Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Baltimore

 

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.

There are 36 comments.

  1. PHCheese Member

    I was there about 20 years ago at the Inner Harbor. It seemed safe enough there but it got very sketchy fast just blocks away.

    • #1
    • May 2, 2019, at 3:59 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. Hoyacon Member

    For those who follow baseball, the Orioles are an excellent metaphor for the city–a disaster brought about by entrenched leadership.

    • #2
    • May 2, 2019, at 4:18 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  3. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    You know that Pelosi’s father was the mayor of Baltimore around the late 40’s. It has been persistently rumored that he had “associations” with the mob. So understand that Baltimore’s problems are systemic to one party rule for coming on close to 60 years, except for a brief period in the early sixties (by Ted McKeldin (R), later one of our few republican Governors). Other that Schaefer (also a Dem, but a reasonably competent one) that city has been mismanaged for longer than I have been alive.

    I moved into Maryland in 1967 as a ten year old, and I recall the folks saying, “we avoid Baltimore…. too dangerous”, which was certainly true in the late sixties (when they had a reprise of D’Alesandro as mayor). Aside from the area you where in, and the few blocks around there and along the harbor heading to the east, I would not visit any part of Baltimore city until you get well north of Druid Park, and never at night.

    • #3
    • May 2, 2019, at 5:15 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  4. WI Con Member

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    I was there about 20 years ago at the Inner Harbor. It seemed safe enough there but it got very sketchy fast just blocks away.

    I went there for work a couple times in the early 2000’s – had same experience. Was told not to venture too far away from that Inner Harbor. You could tell they were trying to get things going, some luxury apartments/condos there but I’d guess there’s been an Exodus of those few they initially attracted.

    • #4
    • May 2, 2019, at 5:23 PM PST
    • 1 like
  5. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    Gromrus: 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.”

    Is this satire or real? This sounds like something visitors to Kabul are told.

    • #5
    • May 2, 2019, at 5:38 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  6. OldPhil Coolidge

    We lived and worked just outside Baltimore for 35 years. Went into the city all the time; Orioles, Colts/Ravens, shows at the Mechanic and the Hippodrome, Little Italy, Lexington Market, the Aquarium, Harborplace, Fells Point, you name it.

    We moved out of Maryland in 2008 (retirement, Marty frickin’ O’Malley, etc.). Went back about 5 years ago for a concert at the arena and decided to hit Harborplace in the afternoon. One of the pavilions, where all the seafood stands and carryout places had been, was basically deserted. Very depressing.

    • #6
    • May 2, 2019, at 5:42 PM PST
    • 1 like
  7. Gromrus Member
    Gromrus Post author

    DonG (View Comment):

    Gromrus: 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.”

    Is this satire or real? This sounds like something visitors to Kabul are told.

    Sorry. I was not clear in my writing. The part in quotes was only my voicing what the printing of the contact info said to me. Those words were not actually there — only the emergency contact info.

    • #7
    • May 2, 2019, at 6:16 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. EDISONPARKS Member

    Funny story, I recently finally watched the HBO series The Wire which ran from 2002 to 2008 …. loved it btw.

    Has anyone ever mentioned Mayor’s Pugh’s “children’s books” payola scam is very similar to The Wires first Mayor Clarence Royce’s “poker games”.

    • #8
    • May 2, 2019, at 8:39 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. Arahant Member

    Gromrus: A little googling revealed to me that for decades Baltimore has had and continues to have single party [Democratic] rule.

    Like so many cities. Sometimes, self-governance is over-rated.

    • #9
    • May 2, 2019, at 10:39 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. namlliT noD Member

    I don’t know anything about Baltimore. But I will point out that Wikipedia has done a very impressive job of making data available for cities.

    Here, for instance, is the population of Baltimore over time:

    That’s interesting. One third of the city left, while the US population doubled.

    And you can see a list of mayors of Baltimore and look for a correlation.

    • #10
    • May 2, 2019, at 11:47 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  11. Jon1979 Lincoln

    My friends have kids who are on Baltimore PD. I get to hear lots of stories about the city’s problems.

    Randy Newman’s 1977 album “Little Criminals” drew a lot of flack from the vertically challenged who didn’t get the satire of the song “Short People”, but Newman also irked some of the Baltimore locals over his song on the album about Charm City. You could roll it out 42 years later and it would still pretty much ring true, even though the Inner Harbor area has been upgraded, and the new stadiums have improved the nearby areas….

    • #11
    • May 3, 2019, at 12:34 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  12. Keith Rice Inactive

    DonG (View Comment):

    Gromrus: 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.”

    Is this satire or real? This sounds like something visitors to Kabul are told.

    And if you want to be a little paranoid: A way for them to collect data on everyone attending.

    • #12
    • May 3, 2019, at 2:48 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. Keith Rice Inactive

    namlliT noD (View Comment):
    I don’t know anything about Baltimore. But I will point out that Wikipedia has done a very impressive job of making data available for cities.

