Time for the US Attorney for the District of Maryland to Investigate
Mayor Catherine Pugh has been taking a whipping from the media. (“Pugh quits UMMS board,” 3-19-19; “Payments labeled as ‘grants’,” 3-20-19; “Inaugural forms not filed with the IRS,” 3-22-19; and more)
Is there any wonder why? Could it be she has not been able to get a handle on the crime problem in Baltimore City? Could it be that her selection of police commissioners for the Baltimore City Police Department – until now – have proven to be terrible? Could it be she has been unsuccessful in dealing with the failing, dysfunctional public school system in Baltimore City?
Could it be she got her hand caught in the cookie jar with regard to her children’s book deal scheme with the University of Maryland Medical System? Mayor Pugh’s reactions and responses to this “BOOKGATE” scandal are illuminating. She borrows a page from Donald Trump, calling the investigations into her transaction a witch hunt. She asserts she pays her taxes and files everything, yet she refuses to provide copies of tax records related to the book deal. She returns $100,000 from the overall amount of $500,000 to the University of Maryland Medical System. (If she did no wrong, why is she giving the money back?)
Furthermore, she was required to recently amend 7 years of ethics forms she filed when she was in the state Senate because her Healthy Holly children’s book information was not reported. Her defense consists of calling it an error and claiming not to be perfect.
We also learn that the required financial disclosures for Mayor Pugh’s inauguration were not filed.
Therefore, I am calling for the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland to conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether or not Mayor Pugh has engaged in criminal behavior.
Follow the Constitution
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi’s comments and position, are disappointing to say the least – showcasing moral bankruptcy in government. She has no difficulty in admitting that Donald Trump is unfit to be United States president – ethically, politically, and intellectually. Yet, according to her, he should not be impeached. Unless there is compelling evidence, the Senate would not convict him so there is no point in going through the impeachment process. Such action would make the Democratic Party look bad and would serve as a strong cause for their losing the 2020 election.
The question is, what does she regard as compelling evidence. Is she looking for a smoking, smoking, smoking gun? Truth be told, however, we do not need a smoking gun. We have ample circumstantial evidence of Donald Trump’s obstruction of justice and abuse of power – his illegal hush money paid to porn stars, his taking bribe money from Russian oligarchs, his enactment of policies favorable to Russians. It is not far fetched to say that circumstantial evidence can be more helpful in making a case than reliance on accounts from so-called witnesses who are capable of distorting the truth to suit the case.
Nancy Pelosi’s stance illustrates a harsh reality for the American people. Keeping her Democratic Party colleagues in power, at whatever cost, is taking precedence over the responsibility of the House of Representatives responsibility to make sure the current president abides by the rule of law and does not deliberately try to undermine the Constitution of the United States. Her use of the pronoun, “I” makes her perspective even more disturbing. What she should be stating is “we the people” – the people of the United States should be her primary concern – “we the people” are supposed to be protected by anyone, including the president of the United States, who dares to undermine the Constitution of the United States.
Yes- there is no doubt that Republicans in Congress are Trump enablers. They put their party above what is in the best interests of the American people. And now Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is doing the same thing – and qualifying her for membership into the club of moral bankruptcy in government.
No bolt from the blue
It comes as no surprise to read, “City’s vocational programs falling short, report says,” 2-19-19. We are told that the Baltimore City Public School system hired a firm to conduct an audit of its vocational programs to help bring about significant changes. In my opinion this news gives little reason for optimism, but supplies a lot of ground for pessimism. Why? The audit is just another costly expenditure – a waste of taxpayer money – showing data that will not really get to the heart of the matter.
Although students have voiced their concerns about the failures of the programs, officials wind up wasting time and money (lots of money) to try to right the wrongs – but all to no avail. Officials simply do not listen to the students – students who really do have promise, students who are starved for more than food – students who need people to show them what they can achieve in life and guide them on that path – students who need individualized curricula to center around their interests and needs. You don’t need expensive, fancy audits to tell you this.
Two years ago, I used a 2-pronged approach in presenting to the Baltimore City Board of Education an outline of my TUTOR-MENTOR-TEAM PROGRAM. Its mission is to give students, starting at the elementary school level, an opportunity to connect with a team of tutor-mentor volunteers who will work with the student throughout his/her entire school life – from the onset of the connection until the student graduates and/or becomes gainfully employed – guiding and helping to keep the student on the path of success.
