TGR: In Case You Missed It … MD’s 1st Black Female Speaker Makes Changes

By Doni Glover, Publisher
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(BALTIMORE – September 27, 2019) – It is not uncommon for the new leadership of any organization to clean house. Even more, one can even expect there to be at least one member of the opposition who will serve as an example of what happens when you go against the king, or queen, … and miss.

In the days of old, that sometimes meant a beheading where the severed head is posted on a spike and put in public to serve as a reminder to anyone who might think to go against the new regime.

In the days of slavery, a runaway slave was often lynched, and his body was left swinging for other slaves to see. Clearly, this is a fear tactic meant to deter any thrill seeking, newcomer or would-be revolutionary.

I have often told people how politics is cruddier than the dope game. Why? Politics controls everything we do, including the illegal drug trade. One stroke of a President’s pen can cause tens of thousands of soldiers to go to war overnight. While drugs are certainly a menace to society, politics – however one might perceive it – is even more powerful than 100 El Chapo’s. It just is!

Politics determines who gets what, when and where. In America, the political system tends to be dominated by white males. Maryland is no exception. Look at Baltimore County. They have had white male county executives from the start. The same holds true in Annapolis. The Governor has always been a white male.

A few months ago, I must admit, Marylanders saw a change. When Speaker Mike Busch died, Delegate Adrienne Jones was the compromise candidate who ultimately changed the precedence. For the first time in Maryland history, a black woman became Speaker of the House.

In the background, one could hear the famous line: “This is our time!” – alluding to the changing times in Annapolis. Not only did Maryland get its first African American and woman Speaker of the House in the state’s 369 year history, but for the first time to anyone’s recollection, an African American resigned from the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland (LBC). That would be Delegate Regina Boyce of Baltimore City. She decided to bolt “over remarks purportedly made by the caucus’ leader” (Barnes) about a key legislator’s sexuality.

And with this backdrop, Jones began to make her selections for leadership.

That’s when things got really interesting and caused some African Americans to wonder if Jones, who represents Baltimore County’s 10th legislative district, is headed in the right direction as the new Speaker.

I should add that Jones’ rise to Speaker was no easy path; it did not come without strong opposition. In fact, one could argue that Delegate Dereck Davis (Prince George’s County) could be the Speaker had he taken the vote to the floor where the Republican Caucus was ready to vote for him. In the end, Delegate Maggie McIntosh (Baltimore City) and Davis backed down for Jones to win. McIntosh is the legislator alluded to by Barnes that caused Delegate Boyce to leave the LBC. Delegate Talmadge Branch (Baltimore City), it should be noted, was instrumental in helping Maryland attain its first non-white man as Speaker of the House. McIntosh was the consensus candidate for many from Baltimore, including a few African Americans. One former African American legislator said that she supported McIntosh because she would have done well by Baltimore. Davis, according to this politico, was considered less a friend to Baltimore and more likely to push an agenda for Maryland’s largest African American demographic.

Personally, I don’t see it that way. I think Baltimore City and Prince George’s County’s black leaders have a long history of cooperation and mutual respect. Also, while Prince George’s has the largest number of African Americans in the state, Baltimore City is also vital to the process of running Maryland. Where Baltimore lacks numbers, Baltimore has no lack of influence by far. Further, no one can tell me who my brother … or sister … should be. Yet, that’s neither here nor there.

Moving along … One change Jones made was making Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes (D-Lower Shore) her new Speaker Pro Tem. Sample-Hughes is African American, and this is huge! In another outstanding appointment, Jones also made Delegate Tawanna Gaines (Prince George’s Co.) chairwoman of the capital budget subcommittee, and she removed Delegate Darryl Barnes as Assistant Speaker Pro Tem, and replaced him with Del. Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery).

Barnes, by the way, is the current Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland who made the remark about McIntosh; he questioned why a white lesbian should head the House. Cullison, interestingly, is also a white lesbian.

Another interesting development was the case of Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti who, earlier this year, was reported to have called Prince George’s County “the nigger district”. Many had wondered what her plight would be, including whether or not she should be removed all together. Lisanti, who was stripped of committee assignments, was moved to the Ways and Means Committee.

To say the least, it will be interesting to see how all of these and other political maneuverings will pan out in the upcoming Maryland General Assembly. Clearly, Jones put a lot of thought in her decisions. Time will tell, however, how well her moves will be digested by the body and by the constituents they represent.