. Just the Chief and he dipped out after he testified. No questions asked.

I’m thinking Annapolis Chatter should host a big Local Gossip Festival at City Dock. We could charge one secret per adult and one parking solution suggestion per child. Attendees won’t be allowed to take the Circulator and we’d encourage attendees to park as close as possible. We’ll need to have all the parking spaces reserved, too. How many questions do you think would be asked? Who’s in?

Why TriRock and other future events will inevitably fail in Annapolis. What say you?

If you read my post taking on the Ward One Resident Association, you know I was supportive of TriRock Annapolis. And I really wanted them to get it right. I wanted the City of Annapolis, the government and the citizens, to see the good in this type of event – I want us to really understand the potential we have to host some kick bootie events. I wanted the organizers to prove they could make good on their promises. And I wanted the downtown Annapolis businesses to profit from this. I’m not associated with any of the above mentioned so I had absolutely nothing to gain, but gosh I wanted it to work!

The main concern among folks was the disruption to traffic and street closures. And so the City sent out an email Thursday afternoon with all the information included. I’ve copied and pasted it here. It clearly states that Prince George St. between Randall and Maryland Ave. will be for residents only, from 2p Friday to 6p Saturday, assuming to accommodate the streets that were closed and cleared. On Friday at 4:45p, no signs had been posted. When I called the City’s office right before 5, (4.58 to be exact) I was very pleasantly surprised that the phone was answered. I figured Friday afternoon, they’d surely be gone. The City employee was quite irritated with my news, but I was shocked when I was told she hadn’t been downtown yet. As the Special Projects Coordinator, you’d think she would have at least been on-site for five minutes considering all the tension and animosity surrounding TriRock.

The signs went up but they only made it less than half way up Prince George St., not even to East St. If there are no signs, non residents will park. And they’ll have a valid argument. I know the parking enforcers work hard… or so many people wouldn’t complain about getting tickets. But somewhere there’s a disconnect.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. Folks didn’t get the memo about no parking and the tow trucks were out at 5a doing their job, clearing the streets and serving as an unsolicited alarm clock at 5:30a on a Saturday for your’s truly. So I decided to capitalize and take a drive through town before roads closed. Where were the competitors parking? Up at the top of West Street? Nope. On Prince George in residents only, King George, and in the Hillman Garage. (Towne Park had employees in that booth at 6a!) I stopped one athlete and asked where the organization told him to park. His response, “wherever we could find a spot or in one of the two garages.” I kid you not. My heart sank.

I sat quietly observing outside the Donner Lot (where the Farmer’s Market takes place) that I assume TriRock paid for. It was half empty and I saw a few spectators with out of state plates pull in to park. I was ecstatic to see the Circulator go by. And then a volunteer drove by and stopped to ask the Police Officer directing traffic asking where the volunteer parking was. She kindly showed me her notice saying there were two places for them to park- an address on Compromise or the Gott’s Garage for $10, which would be reimbursed. Again, pure disappointment. Park Place and Knighton are $5 and the Circulator is free! Create a situation that puts people on the Circulator and make it part of the Annapolis experience. First-hand experience is an excellent marketing opportunity. And  it would have saved the Competitor Group money. But I guess the folks out in San Diego don’t care about that? Maybe this is part of why WORA butt heads with them? Did the City of Annapolis work with the Competitor Group to educate them about the options?

All these thoughts ran through my mind. And then, my personal favorite. A little blue car drove up Prince George in the opposite direction of traffic. The driver was sporting a TriRock jacket and fit all stereotypes of San Diego. He was clearly part of the organization. And he wanted to proceed down the bottom half of Prince George, empty of all cars, and closed to all traffic for the event that he was part of. Oh- and the race had started and bikes were racing full speed down the road. The police officer told him no way was he going down that road. Points for the APD. I was shocked at what seemed to be total arrogance on TriRock’s part that they could violate the law and more importantly, put their racers’ safety in jeopardy.