First – I contacted a division within the Board of Education – Department of Commuications – with the hope they would share my program with Dr. Sonja Santelises. That never materialized.
Second – Contact with James Torrence, staff specialist in Baltimore City schools, resulted in his giving me a green light to go into any school in Baltimore City and persuade them to put the program into action as a pilot program.
I submitted the outline to 3 city public schools and offered to serve as a consultant, free of charge, in its implementation. Not one of the 3 principals had the courtesy to acknowledge my efforts. So when one reads about the failures of the city’s schools, be it the vocational program or any other facet of public education, it is not like a bolt from the blue.
Maybe it is time for the powers to be to take more seriously the TUTOR-MENTOR TEAM PROGRAM.
Who is Commissioner Harrison really kidding?
So…… the new acting Baltimore City Police Commissioner, Michael Harrison, intends to seek the assistance of religious leaders of all denominations to urge them to urge their members to serve the public and become police officers. Commissioner Harrison might have good intentions, but who is he really kidding?
By the way, initially he indicated he was not interested in becoming the commissioner for the Baltimore City Police Department since he was about to retire from his role as police commissioner in New Orleans. And, by the way he was not the first choice of Mayor Pugh. Now, could it be when he learned of the salary for the Baltimore position ($275,000), he had a change of heart?
What will his new recruiting strategy entail? Is he going to enlighten the leaders of the varied religious institutions that the salary for beginning police officers will be at least $200,000 or $100,000? I think not. He will have to convey to them that the starting salary is more like $52,000. Will he be honest with the potential recruits and tell them what they have to look forward to with this salary? Will he inform them that once the new police officers put on their uniforms, they become targets for being shot at any given moment. Will he notify them that it is not uncommon for situations to occur, whereby in the officers’ enthusiasm for performing their duties and they make an arrest, the tables are turned and they become the supposed criminal based on accusations of harassment or discrimination. Will he let them know of the implementation of the civil rights reforms mandated by the city’s consent decree which makes the job of the police officers even more difficult?
Even if acting Commissioner Harrison has some success in his recruiting efforts, there is still no quick fix. Attendance at the police academy along with rigorous training lies ahead for the new recruits. In the meantime, what transpires. A weekend like the last one where there were 14 shootings from Thursday until Sunday.
Needless to say it is a long road to travel, not only for the recruits, but also for Commissioner Harrison as he endeavors to curb the violence that has descended on Baltimore City and ae he tries to fill all of the vacancies in the department, a number more like 1500, rather than 500.
So……good luck to Michael Harrison, for he will need all that he can get.
Good Luck Commissioner Harrison
For several days, the Baltimore City Police Department, has been the subject of front page news ranging from the dire shortage of police officers, especially in the patrol unit to acting Commissioner Michael Harrison taking over the helm. And then we read about the survey Councilman Yitzy Schleifer distributed to the Baltimore City Police officers – a survey which in effect, just inflamed and added more fuel to the fire of distress over the troubles facing the Baltimore City Police Department.
It really did not take a scientific or nonscientific poll to disclose the harsh reality of the recruitment, retention, and morale problems of the Baltimore City police officers.
The shortage of police officers is certainly not a new crisis. For far too long the shortage has existed. The trouble is that there was a refusal on the part of the politicos and mayors in office to acknowledge it. And now that they do, we are still not being told just how severe it is. We hear the number, 500, but in reality, for the citizens of Baltimore City to be properly protected, the number is more likely to be 2000 short.
Is it any wonder why we are confronted with such a depletion of patrol officers. When an individual puts on a police uniform and becomes an open target for being shot or spit on or filmed in a video with accusations of committing a crime in the act of protecting the public, perhaps $52,000 is not enough of an incentive for that individual to risk his/her life.
Little if anything was accomplished with Baltimore citizens hearing the results of Councilman Schleifer’s survey that was really a repetition of the woes that have befallen the Baltimore City Police Department. The citizens would be better served by hearing of a constructive plan of action, based on truth, rather than empty platitudes put forth by phony politicians.
Without question, Commissioner Harrison has his hands full in attacking the problems head on. Good luck to him. He will need all he can get. He will not be able to count on any real help from the politicians.
