(BALTIMORE – April 5, 2019) –In a one daily newspaper city like Baltimore, it is imperative to have additional media voices. Otherwise, one storyline gets painted and in a lot of people’s minds, there is no room for any other perspective. That is dangerous.
As a journalist who cut his teeth in the newspaper business, I am forever a fan. There is nothing like having breaking news right there in your hands so you can flip the pages. There is something natural about it.
BREAKING NEWS! The news business has changed! However, that doesn’t always change people’s perspective. In a world of new digital news, it will take a while still for other voices to make a meaningful difference. A question becomes, can we afford to wait any longer?
Thankfully, Baltimore has other viable news outlets who will do their own research and produce their own news. I’d like to think that www.bmorenews.com is one of them. www.DMVDaily.news is another. I think Hassan Giordano does a wonderful job keeping many of us updated. And kudos, too, to the www.BaltimoreBrew.com.
Mark Reutter and Fern Shen do an incredible job providing us with verifiable facts. The Brew takes no hostages as it digs where no one has dug before. Baltimore is so fortunate to have them, Hassan, and prayerfully Bmorenews.
Let’s shift gears for a minute.
While it is unfortunate that Baltimore Mayor Catherine Elizabeth Pugh is in hot water and getting plenty of critical media attention, quite honestly, it is about 2 ½ years late. Pugh’s mayoral campaign was wrought with havoc, including an Election Day mini-riot outside her West Baltimore campaign office in Walbrook Junction where hundreds of workers waited in a very long line for hours only to be told that they would not get to work.
Other than a brief news clip or two on local TV news, there were no critical questions asked.
How about this? Gary Brown gave an illegal campaign contribution of $18,300 to Pugh, was indicted, and was also prohibited from accepting the delegate job now occupied by Nick Mosby.
Where was the follow-up? For instance, who gave Brown the $18,000 that he evenly spread out in three different bank accounts owned by his mother, brother and step-father?
And then, there is the miscounting of votes. Over 1,800 voting irregularities were reported in Baltimore City compared to 200 in the rest of the state’s 23 other jurisdictions combined. Eventually, our ad hoc advocacy group, Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections (VOICE), pushed the issue until the election results were de-certified and had to be recounted. I also understand that there were many votes that were never counted as well.
When VOICE made noise, we were said to be spewing sour grapes. It’s as if no one believed us until we showed proof.
Where was the investigation? Don’t we take this election stuff seriously? Or is it a foregone conclusion that Baltimore is still “Mobtown” where elections get rigged and stolen all the time?
Well, that’s what it seems like to me. Critics will say that black people do not vote. That is a lie. I remember the day Barack Obama was elected President. There were lines out the door at 7 am. Everybody was there to vote, from the top to the bottom.
America’s double standard is a trip. They’ll suggest we do not vote, but when we do, the votes are not counted. It is a perpetual cycle of moving the cheese.
Figure this: Why were all of these obstacles put up against Sheila Dixon? Take, for instance, the swarm of negative TV commercials paid for by former Martin O’Malley crony Alex Sanchez. While Martin O’Malley was engaged in presidential politics at the time, his fingerprints – in my estimation – were all over the attack ads against Sheila. O’Malley was also key to Stephanie Rawlings Blake’s ascension to mayor.
Now, that says to me that O’Malley clearly helped Blake and Pugh. I’ll take it a step further and say that Sheila is not O’Malley’s top pick for mayor. I personally think O’Malley’s fingerprints are all over the raid of Sheila’s house. Who raids a mayor’s house? Over some damn gift cards? Really? You expect me to buy that, knowing damn well O’Malley didn’t like the fact that Sheila had the testicular fortitude to stand up to him – even to the extent of choosing her own police commissioner, Fred Bealefeld? If I’m not mistaken, at the time, O’Malley had suggested DC Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, of which Sheila refused.
I think the interesting thing about Sheila’s punishment was the caveat that precluded her from running in the following election. That spoke volumes to me. It is oh so obvious that somebody is afraid of Dixon, a woman who has dedicated her life to public service and who had the strength to stand and speak up on behalf of the people.