But TriRock did patronize the businesses on the closed streets. They purchased Sugar Buns from Sugar Buns in the Kitchen and they bought crepes from Sofi’s. And both businesses were extremely busy that morning. They followed through on their promises. People were walking with their plants from the HAF Annual Plant Sale, so it didn’t prohibit the fundraiser.

People came to town. Some stayed and some made a weekend of it. It brought the downtown residents out to the streets. It was fun to watch and its overall impact on the traffic and streets was significantly less than commissioning week and boat show.

We see the potential for Annapolis to be a great location for big time events, but it can never happen until the City gets it together, the residents are kosher with outsiders bringing their money to our town and understand that their lives aren’t really inconvenienced, and the outside organizers can work on their arrogance. And that’s where AnnapolisChatter stands. If you have an opinion, please feel free to contact us or post below!

Best title for this post wins a cool prize

When the folks from Hollywood took over State Circle yesterday, I found myself asking new questions. I think it’s great for the City of Annapolis for this type of exposure. It’s a great source of income for the City, but like everything else, it comes at a price to the citizens. Is it going to deter folks from coming downtown? Or is it going to bring down gawkers? I’m hoping for the latter… and that they come with full wallets.

But I wonder. Does the City have an obligation to let people know? We’ve been given announcement after announcement about the road closures for the TriRock Annapolis tomorrow, which closes streets for six hours. Not days. The City stated it’s up to the organizers, and not the City, to inform the residents. (I thought the City had three public information officers on staff?) This information was distributed in this letter, but Bishop Varney Productions’ distribution didn’t expand very far. (Don’t bother Googling them, they don’t have a website and the address they’re operating out of appears to be recently rented.) The City also stated that all streets are functional for normal use. This picture taken on North Street proves otherwise. Sorry. Additionally, a not-so-polite Annapolis Police Department Officer sat in his car blocking State Circle. (I would have snapped a picture but I’m pretty sure that would NOT have gone so well.)

Park up on West Street and take the Circulator down to avoid the closed roads. You should have plenty of opportunity to see the action and I hear they’ll be out late tonight. Also heard on the streets:

*Sadly, Dame Judi Dench will not be coming to Annapolis.
*They might be filming a scene inside a restaurant up near that area… and it may be shot sometime between Tuesday and Thursday next week.
*It is rumored that the out-of-towners are staying close to downtown in a hotel.

If nothing else, walk by Johnson’s on the Avenue and peer in the window. They totally transformed the inside of the building. Maybe the owners will consider actually renting it after this. (another post to follow about that) Thankfully they didn’t change anything on the outside, or I would have wondered if the HPC had approved it. There’s a lot inside that building… and I hope that the nice people from Hollywood will consider donating it to our community when they pack up and leave town. I’m sure the Lighthouse Shelter, the FoodLink, the Food Bank, or any of the other community organizations, would very much appreciate the generosity. If you’re going to close down parts of our City, please be open to helping out those in need. And Sam, Olivia and Michelle, if you don’t have big plans to leave town for the weekend, you can still buy a ticket to Saturday’s Rock & Roast, benefiting Box of Rain, at the Maritime Museum in Eastport. They’re a great organization that throws a heck of a party and will give you a taste of what Annapolis is like. I may know someone that can sell you a ticket…

A whole heck of a lot of tidbits.

Last week’s Annapolis City Council meeting ran until 3:30 am. There were quite a few hot topics on the docket and a whole heck of a lot of people came out to speak. A great civics lesson for sure. It’s really encouraging to live in a town where so many people are active, concerned and involved in local government.

As you can imagine- there was a TON discussed. In short, the Council voted yes to the MOU for the garage. I’ve read pieces of Stelzig (he heads up the Save the Playground campaign) threatening legal action to stop the garage if necessary. My google research shows that Stelzig is a PR dude. Wonder if he offered his services for free to Cohen’s reelection campaign next go round in exchange for Cohen changing his vote to no? (Note: these are just questions I ask myself- I have no idea if it’s true.) If you’re part of the Twittersphere, (you should follow us) you may have seen Stelzig referenced as a word ninja. No description could be more accurate. The guy is good… but he still hasn’t convinced the Chatter that the garage should not be built. We’ve kept our ears open and eyes peeled and found out some VERY interesting things about the WORA, the HPC, the HAF, and so on. Another post to follow.

