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A Cork In It?

Posted 8/3/2005

I would like to expand on the article regarding the so-called Cork Factory “building” (“Creative Differences,” Mobtown Beat, July 27). A previously published letter to City Paper by me and member John Sparks was listed by the Guilford Avenue LLC as one of the alleged defaults that cost me my property. (Mr. Sparks was not held in default for same!) By their own rule, Al Zaruba and Dennis Livingston should also be held in default for being quoted by Van Smith. Meanwhile, John Sparks declined to speak with Mr. Smith for “fear of retribution.” Rightly so.

Records show that I was confronted at a meeting on June 15, 2004, with a list of 13 previously undeclared alleged defaults. I was not provided with a copy of the list prior to the meeting and was refused a copy of the list at the meeting for review. They refused to reschedule the meeting to allow me the chance to review the alleged defaults and prepare a response and refused to allow me the presence and counsel of my attorney. After finding me in default of all charges, they refused to go to arbitration as required by our operating agreement and instead, through their attorney, Glen Cline of Ballard, Spahr, Andrews, and Ingersoll, immediately filed for wrongful detainer to have me evicted.

At the hearing Judge Askew Gatewood found that I was not afforded due process, that I had unsuccessfully requested arbitration, and that the LLC had neither proved its case nor substantiated its claim that it could default on me. He ruled against the LLC. As it turns out the tape recorder stopped during the proceeding and did not record 90 percent of my testimony, all of my witness Charles Brickbauer’s, and all of the Judge Gatewood’s findings, including the basis of his ruling. The LLC appealed the Gatewood decision and ignored my request to have the missing transcript supplemented. Judge Stuart Berger overturned Judge Gatewood’s ruling in the appeal, substituting his own findings, using the incomplete record. More specifically using only one side of the story and improperly shifting the burden from the LLC to me without considering any missing testimony from me, my witness, or the findings of Judge Gatewood.

I have not been afforded due process either by the LLC or in Judge Berger’s court. I have filed to have Judge Berger reconsider his ruling in light of the incomplete record to no avail. Unbelievably, too, I am not granted an automatic right to appeal. In fact, my appeal was denied even a hearing. No reason to believe they even read my case. There has been a motion for reconsideration filed. No word yet. The LLC has been served an arbitration suit, so it may not be as over as the LLC prefers to think. In the meantime, I have lost my 3,200-square-foot, light-filled studio, an important source for my creativity and income, and my 10.71 percent stake in a $1.5 million building. A stake worth over $150,000, for which my lawyer was given a check for $3,836.47 by the LLC, court sanctioned.

Bernhard Hildebrandt

Attention, Russ . . .

When I read a pair of letters (“Terror Not Random,” The Mail, July 27) bashing Russ Smith as a “right-wing apologist” and “Bush administration mouthpiece,” I felt compelled to respond. Even though I disagree with his column on a few issues (such as whether certain folks belong in the White House picking justices or in the Hague facing prosecution), I think Right Field is refreshingly forthright. His analysis of Maryland politics is about the best in town, and he accurately skewers folks on every side of the aisle (Ehrlich, Miller, O’Malley, etc.) when they do the wrong thing (aka most of the time).

However, in the interest of fairness, I took the time to review his back issues before sending this. Then I realized the other letters are right. Whenever Russ shifts his gaze to Washington, D.C., he starts parroting the Bush party line, and the results are just plain ugly. So instead of a defense, I make this an open letter:

Russ, please stick to your spot-on critiques of local pols, from Annapolis to Baltimore, Cumberland to the Delaware line. Your national stuff sucks elephant balls.

Frank Uy
Ellicott City

The Future’s So Bright

I am pleased to see the coverage of the state of clean energy in Maryland in the article, “A Place in the Sun” (Feature, July 13). As a person who lives and breathes renewable-energy issues in the state, it’s gratifying to know that somebody is paying attention.

I am the founder and director of the Clean Energy Partnership. Clean Energy Partnership is the first and only group in Maryland that is organizing businesses to support solutions to global warming and air pollution. Before founding the partnership, I worked tirelessly for three years to author and pass the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), mentioned in the article. I clearly remember the time when I started pushing an RPS in Maryland. I had been working for Greenpeace on clean-energy issues and was amazed to see all the great work happening in other states. I assumed my state, Maryland, would be a leader as well. When I found out it wasn’t, I was shocked. I marched off to Annapolis on my own in the winter of 2001 and asked legislators and environmentalists why we had no RPS. I was told by both groups that opposition was far too great.

Environmental leaders asked me to drop the subject, but I didn’t listen. I pushed ahead with no group backing me. Sure enough, the bill got clobbered. Seemingly every major industry lobbyist worked against it. But I learned a lesson and pushed on. It took two more long years, but finally we passed the bill when Speaker of the House Michael Busch (D) became our champion, and we assembled a large coalition of backers. As I worked the RPS in 2004, I approached Sen. Rob Garagiola (D-Montgomery County) about doing something to help the solar industry. He agreed, and the two of us worked together to pass the Solar Energy Grant Program. I’m extremely proud of my achievements in Annapolis. But clean-energy victories are also happening locally. I worked with Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan (D) to pass a landmark bill requiring the county to buy 5 percent of its energy needs from clean sources. Under Duncan’s leadership, Montgomery County has recently become a clean-energy star in the region, shining a light for others to follow on the path toward a cleaner future.

