A Costly Plan Without Real Benefits

Preposterous and outlandish – that’s how I would characterize Governor Hogan’s Baltimore plan for widening the highway on the northern part of the Baltimore Beltway in order to ease congestion (“Hogan proposes $461M for roads,” 12-20-17).

According to the article, state officials stated that travel time might be cut about 15 minutes to an hour in getting home from work. To the commuters I would respond in the following way. There are thousands of Marylanders who are looking for jobs and would gladly trade places with those who are so upset about the long traffic delays.

And then there is the cost – $461 million dollars! Can you imagine how many police officers could be hired with that amount of money? Doesn’t the governor and his cohorts in the State Highway Administration realize that saving lives might be more important than saving time for commuters. In light of the raging fire of violence in Baltimore which affects the lives of so many people, couldn’t these government officials show more sensitivity for these citizens?

Wake up Baltimore – do your part to get Governor Hogan and the morally bankrupt career politicians out of office before it is too late.

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

 

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What About a Credit Instead of a Surcharge?

The article, “BGE seeks OK for $963M pipeline improvement program,” 12-5-17, ignites feelings of exasperation and aggravation. I am vehemently opposed to BGE’s effort to get approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission for its five -year plan to upgrade the natural gas pipeline system – a program that would place a customer surcharge of up to two dollars a month.

Isn’t it ironic that the program was launched in 2013 with legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly and approved by the Governor – legislation that allows for the customer surcharge. At that time, apparently, the career politicians including Governor O’Malley were in cahoots with one another to rip off the customers. Now, five years later, BGE customers are once again the injured parties being ripped off by the shenanigans of the career politicians, members of the General Assembly, the Governor along with the Maryland Public Service Commission.

Past experience with the Maryland Public Service Commission, whom I believe are merely a group of “puppets” appointed by the Governors, gives me cause to think that the chances of the Commission disapproving BGE’s request are slim to zero.
If there is any justice, the Public Service Commission should demand that BGE give its customers a two dollar credit each month for their inept service. But…that will not happen either.

The only solution to this type of unfair practice is the following. In the 2018 state election vote every incumbent out of office. Until we get career politicians out of business and money out of politics, customers of BGE and citizens will continue to suffer.

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

 

Small Price to Pay for Big Mistake

Erin Cox’s article, “Election board fines Hogan campaign $250,” 11-25-17 presents information on 2 levels. On the surface level, we learn that Governor Hogan’s campaign committed an offense when they solicited funds during a General Assembly session – an act which is banned by state law. However, on a deeper level, the article amplifies the magnitude of corruption which is so prevalent in Maryland politics today.

The nonchalant, cavalier attitude and disregard for ethics in politics goes beyond disturbing. Instead of the campaign manager Jim Barnett offering the flimsy excuse that Al Redmer, Maryland Insurance Commissioner, had acted against the advice of the campaign when seeking funds for Hogan’s campaign, why didn’t the campaign officials simply own up to their violation of state law? What’s more, Mr. Hogan’s campaign is even thinking about appealing the fine!
And Mr. Redmer, apparently, is bothered very little by the fine, as he is running for the Republican nomination for Baltimore County executive.

Where is the strength of the General Assembly legislation that places a mere $250 fine for violations of the law? The General Assembly and the governor have failed to come up with really gut-wrenching regulations that give politicians cause to think twice before engaging in illegal acts involving campaign finance laws.

This example of moral bankruptcy on the part of Governor Hogan’s campaign provides more exposure to the “dirt” that prevails in Maryland politics today.

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

 

What Real Justice Is

Justice might mean different things to different people, as pointed out in the editorial, “What justice means,” 11-28-17. For me, the element of truth is an inherent component when talking about justice and fairness in the way people are treated and dealt with.
I venture to say that the Baltimore City Police Chief, along with the Mayor of Baltimore City and the Baltimore City Council have not done justice for the people of Baltimore. This is based on 5 truths.

Truth #1 – We have a Baltimore City Police Commissioner, Kevin Davis, who has performed in an incompetent manner far too long. If he wants to do what is in the best interest of his department and Baltimore City citizens, he should resign effective immediately.

Truth #2 – Mayor Pugh, the current mayor, is in way over her head. She should call a press conference, without delay, to apologize to the citizens of Baltimore City for her failure to be properly prepared to serve her constituents when she took the oath of office in December 2016.

Truth #3 – The current members of the Baltimore City Council should also make an apology for their underplaying the incompetence of Police Commissioner Davis, for their underestimating the lack of morale of the majority of good officers in the Baltimore City Police Department, and for their lack of courage in demanding that the Police Commissioner resign.

Truth #4 – The FBI should take over full control of the investigation of Detective Suiter’s murder. This action would insure no cover ups from Police Commissioner Davis.

Truth #5 – The editors of the Baltimore Sun have not served their readers in a just manner due to the blinders they are wearing which prevent them from seeing what a true mess the city government has become. The fact that several Carroll County school trips to the city are halted due to a concern about the “escalating violence” in the city speaks volumes to what is happening to the city. When the editors of the Baltimore Sun continue to justify their adherence to a liberal thought process with excuses and platitudes rather than dealing with real solutions for the crime problem in Baltimore City, they are merely prolonging the humongous mess.

The editors stated that doing more than just talk is needed to bring justice for Freddie Gray. The same can be said for bringing justice for the citizens of Baltimore City.

Yes – the truth hurts; it is painful, but as the saying goes, without pain, there is no gain.”

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

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

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