Thank you for visiting our website

Featuring breaking political news and commentary on local, state, and national issues.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Frederick's Up and Coming"

J. Burke Miller Bio

I Want to "Believe"

On Monday evening, Governor Martin O'Malley spoke before approximately 4,400 Midshipmen as part of the United States Naval Academy's Forrestal Lecture. At the annual lecture series that offers Midshipmen the opportunity to pick the minds of prominent political leaders, some of our nation's best and brightest did not pass up the opportunity to hit Governor O'Malley with some tough questions. These questions concerned his greatest blunders as a politician and (even more after my own heart) some pertained to HBO's wildly popular drama about crime and corruption in Baltimore - "The Wire".

Governor O'Malley took each question in stride while never hesitating in his defense of Baltimore and its people. Much to his audience's delight the former two-term Baltimore Mayor chastised the show for the dark cloud of cynicism that it often cast not only over the city of Baltimore but also over mankind in general. For his ability to answer tough questions well and for the seemingly genuine optimism for Baltimore's future, I tip my hat to the Governor. But, I cannot honestly say that I am presently so confident in the city's promise. I find it difficult to argue against the belief that Baltimore has made marked improvements in terms of safety, livability and image; however, I still read the news.

I have a great deal of friends that have flocked to the streets of Federal Hill and Canton for the relatively cheap housing, multiple job opportunities for young professionals and the booming nightlife. Yet, I am still from an area that was hit hard by the tragic death of Zach Sowers and still remember the callous remarks concerning Zach made by Margaret Burns, a (still employed!) spokesperson for the (still employed!) Assistant District Attorney Patricia Jessamy. On top of that, news broke yesterday of the tragic slaying of Frederick taxi-driver Stephen Mauk in Baltimore.

Now, I have no intentions of disproving Governor O'Malley's optimism because I both applaud it and on many levels can recognize the improvements of Baltimore. Instead, I cite these few instances to point an accusatory finger and repeat one of my favorite quotes, "attitude reflects leadership." How can we expect the citizens of Baltimore to "Believe" (the city's newest slogan) amidst the poor leadership they are currently being offered? I think the world of most members of Baltimore's state delegation and of Governor Martin O'Malley but the examples being set by City Councilwoman Helen L. Holton and Mayor Sheila Dixon are embarrassing and to be honest, exactly the sort of thing that HBO's "The Wire" pointed out.

Holton and Dixon, both recently indicted on charges of corruption, were not only noticeably absent onstage at President Obama's Baltimore Whistle Stop, but are apparently absent of morality as well. A year ago, my belief that public service is reserved for those who are determined to make the world around them a better place may very well have been regarded as naivety. However, there is currently a man in the White House that makes me believe that we do not need to put up with political corruption any longer. While I understand that the nature of politics will always breed some levels of corruption in certain individuals that does not mean that the voters need to tolerate it on any level. Hopefully, the Illinois State Legislature will set a strong precedent for us soon.

In the spirit of our justice system's strongest credo - "innocent until proven guilty" - both of these women may very well be innocent and if Councilwoman Holton emerges from this as such, I will write her a letter that contains my sincerest apology. Mayor Dixon, on the other hand, will not receive any such letter as she lost my respect when she stood firmly behind a policy that will force the taxpayers of Baltimore, a city largely stricken by poverty, to foot the bill for her legal fees. In her responses to the policy, she is yet to explain how her alleged misuse of gift cards originally donated for Baltimore's homeless and severely poor population falls within the realm of her acting in her role as Mayor and on behalf of the city of Baltimore.

I look forward to the time when I may be able to look to Baltimore and feel the same affinity as does the Governor but I know that no such time will come as long as corruption runs rife through City Hall. Hopefully, we will soon see Baltimore set a standard for excellence that dictates to all future public officials that, "We will no longer tolerate such corruption," and the city's slogan can move on from "Believe" to "See."


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below or enter your email in the box in the right hand margin of our Home Page.

No comments: