Baltimore is ‘swirling around the bowl,’ Kiefaber says
By Julie Scharper (The Baltimore Sun, June 30, 2011)
The former owner of the Senator Theatre declared his candidacy Thursday for president of the Baltimore City Council, saying he wants to lead the body he called “a sorry crew.”
Tom Kiefaber, who lost the historic theater founded by his grandfather to foreclosure last year, criticized city leaders and the local news media, and compared his candidacy to the “Arab Spring” that is prompting protests in the Middle East.
Borrowing an analogy from a film he screened frequently at the Senator, Kiefaber likened the council president’s office to “that ventilation shaft on the Death Star in ‘Star Wars’ that they just forgot about. And that’s what I’m going after.”
With just days until Tuesday’s filing deadline, Kiefaber becomes the best-known Baltimorean to challenge Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young. Young was appointed to the position last year by other council members as part of a string of City Hall shake-ups triggered by the resignation of Mayor Sheila Dixon.
“We’re going to put a group together and win back our city,” Kiefaber said.
Kiefaber addressed reporters from the overgrown lawn of a home that he owned until a few weeks ago. The city took possession of the home — which is adjacent to a lot used by Senator patrons — a few weeks ago after Kiefaber lost it to foreclosure, the city solicitor said.
“This used to be my house,” said Kiefaber. “Now it belongs to Baltimore City. They took it along with the Senator … for the reason they do anything: Because they can.”
Kiefaber was forced to turn the theater over to the city last summer after falling behind in payments. The city chose Buzz and Katherine Cusack, the father-and-daughter team behind the Charles Theater, to run it.
Kiefaber said he planned to use the address of his foreclosed former home when he filed the paperwork to run for office. He has not yet filed to run.
Kiefaber said he decided to run for the city’s second-highest office after he was asked to leave City Hall on Wednesday for the second time in as many weeks.
The 59-year-old stormed the dais in council chambers during a council meeting last week, grabbed a microphone and railed against city government, calling Baltimore a “banana republic.” Police officers escorted him out of City Hall but did not press charges or ban him from the building.
Watch a WBAL news clip of Kiefaber disrupting the City Council meeting.
Watch Tom Kiefaber’s frontlawn press conference about his candidacy and his City Hall run-in:
Originally published June 30, 2011 in the Baltimore Sun.
“Former Senator Theatre owner Tom Kiefaber disrupts City Council Meeting” (Laura Vozzella, Baltimore Sun, June 20, 2011)
“Mr. Kiefaber goes to City Hall” (Baltimore Sun, July 2, 2011)