Blaze Starr’s passing was front-page news in Baton Rouge because of the entertainer’s high-profile (if brief) fling with then-Louisiana Gov. Earl K. Long.
But her death also was certainly big news in Baltimore, the city where she gained fame as a beloved stripper with a comedic touch who charmed the swells in tony Roland Park as well as the working-class denizens of Highlandtown in her prime in the 1950s and ’60s.
An obituary written by The Baltimore Sun’s Jacques Kelly and Chris Kaltenbach was filled with interesting tidbits about her life and times and the outsized personality that made her a Baltimore icon.
Among them: It was a rite of passage for fraternity pledges to find out her 38DD bra size, which also was the title of a song she wrote; she had a soft spot for veterans and gave a free show to disabled Vietnam vets at the 2 O’Clock Club; and she appeared in an ad campaign for Baltimore Gas and Electric.
The piece quotes Ron Shelton, the writer-director of the 1989 film “Blaze,” which focused on her late-1950s affair with Long, about a visit with Starr and taking her by the 2 O’Clock Club, which she hadn’t been to in a while.
“We went in there and sat, had drinks with a couple of people,” Shelton told The Sun. “All of a sudden, the announcer recognized her, and there was a standing ovation. It was like Joe DiMaggio had come back. It was great.”
CATS CEO’s plan to bolster bus fleet fizzles
Plans by the parish bus system to lease 10 used buses to supplement its broken-down fleet fell through.
CATS CEO Bob Mirabito announced in May that the agency was planning to lease 10 buses for a price of no more than $4,400 per bus for about six months. The buses, built in 1999, were supposed to be refurbished. The total cost of the six-month lease for the buses was $314,000, which included the cost of delivery.
On Tuesday, Mirabito announced that the buses were not refurbished as initially advertised, had been idle since 2009 and were not painted. CATS passed on the lease opportunity.
Still in need of short-term buses to boost the fleet, CATS is now working with Lafayette to procure between four and six buses. Lafayette’s bus system has converted to compressed natural gas, but it still has four leftover diesel buses with about 11/2 years of useful life left. The other two buses have been retired and could be donated to CATS. The Lafayette buses are valued at $30,000, and CATS would have to pay 20 percent, approximately $6,000, for each bus.
There are currently 83 buses, vans and trolleys in total.
Think government is broken? Run for office
A Livingston Parish councilwoman who won’t seek re-election this fall is challenging anyone who believes parish government is broken to run for office and do better.
Councilwoman Cindy Wale Franz, who became the parish’s first female council member when she took office in 2008, said she learned a lot about Livingston’s “centuries-old system of good ole boy politics” during her two terms.
Franz said most of her education on that point came during her fight to improve Eden Church Road, a project that brought floods of controversy with every modest rainfall and that pitted several council members against the parish’s former road engineering firm.
In a statement announcing her decision not to seek re-election, Franz cited residents’ lack of involvement in government as the biggest problem with society today.
“If you feel like government is broken, if you feel like our government can do better, if you feel like you can make a difference, run for office,” Franz wrote. “Be involved. Come to a meeting. Volunteer with a campaign. ... Encourage your friends and neighbors to vote. Be a part of the process.”
Councilwoman Sonya Collins, who took office in 2012, also has announced she won’t seek re-election because of her daughter’s recent diabetes diagnosis.
Collins had said in May that she would seek a second term, after having been on the fence about it for months. But her daughter’s health concerns have caused her to re-evaluate her time outside the home, she said.
“Sometimes God changes your course in life,” Collins said in a written statement. “I won’t rule out that sometime in the future, I’ll try a return to public service.”
Collins said she wished the best for future council members “and their ability to work together for the good of Livingston Parish, along with the parish president.”
Advocate staff Greg Garland, Rebekah Allen and Heidi Kinchen contributed to this report.