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?

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…

Hollywood comes (back) to Annapolis

In high school, Walt Disney came to our school to film some parts of a movie. As students, we were offered the opportunity to be extras. Not really being an academian, I jumped at the opportunity. We missed class AND they paid us. (could explain a few things about my education) I ended up making a few extra bones because I had a speaking role… and after they didn’t include my six word line in the final cut, I gave up on my Hollywood dream. (I never really had that dream, but I was a little bitter.) So when a message came my way last week about a similar opportunity, I politely declined. There was no school to miss and I don’t think they were going to pay. After all, we’re in a recession.

Parts of a movie are being filmed right here in town- at the Annapolis Athletic Club and around the Eastport area. The best part? The PLOT. Had I known the movie was about “a straight-laced pharmacist’s uneventful life spirals out of control when he starts an affair with a trophy wife customer who takes him on a joyride involving sex, drugs and possibly murder” perhaps I would have considered it. Scandal and drama? I don’t really do murder (or drugs) and in fact, if you know me in real life, I don’t really do violence or crazy drunk women who try to fight, but a scandal of a pharmacist’s wife involving sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, sounds like just the thing a gossip blog would be all over. Instead, I’m just all over telling my readers to go check it out… and please bring back any juicy info!

Better Living Through Chemistry is rumored to be here for a few weeks… so if you’re looking for something fun to do or stalk around town, head over to Eastport. According to IMBD, Dame Judi Dench is cast in it. She was my favorite on the list. If someone could guarantee she was in town, I’d go hunt her down for a picture. But I wonder if the others are in town, too?

I know that Kevin Spacey is. Well, he’s staying in Edgewater and driving a black Range Rover, but he wasn’t listed on the casting list. He’s here for a few more months, so I guess there may be two movies being filmed in town? Keep your eyes peeled… and then please share! We could do a whole piece on scandals that occur when Hollywood comes to Annapolis. I have some stories, just need a few more… now go make it happen!

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…

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.