Wednesday, December 27, 2017

End of the Year MSM Top 10 Stories

The politics of Maryland is always evolving. Because its close to Washington, DC its often a precursor to national trends. While there are lot of stories which I could have chosen, I whittled it down to just ten. Some will agree, others may point to stories that should have made my list. Simple, if you don't like this list, create your own. Love comments and different points of view.

10. No Redline but Transit Overhaul – Governor Hogan staved off criticism of canceling the Redline
Gov. Larry Hogan
(east west light rail system in Baltimore) for a total redo of the Baltimore MTA System. Overnight the system went from a number system to a color system. Some routes were changed and others were eliminated. Price tag $135 million. The biggest problem in the state are its Beltways and Interstate roads (I-695, I-495, and I- 95). These are some of the most congested roadways in America. Solution create toll roads to speed traffic.

9. Governor Larry Hogan’s Popularity – You don’t have to like it, but the governor gets praise from his base and Democrats. Governor Hogan has cultivated a "every man" approach to governing in a “Blue State.” He shunned going to the GOP Presidential convention in Cleveland. He did not endorse nor voted for President Donald Trump. One thing you won’t find is a picture of the two men together. 

8. Everything Taney – Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, a Marylander, had number of statues around the state (Frederick, Baltimore, and Annapolis). His name appears on a number of buildings. Judge Taney’s claim to fame was his decision in the Dred Scott Case.  Was it time to rethink Taney’s legacy and those monuments to the Confederacy? Charlottesville, Virginia was shot heard around the nation and the time was now to remove them.

7. Corruption – The list of politicians continues to grow. Some political figures see their elections as a license to benefit financially. The list includes Sen. Nate Oaks (will remain in office while trial continues), former Dels. Michael Vaughn and Will Campo (both resigned from the legislature) were indicted on wire fraud, conspiracy and bribery in connection with a kickback scheme with liquor store owners. 

6. The young guns are coming – From Baltimore (City and County), Prince Georges County and Montgomery County a new crop of young politicians is no longer going to wait its turn. The infusion of new blood is always welcomed in politics, but the entrenched often go kicking and screaming.

4. Keep the Pedal to the Metal – Economically – Maryland is in that unique sweet spot. It’s close to Washington, DC, it has an industrial base, cutting edge technological companies and home to one of the hottest athletic apparel companies. With a highly educated work force, the state is insulated from the whims of the economy.  Expansion seemed to touch various sectors, Marriott in Rockville, Under Armour in Baltimore, and the possibility of having Amazon establish it second headquarters in the state have a number of communities salivating.  

3. The Opioid/Fentanyl Crisis – When Opioids and Heroin found its way to the suburbs, things got real. Baltimore City has had a heroin problem since the 1940’s. Solution, lock people up. Now the answer is treatment. The introduction of fentanyl has exacerbated the problem. Counties like Anne Arundel, Harford, Charles, Allegany and others have seen drug overdoses double. There aren’t enough treatment centers for those caught in addiction. It’s not just a Maryland problem, it’s a national problem.
Maya Rockeymore Cummings

2. Eight Dems v. GOP Governor – We know Gov. Hogan’s popularity, but could you name any of his potential challengers? They are a varied group. Several are first time politicians (Ben Jealous, Jim Shea, Alec Ross, Maya Rockeymore Cummings, and Krishantl Vignarajah). There are three who’ve held political office (County Executives Kevin Kamentz and Rushern Baker, and State Senator Richard Madaleno).  In a year where Democrats are trending well going into 2018, one of this group needs to breakout. The Governor doesn’t seem nervous even if the trends point to rejecting the Republican brand. The group trying to succeed him will try and tie him to President Trump.

1. Fall Out from Baltimore Police Det. Sean Suiter killing. When Det. Suiter was shot and died on November 22, 2017 the police and community were upset. The area where the incident occurred was on lock down for a week. Residents were asked to show identification. Those who didn't lived in the area were turned away. By the weeks end Police Commissioner Davis said, there was no connection between his testimony the next day before a grand jury investigating police corruption. There’s a $215,000 reward. The Commissioner asks for FBI to take over the investigation. The FBI has rejected the offer. I don't want to diminish the nearly 300 + murders in Baltimore. This has to stop. To quote William Shakespeare, “There is something wrong in Denmark.”

Person the Year

Devin Allen – This young man made his mark by capturing the cover of Time Magazine during the “Baltimore Uprising.” He captured the anger of a community which he knew well. This year he published a book of his work called “A Beautiful Ghetto.” Allen is special. He’s part of group of young men whom I met and listen to. They have their fingers on the pulse of the streets. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Everything Changed After Charlottesville

(Baltimore, MD) Cites across the nation did not want a repeat of pro-confederate demonstrators clashing with protesters who saw the statues perpetuating the idea of southern sympathies, segregation and worst of all Nazi sympathizers. Baltimore became ground zero with Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh deciding to remove Confederate monuments overnight to avoid protesters. 

The move was shrewd. It didn't quell the concerns which led to questions about what to do with the statue to Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney in Annapolis. Early on this blog I talked about the Taney and Dred Scott families reconciling. In a matter of days it was gone.

Across the country a number of Confederate statues were removed. Was this a matter about re-writing history; righting a wrong or correcting the official record? I an conflicted by the removals. Get past the Civil War rewrite and the southern sympathizers. A lot of racist used this as a way to legitimize their beliefs. I reject any comparison. 

Did I miss something? The south lost the war and the Civil War ended slavery. No country honors the losers.  There was a collective rewriting of the Civil War by 1910. Edged on by the idea "The South will Rise Again." Civil Rights incensed those who wanted to control the growing Black middle class.  Veterans coming back from a pair of World Wars were not going to be regulated to second class citizenship. 

But these statues were permanent markers. A signal of racial superiority that was legislated into law. Time has a weird way of equalizing the battlefield. Charlottesville and its imagery in August of 2017 turned the tide.  Talk was already in the works to remove a statue of Supreme Court Chief Judge Roger Taney.  Baltimore had a created commission to removed the statues. When it happen it started a "domino effect." I watched and listen and tried to compile how some saw the removal and perspective.  

Chief Judge Roger B.Taney which was at the entrance to the Maryland State House

The statue gone replaced by a green box

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Taney Scott Reconciliation

(Annapolis) On the grounds of the Maryland State House in Annapolis is a statue of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney. Judge Taney was the first Chief Judge from Maryland. He is well know for his decision in the case regarding a Missouri Slave by the name of Dred Scott. Scott was taken by his slaveholder to various free states prior to the Civil War. Judge Taney writing for the majority said that no slave can be free. It was an affront to abolitionist who were trying to abolish slavery in the United States. It is literally a prelude to the Civil War.

Following the war several southern sympathizing members of the Maryland Legislature made a decision to raise money to erect a statue to honor Judge Taney. They placed the monument at the front of the capital. There was talk at the time that the erection of the Taney statue would be an affront to the northern victory over the south.

There have been several recent efforts to move the Taney statue. So you can imagine my surprise when I received word the relatives of the Taney family and the Scott family want to reconcile and do so in the shadow of Taney. I recorded what they said and how it happen.

Here you can find an idea floated about what to do with the site.

Moving Taney statue and adding Frederick Douglass