Biggest disappearing acts of 2013 -- Gazette.Net

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• The Grahams. After 80 years the Graham family sells the struggling Washington Post to billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, which, ironically, helped kill classified advertising. Also disappearing in 2013 was the Post’s ombudsman position, the readers’ advocate.

• The Allbrittons. Bob Allbritton sells eight TV stations, including the D.C. area’s WJLA (Channel 7), to Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcasting.

• The Washington Examiner. Drops its print edition, abandons local news and becomes an online national news service.

• Maryland Life Magazine. Closes its doors due to circulation and ad shortfalls.

• Baltimore’s Grand Prix. The city’s Labor Day IndyCar race never made financial sense and finally dies a quiet death.

• Ed Papenfuse. This living piece of Maryland history, the state archivist, retired after collecting and preserving precious state artifacts and records for 38 years.

• Sen. Norman Stone. The senator from Dundalk is calling it quits after 13 terms (52 years) in Annapolis. When they tried gerrymandering his district in 2002, the senator — quiet, dignified and humble — sued and won. Who says nice guys finish last?

• Alex Mooney. This Frederick Republican lost his Senate seat in 2010, so he became state GOP chairman and, in 2013, moved to West Virginia, where he’s running for Congress.

• Delegate Sam Arora. No Montgomery lawmaker ever lost re-election by raising taxes, failing to bring home the bacon or selling the county down the river. But Montgomery delegate Sam Arora was shunned by the Democratic party and saw his career ended for voting against gay marriage.

• Morris A. Mechanic Theatre. Baltimore’s playhouse for touring Broadway plays is razed after a 40-year run.

• Little Italy. Five restaurants in Baltimore’s iconic eating district close in 2013. End of an era?

• White Flint. Montgomery’s upscale mall is being replaced by a trendy mixed-use town center.

• Blockbuster. Another Internet victim, the once-pervasive home video chain announced that its last 300 stores are closing.

• The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Walk. Canceled, again, the traditional spring bridge-closing and pedestrian walk fell victim to state budget cuts.

• Incandescents. General-service incandescent light bulbs phased out in 2013 by government edict after 100 years of use.

• Redskins “Hogettes.” Football fans cross-dressed as sows? Weird, yes, but it got them on TV every week. The Hogettes call it quits after 30 seasons.

Worst moves of the year

• As Maryland’s Obamacare website exchange crashes spectacularly, its director, Rebecca Pearce, goes on a Caribbean vacation and, when she returns, is dismissed from her $175,000 job.

• Responding to gay activists, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett asks the Fillmore Music Hall to cancel a band whose lyrics offend homosexuals.

• The Anne Arundel school system suspends a 7-year-old who nibbles his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun.

• Several thousand Baltimore city residents are awakened before 6 a.m. when the mayor’s back-to-school celebration robocall is sent too early.

• Andre Henry, suspected of committing eight Montgomery County burglaries, is finally nabbed when he leaves two pages of his criminal court records at the scene of his latest break-in.

• Ignoring the city legal department’s opinion that the bill is unconstitutional, the Baltimore City Council requires that a majority of workers for city contractors and city-subsidized projects be Baltimore city residents.

• Brunswick elementary school students are stranded at bus stops when the school system fails to notify parents of new bus stop locations.

• Ocean City Councilman Brent Ashley, linking tourism decline with unsightly saggy pants, proposes a ban on clothing hanging more than 3 inches below the waistline. Ashley says he wants to turn Ocean City into “Maryland’s first crack-free city.”

Best moves of the year

• The state increases ICC speed limits to 60 mph.

• Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Newman vetoes the council’s “rain tax.”

• Maryland’s highest court rules that it’s up to the legislature, not the courts, to decide the state’s negligence standards.

• State health authorities shut down four abortion clinics after a patient dies and widespread violations are discovered.

• When a female cop sues Baltimore city for firing her because she married a convicted murderer who’s a gang member of Dead Man Inc., the court dismisses her case.

• Salvation Army volunteers find a $1,300 gold coin dropped into their kettle by an anonymous donor outside a Frederick Giant.

• Heroic WSSC workers refuse to give up on a broken valve that threatens a countywide water shutdown in the midst of July’s heat wave. Working non-stop in waist-deep underground water, they fashion new parts and save the day.

• Angela McCaskill, Gallaudet U.’s chief diversity officer, who was fired when she signed a petition bringing Maryland’s same-sex marriage law to referendum, sues the school for unlawful discrimination.

• State Sen. Bobby Zirkin, a Democrat, crosses party lines, endorsing Republican Sen. Allan Kittleman for Howard County executive.

• Managers of Baltimore’s Burns Arena cancel “Touch of Flavor,” a two-day event featuring classes on hot wax, sex-dungeon safety and rope bondage, because children also use the arena.

• NFL Ravens star receiver Torrey Smith gets married, cuts off his dreadlocks.

Blair Lee is chairman of the board of Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio. His column appears Fridays in the Business Gazette. His past columns are available at His email address is