Shorebird of the Week – May 31, 2012

May 31, 2012 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – May 31, 2012 

Lost in the hubbub about a mega-piching prospect who recently departed Delmarva is the work of another 19-year-old starting pitcher who has excelled when called upon. But Eduardo Rodriguez has shown over his nine starts that he can contribute quality innings, and thanks to scoring rules he’s tied for the team lead in quality starts (defined as six innings pitched with three or fewer earned runs) with three. These were consecutive from May 5-18, against Charleston, Kannapolis, and Hagerstown.

The Venezuelan is with his first full-season team since beginning his pro career in 2010 with the Orioles’ entry in the Dominican Summer League, but the numbers have remained solid throughout his advancement in the system – 3-4 with a 2.13 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 2010, 1-1 with a 2.22 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 2011 (primarily with the Gulf Coast League Orioles) and 1-1 with a 2.43 ERA and 1.19 WHIP here with Delmarva so far this season. All but one of his 32 total career appearances have been starts, and he’s had a couple outings this season which were shortened due to weather – generally it appears that Eduardo is capable of at least six good innings per start.

While he hasn’t been quite as dominating at this level – not averaging about a strikeout per inning as he had with the rookie league teams – Rodriguez is still exhibiting pinpoint control as he’s only walked 13 in 37 innings so far this season. Nor is he susceptible to the longball, as the one home run he’s given up in 151 1/3 career innings occurred in his lone Aberdeen appearance to close out last season. In other words, the kid can pitch.

So what will become of Eduardo in the future? He hasn’t appeared on the prospect radar screen quite yet but continuing his success at the full-season level may place him on the map. With a new draft crop coming in later next month, my guess is that Rodriguez will pitch to a limit of about 100 to 110 innings – if the Shorebirds stay with a six-man rotation he could come close to getting a full-season complement of starts; otherwise, he may be throttled back somewhat in August. But he’s one pitcher who gives a light-hitting Shorebird squad a good chance of winning so he should remain a rotation mainstay.

Initial impressions

May 30, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Bloggers and blogging, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Initial impressions 

Already there has been occasion for me to write about possible 2014 races, and I noticed via my Facebook feed that political blogger Richard Cross is putting up his thoughts about the Democratic nominee who would succeed Martin O’Malley. I told you we were getting to the silly season, and quite frankly there’s not much to learn about the 2012 race at this point since we know who the nominees will be and no one but junkies are paying a whole lot of attention anyway.

But we all have to have something to write about, so I wanted to bounce off Richard’s post with a couple thoughts in general.

We all have heard the saying that the 2012 election is the most important one in our lives, and to the extent that it represents a break in the direction our nation is heading, that’s true. Granted it’s not as clean of a break as many might prefer, but above all fears is the fear of the unknown. Sadly, much as I would have liked it, no radical conservative was going to win after the runaway liberalism we’ve experienced over the last three years. Pendulums rarely swing that quickly.

Having said that, however, it’s interesting to reflect on just how sharply the 2010 election served as a repudiation of the so-called “wave” election of 2008. And remember, 2006 was considered payback for the conservatism which had run its course over 12 years, since the Gingrich-led takeover of the House. I would argue that the 2006 theory is incorrect simply because there wasn’t all that much conservatism exhibited by the House after 1995, and even when we had a supposedly conservative President in George W. Bush it’s not like the era of big government came to an end by any means. Instead, we got more federal control over schools and a new permanent entitlement in return for a ten-year tax rate cut. At any rate, given the recessionary economy and the financial panic of the fall of 2008 people were probably more willing for – and less thoughtful about – a change of any sort than in any election over the last 80 years.

So the obvious question for 2012 is whether the push back will come at the expense of the Obama regime or the TEA Party-led Republican majority in Congress. Through my admittedly colored viewpoint I would suspect the former, and let’s say for the sake of argument that indeed occurs – on November 6 Barack Obama and Harry Reid are handed their walking papers as President and Senate Majority Leader, respectively.

And let’s further assume that under a Romney administration the economy comes roaring back to an extent where, even if federal jobs are cut, the growth in the private sector in and around Washington means that part of the state doesn’t suffer as much as many fear should a conservative takeover put a lot of useless pencil-pushers out of work.

