Judging Judges

While the editors of the Baltimore Sun have identified a serious problem in “How to judge judges,” 11-21-17, their suggestions for resolution could be simplified.

Finding ethical judges is a big hurdle. Unfortunately, all judges are practicing lawyers before taking a seat on the bench – and that poses a problem. A major motivation for people entering the law profession is the potential to make a lot of money. If this prospect of making money legally is their primary focus, then the concept of practicing “ethics” takes on secondary importance. Again unfortunately, law schools throughout the country including Maryland do not do a good job in teaching their students the magnitude of ethics and, more importantly, putting it into practice.

So the question becomes, how do we obtain good, ethical judges? Based upon research with the Maryland Judiciary Administrative Office of the Courts, my response contains 3 provisions.
First – the salary. There is no need to differentiate salaries among the judges, be they district, circuit, or appellate. After reviewing their current salaries, I would say that an annual salary of $140,000 would be a fair salary for all judges. This should help to ensure that public service is their mission – not making a lot of money.

Second – the term of service. Regardless of the type of judge – district, circuit, or appellate – they should serve one term of 6 years. When that term has been completed, they have fulfilled their public service responsibilities. One term of 6 year service eliminates their need to worry about re-election and taking bribes from lawyers who practice before the judges. When they step down from the court system, they can step in to teaching law, practicing law again, or retirement.

Third – involvement of the Maryland Bar Association. The governor should not appoint judges. Such a measure would remove politics from the selection process. The Maryland Bar Association should assume the responsibility of seeking out those who are qualified to serve on the courts.

These 3 provisions add up to an effective, common sense, easy to understand process for getting better judges. Unfortunately, therefore, my proposals have no chance for implementation.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher and Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election
Baltimore

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When? When? When?

If Mayor Pugh is so sick and tired of being sick and tired of the violence that is out of control in Baltimore City, then the question is WHEN. When will she do the only thing which will bring real relief to the crime crisis? Call out the Maryland National Guard for a period of three weeks. The Guard members do not have to bring out the tanks; but, I believe their presence in uniforms and equipped with legal guns will result in the greatest reduction in crime in the history of Baltimore City.

Mayor Pugh – Now that you may finally understand that your police department is at least 700 officers short of where they need to be in order to protect the citizens of Baltimore properly, WHEN are you going to ask the Governor to call out the National Guard?

Are you discounting the remarks of Chef Tess Mosley, a colleague of the bartender who was murdered after stopping for milk and cookies on his way home from work. Chef Mosley stated there has been “zero police presence” in the neighborhood, and criminals believe “they can do whatever they want.” (Baltimore police: Man shot to death resisting robbery off Key Highway) If this does not affect you, what about the remarks from the residents that appear in “”I Don’t Really Feel Safe Anywhere Anymore,” 11-19-17? Mayor Pugh – do you need to read more Baltimore Sun headlines such as “Detective Dies,” 11-17-17?

How many more people have to die? How many more families have to endure pain and suffering because this fire of violence, raging fast and furiously, is so out of control?

I am the only Democratic candidate running for governor in the upcoming 2018 primary election who has repeatedly been calling for the National Guard to come in.

As for the Baltimore Sun – isn’t it time to inform your readers of my position on this nightmarish crisis?

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher and Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election
Baltimore

Still Not Enough

The article, “Pugh orders daily action on violence,” 11-10-17, has just heightened two contrasting feelings – anger and compassion – anger at the Mayor and Baltimore City Council and compassion for the victims – namely, the citizens of Baltimore City. My anger stems from the fact that the Mayor and Baltimore City Council are still beating around the bush in trying to get a handle on the horrific violence plaguing the city. My compassion for the Baltimore City citizens intensifies because they still have little if any cause for hope for relief from the tidal wave of violence.

The daily meetings the Mayor is now convening with agency heads at the police headquarters to determine where to cut weeds, cover lead paint, board up houses might alter the scenery, but the gatherings will have little impact on deterring the young violent offenders from committing their horrendous brutal acts. Instead of talking the talk – these department heads, their staff, and the mayor should walk the walk, put on their walking shoes and supplement the police officers in the geographical areas that are hardest hit. I doubt this will happen.