    Here, for instance, is the population of Baltimore over time:

    That’s interesting. One third of the city left, while the US population doubled.

    And you can see a list of mayors of Baltimore and look for a correlation.

    When I was living in Minneapolis a fellow worker told me of his escape from Baltimore in the 80’s.

    • #13
    • May 3, 2019, at 2:50 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  14. I Walton Member

    Some places corrupt and decay faster than others. Some city had to be at the bottom. But this is the direction most if not all cities are going. And if they’re run by political machines they’re getting there faster. We focus on Washington because it’s so bloated and awful, but big cities are just as bad some worse because what they do is more visibly corrupt while Washington is mostly just unnecessary but honestly delusional.

    • #14
    • May 3, 2019, at 3:52 AM PST
    • 1 like
  15. Jon1979 Lincoln

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Some places corrupt and decay faster than others. Some city had to be at the bottom. But this is the direction most if not all cities are going. And if they’re run by political machines they’re getting there faster. We focus on Washington because it’s so bloated and awful, but big cities are just as bad some worse because what they do is more visibly corrupt while Washington is mostly just unnecessary but honestly delusional.

    Both Washington and Baltimore were in the same bad place municipally in the 1970s through the better part of the 1990s. But while Baltimore has fixed its Inner Harbor area, Washington has gentrified to a far greater degree over the past two decades, while Baltimore has failed to keep up. And that’s because Washington has had the advantage of both the massive growth of the federal government and the growth of private business in the area specifically targeted towards lobbying the federal government.

    That’s something neither Baltimore nor and other major city other than D.C. can take advantage of, and it’s pretty much akin to the difference between the kid hooked on drugs from a poor family, and a kid from a rich family with the same problem. The rich one can go to detox on mommy and daddy’s money to get clean, even if they don’t change any of the behavior that got themselves in trouble in the first place.

    New York climbed out of the sewer back in the 1990s because of the changes put in by Giuliani and Bratton and then maintained by Bloomberg and Kelly (which de Blasio is working like the Dickens to reverse right now). Washington did virtually zip to change its ways from the Marion Barry years, but got detoxed due to the huge amount of tax dollar largess flowing into the federal government. Baltimore can’t get out of its hole the same way, and for now, hasn’t elected any leaders who want to do it New York’s way.

    • #15
    • May 3, 2019, at 5:29 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  16. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Calling Ricochet Member @iwe. He lives in Baltimore (when he’s not traveling the world).

    • #16
    • May 3, 2019, at 6:12 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  17. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    Calling Ricochet Member @iwe. He lives in Baltimore (when he’s not traveling the world).

    He lives in the far northwest reaches of what could be considered “Baltimore city”, yet he was close enough that they were arming up when the whole Freddy Gray fiasco was getting out of hand and slowly torching it’s way up the Jones Falls Creek corridor, towards Pikesville.

    • #17
    • May 3, 2019, at 6:24 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  18. WI Con Member

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    My friends have kids who are on Baltimore PD. I get to hear lots of stories about the city’s problems.

    Randy Newman’s 1977 album “Little Criminals” drew a lot of flack from the vertically challenged who didn’t get the satire of the song “Short People”, but Newman also irked some of the Baltimore locals over his song on the album about Charm City. You could roll it out 42 years later and it would still pretty much ring true, even though the Inner Harbor area has been upgraded, and the new stadiums have improved the nearby areas….

    I’m not savy enough with my computer skills. Was thinking about that song and hoped that someone would link to it. He’s a Lefty but I’ve always liked Randy Newman, felt he’s been underrated.

    • #18
    • May 3, 2019, at 7:11 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. lowtech redneck Coolidge

    I pretty much assume any city that tears down statues of Robert E. Lee is, or is about to become, an utter [expletive]hole.

    • #19
    • May 3, 2019, at 7:14 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  20. I Walton Member

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Some places corrupt and decay faster than others. Some city had to be at the bottom. But this is the direction most if not all cities are going. And if they’re run by political machines they’re getting there faster. We focus on Washington because it’s so bloated and awful, but big cities are just as bad some worse because what they do is more visibly corrupt while Washington is mostly just unnecessary but honestly delusional.

    Both Washington and Baltimore were in the same bad place municipally in the 1970s through the better part of the 1990s. But while Baltimore has fixed its Inner Harbor area, Washington has gentrified to a far greater degree over the past two decades, while Baltimore has failed to keep up. And that’s because Washington has had the advantage of both the massive growth of the federal government and the growth of private business in the area specifically targeted towards lobbying the federal government.

    That’s something neither Baltimore nor and other major city other than D.C. can take advantage of, and it’s pretty much akin to the difference between the kid hooked on drugs from a poor family, and a kid from a rich family with the same problem. The rich one can go to detox on mommy and daddy’s money to get clean, even if they don’t change any of the behavior that got themselves in trouble in the first place.