Given those two assumptions, the question for 2014 would become the following: do Maryland Democrats get credit for the likely budgetary success which would come from prosperous times?  While their tax hikes were made retroactive so certain wage-earners will be giving the state a larger chunk of their income next April, it’s quite possible that a Romney win in November may make the Christmas shopping season unlike any other in recent memory, as confident shoppers once again decide to splurge. (Martin O’Malley would be cursing his bad luck at not sweet-talking the General Assembly into a sales tax increase at that point.) With a grand Christmas the state would make up for any income tax losses created when they decided a “soak-the-rich” policy was the way to go, rather than prudent spending cuts.

Obviously the majority party in Maryland banks on short memories. Martin O’Malley, who raised taxes more than any governor in our state’s history, still won re-election in 2010 – a terrible year for Democrats elsewhere – because he could state the claim about Bob Ehrlich that he did it too because “a fee is a tax.” Voters had nearly three years to “get used to” the higher taxes so there was no real complaint by the time O’Malley’s re-election rolled around.

Similarly, the increased taxes passed over the last two years will be part of the cost of doing business by the middle of 2014, so if the economy really improves it would be a dead issue. In essence, Republicans then would have to nationalize a state election by comparing the muddled mess of Maryland government in 2014 to our federal government in 2012. Sure, things are prosperous now, they would say, but we can make them even better.

At this early stage, though, we don’t know what the future will hold. If I were to lay odds at the moment I would think the 2014 race for governor would pit Peter Franchot vs. David Craig – a pair of technocrats well-versed in the levers of government as Comptroller and Harford County Executive, respectively. It’s not likely a legislator would be successful in seeking the job since in the last fifty years, only Bob Ehrlich has been elected governor without some sort of executive experience. But all that can be changed if the conditions were right, and the horses who break out front early on rarely lead wire-to-wire.

The other key factor is where the O’Malley fatigue certain to occur will be expressed. Democrats will be hoping that it’s extinguished after the primary election, while the GOP would dearly love to see it carried out all the way through November and be so rampant that a GOP winner has broad coattails. Few would predict the GOP takes over the General Assembly, but getting a minority of 55 to 60 in the House and 20 or so in the Senate would be a milestone for the Maryland Republican Party. They could use that to help a GOP governor enact needed reforms.

But we have to remember we are 2 1/2 years away. It’s fun to handicap a state race, and those who run statewide – particularly as Republicans – need to make an early start, but don’t forget matters closer at hand.

Marriage petition all but assured of success

May 29, 2012 · Posted in DC Examiner · Comments Off on Marriage petition all but assured of success 

Needing to turn in 18,579 valid petition signatures, those who support traditional marriage smashed previous records by submitting 113,505 signatures to the Maryland Board of Elections earlier today. It’s likely that enough will be valid to place the measure on the November ballot without the need to worry about the final June 30 deadline.

Citing an inclusive effort by both community organizations and faith-based entities, Maryland Marriage Alliance president Derek McCoy announced that regardless of the number of signatures validated from today’s submission, they will continue to collect signatures through June to “give more voters the opportunity to formally join the effort.”

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Field for 2014 Maryland Governor expands

May 29, 2012 · Posted in DC Examiner · Comments Off on Field for 2014 Maryland Governor expands 

In the race to succeed Martin O’Malley as Maryland’s governor, one contender thought to be likely made it official while a second is setting himself up for his own run.

After a couple months of exploring, Frederick County Commissioner Blaine Young has confirmed that he is indeed making a 2014 effort. While he won’t officially file for some time, the Republican filed organizational papers with the state Board of Elections in order to begin the fund raising he feels is necessary to compete with well-heeled Democrats. “You have to raise money to get your message out there,” Young said in an interview. Key among his issues will be fiscal responsibility and rightsizing state government.

(continued at…)

A Memorial Day observation

May 28, 2012 · Posted in Delmarva items, Personal stuff · Comments Off on A Memorial Day observation 

Perhaps the torch is being passed.

For the last eight years I have taken time out to attend Wicomico County’s Memorial Day service held at the Youth and Civic Center. Each occasion has several things in common, with the most striking being that it’s always warm and muggy on Memorial Day around here.

