Tuesday, March 14, 2006

O'Malley at the Forum

Whoever said there's no such thing as a stupid question never visited Baltimore. Poor O'Malley.
babyholding"Are you running for governor?"
"Do you have any control as far as decisions in your administration?" (moderator Harold Robbins: "Could you be a little more specific?") and "You're Catholic, do you support the terrorist activities of the Vatican?" I must hand it the the Mayor, he handled the lamest of questions with respect and aplomb. There's no denying that he radiates Clintonian charisma. He even has Bill's slow, back-of-the-throat gravelly delivery. His ease (and, let's face it, his undeniable hotness and baby-holding style, above) makes Duncan look like a circus bear in a tutu.

Anyway-- there were a smattering of protestors outside carrying signs along the lines of "200 illegal arrests a month" and and many with giant photos of Robert Clay and more cryptically "$800 million $$$ ???" But inside, amazingly, the theater wasn't full, no one had any signs, there wasn't any heckling... it was pretty boring, really.

He repeated the "40 percent reduction in crime" figure (ballsy!), and said that the city had experienced the second-largest reduction in drug-related trips to the ER in the country, added five new rehab centers and were recieving the third-largest federal investment in Ryan White dollars (which appears to be some kind of cash reward for being a smacked-out and disease-ridden city. Oh well, money is money).

O'M said the state was suffering from the Ehrlich administration having "no goals and no leadership" beyond putting "a slot machine in every garage," and he wants to make sure "we never forget that we are the people that Frederick Douglass and Johnny Unitas loved."

Then after his intro Harold Robbins interivewed him for a bit. "I'm not asking questions in any order," he said. "It's going to be a bit like whacking a beaver with a stick." (I think he was referring to Whac-a-Mole).

The smoking ban: "I'm open."
Education: "Full funding of Thornton," higher teacher salaries and pensions (he said MD is 50th, as in second-worst, in funding teacher pensions).

School closings: Ehrlich administration cut funding by 75 percent of capital funding and withheld the rest until the city closed five schools. He said that capital improvements to schools had "taken us longer than I would like."

BGE prices: Blame Ehrlich for letting the foxes guard the henhouse, appointing corporate cronies instead of public servants to head the Public Service Commission.

'borshun: We all want fewer of them and fewer unplanned pregnancies, and the job of the government is to work towards that and give individuals responsibility to make their own decisions.

Crime numbers and corrupt police: "We do not have a perfect police department. Sometimes police make mistakes. But if you don't trust police numbers there are others you can look at: paramedics have to fill out run sheets, also doctors at shock trauma, and they also report a 40 percent drop."

Then there were the stupid questions. Then a girl in argyle socks asked about police corruption. He was very good. "Wherever it rears its head, we will beat it down! There have been eight officers killed in the line of duty in the past years, and we will beat it out ... not just for the citizens of Baltimore, but for the honor of police and their families..." or something like that, etc. etc.


InsiderOut said...

No comment on Martin for Maryland's politicking, but Jayne Miller has another report on WBAL TV. Thank God Baltimore has Jayne Miller who doesn't fear to speak truth to power!

InsiderOut said...

Okay, about O'Malley. Not solving the crime problem is not huge. It's a very difficult problem (regardless of what Galt says), but he refused to work with the prosecutors to get a handle on it. Then, he started eyeing the governor's house and stopped paying attention to Baltimore. He became more concerned with his image than in actually solving the problem. He pressured police (through ComStat) to make illegal arrests to reduce homicides last year (people murdered in jail don't count toward the numbers). He also pressured commanders to underreport crime (a slap in the face to victims) so he can claim a huge reduction for his run for governor. He's smart enough to avoid any direct evidence of the pressure, but if you blame Bush for his administration's failures, then you have blame O'Malley for the police failures. I fear what he would do in higher office, but it might be good just to get him out of Baltimore and finally have some one who truly cares about the people again.

InsiderOut said...

The City's health and fire department report on the decline of gunshot injuries from 1999 to 2005 is here. The report says that all gunshot injuries at two City hospitals declined by 32.2% from 1999 to 2005; not 40%.

The Health Department, however, used only data from two hospitals. WBAL TV also reported that a gunshot wound report from Harbor Hospital went unreported. I wonder what the numbers would look like if the City had gotten all the data.

Maurice Bradbury said...

Jayne Miller is so, so scary. She looks intimidating on tv and even more so in person. If I ever had to be interviewed by her I would pee myself.