The primary reason for the killings – robberies – assaults continuing to make the headlines is due to the fact the career politicians and/or wannabe career politicians in the Baltimore City Council along with the Mayor and the governor refuse to take the step that will really make a significant difference for combating the epidemic of crime – calling out the National Guard for a period of three weeks. Drastic times call for drastic measures. The overwhelming majority of citizens of Baltimore City will not deny these are drastic times. With the record breaking number of crimes taking place, calling out the National Guard for a period of 3 weeks should not be perceived as a drastic measure. You don’t have to bring out the tanks, but the National Guard members should be in uniforms and equipped with guns that are legal to carry. This is the only measure that will bring about a sweeping and far reaching halt to the dire situation. It is a shame that the career politicians do not have the “guts” to take this action.

Police Commissioner Davis is laying a good part of the blame on the broken juvenile justice system. What he should do is compile a list of judges who are continually releasing the offenders and provide the media with their names. If fact -finding by the media reveals that these judges are merely carrying out what the law allows them to do, then the blame should also be placed on the state legislature of Maryland and the governors who approved these left wing, liberal laws which are really senseless. (For the record, I am not liberal or conservative; I believe in being ethical.)

These repeat juvenile offenders absolutely need to be dealt with. However, if Commissioner Davis were to submit the number of these repeat juvenile offenders responsible for the outrageous crimes occurring, I believe the number would probably be less than 100. So…what about all of the other crimes taking place? Therefore, faulting the juvenile offenders as an excuse for his inability to get a handle on the crime problem is not acceptable. He has failed in his responsibility to keep Baltimore City citizens safe.

His meetings with Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises might be more productive if they would remove their blinders and realize the positive results that could accrue from implementing my TUTOR-MENTOR TEAM PROGRAM. It is a significant vehicle for turning students on to a road of success instead of pushing them on to a life of crime and violence.

The problem, however, is that the administration on Calvert Street headed up by Dr. Santelises is clueless concerning steps that need to be taken. Their allowing principals to “do their own things” causes more problems than solutions. In the meantime, taxpayers are paying the CEO and her underlings over five million dollars for phony PR. The citizens of Baltimore City deserve better than this.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher and Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election
Baltimore

 

A Journey From Hopelessness To Hope

Pamela Wood’s article, “Hogan plans tech ed initiative,” 11-3-17 raises some important issues. Apparently, the governor is concerned about building a more tech-savvy workforce in Maryland and believes his ACCESS plan will accomplish this. Hence he will play a key role in deciding what students should learn and a timeline for working the lessons into the curriculum. However, what qualifies him to set curriculum standards?

While not discounting the importance of teaching computer science and coding in schools, I believe the best way to help students in Maryland is through the TUTOR-MENTOR TEAM approach. Access and entry into the job market – not just the computer field – is an essential ingredient of students’ education. Therefore I would define ACCESS as
Achieving Classroom Collaboration for Employing Students Successfully

Furthermore, the TUTOR-MENTOR strategy would not cost the taxpayer any money. Here’s how it would work. To get the wheels rolling, during the first 100 days in office, I would convene meetings on a statewide basis, with religious institutions, business establishments, TV personalities, sports figures, etc. for the purpose of engaging their help in formulating the TUTOR-MENTOR TEAMS. These teams would then work with the principals and teachers of schools in the city and counties throughout Maryland. Each TUTOR-MENTOR TEAM would be assigned to work with one student throughout that student’s school life – that is from the start of their connection until the student is gainfully employed. It is the team along with the classroom teachers who would determine the needs of the their assigned student together with the tools and materials required for making the student’s learning successful. If the student needs computer training, then the team tackles that task as well as providing the free computer.

Along the way, the TUTOR-MENTOR TEAM will help to instill in students the Judaic-Christian value system that has somehow gotten lost on the path of education today.

Through the TUTOR-MENTOR TEAM approach of Achieving Classroom Collaboration for Employing Students Successfully, students will be able to journey from hopelessness to hope.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher and Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election
Baltimore

The Blame Game

What’s wrong with Baltimore City government? For the answer – all you have to do is read the article, “ Beleaguered city residents seek end to crime surge,” 11-1-17.

There’s a blame game going on between the career politicians – namely, the Mayor of Baltimore City and the members of the Baltimore City Council whereby each side is blaming the other for the rise of crime in Baltimore City that continues to escalate to record-breaking numbers without any real relief in sight.

As the writer points out, Councilman Brandon Scott hastily called into session a meeting of the Baltimore City public safety committee to discuss the Mayor’s crime plan. However, a major player, namely Mayor Pugh declared her administration would not participate. Because of such short notice she felt a more pressing need was to focus on keeping the children and families safe on Halloween – a reason that elicited criticism from Councilman Scott. Here’s the ironical part. In providing more justification for not attending, Mayor Pugh referred to the last time Councilman Scott called such a hearing back in July when city government agencies were in attendance. Their extensive preparation for the meeting was wasted as they were dismissed without a chance to comment.