I am now working with Baltimore City Councilman James Kraft (D-1st) to pass a similar clean-energy bill in the city. I hope this will be the first step toward Baltimore buying at least 5 percent of its electricity from clean sources. Clean Energy Partnership member businesses are leading by example. Austin Grill, MOM’s, (My Organic Market), Quartermaine Coffee Roasters, and others are buying wind power to supply their energy needs. There’s much work to do, but our future depends on adopting clean-energy solutions to solve global warming. We need businesses, people, and elected leaders to all do their part. That’s why the Clean Energy Partnership will gladly continue leading the charge to create a truly clean, sustainable future for all of us in this region.

Gary Skulnik
Executive Director, Clean Energy Partnership
Silver Spring

Playing Favorites

On behalf of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, I would like to thank John Barry and City Paper for the recent feature article (“Circle of Friends,” Stage, July 27), and for all of the attention you have so generously given to the festival over the years.

As of this year, the BPF has included 24 different participating theaters and produced 217 plays written by 143 different playwrights.

We look forward to celebrating our 25th year and, as always, are open to the participation of new theaters, directors, playwrights, actors, and all the technical people needed to produce a play.

Our board meetings, which occur on the third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Fells Point Corner Theatre, are open to the public. I would encourage anyone who would like to contribute in any way to attend.

Mark Scharf
Chairman, Baltimore Playwrights Festival

Young Lashing

I read with anger and disgust the article about WOLB (1010 AM) radio talk-show host Larry Young’s desire to run against state Sen. Verna Jones for the 44th District (“Forever Young,” The Nose, July 20).

I live in the 44th and I am proud that Verna Jones is representing our district with an appreciation for the people she is serving. Mrs. Jones’ humble spirit is good, and she is always willing to reach out to listen to the needs of the people in our district.

In my opinion, Larry Young has some serious mental issues that he refuses to acknowledge. First, Larry Young enjoys hearing people call him “senator” Young. Such name-calling is a fraudulent trickery. Larry Young was expelled from the Maryland legislature for doing a deed that was wrong with delusional advantages. He is simply Larry Young—no prestige obligation due to him.

Secondly, I believe that Larry Young does not always tell the truth about people or political issues. In my opinion, Larry Young’s thuggish street-smarts mentality is wise enough to “cock” a lie to save his butt.

As an Afrocentrist feminist, I will be voting for Sen. Verna Jones—again. She is a good woman who has represented District 44 with Christian fellowship and love for all people.

Larnell Custis Butler

Music: Sell It!

Hooray for the Baltimore music scene (“Big Music Issue,” July 20).

I’m not certain that eating crabs or crab cakes or crab soup or that drinking Natty Boh would have any particular effect on a music maker’s creativity or productivity. In other words, living in Baltimore should not really have any particular influence one way or the other on a rocker and roller’s “groovability quotient.”

As a native of the Motor City, transplanted or transcended to Baltimore for a while now, I can only say that I think Baltimore artists are afraid to sell out for fear of appearing “uncool.” Detroit is all about making and moving product, good product hopefully, but moving it nonetheless. (Ford, Chevy, Chrysler, Madonna, Bob Seger, White Stripes, Ted Nugent, Romantics, Kid Rock, etc.)

As far as I’m concerned, the music business is a business, and it is a venerable labor to sell concert tickets, T-shirts, and records. After all, it’s supposed to be entertainment and inspiration for people. People need to hear the jams.

So I hope that the Roman Kueblers and the rest of the rock impresarios in this town will continue to create, perform, produce, and SELL great music.

The Oranges Band could have the best record nationally of 2005. I think the grooves on that new CD are just that strong, and there are lot of other formidable tunemeisters out there in Charmsville, so let’s get busy.

Walter T. Kuebler

Keeping Tabs

Thank you for providing the new “Councilmania” column in City Paper (Mobtown Beat, July 20). Not many citizens of Baltimore City have the time or energy to keep up to date on legislation that the City Council introduces and holds hearings on. I think this little section will go a long way toward the goal of having a more accountable and transparent council. May I suggest, to do this more effectively, that it should provide accurate information.

I would like to point out two needed corrections for this past “Councilmania.” First, Bill 05-0042R, a resolution to create a Convention Center Hotel Headquarters Hotel Public Advisory Committee was not on the Council Agenda for July 11, but rather on the agenda for the April 18 meeting.

In the Public Interest Grade, you lauded Councilman Keiffer Mitchell Jr.’s (D-11th) effort in introducing the resolution; in turn you gave a “D for the rest of the no-show council.” That statement clouded the truth by implying that none of the other council members were present at the June 15 hearing. That hearing was televised on Channel 21. Clearly one could observe that council members Mitchell, James Kraft, and Jack Young, as well as President Sheila Dixon, were present. I am in agreement that the lack of attendance by other council members and the reason for their absence should be exposed. In turn, give credit where credit is due. Otherwise, it gives the impression to the council that the media will damn you if you do (show up) and damn you if you don’t.

Melissa Techentin

Managing Editor Erin Sullivan responds: Indeed, Bill 05-0042R will be discussed by the council in August. We apologize for the error. On the second matter, writer Stephen Janis did note that most, not all, City Council members failed to show up for the hearing on Mitchell’s resolution. Though Kraft, Young, Dixon, and Mitchell were present for the hearing, we believe that such a meager attendance rate, which resulted in an inability to vote on such an important resolution due to lack of a quorum, still merits a D grade for the council as a body.

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