(BALTIMORE – May 7, 2016) – So, we get it. Sheila Dixon lost. Catherine Pugh won. Congratulations!
However, it is the series of events that has taken place over the past month that draws our concern. In our best estimation, the message sent to voters through this election is unnerving. Ultimately, they could lay the foundation of Pugh’s pending mayorship. While there is still a General Election she has to cruise through, upon all things going well she’ll officially take seat in January 2017. Clearly, we pray the best for Baltimore.
Between now and then, there are potentially six Freddie Gray police officer trials Baltimoreans must endure.
Like the NFL, politics can be lightening fast. A whole lot happened in a short period of time. So, just thought we’d do a sort of recap.
For one, it doesn’t matter that Nick Mosby, the original machine candidate, dropped out of the race and put his support behind Pugh at the last minute alongside other black personalities. While he disappointed his supporters, he is obviously trying to position himself to take Pugh’s Senate seat. I think in his political move, he opened up a lot of eyes as to how machine politics actually work and that it is not what people say, it is what they do that truly determines their character.
I think people now better understand the ramifications of his wife, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, not getting a single conviction in the Gray case during the campaign. Had she gotten a conviction, conventional logic suggests the former City Councilman would have attempted to ride that media wave right on into City Hall. That didn’t happen as all eyes are about to shift back to Mosby’s office with the resuming of the trials.
It is our hope at www.bmorenews.com that at the end of the day, the trials do not tear up the city. We love Baltimore too much to see that happen again.
We also understand that poor black people are still just as disenfranchised as ever and we know clearly that there is a difference between blacks in the Democratic elite and the rest of us. One obvious fact is that there are hundreds if not thousands of Baltimoreans looking for work, as highlighted at Pugh’s Walbrook Junction campaign office on Election Day. That whole scene was a black-eye for the city as potential workers realized they were used for their vote at the cost of a chicken box and $50 to $100. To me, that whole thing was worse than the Freddie Gray unrest could ever be because it involved voting, something we are supposed to hold sacredly in high regard – not to be trampled under the feet of men.
Hence, unemployment is still a serious issue that deserves much-needed attention. We do care about poor black people, don’t we? (I thought we did, especially as good, faithful Democrats!). Employment is a part of every platform in every campaign in Baltimore City. We heard it over and over again: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
I think the most serious attention after Freddie Gray, besides the gun violence and this “Percocet” epidemic in Baltimore, is the Baltimore City Board of Elections.
You cannot possibly expect people to believe in a process that has more holes in it than a block of Swiss cheese. Further, to overlook these broad and massive errors is lethal to the system of government we claim to uphold. Even more, we sell this brand of democracy around the world. Surely, it works at home. Right?
I am not a lawyer, but somewhere along the line, something stinks and the odor is not going away. If I’m a conspiracy theorist (sometimes, I am), and I wanted to find a way to change the results of an election, the very first place I would look is at how the votes are collected and who is responsible for what. The lawyers refer to this as “chain of custody” issues. Eight (8) missing thumb drives, to say the least, is simply unacceptable. Why a mass investigation has not happened is beyond me. For instance, if I’m Governor Larry Hogan, I surely cannot afford to let this go because if this level of campaign chicanery was thrown at Sheila Dixon, then Lord knows a Republican is very much in trouble.
Armstead Jones, bless his heart, is a nice guy. Yet, he is not a lawyer and this is not about him. This is about ensuring that the voting process is fair and legitimate, and certainly not altered. For the sake of Baltimore City, I hope he is right about his stellar reputation as head of the Baltimore City Board of Elections because 600,000 plus people are depending on it.
On the other hand, if anything unethical or illegal was done, then God have mercy on the souls of those responsible.
Consider the wording, if you will, from an article about Julius Henson and Paul Schurick being sentenced for voter suppression (Sun, June 13, 2012, Luke Broadwater). Maryland Democratic Party Chair Yvette Lewis said in a statement that the outcomes of Henson and Schurick’s trials “sent a loud and clear message” that “voter suppression will not be tolerated… While these decisions are a victory for the voters of Maryland, I remain concerned about Republican efforts across the country to make voting more difficult,” Lewis said.
Many of us, however, are not convinced that only Republicans engage in such egregious activities. Further, it would behoove any wrongdoers to heed the words from Baltimore Circuit Judge Emanuel Brown: “There seems to be a culture that says anything goes in politics from time to time. That culture must change.”
And that change must begin at the Baltimore City Board of Elections. From our Town Hall Meeting on Voter Suppression at the historic Sharon Baptist Church in Sandtown his past Thursday, it is painfully obvious that several polls opened late, wrong ballots were distributed in Districts 5 and 6, and several voters were not allowed to vote for various reasons. To me, if one person is unfairly prevented from voting (voter suppression), that is one too many.
Ex-offenders were also slighted and, according to one man, had to seriously pursue answers from the Board of Elections before he was finally granted the privilege to vote. This comes on the heels of legislation our black Democratic leaders bragged about in Annapolis ensuring that ex-offenders could in fact vote in this election. The point is that there is a difference between what the law says and what actually transpired at voting locations in the 2016 Primary Election. Hence, don’t be too quick to celebrate. If these ex-offenders are only getting their chains jerked for the sake of some PR for the Democratic Party, then that is not progress. It is mere window dressing for a white male-dominated political party that refuses to allow blacks at the very top, even though we have a black President right next door in D.C. To me, it seems as though Maryland is not much different than in the days of slavery. Too often, we still have those with slave mentalities who did not get the memo that that era is over.
Lastly, Election Judges hired on a Friday, trained on the proceeding Monday evening, and then sent to work on that Tuesday morning at 7 am were not effectively trained, especially when you look at how much reading is involved. Few, if any, are going to read a 300-page or so manual, understand it, and then put it to use on the most sacred privilege we have as Americans. You cannot convince me of that today, tomorrow or in the hereafter.
So, between the promises of jobs-for-votes, the questionable training of a slew of Election Judges the day before the election, the disenfranchisement of voters via questionable provisional ballots, the scary letters to Baltimore City ex-offenders, and the “Chain of Custody” issues that perplex the lawyers – and on top of that the upcoming trials related to Freddie Gray … the City of Baltimore has a heap of issues to address and endure. The General Election is but six months away and truth be told, I pray for the sake of those who live in Baltimore that the seeds we’ve sown are good.
Lastly, I will conclude by saying that with Freddie Gray’s one-year anniversary happening the day after the election, it is quite fascinating to see the spin put on it. National media outlets have called and asked what’s different. I told them that that lens was colored with this past election. Now that the Primary is over, time will tell just what character this city really has.