Annapolis Market House … skimming the political surface

Election season is quickly approaching, which means Joshy-boy has been more active on the social media front. Something tells me it’s at the encouragement of his campaign manager. Last week, the Mayor posted a pic on Facebook along with “Trying out new, more vibrant colors on the Market House. What do you think?” He also posted a pic of construction, “Ricardo and Francisco breaking ground today to lay new pipes and electric for the new Amsterdam Falafelshop in the Market House!” We asked if this was the only vendor requiring work but he didn’t respond. We think his campaign manager needs to tell him about Instagram.

Anyhow, things seem to be moving along with the Market House, which is great news. I don’t think anyone will disagree with that. And if JoCo wants to keep his prime parking spot in the Hillman garage, he better darn well get that thing opened before we head to the polls in November. He knows that. His camp knows that. And I think collectively, the City wants (and needs) that.

But at what cost? We got this email from the guy who’s heading up the Market House contracts, and who also happens to be a part owner of the Falafel franchise group, but that’s a whole different subject. This was attached to his email. Personally, I’m not in love with the colors or design. But I also get that Sally is the resident-artist-contractor for the City of Annapolis, so she’s gonna get the work either way. And the opposition to the proposal will only really delay the process… so how does that really benefit anyone? Her argument, however, is a little off-base:

Are we supposed to expect quality vendors to risk their livelihoods while not allowing them to advertise and compete in today’s marketplace? These businesses will not survive if their potential customers can’t even tell that MH is open. Who knows how long before it sits vacant again.

Maybe Sally and Chuck didn’t do their homework, but the folks who are opening shop in the Market House have quite a few other business ventures that put food on their tables, a roof over their head, and clothes on their back. Have you seen those HB Properties sign around town? The seafood and oyster bar, the coffee, the corned beef – yes. Ten bucks says their to-go bags will say “Land and Sea.” The falafel stand – we already covered that. Not sure about the organic market, but they have a place in Severna Park that must be doing okay that they’re able to afford the space in the Market House. And the gelato people… well… they’ve obviously survived since they were last around town. So if you’re going to try and get people to support you, be honest and upfront. Please.

So next week on the 14th, they’ll have the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) Public Hearing. Attend if you’d like. Or attend to watch what could be a great show! It’ll be a genuine display of small-town politics as it’s literally the day after the new Ward 1 Alderman, Joe Budge, gets sworn in. His wife is head of the HPC. All the articles say that Mr. Budge wants the Market House open. I know that Ms. Kennedy also shares that same vision. But I’ve also seen her testify at City Council meetings regarding the integrity of the HPC. Given the amount of work Art at Large has already done in the City, I sure hope they’ve done their homework and don’t make complete donkey-hiney’s of themselves. This should be interesting…

Hate to love the (APD) PoPo Part I.

If you follow this here small town, Annapolis gossip blog on Facebook, you may have noticed a picture we snapped of post-altercation-activity in the lobby of Mariner Bay at the Towne Center the other day. The text we uploaded with the picture referenced the Anne Arundel County Police not being as cool as the APD.

As a friend and I were leaving dinner, we drove past a fight in the lobby of Mariner Bay. Naturally, we stopped to gawk – and we weren’t the only ones. There was a couple filming it so we asked what was going on. They just stared at us. (We believe that if you’re going to film a fight, you’re probably the type that would talk about it, too, but apparently not?) But I digress. We were able to decipher that a 50 something year old man was fighting with an early 30 something year old man after one of them called the other a few colorful names. I wish I could make this up. To add to the chaos, every tenant was trying to take their dog for their night walk. I thought we had a lot of dogs downtown… we got nothin’ on this apartment complex!

And then three County cop cars showed up. We took it as our cue to move, so we circled around to leave the Towne Center and figured we’d get a pic on the way out. Not so much. I will be the first to say I’m not completely up to date on the laws of photographing random activity, but I do know that my cell phone camera gravitates toward police activity. And never once have I been yelled at while being directed to move along. So it begs the question, are you allowed to legally film police activity? I wanted to tell the cops that my hobby was writing a gossip blog so I needed this information. But it reminded me just how great the APD is.