Like many, the Chatter is totally fascinated by this debate and will continue to watch as the drama unfolds. In fact, we received a message from another extremely successful PR genius from inside the Beltway, whom we really admire, that said, “The parking garage is going to make Annapolis more crowded and a more crowded Annapolis makes a more nasty Annapolis and is bad for returning tourism. Also, the parents are the big taxpayers.” I often don’t disagree with this guru since he’s usually spot on and pretty freakin’ smart, but I look forward to explaining all the moving parts of why the garage is actually good, and necessary, long term for the City of Annapolis. That’s how much we support the project.

Council also voted to allow TriRock to happen. And a few days later, a nice little piece arrived on the door telling us to be aware and plan ahead. It’s far more noticeable and informative than any other road closure notice I’ve ever received. The only problem- there are a lot of rental turnovers happening this month so the suckers moving in May 1 don’t know – Welcome to Annapolis!

The last topic of discussion at City Council was testimony about rezoning the the old Fawcett’s building right there at the water. Looks like something was done back in July 2011 so I’m a bit unclear why it’s happening again. Nonetheless, this was very interesting on many, many levels. (Again, another post to follow.) I wonder what tax breaks the building owners received while it has been zoned for maritime use only. This “article,” although not dated, implies that a chain restaurant (Ignite Restaurant Group?) wants to rent the building. We know that a prominent business man in town was approached by Hooters to help facilitate a move to downtown. Only a big chain would be able to afford the rent and make the necessary changes to convert it to a restaurant. Is this what we want? Agree wholeheartedly that something needs to go there, but ask the building owners what they’d charge for rent and then tell us who could afford it.

We also received a message about some discussion over at the mall. Folks inside the trenches were talking about Hooters actually coming to the Westfield Shopping Center. And a Four Season’s Grille (part of Monte Development Restaurant Group) going in where Austin Grille once was. Again, the Chatter is purely subjective news (and gossip in its true form) and we haven’t been able to validate any of these claims. (Because let’s be honest, who really talks to a blogger?) BUT we also heard little whispers from a seriously legitimate source of a restaurant going where Hell Point used to be…

And lastly, we wanted to share something with you. Yesterday, Eye on Annapolis posted a piece about all the things happening this weekend. EoA is an incredible source for information but they did forget one very special and meaningful event. About a month ago we strayed from the gossip in this post. In a beautiful mass yesterday, we said our final goodbyes to a very brave child who fought the most incredible fight. His courage made the front of the Capital and the Patch wrote this piece. He was an amazing child. I hope you’ll join the Aleph Bet Jewish Day School on Sunday, May 6th for their 5k Fun Run/Walk – RUN FOR JOEY – that will benefit the Sudo family. If you can’t participate, please consider a Trail Marker encouraging runners that will later be given to the family. It’s the cost of a decent dinner out in town.

A Jewish school helping out a Catholic family – sounds like the start of a bad joke. But the two are connected via one community organization- the Junior League of Annapolis. In my recent post about the organization, I stated that I feel like I got more out of my involvement than they did out of me. This is one of the lessons- both Joey’s mother and a race organizer are not just members, but also my friends. You can register here for the race.

So unlike all of us and the children of our community, Joey won’t get a chance to play on the downtown playground, whether it remains in its current location, gets rebuilt or gets moved. But Sunday we can come together as a community with our differences aside, and run (or walk) for a child who I know is running with us up above. Who knows, you may just hear some great chatter along the trail…

Pearls and white gloves.

After last week’s post about the proposed TriRock Annapolis, I wanted to check out the traffic around town. I left my house a bit before 10 am Saturday and made my way around (down)town. It was relatively quiet… just as it typically is. Such observations were total self validation.

