Summer’s almost over, but, as we wander the beach for the last time, some interesting political nuggets wash ashore.
CASA In Action, the Latino political action group, recently demanded that Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan “take a principled stance ... by publicly disavowing (Frederick County) Sheriff (Chuck) Jenkins.”
Why? Because Jenkins’ vigorous enforcement of federal immigration law led to a 2008 arrest by his deputies of a Latino woman quietly eating lunch on the curb. Although she was committing no crime, she was arrested, found to be an illegal alien, and jailed. CASA sued and a federal court ruled that the arrest was a violation of the woman’s rights because it was not linked to a criminal act. So Hogan should disavow Jenkins.
Fine, but shouldn’t Democratic gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown likewise disavow Gov. Martin O’Malley who, when it comes to illegal arrests, makes Sheriff Jenkins look like a piker?
When he was Baltimore’s mayor, running for governor, O’Malley suppressed the city’s embarrassing crime rate by using a “zero tolerance” policy of unwarranted mass arrests of thousands and thousands of innocent city residents, including people walking to church. In many cases, the victims were strip-searched and jailed without charges.
In 2006, the NAACP and the ACLU filed suit against the city, resulting in a $870,000 settlement and consent decree against the police department. That’s why CASA should insist that Brown disavow O’Malley.
Maryland Congressman John Delaney (D-Dist. 6) has a way to improve voter turnout. He’s filed a bill in Congress making Election Day a national holiday.
Looks good on paper, but, in reality, it’s bound to backfire. Currently elections are on Tuesdays during the workweek. Make that Tuesday into a holiday and most folks will take annual leave on Monday and enjoy a four-day vacation!
If you believe people will stick around to vote, then you probably believe that most folks celebrate our fallen troops on Memorial Day and our workers on Labor Day.
Remember Julius Henson? He’s the black Baltimore political consultant involved in the infamous 2010 governor’s race robocalls advising black voters to stay home because O’Malley and Obama (who wasn’t even running) were safely elected.
But the jury only convicted Henson of conspiring to not have the recorded robocalls include an “authority line” identifying the robocalls’ political sponsor.
Nevertheless, State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt brought Henson to trial, where a judge sentenced him to 60 days in jail, 30 months of home detention, 500 hours of community service and four years of probation, during which he was banned from political campaigns. Then, Attorney General Doug Gansler won a $1 million civil fine against Henson.
Henson went to jail. In Maryland, that’s how we treat authority-line violators — unless you’re a white Democrat.
Last week, Brian Bailey, a white Baltimore County Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for the House of Delegates, was sentenced for creating a phony website attacking one of his opponents. Not only did Bailey’s website lack an authority line, he paid for it with personal funds, another violation.
Yet, Bailey got “probation before judgment” (no conviction) and was only sentenced to one year’s probation, 200 hours of community service and a $500 fine. Nor is Gansler filing a civil suit.
Davitt, the same prosecutor who tried Henson, said Bailey’s sentence “was fair”.
This year, Maryland’s school systems are relaxing discipline codes and reducing suspensions by treating violators, instead, with “restorative justice.” Meanwhile, with only a few weeks before school opens, Baltimore City has 211 teacher vacancies, up from 87 vacancies in 2012. Just a coincidence?
In California, the Berkeley City Council recently passed an ordinance mandating that medical marijuana dispensaries set aside 2 percent of their inventory, so the city can distribute the pot to low-income residents (individual incomes less than $32,000, family incomes under $46,000), who otherwise could not afford the weed. Who says this isn’t a great country?
Berkeley’s “pot stamps” law is the nation’s first, but can Takoma Park and Montgomery County be far behind?
Blair Lee is chairman of the board of Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio. His past columns are available at www.gazette.net/blairlee. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.