Yes, we love to make fun of them. On the blog. On Facebook. To their faces. But we appreciate what they do… and although sometimes they can be a bit slow responding to things (thank goodness we don’t have real emergencies that often) we appreciate that they  (usually) show respect to the citizens. And we appreciate that they are trying to engage us and keep us informed via their Facebook page or through myAnnapolis, an email information service. So we hope they are able to find the jerk that sexually assaulted the young lady this weekend and increase their presence in the neighborhoods being burglarized.

If they keep up the good work, we may just have to throw a party for them. Complete with lots of donuts. Of course.

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?

Would the real Gil and Jen please stand up?

If you’re a Fan of the Chatter on Facebook, you may have noticed a status update about comments on the blog criticizing the recent post about the Junior League’s upcoming fundraiser. The comments were deleted and I sent both an email explaining why, only to have both emails returned because the addresses left were invalid. So to you Gil and Jen… if you’re going to voice your opinion, stand behind it. Own it.

The comments left directly called me out about my involvement in the organization. Yes, I am an inactive member of the organization. Over the years, I dedicated a lot of my time, talent and treasure to the organization and in return, the organization taught me A LOT of great lessons… too many to list… but something I will always be appreciative of. I feel like I got much more out of my involvement than they got out of me.

My decision to write that post with third-party references was intentional. I try to write each post as if I’m not involved. It’s the blog… that’s its “thang” if you will. I leave my personal information out because I don’t think it’s necessary. If you know me in real life, you know that I shamelessly tell people to read my blog. But who I am and what I do is irrelevant.

I do not get paid to write this. I don’t get anything for spending five hours at City Hall. You may be wondering why I do this then? I’ll tell you – it’s a great learning tool. I started the blog to teach myself how to blog- and I needed something that people may read so I can watch the traffic. It’s clearly that simple. And I get to write- something I genuinely love to do but need serious improvement on. I’m not artsy or creative or clever, and no one wants to read about my rather boring life, so I had to find a topic that people might enjoy reading. And as I state in the About section of the blog, I love Annapolis. So why not write about this great town, but from a different angle? I also clearly state that the Chatter isn’t a news source. It’s a gossip site in its most simple form.

If you don’t agree with what I write, great! That’s one of the objectives of the blog- to get people talking. To be informed and involved in what’s going on. And to be entertained. I like humor… and while mine may be warped at times, I hope you’ve found yourself chuckling once or twice when you visit AnnapolisChatter.

So there you have it Gil and Jen. While you may think what I do is “kinda lame,” I thank you for challenging my convictions. You clearly know me and don’t like me, so please, don’t waste your time reading what I have to say. And if you’re going to criticize the fact I don’t disclose who I am, please don’t be a hypocrite and do the exact same thing.

Until then, you can find me tonight at the Marriott downtown supporting The Junior League of Annapolis at their fundraiser, Moonlight Masquerade. My friends involved told me about some of the auction and raffle items available… diamond necklace donated by La Belle Cezanne, platinum diamond ring with a sapphire, baby stuff, jewelry, salon services, activities, restaurant gift certificates, trips to Cali, Orioles-Red Sox tickets (with booze included) with a hotel stay in Baltimore, and so much more. I’ll be the one in pearls and white gloves with an empty bank account. At least I put my money where my mouth is…

SIDE NOTE: Right after the comments were left, my girl over at theblondeside.com (hysterical sports site worth visiting) led me to this great piece in the Huff Post written by the girls who started the wallpaper app, Paper’d. I thought the timing was rather interesting.

The DoDP and the APD. Love to hate the PoPo Part I.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was driving over the Naval Academy Bridge. And right at the top, homeboy runs out of gas. (Despite this oversight, he is actually quite successful in his career, mentors young people and gives great advice. Perhaps this is his way of living on the edge. I don’t know.)