A power play by candidates and the media
David Zurawik’s long-winded expose, “2020 candidates search for media magic,” (2-10-19) calls for an addendum which I would like to provide.
His elaboration of media means used by hopeful presidential candidates of the past and now the present along with the effectiveness of each fails to include a salient point of information. That is – career politicians or wannabe career politicians who are candidates for president all have a common goal. They want money, power, and fame. That is what makes them tick. But, the candidates aren’t the only ones seeking power and fame. So too do the media make a play for power.
Case in point – Donald Trump. He was clearly the favorite of the right wing media. Thanks to the exorbitant amount of free publicity they dispensed on him, the other Republican candidates in the 2018 election had little if any chance of getting the nomination. The mainstream liberal media also meted out substantial amounts of free time to Mr. Trump when they saw how their ratings increased. The net result of this – Because of so much free time, Donald Trump gained tremendous momentum because he was so quotable with his outrageous remarks.
Once the left wing media realized they contributed to Mr. Trump’s victory,
and became cognizant of the fact they helped to created a political monster, they have pursued another course of action – to bring about his downfall.
One might safely conclude, then, that the mainstream media is just as morally bankrupt as are the career politicians. What a play on politics this is – a play on stage starring candidates and mainstream media as the characters – all of them acting their very best roles to promote their own biased, selfish interests while the audience or viewers lose track of the truth in the process. The encore presentation is our polarized, dysfunctional country.
Reason for pessimism
If one wants to find a reason why politics in Baltimore City government is so morally bankrupt, the answer is provided in the article, “Pugh gathers funds for ‘20.”
If we take the words of Steve Sibel, a developer and Mayor Pugh’s campaign chairman, at face value, her fund is already so large because of the confidence people have in her ability to make Baltimore better.
On closer examination, however, one might figure out the real motives for the readiness and willingness of a group of small business politicos to give Mayor Pugh campaign bribe money. Could their driving force be a desire for peddling ‘influence money’ to obtain sweetheart deals for their businesses?
What is more frustrating is that Mayor Pugh is getting big bucks not only from Baltimore business people looking for favors, but also from people outside the city as well – people looking for something in return for their mighty dollars. Is it little wonder why the citizens of Baltimore City have to suffer with a failed and flawed public education system? Is it little wonder why the police department is in such shambles having had 3 different police commissioners under her regime? Is it little wonder why the citizens of Baltimore are being subjected to a crime infested breakdown of law, order, and justice in Baltimore City?
Sad to say, the choice of possible candidates considering a run against Mayor Pugh do not offer much more hope. There is former Mayor Sheila Dixon with a tarnished record of breaking the law which forced her to resign from office. Then there is City Councilman Brandon Scott, the running mate for Jim Shea who tried to buy the governorships with his money.
To stop the downward spiral of Baltimore City, citizens of Baltimore City have to meet the challenge – elect an individual whose benchmark is power to the people rather than power, fame, and money for the leader. The strength of the candidate should come from the quality of the individual’s ideas and character rather than the quantity of campaign bribe money in the individual’s treasure chest.
$3.8 billion – almost a laughing matter
The article, “Kirwan panel approves plan to spend $3.8 billion more on schools,” (1-19-19) is almost a laughable matter. Maybe even the allotment of 3.8 cents should be questioned. Here’s why.
Consider the condition of the public schools in Baltimore City and other urban areas throughout Maryland. Is there any real evidence that all the dollars spent in these schools for the last 20 years have yielded newsworthy positive results?
I venture to say these schools have been noteworthy but for the wrong reasons.
Look at the reading test scores in the inner city schools. Look at the drop out rate of the students. Look at the expulsion rate. Look at the disciplinary problems.
The sweeping statewide changes which the Kirwan panel is proposing sound impressive. However, with all their recommendations, they have omitted an essential factor – something that money will not buy, but is critical if the goal is to put and keep students on a path of success. It’s a human element – it is genuine care and concern about the student. And that is not going to come from exorbitant amounts of money being poured into the public school system.
I have spent 40 years as an educator in the public and private sector. I believe if the so-called powers to be in education would take off their blinders and adapt the program I have been advocating for almost 2 years, they would see far more positive outcomes than what is being accomplished from the pseudo experts in public education today.
