Friday, August 31, 2007

Oh, My

The mayor has taken a liking to press releases, which I must admit are a useful form of information. But using the media for political battling is just inappropriate.

Ray Weaver, the Annapolis Public Information Officer, sent a letter to The Capital that was published on Friday. My experiences (2 emails) with Mr. Weaver have been fairly reasonable, which reinforces my belief that this letter can be reasonably interpreted as the mayor's wishes. You would have to work really hard to persuade me that a senior administration official could write a letter like this on his/her own, without the consent of the mayor.

So let's see what Mr. Weaver has to say:

Regarding a Sources Say item about me:

Had you included the entire text of my e-mail, it would have been clear that the city will always respond to salary requests under the guidelines of the Public Information Act.

You left out: "the specific salaries of city employees are indeed fair game under the Freedom of Information Act...please direct your request to the director of human resources and the guidelines of the...statutes."

I am fine with this so far. If they misquoted you, especially if the quotes resulted in a mis-representation, you can and should correct them.

I do not keep the specific salary of every city employee in my files. These are not elected officials. They filled out a job application, sent in a resume and went to work, just like most other Americans.

A brief aside: I am one of the few Americans who did not do this. I have had the good blessing of being gainfully self-employed since college, and I have never had to send a resume or interview for a job. Except when I was 16 years old--I applied for my first job as a busboy, and the Food and Beverage Manager was a no-nonsense type of gal, so maybe that counts.

With identity theft running rampant and personal privacy rights being co-opted every day, city employees are entitled to the same protection as other citizens. It is a short step from someone's salary being in the newspaper to an email box full of span offering them a bunch of ways to spend their money.

Identity theft? We are just talking about name and salary right? You are correct that city employees have the same right to protection, but they have a slightly less right to privacy because they are public sector employees--i.e., they work for us.

I was a reporter for many years, and would be interested in a story about what management at The Capital makes, as compared to the rank-and-file reporters.

Here is where your letter starts to go array. While such a story may be interesting, it is not anybody's right to know because The Capital is a private company. That is to say, they are a non-public company. (Yes, I just said the same thing twice. It is my understanding that repetition increases comprehension and retention.) The Capital management can make as much as they want. If the employees don't like it, they can quit. If enough of them quit, then the management will have to pay themselves less so they can hire more people. And so private enterprise goes.

As I clearly said in my email, "I respect the law, and will certainly insist that the city follow the Freedom of Information laws to the letter."


You left that out, too.


I have been baffled of late by The Capital's turn toward voyeuristic photos of devastated teenagers on the front page and sensational headlines that have little to do with the stories they trumpet.

I have been baffled as to why you would say this.

Then it hit me; the Weekly World News is no longer being published. I can't wait for your story on Elvis fathering Anna Nicole's baby from the grave.
RAY WEAVER, City Public Information Officer, Annapolis

Those last 2 sentences are more out of place than Jim Carey in a serious movie. This is a public official. FOR GOODNESS SAKE! Mr. Weaver serves the public--he comes from the people to represent the people. This quibbling with The Capital has no place.

When it comes to using the media, public officials should be setting the record straight, AND THAT'S IT.

Signs: Part 2

AP swears this single, solemn promise to its loyal readers: every time a sign makes the news we will cover it.

(AP has always been fascinated with signs. They have the potential to be very useful--a picture conveys a thousand words, and so forth. They can also go very wrong--graffiti, overgrown trees, and vandals all threaten the viability of the sign franchise. My favorite signs of all time:
1. Watch for immigrants trying to cross the border!
2. A very useful traffic pattern sign. Not too many words, and you understand completely what the sign is telling you.)

And now for this sign. Apparently the city and the Moreland Pkwy Holding Company are involved in a legal dispute regarding who should fix the awful potholes on that street. Businesses on that street, fed up with customers who won't drive to their businesses as a result of the poor driving conditions, have taken matters into their own hands, only to be quelled by the planning and zoning gestapo.

