TGR: Crime Is Top Mayoral Issue in Baltimore? Is mayor in-touch with the will of the people?
Even more cops?
By Doni Glover, www.bmorenews.com
(BALTIMORE – August 2, 2011) - Ahh, the definition game has begun. In yesterday’s Sun, a story appeared highlighting crime as the quintessential question for the 2011 Baltimore mayoral election. Yesterday afternoon, a memo was released from the Mayor’s office underscoring her focus on crime. For the uninitiated, the Sun has often been accused of working for Gov. Martin O’Malley. In this case, it would mean that the mayor, a chum of the Governor’s, is receiving preferential treatment via the Sun.
Question: Is Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake out of sync with the masses? Or, is she catering moreso to the buppie audience with her crime platform? Many locals have a stronger focus - and interest, I argue, on and in the educational system. If young people are not graduating from high school, then they are more likely to graduate from prison.
It’s the age-old adage of the “two cities” theory in Baltimore. If you’re talking about crime and making the case for more police, we already hold the national record for the most cops (according to WBAL TV 11).
You see, black folks in this majority black city understand the lingo very well. Most anything having to do with crime brings a pre-conceived notion of locking up black people. And, most black folks know that means the building of more prisons. Have you been to Greenmount Avenue’s prison industrial complex lately? When the discussion is on crime, it never speaks to the need for better schools so as to better educate youth and better prepare them for a career.
For weeks now, Baltimore City mayoral candidates have shared their platforms with the community. And each candidate has his or her own ideas about making Baltimore better. In the mayoral forums we have hosted and participated in, all of the major issues in Baltimore, including crime, have been addressed. Some were clearly stronger in certain areas than others.
Classic example: Jody Landers would immediately replace the housing commissioner ("with [his] own guy"), but had no viable solutions for the schools' debacle.
Yet, the Sun put out an article Monday making crime the top issue. The article sorta makes the case that the mayor is more intouch with reality, with citizens - than her challengers. It suggests that the challengers had better recognize that they need a crime platform. Hello? Crime may be a top issue for some, but I ain’t buying it! Again, we know what that means.
Zero tolerance, when first introduced, gave the same semblance of progress, the same semblance of urgency. Then-mayoral candidate Martin O’Malley said that he would close down 10 drug corners. He put out a report suggesting a better monitoring of the police department was critically necessary.
12 years later, the dope lines are still fluid, crack is still readily available 24-7, and the number of addicts is still burgeoning. Worst yet, the city is marred by 47,000 vacant and abandoned properties. And no, those 10 corners were not closed. Why? Too many people - including white folks and corporate types - get paid off of the coke, dope, and rock game. However, the young black male's image becomes the poster child for the war on drugs.
Yet, Maryland politicians are almost always being honored for their accomplishments. For the life of me, I can't understand why.
Maybe, I’m just slow. After all, I did graduate from Baltimore City Public Schools. But, that was when the schools and the principals and the teachers actually connected with the community and produced otherwise honorable people – or at least people with some sort of promise.
But, let the Sun tell the story, the only candidate in the race with any sense is the mayor, a sort of mini-Martin O’Malley. She insists that Baltimore residents, more than anything else, want more cops on the street.
Hello? Can you hear me now?
We already have more cops than other larger jurisdictions. Isn’t it clear that you can have all of the blue light, red light, and speed cameras in the world with all of the cops in the world; however, if you don’t manage it correctly - if you are not relevant to the people who put you n office, you have nothing.
Question: Is it possible to be an elected official for 10, 15 years and yet have no clue about the needs of the people? Apparently so!
