Friday, June 22, 2012

Free data should be free!

Fancy yourself a crime mapper/ information architect/ data analyst type? You might enjoy to read this article wherein discusses the design issues of relaying crime data to citizens, and the stickier wicket of getting timely public information from a public agency that's headed by people determined to contract with some friend-of-a-friend's-friend's for-profit company instead of releasing the information via free, public, no-barrier channels. 'Splains SpotCrime:
"We only see crime data delivered openly when a public agency - not commercial company - elects to use this method.  Private crime mapping companies have an incentive to balkanize the data they are contracted to publicize (typically funded by taxpayers) and limit entities from sharing this data (the same entities who are paying taxes). They may come across as open, however, they typically add a lengthy terms of service agreement to their maps and websites - ostensibly asking each citizen to agree to a contract before viewing public crime data.  These terms of service agreements have no public value.  They not only inhibit the press from republishing the data, but also serve to restrict public sharing of crime data."

Fox 45's Jeff Barnd linked to Vast Rat Wang Conspiracy

Remember those National Organization for Marriage-y robocalls a lot of Bmoreans got two Novembers ago? We knew the rat(s) would get smoked out eventually, and now they have (in the Sun's TV blog, no less. Which I think you can view without having it 'count' against yr firewall).

So if you thought you recognized that voice, you were right, 'twas no less voice than Fox 45's Jeff Barnd's, working for ccAdvertising of Centreville, VA, darkening your ringer with those do-you-believe-marriage-between-a-man-and-a-woman robocall push polls.

ccAdvertising has been linked to a company owned by a creationist in Centreville, VA, where coincidentally or not Mitt Romney's campaign has also been shooting political advertisements in the past week. Ooh, can't wait to see them. A source reports they involve B-roll of a very white Little League team.

And isn't it interesting that we have heard for years about Obama's supposed Muslim roots, but now we have a candidate who is part of a genuinely fringe religion, Mormonism, but liberals are too liberal mention how bizarre it is? ... well not me-- if you don't feel like reading Under the Banner of Heaven, enjoy this entertaining-yet-factual song from the Book of Mormon musical...

Anyway, re., Jeff Barnd, so much for the journalistic tradition of appearing objective and neutral. I wonder if the RNC paid Jeff Barnd in cash money (he's anti-gay for pay!), or if he was pressured into doing it by Fox honchos, or if he volunteered enthusiastically to record the push poll calls because he feels his hetero marriage (wait, does he even have one?) would be threatened by somebody's gay partner being eligible for health insurance. Wonder if he'd take an interview from Ed Ericson... considering how kind the CP has been to him previously...? Enquiring minds want to know...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Slave for a Day

An item on the park service's agenda is raising eyebrows: "Slave for a Day" aims to educate young whelps about Hampton Mansion's slavery history*, wherein servants were fed in troughs, among other activities. As a visitor you'll be able to whip your little sister in the hog pen, wipe the bottoms of other people's children and attempt to “carry buckets of water with a yoke on your shoulders!” ... actually I made some of those up. Next Sunday's event has been renamed the "African American Experience Tour," and if you want to go experience how the 3/5ths of a person people lived for 90 minutes in June, note that the map on the nps' site is wrong, the correct map is below. The tour is 2 - 3:30.
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The Big 100

Baltimore's homicide count for the year has reached the big 100, and the various news organizations sound almost excited about this unfortunate milestone. Baltimore's two most recent homicide victims are Tavon Whelchel, 18, and Lewis Womack IV, 36.*

Mayor Rawlings-Blake and City Comptroller Joan Pratt are in the midst of a very public tiff over a new phone system. Pratt is not-so-subtly saying that Rawlings-Blake is lining her own coattails, while Rawlings-Blake is demanding an apology for such an insinuation. 

Unsurprisingly, a not-guilty plea by alleged Phylicia Barnes killer Michael Johnson.

Police are asking for the public's help in figuring out who murdered 19-year-old Vernon Williams on the eighth of June.

Not the sort of list a college wants to get on... Morgan State has been named the 6th most "Crime-Rattled School" in America.

A woman robbed in yet another Craigslist scam is in trouble after repeatedly firing her gun into the air to ward off the aggressors.

It has not been a good few years for baseball icons. MLB Hall of Famer and former Oriole Eddie Murray is smack dab in the middle of a Federal insider trading probe.

North Baltimore Patch offers up a compilation of North Baltimore crimes from the last few days.