What’s wrong with that? Don’t we all deserve representation? Or, is it still a double standard?
Look at the schools. Look at the mass incarceration that silently annihilates the black community. Don’t we need to address these issues? Getting more people employable and a part of the mainstream isn’t important to our well-being as a city? Doesn’t it help the broader city when black youth succeed?
While the mainstream media in Baltimore will report around the news, the fact of the matter is that Baltimore has a deeply entrenched institutional racism that treats the black community like second class citizens. And even though we have one of the highest percentages of black elected officials in the nation, those numbers mean nothing when North and Patterson Park looks the same way it did in 1968.
Politics without economic development for the black community equates to the same as the era of Jim Crow.
The “white L and the black butterfly” theory in Baltimore commonly refers to the strip of land from Johns Hopkins University straight down to the Harbor and east to Canton. That’s the L. East and West Baltimore are the butterfly wings. In short, all of the investment historically goes into the white L. Nothing goes into East and West Baltimore, that is, not until Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland, or a developer is ready to build something.
Park Heights and Woodland is a classic example. Right now, there are three blocks that have been cleared out after years of dilapidation. However, I will bet you a dollar that black people will not be going back up there. Before that happens, they will build nothing. And the thing is, this current activity on Park Heights is at least 10 years late. Given the money that went into the community Racetrack Impact Funds, people expected action years ago.
Clearly, someone was simply waiting for people to O.D., die off, move, or go to prison. After all, this is the 21215 zip code, one with some of the worst socio-economic indicators in the entire State of Maryland.
It is time to have a sober conversation about race in Baltimore. Until African Americans are treated like human beings in the face of powerful institutions like Hopkins and the University of Maryland, until the black community receives the same kind of investment as we see at North and Charles, then we will continue to have uneven development where development happens everywhere except in our neighborhoods.
To fix this ill requires truth. And the truth is that people in positions of power in Baltimore have become great manipulators of the truth. Pugh’s chicanery should have been exposed back in the days leading up to the 2016 citywide election. However, instead of doing their due diligence, local newspaper writers and television anchors repeated the same story line about Sheila over and over and over. Not once did the local media properly vet Pugh even though there was a lot to investigate. And the state and local election boards offered no support.
But, let me tell you who did warn us. Yeah, let me put a good word in for some journalistic integrity in this city: Can you say Baltimore Brew? While the Brew makes it a point not to address the other media in town, they instead steadfastly stick to hard-hitting reporting. They broke a ton of stories on Pugh, like back in March 2016 when they first reported how she was getting large amounts of from UMMS-connected people.
This was prior to the mayoral election. And this is why I’m sick. Why weren’t these facts explored by our beloved and popular investigative journalists here in Charm City?
The Brew also revealed her $100,000 loan from former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith and about questionable deals before the Board Of Estimates that she willfully approved, like the draining of Druid Lake, the hiring of Davon Fleming and Greg Tucker, the handling of the homeless at the former Pinderhughes Elementary School, her gifting of a patrol car to Shomrim, her mishandling of police overtime, and her letting Rudy Chow clear-cut Hanlon Park.
The Sun, of course, has been ridiculously pro-Pugh until now. All this time, she has been the Sun’s media darling. Why? Because she had the blessings of Martin O’Malley, a man who pimped Baltimore all the way to Annapolis?
This isn’t the kind of journalism that we should respect. It is the kind that would have the people of Baltimore believe that, for example, Detective Sean Suiter killed himself.
We need more voices like the Brew and we also need more people to come forward and tell us about Pugh’s and the rest of City Hall’s self-dealing, especially in a 9-to-1 Democratic town like Baltimore where the Democratic establishment and the local media shanghaied the last citywide election by not doing their jobs. And consequently, we have spent an additional two and a half years in living hell with a mayor who has demonstrated that she never did love the people of Baltimore.
I implore citizens to put on their thinking caps. The more they dig into Pugh’s actions, the more they find. And I sense that this is just the beginning. Oh, well! I guess it’s better late than never.