I was in Baltimore Monday for a convention when an article on the city appeared at National Review Online. The piece, by Baltimore journalist Marta Mossberg, provides details of Mayor Catherine Pugh’s corruption — selling herself published books to the University of Maryland Medical Center for $500,000.
The article notes that “the saga of Catherine Pugh is only the tip of the iceberg … Baltimore … has all but imploded thanks to decades of corrupt leadership, crime, and the progressive policies now trumpeted by Democratic presidential hopefuls as solutions to the country’s cultural and economic divisions.” The news Thursday was that Mayor Pugh had resigned.
I never had much of opinion about Baltimore until the Freddy Gray riots in April 2015 when I saw City Councilman Nick Mosby interviewed by Fox on the streets of Baltimore saying about the riots, “This is bigger than Freddie Gray … this is young folks of the community showing decades-old anger and frustration for a system that has failed them…”
A little Googling revealed that for decades, Baltimore has had and continues to have single party [Democratic] rule. When I pointed this out in a Facebook post, my opinion was ridiculed by a local Democrat state representative’s wife and friend as “ridiculously reductive.”
So what does life on the ground look like for someone attending a work convention in Baltimore — any evidence of implosion? Well, the convention center is fine, though a canned coke cost $3.50 — seemingly boiler plate convention center level robbery. Cross the street from the convention center and walk three blocks, however, and one sees numerous sidewalk flower beds completely untended and overgrown despite being outside public and federal buildings. No tulips and underplantings like one might expect in late April; only grass and weeds. Putting the best foot forward … not. Vagrants, panhandlers, and obvious drug addicts stream up and down the streets asking for money in the three blocks between the convention center and my four-diamond hotel.
What made the most impression on me, however, was that my emergency contact information was printed on the back of my convention name badge. I don’t believe I have ever seen this. “Welcome to our city for your convention; it will help us a lot if you wear your next of kin’s phone number on your name badge in the unlikely event that something untoward happens to you. Thanks very much. Love, Baltimore.” In all the corruption and implosion, at least a little efficiency has been preserved.