Street protests that turn into riots are among my least favorite forms of lawlessness. Usually the crowd is either the patsy or the willing dupe. When the World Trade Organization met in Seattle in 1999, a peaceful march by about 35,000 union members provided cover for maybe 100 self-styled anarchists who smashed up downtown retailers and mostly got away with it. Because of that, those of us living and working in downtown Seattle had to then spend the next few days crossing in and out of a 25-square-block “no protest” zone established so WTO delegates and heads of state such as President Bill Clinton could come out of their rooms and move about. After their little riot, the anarchists either crawled back into their holes or returned to their communal lives somewhere. I never did understand the communal anarchist business. baltimore'sbest_406x250Baltimore is a different, deeper situation that we are all going to have to get our heads around. Most everything I do know about Baltimore came from the award-winning HBO series “The Wire,” largely written by former Baltimore Sun police reporter David Simon. (I recommended a recent interview he did with The Marshall Project.) But my continued understanding of Baltimore did not require my being present in the city for the recent riots. However, I did come close to being there. I was registered to attend the Food Safety Summit in Baltimore this past week, and then I decided not to attend for reasons that had nothing to do with the street theater that was just getting underway there. It was just a case of having too many priorities and knowing that ace reporter James Andrews, in from Seattle, and Lydia Zuraw, our Washington, D.C., correspondent, would both be in Baltimore so Food Safety News would have the Summit well-covered. Both James and Lydia managed to get in and out of Baltimore unscathed, although somehow a prison inmate snagged one of their credit card numbers by the end of the week. Kudos to the Summit organizers, who went on with the event as scheduled, and to James and Lydia for working through something that was more than just a distraction. The Food Safety Summit found itself generating news for a second year running. First it made headlines when the Baltimore Convention Center vendor served up a chicken marsala dish likely contaminated with Clostridium perfringens to those attending the 2014 event. More than 100 people were sickened. This year, while it seemed like Baltimore was shutting down everything but its streets to protesters, the Summit made news for letting the show go on as the city burned. As for what we learned, I was surprised by the candor of the top food safety officials about how they are organized. Nobody came out and said it, but clearly the single agency sought by President Obama and many other politicians is dead on arrival in Congress. As Lydia Zuraw reported, the top food safety administrators are focused instead on collaboration among their agencies. As for watching sausage being made, the coming FY 2016 federal budget is supposed to contain enough to actually implement the will of Congress as outlined in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), whose rules will begin to be implemented starting in August, according to another summit story by James Andrews. Remember that FSMA was passed with large bipartisan majorities? Yet the Summit heard only from seven Democratic U.S. senators who came forth with their endorsements of the needed funding amounts. Did anybody ask around to see if a Republican or two might sign on to the endorsement letter for that extra $110-million bump needed to implement FSMA? Bipartisan support is going to be needed to get that kind of money. Journalists like conferences because they collect major decision makers and deliver them to one place in a pretty accessible environment. Because the Food Safety Summit has a track record, it was more important than ever that it was not canceled just because of some burning and looting. We have the Summit organizers and the Baltimore Convention Center to thank for that. Now if we can just get that credit card canceled.