By Doni Glover
(BALTIMORE – March 21, 2019) – Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon is the most likely to defeat incumbent Mayor Catherine Pugh in 2020. As local columnists search for other names to tout as potential candidates, like for example State Senator Bill Ferguson, I am reminded of how these same journalists do not and cannot speak for my community. In fact, I’m not sure even where Ferguson actually speaks for my community; he had a prime opportunity, for instance, amidst the controversy sparked when Harford County Democrat referred to Prince George’s County as the “n—– district”. Ferguson, along with many colleagues from Baltimore, was absolutely silent.
People have listened to the mainstream’s rhetoric in the past only to be severely disappointed. Should Dixon choose to enter the race, I am absolutely confident she will clean Pugh’s clock along with any others who enter the race!
With Pugh and now two other University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) board members recently resigning amidst scandal, it is becoming increasingly obvious to the masses exactly how Dixon was robbed in the last election. In short, Pugh did a snow job on people. As the tale continues to unravel, the whole world is coming to better understand just how deep the insidious plot was by Pugh and her political and business cohorts, like former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, leading up to the 2016 election against Dixon. Honestly, Dixon’s efforts were herculean; that is why Pugh had to throw everything at her, including the kitchen sink.
So, with a year and a month before the next Baltimore City Primary, let me say for the record that I emphatically hope that Sheila Dixon runs and I will be the first in line to help “Team Dixon” if she does.
It seems like just the other day when this state’s Democratic Party teamed up against Dixon in the 2016 citywide election; in the streets, we’d say Sheila got “banked”. Few if any of these local reporters did due diligence on the antics perpetrated, including the ‘chicken boxes and junk food for votes scandal’. Now, thanks to “Bookgate” and Pugh’s milking of $100,000 in profits from the sale of “Healthy Holly” – including some 8,700 copies stashed in a warehouse somewhere, people are finally putting it all together.
Yeah, Pugh has began to give back proceeds. Yeah, after 19 years of serving on the UMMS Board, all of a sudden Pugh says it’s finally time to let it go and step down. I guess this most recent scandal had nothing to do with her decision.
I am so reminded of the Election Day riot that took place outside of Pugh’s West Baltimore campaign headquarters because disgruntled workers were turned away from jobs they were promised. We called it “Chicken box gate”. It barely hit the news, and by the time it did, the election was over. So, did local media outlets tell the truth, or did they hide it and lend to the misinformation the general public was fed for the sake of the Maryland Democratic Party?
I am also reminded of the 1,800 voting irregularities in Baltimore City compared to the 200 in all of the other 23 jurisdictions in Maryland combined in that 2016 election. Pugh ultimately won the Primary by a very slim margin with 48,665 votes compared to Dixon’s 46,219.
And I vividly recall too how both the Maryland State Board of Elections and the Baltimore City Board of Elections, who were initially as quiet as a church mouse urinating on cotton, were consequently forced by the efforts of our ad hoc advocacy group – Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections (VOICE) – to de-certify the 2016 primary election results due to countless errors. This move was unprecedented – at least in modern-day elections.
There was also a list of illegal donations to Pugh, including $18,000 by her then-assistant Gary Brown. Brown’s mother, brother and step-father made contributions of $6,000 each to Pugh’s overzealous campaign. Brown made a weird contribution of $300. At the end of the day, Brown was headed to be selected as the next delegate in the 40th district; but that was halted, he was indicted, and as a result of those charges he never got the seat. Nick Mosby, who also ran for mayor in 2016 but got out at the last minute and then sided with Pugh, did get the seat. Oddly, the investigation into where Brown got the $18,000 from initially never provided any answers. It just fizzled away.
I should add that Dixon fought the good fight. In our minds, she won the 2016 election hands-down. Further, had these rotten apples we call our Democratic leaders been fair, I am betting that Baltimore would instead be on a path to recovery and not a city in shambles with its citizens in fear, where women and babies are shot on a regular. Sadly, our hometown was heralded as the most murderous city in America in 2018. Dixon is repeatedly celebrated for taking a most successful approach to reducing violent crime in Baltimore in her brief tenure as mayor. I believe that had Dixon won in 2016, we’d also have more appropriate attention paid to the students in the Baltimore City Public School system, including the 13 high schools where reportedly zero students are proficient in math. Need I add that last year the State of Maryland concluded that 46% of our schools earned a 2-out-of-5 star rating?
As an African American, this is a smack in the face. Local media has given the Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises a pass countless times instead of holding her feet to the fire. Granted, the schools have had struggles for years, but when you bring in a person connected to Dr. Andres Alonso, a man who rid the schools of 75% of the principals, one should not expect a leader with a legitimate connection to the indigenous students and their needs. When you lose such a wealth of institutional knowledge and wisdom at one time, you have literally destroyed a once viable entity.
Not only did Alonso get rid of these much-needed education veterans, he seemed to have it in for any principals who bucked on him, like Dr. Barney Wilson, the first black principal at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.
Since Alonso, Poly and City have never been the same. These schools were once national leaders. Not anymore! Currently, Poly is ranked 31st in the State of Maryland compared to other high schools. City is ranked 40th, and the Baltimore School for the Arts outscores both of them and is ranked 38th. According to experts, Alonso implemented some destructive policies that terribly disaffected these two otherwise stellar schools.