County citizens beware, there has been an influx of phone scams plaguing the area. Some have even slithered into extortion territory.

Genius. 42-year-old Dundalk resident Michael Blottenberger was not-so-subtly biking home with a television and various other ill-gotten gains from a recent burglary when two cops attempted to apprehend him. After a pursuit, Blottenberger managed to steal a cop car, and, to cut a long story short, is now facing a $1 million bail.

An Owings Mills accidental shooting puts a babysitter the hospital.

Three men are facing charges related to the robbery of a Lansdowne Wendy's. Hatratico Smith, 46, Rico Bias, 34, and Moncell Lee, 19, have been charged with the June 11 heist.

In other parts of Maryland, a 15-year-old in Ellicott City was shot in the head in an execution-style attempted murder, while Carroll County experienced its first homicide of the year on the same day mb and I visited an area gun range. Coincidence? Probably.  -- obvs we brought the devil up from the big city ... I love the Fox farm-team reporter with the busy hands in the clip, the last 5 seconds in particular. Paul Guessler? Gansler? Shelton Dutes he is not - mb

The latest Baltimore Guide crime blotter focuses on the city's Southeast, and includes fake police, assaults with wrenches and keys, and a mean ex-girlfriend.

Famed former Baltimore crime reported David Simon has put up a blog post chastising everything from the BPD, to the State's Attorney, to Justin Fenton, to (indirectly) yours truly. While I don't much appreciate what he had to say about Fenton, I do appreciate his general new bravado of being a cranky old fuss-pot, annoyed at all this newfangled technology and how no one does anything^the right way anymore.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fun w/Guns

Illos from the cover of this
Shot an AR-15 in .223, a 9 mm, a .22 and some other kind of old-school rifle at the Hap Baker Range in Carroll County this morning with co-blogger TAB and some other guys. This just in: rifles are loud and shotguns are louder. If you've got some firearms and you're itchin to shoot em, it's byo guns,  ammo and ear protection, you can buy targets and soda there, and while their web site shows the address in an office building, it is actually on the 140 W in the landfill, which, remarkably, does not smell any stranger than anything else in Carroll County.

Croyder on Bernstein

Is the new State's Attorney tough, transparent or neither?

"here's what I found most interesting: that a State's Attorney who campaigned on the promise of transparency and the willingness to take on tough cases has apparently retreated on both fronts.  
According to Simon, Bernstein is using his unilateral power to charge cases to cherry pick the best cases, a tactic that should keep his conviction rate high for political purposes.  Bernstein directly criticized his predecessor for dropping tough cases, but at least she took the hit in her statistics.  She just blamed the police for lousy work.  But, says Simon, Bernstein can make his conviction statistics look great by not charging cases to begin with."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cannibalism a Sign of Mental Instability? No...

The world famous Maryland cannibal Alexander Kinyua has been indicted for his crimes, and then  promptly moved to a mental facility for a complete mental evaluation.*
Police are hoping the public can identify three men who took part in a brazen armed robbery of the McDonalds at 5100 York Road.

The latest in a series of federal infiltrations of robbery crews ended in gunfire, but the feds had all the reason to be jumpy since said robbery crew had planned on killing the federal agent who was posing a member of the group.

The cases just keep piling on. Another person got jacked after responding to a bogus Craigslist ad. Although unlike past cases, this one was for a non-existent car.

North Baltimore was ripe with violence these last few days. A fella got shot in the arm for seemingly no reason in the 600 block of East 36th Street, while another guy got cut up over in the 1000 block of West 36th St.

The one-time chief of the Baltimore State's Attorney's office's gun unit got busted carrying his own illegal gun. Apparently he was going to meet a client and do what I can only assume is some intense lobbying.*

A fire on Eastbourne Ave. claimed the life of a man, his pet dog, and ten cats.

Sweet neck-tat having Joseph Viars (Pictured Right), escaped from a work detail yesterday. Police are currently ISO Viars, but if you ask me, the first place I would check is Crystals house...

Perry Hall resident Rodney Hailey is facing a long stretch in the federal clink after selling over $9 million worth of sham energy credits.

I'm nearly tearing up... soon to be former commish Bealefeld went on his final citizens on patrol walk.

Officials are cracking down on speakeasy-esq taverns throughout the city. All told 128 different businesses face the wrath of city health officials.

