Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) kept quiet last week as the County Council unanimously called on Major League Baseball to return to the District.
But to some, his picture was worth at least a few words on the subject.
Last week, the county Web site's home page displayed a photo of Duncan throwing out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game July 9. Some saw the visit -- and the placement of the photo -- as a sign that Duncan thought a team in the District was unnecessary.
Duncan declined this week to support or oppose a team in the District.
"Baseball in the Washington area is long overdue," he said. "But it's up to baseball to decide where in the area it should go."
Northern Virginia is another region competing for a baseball team, and some observers believe putting a team there would draw less business away from the Orioles. By not supporting the District, Duncan could win points with Baltimore voters and Orioles owner Peter Angelos, a major Democratic Party power broker and campaign contributor. It is also an attempt to one-up Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D), Duncan's likely rival in a 2006 primary to determine who will challenge Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). O'Malley, in an attempt to expand his base, recently supported the idea of baseball in the District, which did not please Angelos.
"This is a way of showing that he [Duncan] isn't just tied to local interests and that he can reach out to the entire state," said Matthew Crenson, a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University. "I think he is doing the same thing that O'Malley is doing."
Warming to the Ice Man
The ice man stayeth.
That's the hope, at least, of Montgomery County Council member Howard A. Denis (R-Potomac-Bethesda). On Tuesday, he introduced a bill to allow John Styer to sell shaved ice on the streets of downtown Bethesda.
Styer, 53, a gym teacher at Rock Terrace High School in Rockville, has spent the past four summers selling cones of ice drenched in sweet syrups. His pushcart has become a fixture at the Bethesda Barnes & Noble.
"He makes people happy," Denis said.
But last month the county revoked his license, saying the county code does not specifically allow pushcart vendors. That decision was rescinded this month, but Denis wanted to make sure that regulators couldn't shut Styer down again.
He had a simple solution: change the law.
The proposed amendment to the county code would allow a vendor to sell goods "from a pushcart or other slow-moving vehicle." A public hearing on the bill is tentatively scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 14.
Denis said he introduced the measure because of widespread support for Styer and his wares. "I had people calling me to say, 'Save the ice man!'" Denis said. "And that's what I'm doing."
Executive Anti-Drug Message
A group of local biotechnology executives gave a chorus of dire predictions when they took to the steps of the County Council Building on Tuesday morning.
Dyan Brasington, president of the Technology Council of Maryland, Richard Parsons, president of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Jonathan Cohen, president and chief executive of 20/20 GeneSystems, and other local business leaders discussed what they believe will happen if the County Council approves legislation July 27 that may result in county employees and retirees obtaining lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada.
They laid out long-standing arguments about how drugs imported from Canada are not closely regulated and are potentially unsafe. They implored the council not to resort to a "risky" -- and illegal -- proposition, when the county had yet to see the full savings of a mail-order prescription service. They also argued that the bill would "send a chilling signal" to venture capitalists and pharmaceutical companies that Montgomery County was a "hostile regulatory environment," where local officials endorsed "price controls" over the "innovation" of life-saving drugs.
Many of the groups represented had expressed their positions before. The point of Tuesday's gathering was to amplify that message. As Parsons put it: "These people are the experts. You should listen to them."
Not everyone in the biotech industry agrees. Greg Lennon, a research scientist and former top executive for several Maryland biotechnology companies, said he was a little "ticked off" when he received an anti-importation e-mail drafted by the technology council and addressed to County Council member Steven A. Silverman (D-At Large). "It assumed because I work in biotech that I agree."
Lennon did send the e-mail, but not before making some changes. "I actually believe that it is in the common interest to allow such importation. The local biotech industry will not be meaningfully harmed," he wrote.
"Any individual company going to venture capitalists for money will stand on its own merits," he said in an interview. "If we believe in a free market, then consumers should be able to go where the prices are cheapest."
Scam Artist Caught in Rockville
Calling their suspect a scam artist with a great story, Rockville police have arrested a 36-year-old resident and charged her with theft.
Although Cheryl Denise Kenyon of Charles Street in Rockville stole less than $500 from her victims, she had "for weeks, if not longer" been telling the same sob story -- that "her mother had been in a bad car accident in West Virginia and she needed gas money to go see her," Rockville police said in a statement.
Kenyon came to the attention of police last week when a 75-year-old man who lives on Allison Drive in Rockville reported that a thirtysomething woman with long blond hair knocked on his door and told the story. He told police that when he unlocked his door, she suddenly ran to her blue Jeep Cherokee and left.
The next day, police said, Kenyon knocked on a neighbor's door, telling the story to a generous 44-year-old victim, who gave Kenyon $12 and then took her to a cash machine and gave her another $20. The victim developed doubts about the story and called Rockville police, whose officers cooperated with Montgomery County police in looking for Kenyon and her SUV.
When caught, police said, Kenyon confessed that her mother had not been in an accident and said she would give the money back. But she didn't have it because she used it to buy cocaine, police said.
Kenyon was also charged with possession of crack cocaine, which police found on the floor of the Cherokee. She has been held at the Montgomery County Detention Center since July 16 on $10,000 bail and was unavailable for comment.