It just strikes me as funny...when the city doesn't want to fix the road, the road belongs to private owners. When the city doesn't like a sign on the road, the road belongs to the city and they can order the sign removed.

This kind of hypocrisy happens all the time with government. I am in the catering business, and I am required to comply with health department regulations. You have to get certified by the health department in order to operate. I have to spend many resources doing this, but if I (God forbid) were to get somebody sick and that person sues me, the health department will not help me at all. If they deem me qualified to receive certification, which they demand, shouldn't they be partially responsible if in fact I was not qualified.

I am using this example to illustrate the nature of governments. So often the government does what is convenient, not necessarily what is fair. Similarly, in many cases our local governments are confrontational. If public sector, and private sector, and citizens all work together--instead of against each other--we could get a lot more done.

So for you workers who know how to pave roads, I will be happy to cater your lunch when you fix Moreland Parkway.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

How To Measure Crime

I took 5 semesters of statistics throughout my academic career, which has caused me great trauma and will probably pay off in the long run for one lucky therapist. But, I have come to realize the value of statistics. It's not the ability to do the formulas, calculate alpha error percentages, or model bell curves--it's the practice of being 'statistically minded'. In other words, when you hear a fact or statistic, it is very valuable to be interested in how the information was calculated and if it indeed is an accurate representation of what you are trying to understand.

For elected officials, knowing the exact nature of a problem is the first step in finding the proper solution. (Think WMD's!) The major issue in the city of Annapolis is the crime, and the elected officials have spent much time--or at least paid much lip service--trying to figure out solutions.

We should take time to ensure we are measuring crime correctly. Just because arrests are going up, doesn't mean crime is getting worse. It could just mean we are getting better at catching the criminals. Similarly, if there are fewer arrests, it doesn't necessarily mean crime is decreasing; it may mean criminals are becoming more elusive.

I suppose the only 'statistic' that ultimately matters is our perception of quality of life. Do we feel safe everywhere in the city? Are we confident drugs are becoming harder to find? Data can be manipulated to say almost anything, and we have to be steadfast in our resolve to continue to fight our problems.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Facts of Annapolis Life

The one and only sports column I read often makes me laugh, and sometimes the author just punts the column and writes a list he calls "23 more facts, tried and true", or something of this nature.

I too will now use this format, as I realized that you don't have to pay attention to current events, or be timely or particularly insightful.

(This blog is an expert at being only marginally insightful. And since the definition of an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less, I doubt AP has any claim to legitimacy.)

All you have to do is be relevant, and entertaining. So here is my list, tried and true, of 10 stone cold facts of Annapolis life, listed in reverse order for added drama:

10. People will always feed the seagulls downtown, no matter how many signs say "help keep our downtown beautiful".

9. No restaurant will ever succeed at the Main St./Conduit St. corner across from Chick and Ruth's.

8. Carl Snowden will always have a job.

7. Has anyone seen a market house?

6. Midshipmen are more annoying than they are charming.

5. If more Irish Pubs mean more bagpipe music, then call me Martin O'Malley. Err, maybe a different Irish name.

4. If more growth of government means higher property taxes every year, then call me Ebeneezer Scrooge.

3. It's a good thing they don't broadcast the city council meetings in high-def.

2. Our kids will grow to love crabs, possibly without ever having a crab from the Chesapeake Bay.

1. The city won't get any better unless YOU help.

Update: Police Hiring

Today The Capital ran a story that gave a rather current, rather complete summary of the mayor's new initiatives to combat crime here in the city.

The mayor's quotes seem to focus on drug criminals and public housing, and AP finds no problem with using these as starting points.

Perhaps more usefully, we get an update on police recruitment. You will recall that the city failed to offer the entrance qualification exam for a year. Now they have, and here's what happened:

-181 applicants were invited to take the exam
-56 of the invitees showed up to take the exam
-approx 30 will pass the exam, according to Chief Johnson's estimation
-7 will make it through training to become officers (another estimation)

I am excited to see if this comes true!

