The Baltimore Examiner and Baltimore Research, whose founder and president is heavy-duty thinker and analyst Jay White, are joining forces to publish behavioral polling under "Baltimore Speaks." Questions will include ones like: "Should smoking be banned in all public places in Maryland?" and "Do you cheat on your taxes? Have you ever been caught?" Baltimore Research clients include Johns Hopkins, NBC and Procter & Gamble. It has a staff of 78 and a database of 80,000 participants. The size and segmentation of the database allows the firm to populate target research groups with a high level of accuracy. The first Baltimore Speaks will grace our pages in the next couple of weeks. Please suggest questions and let me know what you think of the feature.

Examining the comptroller candidates

Through this primary election day, Maryland campaigns tout endorsements and money raised for television advertising and ideas and evidence of leadership seem to be in shorter supply. For example, the four comptroller candidates with whom we have talked so far all agree automating the office must be a top priority.

But only age and gender emerge as their significantly discernible differences. Peter Franchot, state delegate and D.C. business consultant, garnered the most endorsements and loaned himself the most money in the comptroller campaign. When is a "business consultant," as he calls himself, a lobbyist, one wonders? Perhaps when he chooses to rent an office from arguably the most powerful lobbying firm in the district? His endorsements, gleaned from The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun, should prove good news for his opponents.

Baltimore Orioles: looking forward to next year

As the Orioles host the Red Sox and Twins in our much emulated Camden Yards, it?s worth giving the team a "wait ?til next year" review. Good news exists for all but the most jaded. The development of right fielder Nick Markakis into a .300 hitting, long-ball regular, the "steal" of a trade for regular center fielder Corey Patterson, the signing of Melvin Mora to a long-term contract, the play of free-agent catcher Ramon Hernandez, the growth of a closer in Chris Ray and the turnaround of Erik Bedard and Adam Loewen all portend well for 2007.

The bad side? The Orioles sport a dreadful middle-inning bullpen. Cut them all and start over?

Stand by your city

The Examiner nears its six-month mark as I begin my 36th year of newspapering and reach the end of my first year of living in Baltimore, a city where it sometimes seems that humility isn?t enough. Self-deprecation about our city, which only works as a sales tool to a point, not simply humility ? a virtue ? seems to be too common of a trait of those of us who live here. It?s one that Mayor Martin O?Malley seems to counter in stumping when he reminds constituents that Frederick Douglass and Johnny Unitas loved them.

Examiner looking for advertising staff

I?ve turned to you for suggestions and ideas for our news and circulation operations. A current challenge that I could use your help on is in our sales operation. Keeping up with the flow of new advertisers wanting to try The Baltimore Examiner demands more selling staff. Those who want to bewell rewarded for selling targeted advertising that works because of its reach and is priced well below its competitor should send a resume to Those who have sold advertising for newspapers or other media will likely bloom faster than those who haven?t. But great sellers from other industries will succeed here.

You? Your spouse? An out-of-town niece or nephew who?d like to live here. A boyfriend or girlfriend in another market that you?d like to have closer?

Issie?s is good, what?s next?

Wild for the crabs and shrimp here, but still searching for the best Baltimore cheeseburger, a sales colleague sent me to Dizzy Issie?s at 30th and Remington. Issie?s is a special neighborhood spot with a clientele comfortably mixed with older and younger, academic-looking and not. It offers a varied and interesting menu (with specials in longhand) for a small tavern with interesting wall-mounted memorabilia and a large fireplace. And the cheeseburger was big, tasty and reasonable, putting Issie?s on the return visit list. But, still looking. Suggestions?

Michael Phelps is president and publisher of The Baltimore Examiner.