I am outraged that Mayor Catherine Pugh did not have a plan ready to go for dealing with the crime problem in Baltimore City when she took office in December 2016. In the article, “Pugh wants crime plan,” 2-9-17 she asserted, two months into office, that the current strategy is not working. For sure, this cannot be disputed. But, knowing and witnessing the horrific crisis in violence that has been plaguing Baltimore City for months on end, why in the world didn’t she have a plan ready to go the moment her reign as mayor started? To me this warrants giving her a failing grade in the area of preparation.

I am enraged that Mayor Pugh continues to refuse to tell the WHOLE TRUTH regarding the number of police officers that are really needed to get a handle on the crime problem in Baltimore City. 100 new officers will not do; a minimum of 500 to 700 should be the goal.

I am outraged that the members of the Baltimore City Council – old and new alike – do not address the truth about the police shortage in Baltimore City.

I am enraged that the Baltimore Sun does not publicly condemn the Mayor and her city council cohorts for their failures to bring about effective solutions to the crime problem.

I am outraged that the Baltimore Sun will not give comprehensive coverage to their readership about the Jaffe Plan, consisting of short term and long term programs for coming to grips with actions that will eventually make Baltimore City a place where safe streets will be restored and a more meaningful public school education will be offered to the youth of Baltimore City.


Much Ado About Nothing

According to the article, “Under Armour reckons with backlash,” 2-9-17, Under Armour declared that they engage in policy, not politics. So the question should be what is their policy? My perception of CEO Kevin Plank’s policy can be summarized as follows. He excels in buying off politicians, regardless of political party, for the purpose of getting what he wants. And, what he wants results in the exploitation of taxpayers in the state of Maryland. Hence all of the hullabaloo concerning what Mr, Plank does or does not do with regard to President Trump, is much a big deal about nothing.

A Matter of Disgust

How disgusting it is to read about the Maryland Stadium Authority’s pledge of $24 million in taxpayers’ money to go towards the stadium upgrade (“Major upgrade set for stadium,” 2-1-17). We also learn of the Ravens raising ticket prices for 2017.

I’m wondering if Tom Kelso, the chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority has read the Sun’s article which informed readers about the threat expressed by the CEO of the Baltimore City Public School System to lay off 1000 workers because of budget constraints. Or has he read about the crime crisis confronting plaguing Baltimore City and the dire need for additional police officers. Yet, he is quick to point out that the state Board of Public Works unanimously approved the $24 million dollar contribution towards the stadium upgrade project.

To me, Mr. Kelso’s words and action along with his cohorts from the Board of Public Works reflect their value system – putting up $24 million for stadium perks is more important than the safety of the citizens of Baltimore City and the quality of education for students in Baltimore City public schools.

To me, Mr. Kelso’s action demonstrates the belief it’s more important to pander to Mr. Stephen Bisciotti, the Ravens’ owner rather than acting like a real public servant whose goal is serve the best needs of the citizens of Baltimore City.

As for Mr. Bisciotti, raising ticket prices is not an altruistic act on his part. Rather it reveals he is Ok with getting every nickel and dime he can from the taxpayers. Let’s not forget something else – the adverse impact not only on the fan base but also on the merchants in the Westminster area whose livelihood depended on the Ravens’ presence when Mr. Bisciotti moved the Ravens training camp at McDaniel College (nee Western Maryland) to Owings Mills.
To me, the increase in ticket prices is just another example of the “selfish big shots” taking advantage of the stupidity of the career politicians in Maryland


Cause for Hysteria

The article, “Drastic cuts in school budget,” 1-28-17, caught me by surprise. It was difficult for me to fathom that CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises of the Baltimore City Public School System is prepared to lay off more than 1000 people from the school system. I don’t know if she is trying to blow off smoke or if she is really serious with this action. But, here is what I do know.

The Baltimore City Public School System is in a state of disarray, to put it mildly. Neither the students nor the taxpayers are getting their money’s worth when it comes to the education of the youth. Clearly, the fault lies with the phony career politicians of Baltimore City, including the current mayor and her predecessors.

I have a plan to significantly improve the quality of the public school system with the mission of making public school education more relevant to the needs of the students. My TUTOR/MENTOR Program can notably change the life of any student in Baltimore City who wants an opportunity to receive a meaningful education in the public school system followed by a meaningful job in the community.

Having been in contact with key aides in the Baltimore City Public School System Office of Education, I offered my services free of charge as a consultant to help implement my program. The question is – will CEO Dr. Santelises be smart enough to take advantage of this opportunity. I guess time will tell.


Doesn’t the public’s sacred trust count?

I found the editorial, “Pugh’s finances,” 1-27-17, to be troubling. Mayor Catherine Pugh is quoted saying, “ “we did everything by the book”….I don’t talk about campaigns here.” When the editors respond by saying separating the business of running for office from that of running the city is a good practice, does that mean it is alright to use highly questionable practices in the process of getting elected? How likely is it that one who does engage in questionable practices in campaigns is able to completely disengage from those practices once elected?

As for Mr. Smith who is giving the appearance of making an unlawful loan of $100,000 to Mayor Pugh’s campaign, the editors point out he received a job at a generous salary of $175,000 which he doesn’t really need. Since we are not informed as to his personal finances, I have to ask, if he doesn’t need the money then why did he accept the salary – why doesn’t he volunteer his time and services?