If you want to have a blow-by-blow of how the ceremony is conducted, you can go to my 2009 Memorial Day post. Over the last couple years I had backed up the post with a second event, the Concert for a Random Soldier; alas, I didn’t make it there this year. But the Wicomico County event maintains the same schedule and rhythm year after year, so there wasn’t much point in telling the same story over again.

I didn’t take as many pictures this year because I was more interested in making some points with the ones I took.

I’ll begin with this one, which is the group who recited each service prayer.

The gentleman speaking at the podium is Ed Tattersall, who annually recites the name of the 188 from Wicomico County who have fallen in battle since World War I. Fortunately, that number hasn’t budged in a couple years.

But the reason I added the picture was to illustrate the graying nature of the participants. Although there are a few younger veterans in the picture, most of these men and women have done this ceremony a number of times.

We did get a new bell ringer last year, as the old veteran who used to do this could no longer do so.

The bagpipe player, Matthew Wallace, has also been in several of these, but I have no idea how he can stand the heat in that outfit. In fact, one concession to the heat and humidity is that the JROTC members no longer have to stand at attention at their flagpoles throughout the event, which customarily lasts about 40 minutes. We’ve had a few pass out over the years so now they get a break.

Slowly but surely, these young JROTC cadets are being joined by veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

This is what his shirt says.

It brings up another point. I have no idea what the racial makeup is of those who were killed in battle from our county; however, something tells me that the proportion of minority veterans today is larger than their percentage of the general population, mainly due to economic circumstance. It will be interesting to see how the makeup of those attending this ceremony will change in future years as veterans who served four to six decades ago pass from the scene and those who served from Operation Desert Shield on take their place.

As always, there was a modest gathering on hand; perhaps more than some would expect given this day and age of disrespect to the mission, if not those carrying it out.

With combat operations winding down in the Middle East, the chances of another name being added to the list diminish – but it’s still possible. We still live in a dangerous world and no one knows just where the next hotspot could be. I don’t think many of those who served would wish their experiences onto anyone else, but it’s up to all of us to remember that freedom isn’t free and should never be taken for granted.

Thoughts at large

May 27, 2012 · Posted in Personal stuff · 1 Comment 

Today I feel like a slave to the grind. I’m actually writing this on May 26, but through the magic of WordPress those of you who care to come by on a summer-like day will see this on Sunday, May 27.

While I like summer in general, I also know it’s the silly season insofar as politics goes and my readership takes a dive. Too many people make other plans and tune out for a day or a week – hell, if I were in Ocean City or down on the OBX to relax I wouldn’t be reading the internet either. (Okay, maybe I would check on it a couple times a day, but most sane people who aren’t political junkies would not. I understand.)

So I know what I’m up against. Yet this is the time of year where a lot of camels’ noses lodge themselves firmly under the tent, and in the era of Friday afternoon document dumps from on high the time when those smelly tourists are most ripe in Washington is also the time when the government also stinks to high heaven.

I’m not saying to not enjoy summer by any means, heck, it’s my favorite time of year. We may grumble about the Pennsyltuckians who don’t know how to drive but I guarantee those local areas which rely on tourism aren’t shy about taking their money. I can play tourist once in awhile, too, because even after seven-plus years of living here I still marvel at the vibe I get when I’m relaxing in Ocean City at the height of the season and on occasion I don’t mind bumming around to see what I still haven’t seen in this area. It’s fun, albeit too rare in my case – remember, I still check the internet a couple times a day. I just hope the season turns out to be a halfway decent one; luckily it appears gas prices are giving us a modest break by backing off the $4 a gallon mark for now. (Still, they are way too high for my liking.)

But even if people were 10 or 20 percent more vigilant than they would normally be, it could make a difference. Obviously with this being a Presidential election year there’s a little more interest, but since we already know who the nominees will be the horse race aspect is all we have left. Already pollsters have shown Barack Obama and Mitt Romney alternating in the lead. The incumbent in particular has made a number of cynical ploys designed solely for political reasons.