Also, still no mention from the mayor about filling any specific number of vacancies.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


There have been some debates recently involving, oddly enough, signs. First, there is an effort to ban digital graphic signs because a county councilman apparently was distracted by one and almost got into an accident. AP believes that such a ban would have little effect on bad driving.

And then, some people are giving the county grief because the county built a $20,000 sign that was 10 feet wide and 6 feet high.

I chuckled when I read this. You see the city of Annapolis is planning to do a similar thing--they are building a $10,000,000 (ten million dollar) gateway to Annapolis on outer West Street!!!!


(Exclamation point. Exclamation point. Exclamation point. Exclamation point.)

As I understand it, this project will be an arch built over West Street at Old Solomon's Island Rd.

For those of you scoring at home, $10 million is enough to hire 23 police officers for more than 7 years, at least according to my math.

Conspiracy Theory

So yesterday my roommate, Kemp Hammond, calls me and says that we have received a note on our door from the Annapolis Department of Public Works. They claimed that our usage has spiked recently, increasing from an average of 34 to the current usage of 63 (whatever those numbers mean).

This does not make sense. Neither of us are ever home, there are no leaks of water in any pipes--basically there is no reason for this spike.

Then, we learned that Kemp's parents (part of the Hammond political dynasty of Annapolis, and famous critics of the mayor) received the same notice. Not only that, but the numbers were the same: from 34 to 63.

That really does not make sense. Their house has 50% more occupants than ours (3 vs 2 people), and a well maintained garden that needs water to thrive.

What are the odds that the Hammonds' house had the exact same water usage, including the near doubling of usage? Not very good.

One of 3 things has happened:

1. An astoundingly rare coincidence.
2. A glitch in public works records.
3. A conspiracy by the administration to 'get' us.

Of course, writing this blog makes my mind conjure up crazy thoughts, and it is probably reason 1 or 2. But seriously, WTF?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Moyer Administration Quotes

In addition to being a voice of opinion, this blog serves as a permanent historical records of some of the goings on of the city.

Pursuant to such efforts, I have started archiving some quotes from the mayor and her administration. To see them click here, and there is now a permanent link to these quotes on the right side of this page.

Only a few now, but more to come!

Another Crime Proclamation From the Mayor

In yet another press release concerning the mayor's strategy towards crime, we learn that the mayor is instructing the police department to step up recruitment efforts:

Mayor Ellen Moyer is asking Annapolis Police Chief Joseph Johnson to expand his Department's recruiting efforts. She is requesting that he augment current department-based recruiting efforts with a committee that will act as ambassadors and positive advocates for the police department.

The committee shall consist of:

-Kimla Milburn: Human Resources Director
-Ray Weaver: Public Information Officer
-Dave Cordle, Alderman Ward 5, Public Safety Committee
-Ross Arnett, Alderman Ward 8, Public Safety Committee
-Sheila Finlayson, Alderman Ward 4, Public Safety Committee
-A Partridge In a Pear Tree

The mayor took some time to hit on her two favorite police quotes:

"In speaking with my colleagues from around the country, it is evident that we are all facing a tremendous challenge in recruiting police officers," she (Ms. Milburn) said.


The Annapolis Police Department currently maintains a ratio of 3 officers per 1000 residents. The national average is 1 officer per 1000 residents.

Now I will take time for my two favorite standard responses:

We are not facing a recruiting shortage.


The ratio does not matter because we have a lot of public housing, we are a maritime city, and we are a Capital city.

The mayor thinks that word-of-mouth 'advertising' is the best way to recruit, and she admonished the media and letter-to-the-editor writers for saying negative things about the department.

Umm, madam mayor, remember when you said this:

The first thing I get hit with when I get back in town after meeting with our sister cities is "We've got a crime problem. We've got a crime problem. We've got a crime problem."

It is only because we wrote letters to the editor that you even knew we had a were too busy on sister city business.