Per student, Baltimore City has one of the highest per student expenditures in the country. In fiscal year 2016, the system reportedly spent $15,168 per pupil. Therefore, while we’re spending top dollar on students, including $290,000 on the chief administrator, the system is delivering inferior results. In return, the school system and its advocates ask for more money. I get it; it is owed us. At the same time, this begs the question: What are we doing with the resources we already have? And, two, where is the accountability?
I believe that if the city students were instead majority white, there would be a different storyline. White parents would have shut down school headquarters quicker than a Baltimore speed camera. And while Fox 45’s Project Baltimore has done an excellent job exposing the issues and corruption in the schools, public education should be on the top of every Baltimore media outlet’s agenda. Something is fundamentally wrong and yet all we get is expensive public relation spins to shift our attention to Annapolis. That, my friends, is getting old! If our students are graduating as functional illiterates, this bodes poorly for everybody. And while we do not have any Fortune 500 companies in Baltimore, they certainly won’t even think twice about coming here if we cannot produce better caliber students.
The fact that the state of our schools is not more on the forefront of everybody’s minds only makes me wonder about the character of the local mainstream media. Do the mainstream outlets conveniently dismiss issues pertaining to African Americans except when it comes to shoving Democratic candidates down our throats at election time?
For example, when Baltimore Police Detective Sean Suiter was found killed in an alley in West Baltimore on November 16, 2017, the day before he was to testify in the Gun Trace Task Force case, it was concluded that he committed suicide. The exact same thing was said 12 years ago when African American contractor Robert Lee Clay was found with a bullet wound at the left side of his head in his Reservoir Hill office. Martin O’Malley was mayor then.
I should add that WBAL TV 11’s Jayne Miller reported around Thanksgiving of 2018 that a second DNA was found on Suiter’s gun.
Nobody in the African American community believes Suiter took his own life just like nobody bought the same crap about Clay. Neither man, both of whom were black, fit the profile. And Suiter’s wife stated that her husband seemed in no way distraught or suicidal. The same was said of Clay, who kept a pocket full of money. Yet, Baltimore’s warped and one-sided media – along with an historically suspect Medical Examiner’s Office – has continuously painted a less than flattering picture of the developments in Baltimore as it relates to African Americans. It is tainted and that’s all there is to it.
Institutional racism has stymied Baltimore’s growth and development for far too long. It is impeding what could be an otherwise beautiful city. We have historic institutions and museums and tourist attractions galore. However, we are haunted by the ghosts of segregation and racism.
Personally, after the Freddie Gray Riots of 2015, I thought we, as a city, had learned a lesson. While the City has historically only invested in the “white L” (from Johns Hopkins University southwards to the Harbor and then eastward to Canton), we’ve all but starved the “black butterfly” (the majority African American communities of East and West Baltimore).
Until this uneven distribution of resources is addressed, Baltimore is only a blink away from another riot. And that’s just stupid. If I’m white and I live or work in the “white L”, it only makes sense to put some development in the black neighborhoods for African Americans. Give them some new recreation centers. Help build some black main streets. Create some job training programs for the brothers coming home from prison. As the least of us do better, the better it is for all. Yet, the status-quo loving power brokers in this city apparently do not see it that way. There is such a vile disdain for strong African American men and women here in Baltimore. There is this seemingly hateful perspective of us that is rooted in fear.
As a child of God, I refuse to succumb to fear. Faith teaches me to instead focus on the strength and power of love.
How long must we watch as our inner city is made into a poverty-stricken, narcotic-filled war zone, marked by this new inundation of white addicts from up and down the Eastern seaboard?
And that’s just it: the local media will report all day about the Squeegee Kids on the corner but consistently fails to mention the thousands of white addicts in search of “dope” and “coke” in black neighborhoods – a phenomenon that has skyrocketed since Freddie Gray and the implementation of the Consent Decree.
In short, the Consent Decree has caused the cops to take a knee. With 5 police commissioners in the past 2 years, the city is a lawless mess and only a real leader can get us back on track.
During the last campaign season, Dixon said that she was the only one who could hit the ground running. The reality is that it was true then and it is true now.
There’s something else I must say: First, the biggest disappointment for me in 2016 was not Dixon’s loss; it was key Pugh supporters who had “sipped the Kool Aid”. I reported months back how one by one, these people have come to me in private and said that they regret having supported Pugh and that they should have supported Sheila.
Secondly, while I am all for fresh leadership, Baltimore will not accept another carpet bagger who, like Pugh, is disconnected from the people – black or white. We are sick of these sycophants who come here with their own agenda and arrogantly think that they have all of the answers when they truly do not know nor understand the condition of the people in Baltimore. Say what you want, but the late Marion Barry was a bona fide leader who earned his stripes in the nation’s capital. Long before he was a politician, he was a jobs advocate who helped many Washingtonians secure employment. When he became mayor, he continued to help empower the people.
Dixon, like it or not, is our Marion Barry and no matter what dismal picture is concocted by local media, the same outlets that ignored the illegal campaign activities of Catherine Pugh and her posse in 2016, Sheila Dixon will continue to be my choice – and that of at least 50,000 other voters – black and white, Latino and Asian, Christian – Jew and Muslim.