    New York climbed out of the sewer back in the 1990s because of the changes put in by Giuliani and Bratton and then maintained by Bloomberg and Kelly (which de Blasio is working like the Dickens to reverse right now). Washington did virtually zip to change its ways from the Marion Barry years, but got detoxed due to the huge amount of tax dollar largess flowing into the federal government. Baltimore can’t get out of its hole the same way, and for now, hasn’t elected any leaders who want to do it New York’s way.

    Yes. Washington can’t be fixed. It will just grow, and drain and suck. Cities and towns and even smaller states can fix themselves if they are not subsidized by Washington, not all of them, but with time most of them. Washington is the problem in Washington and in the States. The states and cities were corrupt and often dysfunctional, but they didn’t take the lions share of people’s wealth because people could see their corruption. Washington is remote, removed, unreal and unseen and takes everything it can and always will.

    • #20
    • May 3, 2019, at 7:23 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  21. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Everything I know about Baltimore I learned from The Wire.

    • #21
    • May 3, 2019, at 7:59 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  22. Old Bathos Member

    Art Triumphs Over Politics! Feel Good story of the Day!

    Mayor Pugh has resigned presumably to devote more time to her passion for crafting stories for kids. She is committing to her art, her craft, her ongoing encounter with her muse. She is relinquishing the glitz and glamour of Charm City politics for art. I wish more politicians would discover their passion and like Mayor Pugh, develop avocations that can be pursued while incarcerated.

    • #22
    • May 3, 2019, at 8:31 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  23. Arahant Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Art Triumphs Over Politics! Feel Good story of the Day!

    Mayor Pugh has resigned presumably to devote more time to her passion for crafting stories for kids. She is committing to her art, her craft, her ongoing encounter with her muse. She is relinquishing the glitz and glamour of Charm City politics for art. I wish more politicians would discover their passion and like Mayor Pugh, develop avocations that can be pursued while incarcerated.

    You have a gift.

    • #23
    • May 3, 2019, at 8:33 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  24. WI Con Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Art Triumphs Over Politics! Feel Good story of the Day!

    Mayor Pugh has resigned presumably to devote more time to her passion for crafting stories for kids. She is committing to her art, her craft, her ongoing encounter with her muse. She is relinquishing the glitz and glamour of Charm City politics for art. I wish more politicians would discover their passion and like Mayor Pugh, develop avocations that can be pursued while incarcerated.

    I’m envisioning ‘the muse’ striking the Good Mayor while she’s standing at the license plate stamping machine.

    • #24
    • May 3, 2019, at 10:56 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  25. Old Bathos Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Everything I know about Baltimore I learned from The Wire.

    I used to plan way ahead for the perfect Baltimore Saturday: early lunch in the Lexington market, especially the raw oyster bar; the races at Pimlico or Timonium and an evening at the O’s game at Memorial Stadium and maybe a late supper in Little Italy on the way back south out of town.

    A college chum once gave me the tour of his old neighborhood–his dad worked in the shipyards.

    I accompanied an architect friend on a day tour mostly of old Baltimore churches. We could track the changing ethnicities by the last names on the war memorial plaques across the several wars.

    The town now seems to have less character and is more schizoid — very upscale or horrifically downscale instead of a lot of the socioeconomic middle ground it once had.

    • #25
    • May 3, 2019, at 12:10 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  26. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    What’s the story on the rest of the state? Is it like so many other places where people do ok but their success is drained by the sucking dysfunction of the metropolis?

    • #26
    • May 3, 2019, at 10:42 PM PST
    • 1 like
  27. Randy Webster Member

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    Randy Newman’s 1977 album “Little Criminals” drew a lot of flack from the vertically challenged who didn’t get the satire of the song “Short People”

    I used to sing it to my wife who’s 5’2″.

    • #27
    • May 4, 2019, at 2:48 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. Randy Webster Member

    TBA (View Comment):
    What’s the story on the rest of the state? Is it like so many other places where people do ok but their success is drained by the sucking dysfunction of the metropolis?

    According to Gary Robbins, it must be doing OK. After all, it re-elected Larry Hogan.

    • #28
    • May 4, 2019, at 2:56 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  29. Roderic Coolidge

    I think it’s still the case that the murder rate in Baltimore, 56 per 100,000 per year, is higher than it was in Baghdad for most of the Iraq war. There and in St. Louis (66 per 100,000 per year) the violent death is confined mostly to certain neighborhoods.

    • #29
    • May 4, 2019, at 6:58 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. namlliT noD Member

    Roderic Fabian (View Comment):
    I think it’s still the case that the murder rate in Baltimore, 56 per 100,000 per year, is higher than it was in Baghdad for most of the Iraq war. There and in St. Louis (66 per 100,000 per year) the violent death is confined mostly to certain neighborhoods.

    I think the murder rate is a very important metric. I mean, it’s the form of crime that can’t be undone.

    The national average is about 5 per 100,000 population per year. So yeah, Baltimore is an order of magnitude higher, a very serious problems.

    Again, Wikipedia has some great data: List of United States cities by crime rate (click on the murder column to sort it).

    • #30
    • May 4, 2019, at 8:57 AM PST
    • 2 likes