More importantly, does this press release mean the mayor is committed to filling the 23 vacancies on the police department? Tough to tell. If so, this will be the first time she has pledged to do so. But somehow, I doubt it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

O'Malley Tax and Spend Mentality

Gov. O'Malley apparently sat down for a lengthy interview with a reporter from The Capital, resulting in some fabulous blogging material. See the full article here. Crossposted.

I imagine the Governor making time for this interview in between sets of bench press at Merritt Athletic Club, and right before his nightly reading of How to Run For National Office, by Spiro Agnew. (Note: this book does not exist.)

When elaborating on his strategy regarding where money to 'fix' the structural deficit will come from, Mr. O'Malley clarified:

"It'll come from the places it always come from."

The governor listed some of Maryland's economic numbers - last among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in spending as a percentage of wealth, corporate and sales taxes lower than surrounding states, a gas tax not indexed to inflation and kept level since 1992 - and said the flat income tax also will be changed so people who make large incomes pay a higher percentage than other Marylanders.

"I don't think too many people would scream about that," he said.

Oh my goodness.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Role of Government is a Fundamental Philosophy

I would describe my political philosophy as relentlessly individualistic. I believe that individuals, given the proper information, can always make a better decision for their own welfare than the government can make for them. This leads me to be a conservative, small-government, personal responsibility, free-market type fellow.

I know this is not about local issues, per se. I am going to use the following letter to the editor to display my point, then I will attempt to relate that point to the local issues.

Regarding the Walter Williams column headlined "Socialized medicine won't work."

I agree with Walter Williams nearly 100% of the time. I cannot recall a disagreement I have ever had with him. You had better be on to something.

The motives of executives of insurance companies, health maintenance organizations and the like are to maximize profit and minimize cost. To survive, profit-driven businesses like food markets and computer manufacturers must deliver products and services that are competitive in price and quality.

I am with you so far. Do I sense a "but" coming?

But the bottom-line philosophy doesn't work so well in health care.

Yes I do. And, you are incorrect, the concept works perfectly well, as you will prove later in your own letter.

It is not uncommon for coverage of a procedure to be denied even if a doctor deems it necessary for the health of the patient. And the decision may be made by someone who is not even a doctor.

Let me make the first mega-important assertion of this post. The health care system is inefficient because there are people who make decisions other than YOU and YOUR DOCTOR. Think about it....if you buy a computer, or food from a market, you give your money directly to the person who made the computer or grew the food. The fact that you make a purchase conveys, via the price system of a free market, that you are satisfied with the people that you bought the things from and that their products provide a value to you as compared with another alternative.

Now think about health insurance. You pay your premiums every month, and then you have nothing to worry about. Except for your deductible, you don't have to pay at all when you receive medical treatment. So you get medical treatment all the time, which drives up the cost of insurance. Doctors--same thing. They get paid by the insurance company. So, when they treat you, they are not concerned about your financial situation at all (as long as you have insurance). The point is, doctors and patients have no incentive to negotiate and do not face normal free market forces that ensure efficiency, because there is a third party involved.

Whenever you lose accountability like this, things go to hell. Consider schools. If you paid a school directly, I promise you that school would be damn good at what they do. Otherwise, you would take your kid out of that school and pay another school. Instead, we pay taxes to the county, then the county gives money to the school board, then the school board gives it to the schools. And what is the result? Everybody complains about the schools.

People who have no health coverage go to emergency rooms, which are required to treat them. This is probably more costly than health insurance.

Clearly. If emergency rooms were cheaper then insurance than nobody would get insurance.

Newsweek (July 30) reported that "the United States spent 15.3% of GDP on health care (Medicare) for some of us. France spent 10.7% and covered everyone." And other European countries with universal health care spent less than France! Other objections to universal health care are debunked in that article.

First of all, friend, if you like Europe so much you can go live there. (Disclaimer: This line is required by the Republican National Committee as the standard response to comparisons with other countries. We can now continue our discussion.)