For instance, hiring more cops would not be the first thing on my lips if I were running for mayor. Jobs? Oh, yes! More treatment slots? Definite potential top initiative! But, will Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake say that? I hardly think so. Why? She’s out of touch with what the crack epidemic has done to our people in Baltimore – I guess. Definite potential top initiative: Schools. The schools CEO, Dr. Andres Alonso, takes credit for accomplishments, but never for errors. Instead, he throws principals under the bus and blames everything on them and their inadequacies. Case in point: Dr. Barney Wilson. Maybe Wilson had an issue. I don’t know. I “do” know he made Poly nationally relevant. However, his reward was a quick toss under the bus as well.
The mayor wants more cops; I thought we were charged as Americans with doing more with less. And, if you have to spend, let the return on investment be one of profit.
If I’m not mistaken, the more we spend on crime - the more things stay the same, and the less we have to put on education.
More cops? Or better schools? Our focus as a city and under current city leadership suggests it is more important to hire even more cops. All I know is at the end of the day, 44% of America’s prisons are comprised with black men. So, in my book, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake seeks to arrest our way out of the current situation, and not emphasize education and all its fruits.
What do you think?
3 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
I believe that we need leaders in office that can differentiate between symptoms and root causes of problems and the thought of “more cops” addressing a root cause is not realistic and a potential waste of money we do not have. There are plenty of scenarios that may be dire enough to demand the immediate addressing of a symptom (like adding more cops to affect crime) but anytime these approaches are considered, they should include a well-articulated plan to address the root causes (in the same conversation.) Priority of resources has to address root cause. If not, expect the problem to return just as you expect a weed to grow back if you fail to pull it up by the roots. An Important question is, “Who among the candidates TRULY understands, and can CLEARLY articulate ROOT issues affecting Baltimore’s demise, and is the problem even within the jurisdiction for the Mayor to influence? (the second part of this question suggests that the candidate MUST be well connected with influence to positively affect those City problems outside of the Mayor's direct influence.) Are the strategies articulated by the candidates, positioned to deal with Symptoms or Root Cause? Understand that I do not profess to know the answer, but I highly recommend that the citizens of Baltimore ask the questions and drive the discussion to see who really has a clue. I contend that we continue to have many of the same problems because strategies employed only addressed Symptoms and not Root Cause.
Hi Doni, I enjoy your different media outlets tremendously, you are a much needed voice! I have been active in our communities since the 1980's and it is clear to me that this is the time for change, since January this year I have been giving weekly seminars to the officers of the BCPD working with Sgt. Stephanie Lansey and others. I continuously work with our young people concerning peer pressure, drugs, gangs, teen pregnancy and the multitude of other issues they face on the streets everyday, my view is from the curb! I am on board with Catherine Pugh for Mayor and Tony Glover for councilman of the 13th district in which I reside. both of these people have Ideas and concepts that will meet the needs of the folks on the street. I would love to discuss my concepts and ideas as to how the problems of crime, poor scholastic results and other interrelated issues can be resolved. Catherine Pugh's approach is well thought out and comprehensive and we will be laying it out for public consumption on Aug, 20th I hope you will cover it.
Peace and Blessings, Sonnie Jones Jr. 4437507514 email@example.com
Doni,love your commentary!!!!but brother,you are WAY wrong to the point of offending with your comments on barney wilson....As a graduate long ago of the NATIONALLY PRESTIGIOUS POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE,to give that credit of national acknowledgement to mr wilson is way,WAY off the mark.Im sure a big reason he was reassigned was the fact that he waas a main proprietor for skateworks,which was providing a place for teens and young men to rape a 12 year old,having several stabbings,and shootings.This was a common occurance,im sure he was spoken to by his higher ups,and he chose to do him.I totally agree that at our best high school(and alma mater),how can we have a LEADER set the example he was?lets not let race undertone our opinions.as a matter of fact,we should have even expected MORE from him to us then as to continue to oversee the actions that were going on there at his skating rink.i understand you cant prevent the first thing,but after that,he had a choice,and he chose to keep himself going there.at that point,i cant use any excuses for him.He,and as a black man,was disregarding our BLACK children for personal gain.he actually is lucky he has a job at all with the school system.the truth is the truth.