You know, crime and whatnot is a big deal on this site, but I'm not sure that it's that big of a deal to most Marylanders. 80 percent of the state lives in the sticks and burbs.

The people tonight asking questions all said where they were from, and there were lots from from areas most affected by the crime problem: Cherry Hill, Woodlawn, etc., but other than the argyle-sock girl, most people wanted to know about stuff like affordable housing, gentrification, somebody asked about homelessness. And he has numbers to back up his estimate (whatever you may think of their quality), and the homicide rate, which is hard to screw with and got below 300 for the first time since forever during his administration, even if you count people who died in custody.

Maurice Bradbury said...

I think he was making that claim about all violent crime. But even if it's 32 percent-- that's quite a lot. Even if everybody's lying, it would be hard to hide one-third of the shot people in the city.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, there has been a drop in most-violent crimes. I'd hope so. But this should not be taken to indicate that it's attributable to the strategic choice of a police dept. or its Mayor. Keep in mind that violent crime in U.S. cities dropped off again by about half after 1996, due to national effects, including the declining use of crack and the economic boom. Baltimore's results were delayed a few years because its druggie population and local economy are more impaired than the nation as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot my name on that last post.

Anonymous said...

Ryan White Funds are grant funds for HIV/AIDS treatment. They are managed by the ABC and City Dept. of Health.

Anonymous said...

Oh, duh, was in a hurry and didn't check the Ryan White link.

InsiderOut said...

you're right, DC, crime in Baltimore is not as big a deal outside of the city, but lying or misleading the public certainly is. In the Health Dept report, there's 39% number for decline in gunshot wounds for CITY residents at the two major hospitals from 1999. O'Malley used this to support his 40% figure. Of course, he completely ignored the lower number for ALL gunshot wounds at those two hospitals (as if non City resident would go to City hospitals if they got shot outside the City). He used a misleading statistic for his own purpose, to mislead the public by improperly enhacing his accomplishments. It's sort of like George Bush's use of CIA intelligence in supporting the Iraq war.
The scary part about MO'M becoming governor is that the legislature is controlled by Democrats -- his same party. So, like on the federal level, there is would be no real check on the misleading statements of the executive. We need either a split government or an honest Democrat as governor.

Anonymous said...

For U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas, the per capita violent crime rate decreased from 714.5 to 516.6 from 1996 to 2003, or 27.7% average reduction. In largest cities such as New York, the crime counts decreased by 50%+. For the same period, MSA property crime rates decreased from 4797 to 3783, or a 21% decline.

Does it sound like Baltimore did ok by comparison? Waitaminute. Charm City also lost 11.5% of its population during that period, hence, the per capita change must be increased by that amount in order to discuss crime counts in Baltimore. The adjusted benchmark decreases for shrinking BValtimore then become

39.2% for violent crime, and
32% for property crime.

Those are the benchmarks. You use them to de-trend Mr. O'Malley's results, to get at the extent of his contribution.

Even using his numbers, when you subtract his 'claimed' results, you still get about zero.

Zero, Marty!

Stop claiming ya did something.

The truth always comes out. Especially when we have Jayne Miller.

Anonymous said...

from the blotter:

Theft // A city-owned "Do Not Enter" sign was reported stolen from its post in the 2900 block of Huntingdon Ave. sometime before 6 p.m. Monday.

A testament to the regard in which the city's rules/laws are held. Maybe a sign reading "Do not steal this." should be attached to everything in town.

Maurice Bradbury said...

They should put a giant "Do Not Enter" sign on Remington (or your momma-- HA!). I'm not defending Marty, I'm just saying politically I think it's possible for him to overcome it. Yes, pressuring people to falsify numbers is a big deal and very wrong.

But is it more wrong than, say, turning over public agencies (like the Insurance Admin. and the PSC) to corporate interests?

InsiderOut said...

whether you agree with the appointments or not, the appointments were done in full openess, without deception. At least you know what Ehlrich is about. With O'Malley, it seems he serves only one interest - Martin O'Malley's. I say go Duncan!

Anonymous said...

This is a traditional problem in yje area of regulation. The purpose of the PSC is NOT to maximize consumer gross surplus. It's more like the sum of net consumer plus net producer surplus, with an interest in the economic sustainability of property, plant, and equipment. The people with the training to make those assessments are generally utility industry insiders and economists. Most politicians cum activists are ignorant in this area and make the wrong choices.