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Keeping tabs on the City Council's activities so you don't have to

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 11/28/2007

On the Agenda for Nov. 19

Bill 07-0840 Baltimore City Congratulates George Washington Elementary School #022-National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence The U.S. Department of Education gives this recognition to schools that dramatically improve student performance. The bill, which for some reason is not a resolution, says Maryland has only six Schools of Excellence, although there are seven on the U.S. Department of Education's list.

Public Interest Grade: A The council isn't doing much here, but the principal of George Washington Elementary, Susan Burgess, obviously is. Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says when Burgess took over in 2003, less than one-third of the students passed the state assessment test. Now more than 90 percent of them are scoring highly.

Bill 07-0836-Supplemental General Fund Capital Appropriation-Department of Housing and Community Development-$3,000,000 This is to fund the "Howard Park Grocery Store Project," a 53,000-square-foot supermarket in the northwest neighborhood at the southwest corner of Hillsdale Road and Liberty Heights Avenue. The council unanimously moved it to Third Reader, the last stop before final passage.

Public Interest Grade: A Everyone needs a grocery store. and according to 12th District Councilman Bernard "Jack" Young, Howard Park has been without a "viable" one for the past 10 years. As a bonus, the store also looks like a sweet deal for some of the folks associated with Israel Cason, founder and patriarch of the nearby I Can't We Can drug-treatment shelter. Last week the Board of Estimates voted to spend $231,000 in city money for a house at 4604 Maine Ave., owned by Salima Rabb, the sister of I Can't We Can's chief operating officer. Rabb claims the house as her "principal residence" for tax purposes, though it was ordered boarded up a few years ago after it sold for $32,000 to Israel's brother John Cason. It has no rehab permits on file. Cason sold it to Rabb for $150,000 in January of 2006, according to land records. So if the deal closes as outlined on the Board of Estimates agenda, Rabb will net about $80,000 on the new grocery store in her neighborhood.

Other notes: Eight bills were withdrawn at this meeting, six of which were ordinances to create new city landmarks. Among the sites that will not receive landmark status this year: the Upton Mansion, the Roland Park Water Tower, the American Brewery, Bolton Square, Riverside Park, and the W.E.B. Du Bois House.

City Council Quote of the Week"I'm just so excited to have another birthday. It's amazing to me sometimes how long I've lived." -Agnes Welch, in thanking Council President Rawlings Blake for her birthday gift bag. Welch's birthday was on Nov. 20. She is 83.

City Council Fact of the WeekDr. John E.T. Camper was a civil-rights activist and a friend to Paul Robeson and Thurgood Marshall. In 1954, his organization of African-American doctors and dentists, the MeDeSo Club, raised the final $15,000 needed to pay for legal work on the Brown v. Board of Education case. His home on the 600 block of North Carey Street is in line to become a city landmark.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 3 at 5 p.m.

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