As the crowded Primary Mayoral race draws to a close with less than two weeks left until the only poll that counts becomes final, candidates are trying to distinguish themselves from the pack – yet some apparently have no political principles when it comes to trying to persuade the electorate?
While a recent Baltimore Sun poll had the charter-appointed Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake far ahead of all her opponents, garnering 50% of the total vote; many political analysts and most of the candidates have expressed their doubts in this “obviously slanted poll”. Yet even while many have come to the conclusion that the race is all but over, offering their insight into pointing out a significant advantage as the incumbent, thereby leaving her victory all but certified this year. However, other opponents such as Otis Rolley have released internal polls that have their candidate as the front-runner and within striking distance of the Mayor. Yet Pugh and Landers have said none of these numbers really mean anything until that fateful day in September, as many voters are still undecided and still trying to determine who they plan to vote for on Election Day.
“These negative connotations are a joke and simply speak to her unattached views as it relates to good public policy and honest dialogue regarding spending cuts and streamlining governmental services to work for the people, not against them,” said former Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors Director Joseph ‘Jody’ Landers. “For instance, the SCOPE program previously run and operated by GBBR could have been used effectively at no cost to the city while addressing the issues of vacant properties through a Land Bank that would have brought revenue into the city, rather than creating a vacant-to-value program that will cost the taxpayers more in the long-run and not realizing the potential of cutting service dollars without having to lay anyone off or cut any existing programs to Baltimore residents,” explained Lander’s communications director Frank DiVetti.
Thus, beyond the skewed polls and disastrous debates – as the only LIVE TV debate on MPT seemed to see the only real passion come from the debate panelist Charles Robinson – the candidates have already begun defining themselves throughout the summer, therefore many are now listening to their strategists and advisors who are certainly telling them now is the time to point out the negatives of the other candidates. However, that strategy is a double-edged sword and while many of the attacks have been subtle up to this point, things are beginning to get beyond the point of reason concerning policy differences and getting into the personal and private complaints of each candidate.
After each candidate vying for the seat of Mayor chose to differentiate themselves from the current Mayor throughout policy differences and techniques; Rawlings-Blake has now decided to go negative on her opponents – while actually trying to blame her opponents for going negative at the same time. During last night’s final debate at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, hosted by the League of Women Voters’ as well as WYPR and the Baltimore Sun; Rawlings-Blake’s campaign communications director Keiana Page sent out close to a dozen emails within an hour criticizing the Mayor’s opponents. While receiving none of the same critical emails from any of the Mayor’s opponents, it baffled this Examiner as to who was really the one going negative – and why?
“Candidates for Mayor should be running positive campaigns—talking about the future and what we should do to help all the people of Baltimore. Instead, Mayoral challengers are out of ideas…they are desperate…and they are running 100% negative campaigns!
The challengers’ revenue reduction plans will cut up to $400 million, decimating the budget for City services. Their plans rely on the false tenets of right-wing tea party economics that tax cuts will grow city revenues and are the answer to every problem.”
After holding a commanding lead both financially and in the Baltimore Sun poll, including having every major political endorsement throughout the State; the Mayor’s camp must still be worried as to what may be lingering the minds of the undecided voters’? Beginning with the same old rhetoric that the Mayor has been levying throughout the campaign pointing to her “home grown roots”, an obvious dig at the Jersey-born Rolley and Philly-born Pugh, she also continued to criticize the rest of the candidates property tax plan, saying that her plan is the most responsible of each of the candidates’ – while the others want to implement some questionable $400-million cuts?
Yet as most of Page’s criticisms were preempted by the same line ‘Fact Check’, let’s begin to do our own Fact Check here. First, the Mayor was the ONLY candidate to first criticize an ‘irresponsible’ property tax plan of any kind calling it ‘pie in the sky’; yet after her advisors began to see that it actually brought good traction especially in the white neighborhoods, she changed her tune releasing a previously proposed plan offered up by then Mayor Martin O’Malley in 2005. So ‘fact check’ is that her plan is NOT her plan, and she didn’t even believe it would work at first, only being baited into releasing a plan based on the original push by Landers, Pugh and even former Mayoral candidate Carl Stokes. Second, this $400-million sound-bite has yet to be broken down as to where this figure was actually calculated and which candidate’s plan actually proposes such cuts to the departments they suggest?