Let's start with other European countries. Britain has the largest health care system in the world. In fact, it's health care system is the third largest employer in the world--behind only the railway systems of China and India. And what do they get for their great system? Rationing of service, low quality doctors, and poor results.

And what about health care in France? Everybody gets it, but at the expense of the economy. Higher taxes, especially employment taxes, cause higher unemployment and contribute to a per capita GDP in France some 40%-50% lower than here in this fine land. I would rather make 40-50% more money, and spend it buying my own health insurance (or paying my own doctors directly). I know it's cliche to say 'if you don't like it here move', but in actuality if you favor heavy government involvement to fulfill social goals, then this is probably not the place for you. (Although, you may want to stick around to see who gets elected President.)

However, you are correct that France has a highly rated health care system. So why is this? Well, doctors in France insist on retaining all the decisions concerning whether or not a treatment is administered, and the Medicare system there is very streamlined so filling out claims is very easy. In other words, they kept the good stuff and reduced the bullshit! And in the opinion of this blog, bullshit reduction is next to Godliness, as the saying goes.

Our government is inefficiently administering Medicare. have a chance to redeem yourself and bring this one home....

Efficiently managed universal coverage via a Medicare-type coverage might allow extending coverage to all citizens at at reasonable cost, if our inept government would swallow its pride and see how other countries do it.

You blew it. First of all, AP doubts that the government can efficiently manage anything. If you want an example of this, look what happened when the Annapolis city government tried to enter the landlord business at the Market House. If you want another example, read anything else about any government, anywhere. Second of all, this is just a difference in philosophy. Here is what you say:

Problem: Government mis-manages health care. Government is inept.
Solution: Do what France does to make our government less inept.

And here is what I would say:

Problem: Government................inept.
Solution: Don't let the government run this activity. Find a private market solution.

There are all manner of subsidies and tax breaks afforded to corporations, farmers, and the dairy industry. So why not help the helpless as well as the wealthy?

Again, terrible. You say help everybody, whereas conservatives would say help nobody. It sounds mean, but in the long run everybody is better off: there is no time wasted by politicians trying to figure out which people to help (because if you help one special interest group there are like 3 ka-billion more that want handouts), and you eliminate the equity problem that we have now from our (everyone's) taxes being taken and given out to particular industries (not everyone.)

So, how does this relate to Annapolis? Frankly, I don't remember everything I wanted to say about this. You see, I started this post yesterday, then drove to Ocean City for a bachelor party type event, and am continuing this post today. Sufficent to say I am working with fewer brain cells today than I was yesterday. (Do they re-grow?)

I suppose my main points as they relate to our city are role of government and accountability. I don't believe the government should be ever-reaching into our lives. I don't believe they should be spending our money on 'economic development'. I don't think they should be apologizing for slavery. As Ronald Regan said, government should be funded through the strength of the people.

(Disclaimer #2: The above Ronald Regan quote is only marginally relevant, but was used to fulfill another Republican National Committee Mandate.)

And for accountability--follow the money, as they say. Any time the government becomes the middle man between us and our money, we lose accountability and we cannot control what happens to us (at least to the same degree). So we need to make sure, when the city takes our money, that they are using it correctly.

Man, I hope the coffee is ready........

Friday, August 24, 2007

City Priorities

Heavens to Murgatroyd, people! Today's Capital was a gold mine of blogging material. This is the last post I will be writing tonight, but since it will be the first post you see on the page, it is the appropriate time to tell you that you have a lot to look forward to!

This kind citizen writes to The Capital concerning the priorities of our elected officials. In this blog's humble opinion, they have largely been wasting their time, perhaps up until now. I usually don't edit or abridge letters, but this one rambles a bit, and I am tired. So I have shortened it for content.

It's time for our city leaders to take a long, hard look at their priorities....


.....which should be to:

Ooh! Yay...let's hear 'em.

*Protect our citizens.