My TUTOR-MENTOR-TEAM PROGRAM calls for students, starting at the kindergarten level, to connect with a tutor-mentor-team that would stay with the student – be boys or girls, black, brown, white or yellow – until the student graduates high school and/or college and is gainfully employed. What the tutor-mentor-team will do is give the student the attention and demonstrate the care, concern, and interest that so many students are famished for. What’s more, except for the cost of fingerprinting the tutor-mentor team members, no other taxpayer money is required.
This is the real answer to the educational woes plaguing the public school system today.
Still Cause for Concern
The “Pick for top cop to meet public” (1-15-19) does little to allay concerns about the qualifications of Mayor Pugh’s 2nd choice for the new Police Commissioner of the Baltimore City Police Department.
Remember, she was certain that her 1st choice, Fort Worth, Texas, Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald whom was selected through a closed door secret process, would be the savior for the citizens of Baltimore City. However, skepticism over her choice quickly mounted, especially with members of the Baltimore City Council, as leaks came out concerning his credentials for meeting the challenges of the job.
Now that Police Chief Fitzgerald removed himself from consideration for the position, Mayor Pugh is “gun-ho” about her 2nd choice – Michael Harrison, a police officer who rose up through the ranks to become the New Orleans Police Superintendent. Initially, he expressed little if any interest in the job and was planning to retire. Why did he choose not to stay on for another term as Police Superintendent of New Orleans? Could it be a case of “burn out“ on his part?” Apparently, Police Superintendent Harrison had a change of heart when he was offered the Baltimore City position. Although his religious inclination is notable, his mixed bag record for curbing crime is questionable. (A “Cop’s Cop, 1-13-19).
While it is worth mentioning he is ready to take over the reins before being confirmed and he is ready to meet the public, here is the point. No matter how good or effective a communicator he is and no matter how well intentioned he is for being a change agent in Baltimore City, there is no way he will be able to stop the killings and robberies occurring everyday in Baltimore City. Unfortunately, the existing shortage of at least 1000 police officers in the Baltimore City Police Department during the 3 shifts a day period makes it impossible to properly protect Baltimore City citizens. Sadly, it will take years to fill these vacancies.
As I have said before, the career politicians in Baltimore do not have the courage to tackle the crisis head on with a 3 pronged approach –
Call out the National Guard for a one month period.
Develop a curriculum and add more classes which stress the return of family values in the Baltimore City public school system
Elect leaders who put the practice of ETHICS above politics.
More than more police
Dan Rodricks’ assessment of the needs of the Baltimore City Police Department has some serious gaps.
Granted, Dan Rodricks’ data on officer density in Baltimore City provides reason for the need to recruit and train more officers. However, he omits an even more compelling set of numbers to demonstrate why it is so imperative to substantially increase the size of the Baltimore City Police Department. I am referring to the number of officers actually patrolling the streets of Baltimore City on a regular, consistent, 3 shifts- a- day basis. I believe this number is approximately 700 officers per shift, which is totally unacceptable – a number making it impossible for the 620, 000 citizens of Baltimore to be properly protected.
In reality, it will be a matter of years, not months, before the shortfall of officers can be remedied. Of course better pay and other incentives are vital, but that is easier said than done, regardless of how inspiring the new police commissioner will be.
Concerning the new police commissioner, truth be told, we do not need a national research process to find an individual who can inspire the police department and in whom the Baltimore City citizens can place their trust and confidence. What is required is to find a “good cop” with at least 15 years of experience in the Baltimore City Police Department, who resides in Baltimore and who does not have selfish aspirations for becoming the next Police Commissioner of New York City.
I believe the shortage of police officers in the Baltimore City Police Department has been a persistent problem even before the April 2015 turbulence. For a long time, many in power refused to acknowledge that trouble back then and they continue to turn the other cheek on what needs to be done now with regard to the crisis in violence. In large part, the “gutless’ career politicians have not had the “guts” to tell the truth. To stop all of the senseless murders, robberies, and shootings plaguing Baltimore City citizens everyday, the only real, immediate solution is to call in the National Guard for a period of one month. The refusal to do so just intensifies the fires of violence raging in our city today.
Will the governor have the courage to take this action? Probably not – but miracles do happen.
If we really want to see a change for the better, the long term solution is a return to Judaic Christian values and the birth of ethical politicians.