“You have not because you ask not”
(BALTIMORE – March 27, 2020) – If politics do not translate into economics, then what are we doing?
This morning at 10 am, the Board of Public Works (BPW) will convene. Today, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (Happy Birthday!) will be presiding. In short, the great State of Maryland has an annual budget of $43.6 billion and it is administered to manage state and county government operations. The Board of Public Works, for the uninitiated, is a three-member body consisting of the Governor, Comptroller, and Treasurer of the State of Maryland. It oversees many aspects of the state’s finances.
For candidates in Maryland, today’s meeting is of critical importance. In an interview with Lt. Gov. Rutherford yesterday, he stated that he will be asking the State Board of Elections questions about the mail-in voting prescribed for the upcoming election. I imagine most candidates for the 7th Congressional seat (April 28) as well as candidates in the June 2nd citywide election would like to know just how the mail-in voting will work. And so does the Lt. Governor. He added that the Congressional election to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings will be a litmus test to see just how well the mail-in will work. In the 2016 Mayoral Primary, for instance, there were 1,800 voting irregularities in Baltimore City alone compared to 200 in the rest of the state combined. This led to the city election results being, in unprecedented fashion, de-certified by the State Board of Elections.
During the last BPW meeting, the Lt. Gov. raised concerns regarding two University of Maryland transactions.
People, this is where the key decisions for our state are made and also where the money is doled out. We, the Black community, must be present at such meetings so that our voices are clearly heard. We also have to watch what is happening. It is an area where we, the Black community, struggle. Nevertheless, this is where our tax dollars are assigned. And if we want more to come to our community, then we have to do a better job monitoring the process.
You see, it is not enough to just vote. We must also be actively engaged. We must know when and where the resources are available. We must also know the people in the decision-making process of who gets what, when and where.
Too often, the Black community’s vote is taken for granted. Every election, all kinds of political propaganda is dropped on us to sway our vote. After the election, though, it’s all crickets and nothing else. Our elected officials are no longer in our faces. So, we have to go and check on their activities – to see if they are doing what they said.
Frankly, it is incumbent upon all of us to attend the state’s BPW meetings and learn something about the process. Similarly, we must be pro-active on the local level. Here in Baltimore, this means that we must attend the weekly meeting of the Board of Estimates at Baltimore City Hall on Wednesdays at 9 am. Here, we will find out what issues are being voted on and who the players are.
Ultimately, we need to have our Black community’s empowerment agenda before our local bodies as well as the state. Further, we must encourage our elected officials on various issues. Simply put, if you see something, say something. There are not enough Black people – and I mean Black people who actually give a damn about other Black people – at the table or in the room where high-dollar decisions are being made.
Take the Maryland State Lottery, for example. When it came about in the early 70s, there was this big promise of money for education. Today, decades later, over $15 billion has been garnered. We have two new sports stadiums in Baltimore, but we have freezing classrooms. Pardon me, but this is some bull feces. To boot, we now have slots and table gambling. Does anyone else see that we have failed our children?
It is not enough to have Black elected officials. This must also come with an “ask” or a demand. We get what we negotiate. And at present – and by the look of the Black community in Baltimore – it appears that while the big boys are playing chess, we are still playing checkers. It’s like taking a knife to a gunfight where we are perpetually losing.
Personally, I hate losing. And I hate that more Black people are not stepping up to the plate. Again, if our politics do not translate into economic advantages for the Black community, then what are we doing? Sure, we vote for our favorites every year. Sure, we may even have a little access. However, from the macro level across the country, we have to do more. We have to find ways to work together so that we can bring back more for the community.
The Black elected official can only do so much. It is also up to us, the voters, to be educated on the issues and to regularly take a stand.
After all, our children and generations yet unborn are depending on us.