I was in the shower when he rang, so he had to wait a few extra minutes while I tracked down a gas can and put some clothes on. And in those 20-30 minutes, five DoD police and two APD cars drove by. Six cabs and countless citizens. Not a single person stopped to see if he was okay. (Just two mids that were running and had no way of avoiding them.)

Are the streets of Annapolis really that dangerous that even armed cops can’t stop to make sure everything’s okay? (After all, we did have a police chase over SHOPLIFTING yesterday and that was headline news.) I can sort of see why the DoD cops didn’t stop. They maybe have a chip on their shoulder about being a 2.5 instead of a 5.0. Or because it’s not their “jurisdiction” they aren’t obligated to stop. For all the cops,  I guess it’s no longer their job to help out citizens in times of need unless called (and then it takes forever… but I’m certain I’ll have a relevant story to share soon.)

What are the cops doing that they’re always so busy? Mind you, this was before the new Dunkin Donuts opened on lower West Street. And it was after the bagel shops had closed for the day.

I’m not going to get up on my soapbox about this and write about how people should stop for others. And then ask the questions such as what if they were in serious trouble, what if they didn’t have a phone, etc. I mean “ifis a big word. My approach, it’s good to help others. And plus, you never know who you’re going to meet when you talk to a stranger.

I will share this. Single ladies, you should have stopped. (You’d just need to overlook the fact that he misjudged his gas tank and doesn’t pay attention to bright lights glaring in his face.)

 
Note: I think our police enforcement do a wonderful job. They know I love them.

First day of legislative session… This post isn’t what you think it’s about!

I may get a lot of backlash for this post. And I’m prepared. (I think.)

Today is the first day of the 2012 Maryland legislative session. For Annapolis (especially downtown) this means more people out and about. Restaurants will see an increase in traffic. There will be more cars on the road.

But for me, it provides an entry appropriate for a gossip blog.

The 2006 session was the first session I experienced as an Annapolis resident. A girlfriend and I were at a local bar on a random school night not knowing anything about the legislative schedule. Some gentlemen struck up a conversation with us. At the time, I was flirting with finding a new employer, so when one of the men (HIM) told me he owned a large marketing firm, I engaged in conversation. He then proceeded to tell me about his family history. We talked politics, the discussion got heated and he pushed a button that got me going. He then tried to get me back to his hotel. (If you know me, you can imagine my response. Among other things, I kindly informed him that he was probably old enough to be my dad and that was just gross.)

Fast forward some time.

A piece of political literature campaigning for HIM lands in my hands. Shocked and disturbed, I called the girlfriend and told her about it. Thankfully, he lost pretty badly to Sarbanes in the election. I remember going to the poll that year to make sure I voted against HIM.

Fast forward some more time.

At the plea of a friend, I give my not-so-favorite new restaurant in town another shot. (This place will get its own post… don’t worry!) As we’re leaving, some little stocky dude comes in demanding to speak with the owner/manager and flashes a badge. Naturally, I stop to focus and listen in. This Napolean complex dude is there to pick up the credit card of HIM! The conversation goes outside and I see this black SUV with tinted windows parked half in the middle of Main Street and half in a parking spot. (Because parking like a normal human being would be too much to ask.) The owner goes to retrieve the card and I start asking questions. Turns out, he’s an off duty state trooper hired by HIM. Not sure why, but I don’t generally understand the why behind most egos. I expressed my dislike for HIM to Napoloean and the response was pretty bad. When I shared the story, Napolean laughed and said he wasn’t surprised. At all.

We walked home. Knowing that both these gentlemen were not people I’d want to associate with, I got online to see the latest with HIM. Man, age has not been nice to him. I chalk it up to karma.

And so, this is what comes to mind when people talk about legislation being in session. Pretty sad, right?

Do you have any similar stories to share?