And it very well could be people are more in tune. But it’s a little bit discouraging to see that the top “hot topics” on Examiner from yesterday are as follows:

  • Memorial Day plans (ok, I can buy that since it IS the holiday weekend)
  • Etan Patz case updates (if it bleeds, it leads)
  • Lolo Jones: Virgin Olympian (why is that news? It’s commendable, but sadly I guess not sleeping around is such the topic of derision that she’s being held out as a freak of nature)
  • Siri gets banned (since I don’t have anything Apple, no biggie to me – IBM can do what it wants)
  • NBA playoffs coverage (obligatory sports distraction, although I admit I’m a huge baseball fan)
  • Facebook stock, lawsuit (because they bought the hype? It’s called caveat emptor and capitalism)
  • The world’s nicest prison (I’m not in it)
  • Pics: Miss USA pool party (sex sells, too)

Where are the real issues here? Is the Examiner audience that shallow?

But perhaps what irks me more as an Examiner writer is their choice of topics to promote.

Several times a week I get notices about “editorial initiatives” where writers who cover the topic have a chance to “be promoted as a Dynamic Lead on the News & Info superchannel page,” which in theory leads to more page views and more income. (Not really enough to live on by any means, but that’s the usual for internet writers.)

Anyway, here are the “editorial initiatives” I’ve received since rejoining Examiner earlier this month:

  • Super Heroes (playing on “The Avengers” theme)
  • Elections and social media
  • Best of Summer
  • This Weekend
  • Abused Women and Children’s Awareness Day
  • Gay Rights
  • Smoking (for World No Tobacco Day)
  • Political Ad Wars
  • Minorities are the majority
  • The Boomers’ sunset years
  • LGBT Pride Month (I guess that is June)
  • World Environment Day

I suppose there is something for everyone, but do you see somewhat of a liberal slant in the items they’re choosing to promote? Granted, I don’t have to do articles on these subjects but it comes at the risk of less exposure. I actually tagged my post on the same-sex marriage petition drive as a “gay rights” post but I doubt they’re promoting that one! I don’t do politically correct, so maybe they need a post on how hypocritical it is for the state to collect tobacco tax to promote anti-smoking efforts, renew my call to sunset Social Security because it’s a bankrupt Ponzi scheme, or ask when straight pride month will be; hell, I’m pretty proud to be straight and I would wager most of my readers are too. I guess we’re secure enough to not need a month to assuage our insecurities at not being what’s still considered normal.

If they’re going to give writers a pittance, we may as well have fun with it. Maybe if Ann Miller (who is the Baltimore County Republican Examiner and has been for a few years) is reading this, she can answer when Examiner did away with sponsorships because I don’t see them anymore. Basically, we are now at the mercy of how much they choose to expose our articles, I guess, although I do my best to promote them to my Facebook and Twitter followers.

But enough of that rant. Despite the low pay, I still enjoy sitting here. Once in awhile I have to vent, but in what other profession can a person sit on his deck and enjoy the warm weather while doing something at least slightly productive? It’s not all I do, but people have told me I do this well and I’m closing in on 3,000 posts so why not keep going?

Besides, once Social Security goes belly-up I’ll need something to support me in my old age and I’m determined to outlast, outwit, and outplay a lot of these Johnnies-come-lately to the game. But I may take tomorrow off, or you might get a late evening post – it depends on my mood and where I go. I do ask you, though, to take a little time to honor our fallen soldiers, sailors, and airmen, okay?

Redistricting petition could fall short

May 26, 2012 · Posted in DC Examiner · Comments Off on Redistricting petition could fall short 

While I wrote yesterday on the optimism of same-sex marriage opponents regarding their drive to bring that bill to referendum, the same cannot be said of those who would like a reconsideration of our Congressional districts. Going into the final weekend of signature gathering before a May 31 deadline to collect 1/3 of the signatures eventually needed, the campaign explicitly states “we don’t yet have the signatures we need in hand.”

Unlike the same-sex marriage proposal, which arouses the ire of religious groups and others who support traditional marriage, redistricting doesn’t seem to have much of a passionate base in opposition. In an era where shockingly few even know who represents them in Congress and others are resigned to politics as usual, it could be too much to ask to get the “Marymandering” to the ballot this November.

