Republicans deserve attention in mayoral race

August 04, 1999|By Michael Kane

GIVE ME YOUR tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to cry `racism' at the drop of a hat." That's not the inscription inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. But it should be.

So they came Monday morning. My people, the black people, to once again charge this newspaper with being "racist" in its coverage. The claim this time is that we are running negative articles about black mayoral candidates and only positive ones about the leading white mayoral candidate, 3rd District Democratic Councilman Martin O'Malley.

The naysayers were so fixated on one form of discrimination, they totally ignored another: the almost complete blackout of the views and platforms of the city's Republican candidates for mayor.

Remember Republicans? They're supposed to be the opposition party in our two-party system of government. Except that here in Baltimore and the "Free State" -- ha, ha -- of Maryland, we don't have a two-party system. We have a one-party city and a one-party state. Democrats have controlled Baltimore's mayor's office and City Council 32 straight years. Under the Democrats' watch, city schools have gone to hell, crime and vacant housing have soared, people have fled Baltimore in droves, and the homicide rate has crept up and remained above 300 a year.

Baltimore voters go to the polls every four years, look at this record of futility that would have to improve 100-fold to just barely reach the level of pathetic and then, instead of figuring that Democrats are the problem, reason that they just need to elect a Democrat with a different name.

Here's a heads-up for city voters, black, white, Asian and others: It's the Democrats, folks. When a party has performed as dismally as the Democrats for the past 32 years, it's your civic duty to turn them out of office and put the opposition party in power. You don't even have to like the opposition party. You just have to serve notice on the ruling party that you have no hesitation in booting them out of office.

So the question isn't why The Sun is picking on black candidates. It's how do Democratic mayoral candidates have the gall to show up at forums and not even have the decency to wear paper bags over their heads. Every one of them should have dropped out of the race before the withdrawal deadline. Someone has to protect Baltimore voters from themselves.

Dave Tufaro is a candidate for mayor. Ever heard of him? Of course you haven't. He's a Republican. He has no views worth expressing, if you're to believe the news media and the folks gathered outside The Sun on Monday. Tufaro knows he faces an uphill battle in raising money, gathering support and getting people to listen to him.

"I can't get [former Baltimore County executive] Don Hutchinson and [Del.] Pete Rawlings to return my calls," Tufaro said from his campaign headquarters yesterday. He doesn't want, or expect, endorsements from these two prominent Democrats. Tufaro just wants them to listen to his ideas. An apartment developer and owner who chaired the Baltimore Corporation for Housing Partnerships, Tufaro has ideas that stand up to the best of those offered by the Democrats.

On keeping or canning Baltimore City Police Commissioner Thomas Frazier or any other city department head: "I would select my own people that would reflect my views and my sense of commitment to the city."

On education: "It is the No. 1, long-term issue in the city. I would make sure the focus of the budget is on teaching and not administration. I would have the school board continue to hold principals accountable. I think principals are the key link in the teaching chain. We need zero-tolerance for violence and drugs in schools. We need to move troubled kids to different environments." A Tufaro administration would focus on bolstering after-school programs and neighborhood schools and hold parents accountable if they fail to take an interest in their children's education.

On city housing: Tufaro, the developer of Sharp-Leadenhall and other city apartment complexes, would use the "hundreds of millions of dollars" Baltimore gets from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for schools, neighborhoods and recreation centers. Tearing down the Hollander Ridge garden apartments is folly, Tufaro says.

"Thirty thousand dollars per unit to renovate them would be cheaper than demolition," the Republican believes. The problem with the apartment complex is poor management and a high concentration of poor people. Good management and an economically diverse tenant base would solve the problem.

Read Tufaro's ideas carefully. In a Democrat-crazed town like this one, you won't see Republican ideas often.

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