During this little adventure, I made another interesting observation – the number of charitable events promoted was crazy! For a city of less than 40k, Annapolitans sure are involved. One event I saw really caught my eye – a dress up party put on by the Junior League, this Friday (April 20) at the Marriott Waterfront. The Junior League in Annapolis… what do they do? Are they the home makin’ women in white gloves and pearls creating important policies such as the Home Help Sanitation Initiative like the women from The Help? Okay, extreme example, but just trying to get my point across.

I went looking around these here interwebs for more info and I stumbled across this very interesting article, This Isn’t Your Mother’s Junior League as well as this one in Forbes, In a Different (Junior) League. So no, they aren’t the same “types” that they once were but it appears the work still is. Their mission is stated as such: …an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. Locally, they are an organization of over 300 women who donate over 10,000 hours to the community each year. I must say, pretty impressive numbers so why don’t we know more?

It’s a group of women who volunteer, (where?) develop women, (huh?) and improve the community (how?). In most major metropolitan areas, the Junior League has a presence. In our town, I see their cookbooks around town, (they’re actually really good) but that’s about it. To answer my questions, I had to dig a little further… and it wasn’t so easy because their website is extremely text heavy, and rather boring and dry. (Sorry, ladies.)

After demonstrating patience (not my forte) I came up with the following:

  • They are involved in A LOT of different projects.
  • They donate and deliver 1,000 bookbags, totally filled, to Anne Arundel County Schools.
  • They provide meals (manpower and product) at Lighthouse Shelter and Sarah’s House for those struggling.
  • They do “stuff” about children’s obesity.
  • They give money away to other organizations.
  • They partner with just about every social service like county agency.
  • And this article says they delivered coats and winter clothing to those in need, provided lunch and gave Christmas presents to foster care children, and donated activity kits to the pediatric unit at the hospital.

(There was a lot more, but I’m limited and need to keep my readers’ interest.) That answers the question of where they volunteer and how they improve the community. They obviously don’t do much in terms of self promotion.

But developing women- what in the world? Their website emphasizes training. And with all that they do, I’d imagine there’s a lot of opportunity for leadership. The women in Atlanta do a good job explaining their training here. I guess you learn by doing. There’s an elected Board, there are committees, there’s voting, there’s financial management… that’s a lot for a volunteer group of all chics who also work and/or take care of their families. So basically, it’s like running a company. And you work with women with a diverse skill set who exceed in different fields. Looks like they take new members each summer so if there are any female tech-savvy types out there, redoing their website would be a great resume booster I bet.

And like any other community service group, the projects cannot be done without money. So these women put on these fancy fundraisers (and apparently a Fun Run, Bar Crawl and Pig & Oyster Roast, too) to raise the money to do so.

So if you’re not partying with Katy Perry over at the Naval Academy Friday night, you can buy your tickets to Moonlight Masquerade here. Mo’town band Uncle Jack Band will be playing, Painkillers will be flowing (it’s open bar- hello!) and restaurants (Wild Orchid, Chart House, Rockfish, Carrol’s Creek to name a few) will be sampling their deliciousness. And I hear La Belle Cezzane donated some serious glitter for a $20 raffle. Get dressed up to party on a Friday night for a good cause? Yes, please! Maybe I’ll incorporate pearls and white gloves in my outfit after all….

To Ward One Whiners, I’m rolling up my sleeves.

If you’ve read through some previous posts (or follow us on Twitter) you’re probably aware that the Chatter very much enjoyed the chicken referendum discussions at City Hall. This past Monday, City Council voted to allow domestic chickens in the City of Annapolis. We attended City Council to see the chicken vote occur, but we ended up seeing so much more!

We witnessed the Ward One Resident’s Association (WORA) in action oppposing another issue, the TriRock Annapolis event. I left that meeting with a few choice words racing through my mind for Joe Budge of Randall Court, President of the WORA. As covered by the Patch in this article, you can read some of what he had to say regarding the event on May 12 in downtown Annapolis. But it was worse than that! (He also complained that the noise woke residents up. Hey Joe- the Midshipmen wake residents up right before midnight on a WEEKNIGHT on a regular basis when they’re out drinking. And we have annual races like the Annapolis Ten Miler, but I don’t hear complaints about any of that.)