(continued at…)

Same-sex marriage opponents closing in on signature goal

May 25, 2012 · Posted in DC Examiner · Comments Off on Same-sex marriage opponents closing in on signature goal 

The first hurdle in the effort to bring Maryland’s proposed same-sex marriage law to referendum appears to be cleared. Opponents claim they are well past the required number of signatures to proceed into a final month of signature-gathering in June – with over 35,000 signatures and more being processed daily it’s almost assured the broad coalition of religious- and family-based groups will have more than the 18,579 valid signatures needed by May 31 to continue the process. Under Maryland law, those who wish to petition a proposed law to referendum at the next general election needed to gather the number of valid signatures equal to 3 percent of the total number of voters in the preceding gubernatorial election – in all, 55,736 signatures are required.

The number of signatures gathered by same-sex marriage opponents so far compares favorably with the initial total gathered by opponents of in-state tuition for illegal aliens in 2011. Last year’s effort ended up with well over 100,000 valid signatures, roughly twice the number required.

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Shorebird of the Week – May 24, 2012

May 24, 2012 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – May 24, 2012 

While this is his third tour of duty with the Shorebirds, this is the first time Mychal Givens may be showing flashes of the potential which made the Orioles spend a second-round pick on him back in 2009. Until now, the Tampa-born high school phenom hadn’t made a successful splash at this level, putting together a .222 average in 7 games here in 2010 (his initial season), a putrid .195/0/15/.488 OPS here last year before being demoted to Aberdeen at mid-season, and until recently just a .183 mark in his first 34 games this year.

Suddenly, though, everything seems to be going right for the young Givens, who just turned 22 earlier this month. An 8-for-13 tear through Hagerstown and Lakewood has put Givens well on the right side of the Mendoza line, bumping his batting average up to a more respectable .230 mark. Considering he put up a .279/1/30/.698 OPS line in a league-leading 74 games after his Aberdeen demotion last season and followed it up with a gaudy .352/5/18/.934 OPS with the Perth Heat of the Australian Baseball League over the winter, this breakout may have been long overdue.

Still there’s a long way to go for Mychal, who has the weight of being a high draft choice on his shoulders. On the other hand, he’s probably a little ahead of the level where he would be had he played college ball – his misfortune is being part of an Orioles draft headed by fellow high schooler Matt Hobgood, a pitcher now on the shelf after shoulder surgery this year. When compared to subsequent drafts which featured high school players Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy as first-round picks, his 2009 draft class looks like a total bust.

Yet Givens can only control what he does, and while he’s likely behind guys like Machado and Jonathan Schoop on the Orioles radar screen there’s always the possibility that this recent hot streak is a harbinger of better play to come. Another year at Delmarva isn’t going to hold Mychal back, and the nearly continuous baseball he played from last June on should help him learn the game and advance.

The Republican blame game

May 24, 2012 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The Republican blame game 

This is one of those comments which deserves its own post, although I’m the one who left it.

Every so often I like to see what the other side is doing, so I go and catch up on Maryland Juice. Yes, David Moon is probably my mirror-image on the left, but I have to hand it to him because he writes quite well. Anyway, yesterday he wrote a piece bouncing off a Maryland Reporter post about the distribution of poverty in Maryland, and I responded with the comment below, which I will separate rather than blockquote myself.


But how does one lift themselves out of poverty? The preferable method is a well-paying job, and I would argue that the state’s policies on development indeed constitute a “War on Rural Maryland.”

I live in Salisbury, and the problem we have is very simple: we have a good university which attracts students from across the region (including the western shore) but no well-paying jobs to keep them here. Incubators of jobs are discouraged from starting up in this part of Maryland because of the hostile business climate, manufacturing won’t come here because the infrastructure is sorely lacking, and all that seems to be left is a few state and institutional jobs here and there. I know the decline of the local building industry wiped my former job out, probably never to return.

On the other hand you live in Montgomery County, which benefits handsomely from its proximity to the federal seat of government. Businesses know they have to pay a premium to be near that population center so they grin and bear it, but guess what? What can work there doesn’t work out here.

