Mayor should have seen troubling brutality trend

Federal probe a wise move, but damages have been paid out for years

October 04, 2014|Dan Rodricks

That's a wise move by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Tony Batts, asking the feds to open a civil rights investigation into police brutality and how cases are handled here.

But I have a question: She took office in February 2010; didn't the mayor recognize a troubling trend in settlements and court judgments before she read about them in this newspaper?

It's a tough job, running the city; it's hard to keep track of everything. But, as a member of the Board of Estimates since 2007 — first as City Council president, then as mayor — didn't Rawlings-Blake notice damages going to victims of beatings and other appalling police actions?

"I didn't create these problems, but as the mayor in charge today I take seriously my responsibility to try and fix them," the mayor said.

The Sun found $5.7 million in damages to victims since 2011. Maybe, in total, that doesn't seem like a lot of money. But the number of cases — more than 100 court judgments or settlements related to brutality and civil rights violations in a relatively short period of time — should have jumped out to somebody a lot sooner.

What a depressing and infuriating record we've uncovered: No wonder police have had so much trouble getting citizens to help save their own city from criminality.

Definitely maybe

Something in Thursday's column bothered Jared Smith, spokesman for the Maryland Democratic Party. Contrary to what I stated in the column, Smith claimed Larry Hogan, the Republican candidate for governor, had been specific "on numerous occasions" about his desire to see the state's corporate tax rate rolled back from 8.25 percent to 6 percent.

The column expressed skepticism about negative television commercials — produced by Democratic supporters of Hogan's rival, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown — that claimed Hogan wants to cut taxes on businesses by $300 million instead of funding universal pre-kindergarten. I didn't think Hogan had been that specific about cutting the corporate tax rate by that much.

Turns out, he had. But it wasn't until mid-September, after the ads started running, that Hogan said so. At a news conference where he blasted the Brown camp for the negative ads, Hogan acknowledged supporting a cut in the corporate tax to 6 percent, the rate in Virginia. That statement was included in reports about Hogan's news conference in The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post on Sept. 18.

Smith said Hogan had expressed support for a cut even earlier.

But the statements he cited struck me as vague or indirect so, in the interest of getting some clarity, on Friday I went to the candidate's press guy, Adam Dubitsky. I asked if his boss would push for a cut from 8.25 percent to 6 percent, if elected in November.

Here's what I got back: "Larry favors getting spending under control so we can begin rolling back tax hikes including those on employers. He has not specified level of tax relief but has said, 'We don't have to be the lowest in the region but can no longer afford to be among the highest.'"

I told Dubitsky his statement was counter to what had been reported in The Post and The Sun.

He called back to acknowledge the accuracy of the newspaper reports, adding that Hogan "would like to roll taxes back to the lowest extent possible," depending on budget conditions and the cooperation of a General Assembly dominated by Democrats.

Oy vey.

Until further notice, I'm putting Hogan down as a supporter of cutting the corporate tax rate to at least 6 percent. I hope this item didn't give you a headache.

O'Malley as veep

From Daniel Halper's book, "Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine," comes this: "Political consultants in Maryland say [Gov. Martin] O'Malley is someone who could do serious damage to Hillary Clinton in the primary. One listed his assets in a race against the frontrunner: 'He is mean. He has a long history of negative campaigning. He's a good fundraiser.' In other words he's a younger Bill Clinton. ...

"Major Democrats know that he's going to be a problem for her. So they're trying to find a way to give him something to do."

Halper suggests that Clinton would offer O'Malley the vice-presidency to get him out of the 2016 race.

Somebody pour me a drink.

The urological credo

I underestimated Baltimore attorney Barry Glazer, locally famous for those cheesy — some might say tasteless — television commercials frequently seen during Orioles games. I assumed that, once the Birds flew to national television for the playoffs, we had seen the last of Glazer's spots.

But I was wrong. "I have sprung the additional money to get my extremely important messages to the masses," Glazer said. He bought time from TBS in the Baltimore market to promote his practice with its strange urological credo.

I felt bad for not having seen Glazer as a prime-time player. "I identify with you and am a little hurt that you think my commercials are ridiculous," he said.

Gee, Barry, we kid because we love.

dan.rodricks@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.