The next email even went real low, first charging Rawlings-Blake’s challengers with ‘Dirty Politics’ while then accusing Pugh of impropriates for paying Baltimore political strategist Julius Henson for work done last year, yet the $250 balance owed was paid by a check early this year. Pugh spokesman Anthony McCarthy has said this was the balance remaining for work done last year on the entire 40th district team work – before the November accusations of voter suppression were levied on Henson. Fact Check, first of all Rawlings-Blake only plays this card because Henson never worked for her, always having clients running against her, however if she wants to go there her political endorsement of Bernard ‘Jack’ Young for Council President should call to attention that Young paid Henson for work on this year’s race – yet I don’t here her backing off her endorsement? In fact, Henson has probably worked for half, if not three fourths of all the candidates that have endorsed her and that she has endorsed herself for this year’s city council and comptroller’s race – so what does she have to say about that? Second, a man is innocent until proven guilty and while Henson and Ehrlich cohorts have yet to have been convicted in any court thus far; I’d think the attorney Rawlings-Blake would realize such and honor her beloved profession? Also of note, when the Board of Elections mistakenly sent out their sample ballots with September 3 as the Primary Date instead of September 13th, Rawlings-Blake complained that ‘these Henson-styled politics will not be tolerated’ yet it was her mentor and ally, Governor Martin O’Malley who appointed this Board, as Henson had absolutely nothing to do with this error?
The same email from Page then also insinuated that Rolley’s claim to be a reformer should be questioned based on him saying he never saw any wrongdoing in the Dixon administration while Chief of Staff for the former Mayor. Fact check, Rolley was never implicated in some scheme to defraud the government or public nor was Sheila Dixon said to have involved anyone else in her mistakes; therefore how would he know something was wrong – serving as a political psychic? “The first thing a person should recognize when they have a problem, is admitting that they have that problem; and obviously this mayor refuses to BELIEVE that there is a problem here in the City of Baltimore – or even with her administration and their ridiculous claims,” said Rolley, the City’s former City Planner. “It’s interesting that the Mayor can’t seem to come up with a real plan to reduce property taxes for us, but she manages to get her taxes reduced in HOWARD COUNTY,” said Rolley in a recently released e-blast press release in response to an earlier Sun article referencing the Mayor’s double tax credit for a Baltimore City condo she apparently owns, as well as a house in Howard County. “This is no oversight – she claimed the double credit for seven years!”
I wonder if Page knew something was wrong when her boss received such tax credit or when Stephanie yelled at a young lady as Council President, who as a tax paying citizen was only questioning the official at a public hearing related to her Live Entertainment bill, in which Rawlings-Blake went off on the Canton resident saying, “We’re not friends, we’ll never be friends. You don’t know me, I don’t know you, nor do I want to; therefore never address me as Stephanie! You address me as Council President, Madame President or something of that nature!” That episode was documented first hand by this Examiner, which after our IMPAC group pushed for an apology and the Baltimore Sun picked up the story, only then did Rawlings-Blake offer up a written apology. So should we then blame Kim Washington – who was her Chief of Staff at the time – for being affiliated with this outburst, maybe she knew something was amidst and made her become arrogantly ignorant with this Baltimore voter? Be for real!
Rolley also says that he has chronicled past questionable, immoral, and borderline illegal actions this mayor continues to take from her seat in City Hall, such as ‘using her taxpayer-paid staff for political communications; giving no-bid contracts to campaign donors; hiring a political operative as her chief of staff; and using taxpayer resources to promote her campaign initiatives.’ “These are not gray areas of obscure laws, these are all actions which clearly violate the separation of campaigns from the taxpayer-funded government,” said Rolley in his email.
While she offers up more negative implications against each candidate in the other six or seven emails sent, you get the drift; therefore one would have to wonder who is the one ‘out of ideas and desperate, thus running 100% negative campaigns’? Really? If the Rawlings-Blake camp honestly believes this type of messaging puts them on track to be the candidate above the fray of negativity and keeps them aligned with ‘sticking to a message of making Baltimore a better place for everyone’ as Ms. Page suggests, than they are either as crazy as the concept of spending $10-million on a Grand Prix race in the midst of a recession or as flagrantly arrogant as the previous Rawlings-Blake rant against a citizen makes them seem. Grow up and offer the citizens more than the same old negative political trickery that we became victim to in the 1960’s by Barry Goldwater or in 2000 and 2004 by George Bush and Karl Rove; for Baltimore voters deserve better!
Thanks for continuing to read these Examiner articles, follow these elections happenings at the new and innovative site known as ValueMyVote2011 and your continued support of GCOMM Media Co. Be sure to tune into WOLB1010AM tomorrow morning 9-10AM as I sit-in for Larry Young to Host the Baltimore City Council debate for the 5th Council District! Also, be sure to check out my take on CB11-0634 and the ballot issue on this year’s November ballot to Lower the Age from 21 to 18 in Baltimore City, as well as honoring young candidates such as Dayvon Love (8th) and Devon Brown (12th) here in this week’s City Paper – Letter-to-the-Editor! Thanks again and may God continue to Bless you!
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