More irony stems from the fact that Mayor Pugh, back in August 2017, named Drew Vetter, the former Chief of Staff for Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, to serve as director of criminal justice to help coordinate a violence-reduction strategy. Yet, the epidemic in violence has worsened instead of improved and the morale of the police rank and file is the worst in the history of the Baltimore City Police Department.

Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than “Baltimore’s second weekend ceasefire,” 11-2-17, to bring calm to the storm of violence. Wake up, Baltimore, before it is too late. What is really needed is for the citizens of Baltimore City to elect “ethical politicians” who are willing to serve their constituents instead of themselves.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher and Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election
Baltimore

 

A Matter of Being More Proactive

Conversations on America’s gun culture have become more pronounced in the news, such as “Republicans, NRA willing to consider gun measure,” 10-6-17, but to what avail?

Whether it is the Freddie Gray shooting and aftermath – whether it is the Las Vegas massacre – whether it is the Columbine shooting (1999), the Virginia Tech shooting (2007), the Sandy Hook shooting (2012), the Orlando shooting (2016), whether it be the storm ravaging effects from the Hurricanes Harvey or Irma which plummeted Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico – the response to these tragedies has been very predictable. People rally around the people. People quickly rise to the situation doing everything they can to help the victims of these horrific events.

During the Las Vegas mass shootings, the goodwill of people was clearly evident. Strangers acting as shields for other strangers, strangers carrying wounded strangers to hospitals, strangers waiting in line to donate blood for injured strangers. This is the goodness of 97% of people in Maryland and America. However, it is the 3 or 4% of the population such as the Las Vegas madman or gang members in the cities who cause the havoc and devastation.

In all of these disasters, our response is a reaction. – Our actions are reactive when they should be proactive. The tragedy occurs, and then people react. What needs to be done is to take measures which could help to prevent or at least lessen the pain resulting from these disasters.
All of the goodness in people cannot bring back to life the people murdered. All of the goodness in people cannot remove the pain and suffering of those adversely affected by the wrath of the storms pounding their areas.

The question is …where does the blame lie?
In large part the blame lies with the career politicians – be they liberal, conservative, Republicans or Democrats and their goals It is their desire for power, fame, and money that propels them to put their own needs above the needs of the people they are supposed to serve. That accounts for Congress not taking action on banning assault weapons from being sold to the public. It explains why President Trump took so long before the military was called to come to the aid of the people in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

How do we go from being reactive to proactive?
First – We need to elect politicians who are ethical and who will make a commitment before they are elected to be a real, true public servant rather than becoming a career politician. Agreeing to serve one term only would be the best way to bring this about.
Second – We need more educators like Reverend Watters – people who are committed to helping the poor and needy in the community. We need fewer educators whose primary focus is promoting their own careers as administrators or professors who like to author books for selling.
Third – We need to come to the realization that there is a Supreme Being over all of us. We need to learn how to emulate what our Maker stands for.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election

 

 

A Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

If the Pulitzer Prize for journalism were to be awarded for an article that portrays an authentic, religious individual who understands what real education is all about, it should be Talia Richman’s article, “Third school is part of DNA, Jesuit priest says,” 9-26-17.

The central figure, Rev. Bill Watters, an assisting priest at Saint Ignatius Catholic Community in Mount Vernon, should be the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. His willingness to go into some of the poorest neighborhoods in Baltimore City for the purpose of opening schools in order to serve the mainly low-income, minority student population warrants nothing but praise. In his own words, “The drive to foster education is part of his DNA.” What can be a holier mission than to provide these students with hope instead of despair – to light a candle of goodness in the darkness around them. The caring – sharing – connecting he has made with the young and older alike is a living miracle.

To my way of thinking, Rev. Watters should be the CEO of the Baltimore Public School System. Dr. Sonja Santelises, head of the Baltimore City Public Schools, would do well to take a lesson or more from him. Perhaps, she would then be able to justify the close to $300,000 salary she is earning. Perhaps she would come to realize the error of her ways. One being her pandering to the mayor and governor to secure taxpayer money for programs that do not work. Another being her deficiency in organizational skills resulting in a group of principals venturing out in different, but often misguided directions leading to ineffective results for students, parents, and taxpayers alike.