Instead, the state seems to have a policy that rural land needs to be either purchased outright (taking it off local tax rolls) or have its usage restricted so much that it essentially becomes worthless. By doing that, farmers are put at a severe disadvantage because their chief asset is the value implicit in the possibility of development of their land. Selling an acre or two of frontage off a 80- or 160- acre parcel isn’t going to significantly affect an overall crop but it could make the difference between profit or loss for a farmer. But that soon won’t be allowed anymore in Martin O’Malley’s Maryland.

For all the talk about One Maryland from your side, the reality is there are at least three. The western panhandle could lift themselves up if the state government would get its head out of its rear end regarding fracking and our end of the state would do just fine if government realized the punitive policies which are fine for your end of Maryland aren’t helping when we have business-friendly Delaware just across the border. Let the counties figure out what’s best for them, and stop dictating what we do from Annapolis.

And I’m curious: if your contention that Republican are to blame for denser amounts of poverty in “their” areas of the state is correct, what does it say about Baltimore City – a Democratic stronghold for decades – being the absolute poorest?


I think that about covers it. But there’s another point I’ll make here, too.

As it is measured for the purposes of the map, poverty is a relative term. Let’s say Person A makes a poverty-level income and lives in Wicomico County while person B lives in Anne Arundel County and makes twice as much. Person A could find it easier to scratch out a living in a rural area because of the lower cost of living than Person B living in a high-priced suburb. Yet on that map Wicomico is painted orange, implying it’s a poor county, while Anne Arundel is a bright blue.

And notice a rising tide lifts all boats. The counties which are in the best shape tend to be those with pockets of wealth, either through being bedroom suburbs to large urban areas (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Howard) or hideaways for the vastly wealthy, which I would categorize Queen Anne’s and Talbot as. In fact, if you change the criteria to a concentration of population existing at less than 200% or  300% of poverty level, the two Eastern Shore counties regress slightly but the bedroom suburbs remain high on the list.

But the argument that Republican parts of the state are leeching off the other portions is a red herring anyway, because the state will keep on spending huge amounts of money to satisfy certain constituencies. If you doubt me, just remember the hue and cry put up when we were “only” going to spend $700 million more than we did in the last fiscal year. Until someone shows me a pattern of budgets with year-over-year declines and their effects of state residents I’m not going to believe that we can’t survive with less. Real, working Maryland families have had to.

Coalition to Reduce Spending looks for candidates to endorse

May 23, 2012 · Posted in DC Examiner · 1 Comment 

Scattered about Washington are literally thousands of political organizations which advocate for one cause or another, so color me dubious that the Coalition to Reduce Spending is “the only national organization aimed solely at advocating for reduced federal spending as a means of balancing the budget,” as the release announcing its formation trumpets.

What stuck out to me about the new group, though, was its leader and Board of Advisors. Of the six, three have direct connections to the Paul political family – CRS president Jonathan Bydlak was the Director of Fundraising and Board of Advisors member Justine Lam was the eCampaign Director of the 2008 Ron Paul presidential campaign, while fellow Board of Advisors member Evan Feinberg was a Senior Policy Adviser to Senator Rand Paul before an unsuccessful bid for Congress this year. Other members of the Board of Advisors are Peter Schiff, an economist and 2010 U.S. Senate candidate from Connecticut, Dave Nalle of the Republican Liberty Caucus, and political consultant Ryan Shafik, who heads up Rockwood Strategies, a Pennsylvania-based consulting firm.

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McDonough challenges Baltimore mayor to improve safety or resign

May 22, 2012 · Posted in DC Examiner · Comments Off on McDonough challenges Baltimore mayor to improve safety or resign 

Increasing the ante from a previous call to create a “no travel zone” around the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore, Delegate Pat McDonough is now demanding Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake convene a “solutions summit” to address the crime issue or resign.

McDonough has sparked a wildfire of controversy since his comments last week about “black youth mobs” and the violence they allegedly cause. Reaction to McDonough’s remarks has run the gamut from calling for his removal from the House of Delegates, casting them as “racially charged” or “brain-dead“, or agreeing with him by saying he’s absolutely right. The Delegate himself notes that “some may call (his remarks) a ‘publicity stunt’, but publicity is what is needed to solve this problem. Baltimore will overcome crime or crime will overcome Baltimore.”

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