Let’s have some straight talk

When are the politicians going to start giving us some “straight talk” ?
How many more killings do we have to read about?
If people think that targeting 4 “transformation zones” with an outpouring of all kinds of resources and placing more psychologists in city schools will put an end to our reading about numerous shootings taking place on any one day, then I venture to say people should think again. (“City starts crime-reduction effort,“ 2-24-17; “Pugh favors psychologists in schools” 2-25-17; “9 injured in series of shootings on a violent Thursday in city,” 2-14-17.

Think about this. While Police Commissioner Kevin Davis states that a concentrated focus on the 4 areas will not cause other parts of the city to be neglected, I venture to question that assertion. The city agencies such as housing, education, public works, health, police have a job to take care of the needs of every Baltimore City citizen. Realistically talking, without hiring additional workers, how can the needs of every citizen in Baltimore City be met, if these agencies re-deploy their current staff to focus on the 4 transformation areas? What’s more, changes, hopefully for the better, are not going to occur overnight. So again, how many more shootings before we get some “straight talk”?

Here’s something else to think about. In January 2017, Mayor Pugh and Commissioner Davis announced a re-deployment of officers and the hiring of 120 new police officers. What is the status update on that announcement uttered over a month ago? Have Mayor Pugh and Commissioner Davis informed us as to the length of time it would take to get these officers on the streets of Baltimore City? Previous recruitment efforts have been less than successful. Commissioner Davis’ strategies for motivating people to join the force are not resulting in long lines of people knocking at their doors. (“As Baltimore force shrinks, push for community policing falls short,” 1-2-17; “Baltimore’s murder crisis,” 1-4-17)

To bring about immediate relief for the citizens of Baltimore, Governor Hogan should call out the National Guard for a 3 week period to clear the streets of the drugs, gangs, and violence that has plagued the city. Announcements of the hiring of at least 500 more officers with stepped up efforts to hire and get them on the streets should follow. Without taking such measures, we will continue to see the headlines of violence reaching historical highs. How much more violence do we need to wake up the powers that be?

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Baltimore

Outraged

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
Teacher
Baltimore

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
Teacher
Baltimore