There’s a lot of variety in this issue, from senior editor Evan Serpick’s piece on the fight for the legalization of medical marijuana and Geoffrey Himes’s look at the state of opera in Baltimore to our visit with a suddenly popular blogging mother who goes by the handle “Scary Mommy,” also by Serpick, and Suzanne Loudermilk’s assessment of the creative (but respectful) rebirth of what generations of Baltimoreans have known as Peerce’s Plantation.
But I think it’s our cover story on power that will prove of the widest interest.
How do you define power? In our stab at identifying the most influential people in the greater Baltimore area, we allowed for several different definitions, and many of those have nothing to do with money or votes.
The captains of industry and finance, of course, wield power because of the big numbers of highly paid employees they oversee, the economic impact that has, the charitable support that every year flows from both the companies and the employees, and the part played by these corporate officers on countless community boards and commissions. Political power, too, is fairly self-evident.
But in the case of a leading member of the clergy, power takes a different shape: It’s in the form of spiritual advice and counsel to the thousands of faithful that he or she leads. And the kings and queens of media, sports, and even the restaurant scene exert their own unique forms of influence on their respective audiences. For the heads of the larger charitable organizations, theirs is the power to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and contribute in very tangible ways to the quality of life in Charm City, from funding scholarships to paying for new parks. That’s a sector, incidentally, that has taken on a much more critical role in recent years, both because of the flight of corporate headquarters from Baltimore—and the charitable giving that went with them—and because of the economic troubles of governments.
But in all these fields of endeavor, there’s one common denominator: Each person on our list can get things done in the community by merely picking up the phone.
One thing we found in canvassing the metro area for this feature is that power in Baltimore has changed a lot in the last generation or two.
Sure, there are some of the old guard still on the list who I remember as the kingmakers when I bought Baltimore 16 years ago, or even when I was starting Diamond Comic Distributors 29 years ago. Among them are people like Willard Hackerman, Peter Angelos, Benjamin Civiletti, and Edward St. John. But there’s an opening for a new power base to emerge, something managing editor Max Weiss explores in her essay, “The Power Vacuum.”
Remember: Keep our power list close at hand at all times. If anyone on the list phones, take the call right away. And if they don’t return your calls, well, you may have some work to do on your own name recognition.