It is indeed a fictional line from a fictional character from a fictional show but it certainly appears to fit Governor Hogan. James Brolin’s Governor Robert Ritchie utters the infamous line in his appearance on The West Wing, saying, “Crime, oh boy, I don’t know.” Oddly enough, he sounds very much like Governor Hogan when faced with the vicious spike of violent crime in Baltimore City. Hogan seems to be more interested in meddling with Spring Break and taking transportation back to the stone ages than with addressing one of the most pressing issues in Maryland – crime in Baltimore.
After the deadly shooting of a Baltimore City Police officer last week, many are looking towards Annapolis for emergency assistance to slow the recent uptick in violent crime and crimes committed with illegal guns. In recent comments about the Baltimore City, Hogan stated that Baltimore’s criminals and victims are “just the same people shooting each other.” Hogan went on to state that, “One day they’re the shooter, the next day they’re the victim and it’s just the same people shooting each other.” Hogan’s comments simply highlight how detached he really is from the problem he is sworn to help address.
Residents of Baltimore could make an argument that the violence that is sweeping across the city is far more nuanced and complicated than the simplistic, naïve, and dismissive approach Hogan appears content to use when dealing with his least favorite jurisdiction in the state. It is obvious to onlookers that Hogan has a noticeable disdain for Baltimore City, but the recent spike in crimes requires an all hands on deck approach. Hogan’s Baltimore City constituents are waiting for him to get in the game and bring the resources needed to make a meaningful difference.
Hogan recently attended a meeting of the crime council he eventually defunded earlier this summer. Yet for all his bluster over the attendance of the meeting, no new strategies or initiatives have been forthcoming from the Governor’s office. Rather, Hogan has kicked the can down the road. Hogan came out of the meeting advocating for truth-in-sentencing legislation, which in other neighboring states has often meant eliminating good-time credits and parole that reduce the sentences of prison inmates. When pressed for details, Hogan was unable to provide any details. Loose and aimless words in a time of crisis is not what Baltimore needs. Hogan needs to do better and do it now.
At a time when residents of Baltimore are frightened and rightfully unnerved by the crime enveloping the entire city, it is beyond maddening for Hogan to remain so ambivalent and cavalier about crime in the streets of Baltimore. Hogan continues to shift the responsibility, blaming the legislature for not being tough enough on crime. Hogan went further blaming city judges for not attending his meeting with some city officials, placing blame on anyone near the situation other than himself. Maryland Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera wrote Hogan to let him know that the attendance of the judges would be inappropriate, citing a Maryland rule that dictates the behavior of sitting judges: “A judge shall not be swayed by public clamor or fear of criticism.” Hogan was uninterested and unfettered.
If Hogan was totally invested in helping Baltimore, he would not have refused entry into a state building to State Senator Bill Ferguson and City Councilman Brandon Scott, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee. Not allowing these two public servants a seat of the table for this conversation has sent a message to many that Hogan is not serious about Baltimore. Senator Ferguson said, “I’d like to remind the governor there are multiple branches of the government, all of whom are trying to solve the problem…we were kicked out of a state building. It makes me sick.”
In an environment that requires the best of us all and all hands on deck – it is preposterous that Hogan would not want to leverage all the available resources to solve one of the greatest challenges facing Baltimore. Instead of channeling his inner Trump with his divisiveness, it might behoove Governor Hogan to work with everyone invested in Baltimore and by bringing his best proposals and resources to the table.