A lil bit of info: TriRock is produced by a group from San Diego that also publishes four magazines. (Read: they’re “outsiders” and they are for profit.) They are doing this event in the following cities: New York, San Diego, Seattle, Austin, Clearwater (FL) and Annapolis.

When magazines produce events, they publicize the bejeepers out of them to their readers. That’s four national magazines who have seen the city of Annapolis alongside New York, Seattle, Austin, and San Diego. I’m sure we’re all bright enough to realize that our city of less than 40k residents (Clearwater has a population over 100k) isn’t exactly the booming metropolis that other cities are. But there we are, running with the big dogs.

So this opposition by the “citizens” sent me on a little mission of my own – why not talk to the people that live and operate businesses along the route of said proposed triathlon? I respect that Joe Budge represents the Association, but he doesn’t live in an area that’s (directly) affected by the event. And he hadn’t talked to the folks who live on the streets that  would close for the event. In fact, Randall Court isn’t even part of the Residential Parking areas downtown.

The residents and business owners I spoke with were all unanimous in saying they didn’t mind the TriRock. They weren’t jumping up and down with joy, but they didn’t mind it. Only one expressed concern over potential lost business but said the folks at TriRock were ordering 300 of her signature treats for the event. One business owner said they WANT TriRock because it’s great exposure for potential returns. This business owner also indicated that they had received a letter from the Association inviting them to a discussion opposing TriRock. They respectfully declined the invitation as they have no problem. And one resident doesn’t even really remember the event last year – that’s how unaffected they were by it. (And this person’s road was closed and they had to move their car for it, but no big deal.)

Yes, you’ll always have one or two people upset. That’s just the reality of life. Fine. But let’s take a step back Joe Budge, Mayor Cohen and Aldermen, and look at what I think is the bigger picture.

Consider this – people have registered for this event. In fact, only yesterday, they posted this on their Facebook page: TriRock Annapolis is getting ready to sell out. Only 100 spots left. Get your registration in ASAP! And if you’re not racing, consider volunteering as part of our race crew.

What would it say about the City to these people if they had to cancel because the fine folks at WORA got their panties in a bunch? Great PR for the City of Annapolis. I understand that perhaps the TriRock people maybe should have secured their permits sooner, but from my understanding, the City is only issuing event permits one month out from the event.

TriRock reports an estimated economic impact of over $700,000 dollars last year to our community, in its first year. Over 500 hotel rooms were booked and over 75% of participants were from out of the market. And while our city is on a downward spiral, the people of this town are telling the City Council we don’t want outside money. ? They’re saying to this company, we don’t want you and your national sponsors like Land Rover, and your followers, and outside people in general, in our community, spending money. I’m not the most business and financially savvy person around, but it just doesn’t make that much sense. Especially considering it’s one single morning, before the tourist season is in full swing, and it only lasts for a few hours and is over by 1pm. I live downtown. I know it’s empty on a regular Saturday morning before noon/1pm. And so does everyone else.

If you’d like to express your opinion, please consider writing the City (the Mayor at Mayor@annapolis.gov or any member of City Council) and let them know how you feel. Good or bad… but we as a community cannot allow the Ward One Whiners to control our government.

Mr. Mayor, let TriRock happen this year. Be creative with how you handle some of the logistics. Utilize upper West Street. Use that darn Circulator to address the parking issue. Encourage TriRock competitors to stay Saturday night and attend the Rock and Roast charity event  benefiting the Box of Rain. Think smarter, not harder! And if they really are horrible neighbors and it’s an absolute disaster, tell them on May 13th that they are not welcomed back for 2013. And that will be the end of TriRock Annapolis.

And to folks out in San Diego who are putting this thing on, if the city denies your permit, I’m sure the people on the Eastern Shore in Talbot County would welcome you, your money, your customers, and the exposure, with open arms! My brief research tells me they don’t have a Ward One Residents Association.