Perhaps than we would not have to read articles such as, “City school runs out of water,” 9-29-17 or “Student: ‘It was impossible to learn,’ “ 9-27-17.

Any gubernatorial candidate would be foolish not to use the expertise of Rev. Watters in dealing with the ailments of “failing public schools.” In actuality, his talents for helping students to meet life’s challenges, to beat the lifestyle of the streets, and to feel a sense of support and success should earn the respect and admiration of one and all.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 gubernatorial election

 

Yes – Baltimore Lives Matter

“Violent night leaves 4 dead – two others injured as police report 6 shootings in city during 14-hour period,” 9-24-17 along with a similar news-breaking story on TV describing 4 more shootings prompt the following question – How much longer is it going to take before meaningful relief comes the city way?

How much longer do Baltimore City citizens have to wait before the editors of the Baltimore Sun have the courage to call on Governor Hogan to bring out the National Guard for a three week period in order to get the urban fire of violence that is sweeping the city under control? Don’t Baltimore lives mean anything to the Baltimore Sun?

How long will it be before the career politicians of the Baltimore City Council and Mayor Pugh have the courage to call on the Governor to take action by bringing out the National Guard? Don’t they care about Baltimore lives?

Bringing the National Guard to Baltimore City for at least three weeks would really make a huge difference in quenching the smoldering fire of violence. If Governor Hogan thinks he has to wait for Mayor Pugh to request the National Guard, he is mistaken. The message sent by his refusal to take such action seems to be saying that Baltimore lives do not really matter to him.

As for me – Yes, BALTIMORE LIVES DO MATTER!

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election

Will People Buy What Krishanti Vignarajah is selling?

Will people buy what Krishanti Vignarajah is selling?
For a good laugh, just read the article, “Vignarajah launches a run for governor,” 9-20-17.

It seems that Krishanti Vignarajah, by invoking the gender card, is underestimating the intelligence of the majority of Democratic women by believing she will receive their support. I think otherwise – the majority of Democratic women are much smarter than Ms. Vignarajah is giving them credit for. In actuality, they are not going to buy what she is selling. While she might be of the opinion that her job as a policy director to former first lady Michele Obama and as a former State Department adviser could be a plus, I can argue that her association with the Obama administration could work as a minus. Remember the Benghazi fiasco?

Ms. Vignarajah has acknowledged that she has registered in two different places at the same time and yet, sees no wrong in that. How does she respond to those who question this? In Erin Cox’s article it is – no comment. Well, my comment is – it is simply wrong. Is she taking exception with regard to the residency issue? If that is the case, she is joining the ranks of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump who consider themselves to be above the law.

It is not a laughing matter when I say that Democratic voters can do better than selecting her to lead the state.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election

Governor Hogan and the Blame Game

“Hogan scorns schools plan,” 9-15-17 is a great eye opener for pointing out what is wrong with the entire public educational system in Maryland.

We learn of Governor Hogan’s disapproval of the Maryland School Board plan, but with all due respect, Governor Hogan is not a certified educator. And for that matter, the members of the Maryland State Board of Education, who are appointed by the governor, are not necessarily real authorities in education. And now, we have a state law passed by this year’s General Assembly that is supposed to address the needs for low performing schools. But, we cannot assume that the state legislators are highly qualified educators either. Nor should we take for granted that Betsy DeVos, the US Education Secretary, possesses the qualifications of an expert educational leader. However, we do know one of her qualifications is coming from a billionaire family that contributed large amounts of campaign contributions/bribes to the Trump campaign. (Could this be a factor for her position in the Trump administration?)

All this amounts to is a blame game whereby the left criticizes the right and the right is attacking the left. The truth, though, is that the left is not right, but neither is the right right. The $250 million dollars of federal funding, which in reality is taxpayer money, at stake, in the long run is not going to significantly change the public educational system.

What is really right? We need to bring back Judaic-Christian family values.
What else is right? We have to make every effort possible to provide for children two loving parents or loving surrogates father/mother. Undoubtedly, this family resurrection will not take place overnight. In the meantime, we could start with implementing a program such as the one I have been advocating for – a tutor-mentor program initially designed for Baltimore City public schools – a program whose objective is to provide Baltimore City students with the opportunity to connect with a tutor-mentor team who will stand by that student from the outset of the connection until the student completes his/her education and is gainfully employed. This program, with statewide ramifications, can work without costing taxpayers a dime. By implementing this program, the wrongs of the Governor, the Maryland State Board of Education, the General Assembly, and city leaders can be made right. And the students will have an opportunity to see the light.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election