Friends of 17-year-old Christopher Brown, who was asphyxiated by an off duty county police officer in the aftermath of a bout of teenage tomfoolery, are adamant that Brown didn't actually throw the rock that caused officer James D. Laboard to go ballistic.*

What's family for... Not so wee-nephew Seamus Coyle got life in prison for orchestrating the meet between Karla Porter and hit-man Walter Bishop Jr., a meet that culminated in the planning and eventual murder of Porter's husband William Porter.

A traveling crime duo, a modern Clyde and Clyde if you will, were busted for committing a string of burglaries and robberies. 18-year-old Davon Alexander Jones and 34-year-old Sylvester Joseph Johnson face a multitude of charges in both Baltimore and Howard County.

Gotta pay those taxes. Chung K. Choi, 47, the owner of Frankford Garden Liquors got 18 months in the federal pen after sneaking away some $745,000 without letting the IRS know.

Let's pray he's not the father... Racist slimebag Christopher Michael Gelston, 30, threatened and pointed a gun at a woman in a dispute over a paterity test. Gelston faces a bevy of charges related to the baby mama drama.

Yahh... that's not suspicious. Gary Giordano, the man whose gal pal mysteriously disappeared in Aruba, is now trying to cash in on the $3.5 million insurance policy he took out on her before the trip.

Thanks to DNA, Texas jail inmate David Martinez, 30, has been charged with a 2003 Silver Spring rape.

Finally, two men were charge with robbing and assaulting a Towson busker. A beef over stolen street corners led to Tony Lyde, 43 (Pictured Right), and Reginald Johnny Bonaparte Jr., 32, robbing a guitar playing busker.
This story hits a little close to home because I'm very familiar with Tony Lyde, (Not so affectionately nicknamed Turtle) He's a fairly prominent local vagrant, due in part to his large size and booming voice. I had the "pleasure" of interviewing Mr. Lyde once. I learned a multitude of things, including that (and these are his words) his "father murdered a man once, but got away with it and moved to New York, where he happily lives with his new family." Of course the last time I saw him, he and his entourage had been getting a bit more aggressive with their panhandling techniques, so it was only a matter of time before something like this occurred.

Monday, June 18, 2012

16 Busted By the Feds, Local Five-O

State and Federal police took down a drug ring recently. Eight people were charged federally, and eight were charged in City court. Only those charged locally have been identified. The defendants are:

Thomas Darrell Washington, 43, has two prior arrests for attempted murder, once in '93, and again in '01. Washington has convictions for gun possession, resisting arrest, and drug dealing.

Fabian Moore Jr., 24, has prior arrests for armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, and weapons possession by a felon, and prior drug dealing convictions.

Wendell Griffin, 50, was arrested twice for robbery in the early 90's, and is a twice convicted drug dealer, having been released from prison within the last year or two.

Anthony Perry, 49,

Devance Brown, 39, has prior arrests for assault, handgun possession, robbery, and sex offenses. Brown is also a convicted felon, having been convicted three times of drug dealing.

Roland Fleming Jr., 35, is a convicted drug dealer, and has two prior gun possession convictions as well.

Melvin Spencer, 26, (Pictured Right), is a convicted sex offender with prior convictions for drug dealing, sex offenses, and failure to register as a sex offender.

Donteze Thomas, 24, has prior arrests for gun possession and drug dealing. Thomas was arrested for drug dealing earlier this month in the county.

Shake it, don't break it...

Sharmell "Flash" Thomas, 22, left, has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend's 14-month-old daughter, Desmare Braxton. (Note to WJZ, technically, at 14 months, Desmare isn't a "shaken baby," rather, an "abused-to-death toddler.") According to his Facebook and MySpace pages, Thomas is a strapping football player ("YES I Am A") who was studying business administration at Baltimore City Community College and working at a local catering company, having previously been employed at The Shake Shack in New York. MySpace page quote: ""OUR DEEPEST FEAR IS THAT WE ARE POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE""

The actor who played Bodie on "The Wire," J.D. Williams, says he's often stopped and frisked by the NYPD who mistake him for an actual drug dealer as he's on his way to auditions. There was a mega-protest in NY yesterday against the NYPD's copious stopping-and- frisking, a highly inefficient and lawsuit-inducing crime-fighting technique that Baltimore employed under the O'Malley administration but has since abandoned. NY hasn't, apparently, taken a lesson from our city's experience, in NY the "increase in street stops has been steady and vast: 600 percent from 2002 to 2011."