I maintain that a “politician/public servant” is not supposed to give even the slightest appearance of doing something that is wrong. We should be demanding that career politicians be held to the highest level of ethical behavior – public’s sacred trust. How can anyone argue that Mayor Pugh does not give the appearance of doing something that’s wrong? Something smells fishy!

Ralph Jaffe

Only a small dose of hope

The article, “Hiring of 100 officers ok’d,” 1-20-17, offers a little hope. Mayor Pugh deserves credit for taking a teeny, tiny step in the right direction with her announcement of hiring 100 additional police officers to the Baltimore City Police Department. The truth, though, is that we really need a minimum of 500 to 700 additional officers which would enable the police force to make their presence effectively felt in Baltimore City communities. Lieutenant Ryan has said that nothing will really be accomplished until the hiring and placement of the new police officers becomes a reality.
For the police department of Baltimore City to be where it needs to be, the recruitment and training of police officers will require a lot of improvement in order to undo the damage of the 2 preceding administrations.

Ralph Jaffe

A chance for Mayor Pugh to get it right

Yvonne Wenger in “Black, female and in charge of a big city,” 1-17-17, points out commonalities among Mayor Catherine Pugh and her two predecessors. However no mention was made of the commonality that all three of them are products of the liberal, “phony baloney” government programs which have failed to serve the best interests of the citizens of Baltimore City.
Furthermore, I was saddened, but not surprised that no mention was made of another commonality – the failure of the current mayor as well as her 2 predecessors to tell the truth about the status of the Baltimore City Police Department. The blatant truth is that the Baltimore City Police Department does not have enough police officers on board to properly protect the citizens of Baltimore City.

If Mayor Pugh would conduct a really sincere communication with the President of the Baltimore City Police Union, Lieutenant Gene Ryan, perhaps she would more willingly grasp and accept the reality of the police shortage situation. Then, in light of the fact that Baltimore has been selected for Bloomberg’s Innovation Team program (“Baltimore gets Bloomberg-funded innovation team” 1-18-17), Mayor Pugh could use the opportunity to “get it right.” How about this for innovation? Use the $1.5 million to start the process of hiring more police officers that are so badly needed in Baltimore City. For a change, it would be money well spent by Mayor Pugh.

During the last 2 weeks I’ve had several conversations with key aides of the mayor concerning the police shortage problem along with my plan to make the Baltimore City public school system more relevant in meeting the needs of the students, without any extra taxes involved. The question is – does Mayor Pugh have the courage to listen to Lieutenant Ryan and me?

Ralph Jaffe

About term limits

As someone who has been trying to get rid of corruption in Maryland government since 1992, it would be irresponsible on my part to bypass the editorial, “Term limits won’t help.”

I agree with the premise expressed in the title. It says it all. In my opinion, term limits will be neither a forceful nor effective tool in bringing about real ethical reform in government. Furthermore, I agree that good choices of candidates must be presented to the voters with opportunities to properly differentiate them. (Perhaps that means more media exposure to all candidates who run rather than limiting coverage to the so-called major ones.)

What is needed is for aspiring wannabe candidates to be willing to make a voluntary commitment that – regardless of the office in question, be it governor, U.S. senator, city or county councilperson, etc. – only one term will be served and then they will return to their field of work. The candidates should be able to make the government work for their constituents during that one term in office. If such is the case, then they can leave the public service arena knowing they can be proud of their record for being outstanding public servants who placed their constituents’ needs above their own. If such is not the case, then there’s no rhyme or reason for allowing the candidates to be re-elected anyway.

I take issue with the call for public financing of political campaigns to encourage the best and brightest to run for office. What’s more the individual should not take any campaign contributions, no matter how large or how small – because campaign contributions might be legal, but they are unethical disguised campaign bribes. I would rather take the taxpayers public financing fund and distribute that money to the needy of our state instead of the politicians who have a thirst for greed. Until we get money out of politics and put a stop to “career politicians” whose focus is on power, fame, and money as opposed to the needs of their constituents we will not be successful in solving any problems. The best proof – look how messed up our state is now.
Right now – the sad truth is, based on my philosophy, we don’t have one ethical politician in our state or country.


Enough is enough

The Federal Railroad Administration is recommending an upgrade for Amtrak (“Upgrade Amtrak, agency urges,” 12-28-16), but I’m suggesting another point of view. The article only reaffirms the stance I’ve taken as an observer and critic of this railroad passenger service for almost 30 years. Amtrak’s performance for the citizens of the United States is way less than satisfactory. Why? Reasons include their use of antiquated equipment, archaic trains, old-fashioned wiring systems, outdated tracks, ineffective security system to combat a terrorist attack, slow installation of automatic safety braking systems. In return for this service, Americans have been bilked for billions of dollars in taxpayer money.

In short, Amtrak is a colossal boondoggle. It’s time for Amtrak along with the Federal Railroad Administration to go out of business. Let’s see what the private sector can do for those who travel on track.

What citizens can do is contact their congressmen and U.S. senators to say no more funding for Amtrak. Enough is enough!