Yadda Yadda Dave Cordle Babble Babble $35,000 is not enough to get paid to risk your life.

*Prepare our citizens.

For what?

Our leaders should prepare their own families, homes and workplaces for all emergencies.

This is a little conspiracy-theory-ish. But, agreed: we should have an emergency response plan. And I'm sure we do. Now that I'm thinking about it, what is the city's emergency plan? What would I do? And how would people keep reading this blog?

The rest of the letter goes on to try and define the complete role of government, as well as the description of the ideal leader. Let's fast forward:


Patti, I included you in my musings because, and only because, you agree that fighting crime should be the city's #1 priority, and they have been doing a hell of a not good job at it. Nice. Point taken.

September is almost here, which means that the city council will actually start having meetings again, and hopefully they can do something meaningful AND helpful.

Plastic Bag Altruism

Another misguided soul. So sad--to think that because your heart is in the right place--you have a noble goal--and you feel good about helping the environment, that you don't have to evaluate bills on the facts.

Another citizen given a forum (hey, just like me!), courtesy of The Capital. Shall we?

With 40 percent of the Chesapeake Bay declared dead, global warming on everyone's agenda and the irrefutable knowledge that plastic bags harm wildlife and the environment, you seem to treat the effort to rid our city of plastic bags as a pointless whim.

Stop right there! See, this is what I'm talking about. People get so fired up about what they think they should be arguing about, and most of the time they agree with the people they are arguing against. I will ignore your global warming mini-tirade and address the plastic bag bit--NOBODY IS SAYING THAT PLASTIC BAGS ARE GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. We are saying that this bill to ban plastic bags, proposed by Sam Shropshire, is not the best way to help the environment. See the difference? Big difference. The effort, in fact, is a pointless whim because it will be counter-productive.

Exactly who do you think it is who will clean up the bay, protect our wildlife and wilderness areas, and rid our streets of unsightly trash?

Look, lady, banning things does not get rid of the problems people cause by misusing the things. And to answer your question, you will pay city employees to clean the bay, etc.

Someone else is not going to do this for us. It is up to each of us to make a slight change in our daily routines in order to live a bit more sustainably.

You have not given one argument in support of the bill to ban plastic bags. This is what you are talking about, right? I actually agree with you--we all should make slight changes. Take your plastic bags to the store for recycling, for example.

Yes, it can be annoying and inconvenient to change our habits and use cloth bags rather than plastic bags to bring our groceries home.

Alderman Shropshire's bill does not require the use of cloth bags; it merely bans plastic bags.

But if we can't even do something this simple, how in the world is it we think we are going to solve the meta-issues of our time, such as global warming?

First of all, will someone please proofread these letters? The capital charges people to read, for goodness sake. It's 'mega', not 'meta'. Meta(e) are ancient roman columns.

Now then, we can't solve global warming--that's the whole point. To quote somebody who is more famous than I am, but not famous enough for me to remember his name: "To think that humans in the course of 100 years can change the course of entire existence, and to reverse it nonetheless, is extreme arrogance." But enough about that. And, frankly, enough of your letter. We all want to protect the environment, and this bill is not the way to do it.

Police Questions Answered

This fella wrote to The Capital with a lot of questions, and I'm fixin' to give some answers.

There has been much to say about the county police taking second jobs in bars to supplement their income. At the same time, 22 openings for Annapolis police officers have been left unfilled.

This blog's official number of unfilled positions is 23, but your number is within the margin of error. (+ or - 5%, for those of you scoring at home.) Please continue.

Perhaps this is too simplistic....

probably not: most of politics is unnecessarily complicated.

....but why not offer overtime to the (county) officers?

Because the mayor does not cooperate with the county executive.

At least they'd be working in the area most congruent with their skills, would help reduce the lack of police presence in Eastport, and would earn evidently much-needed additional income.

Brilliant. This is an absolutely magical suggestion. Bonus points for using the mathematical term 'congruent' and the rarely used contraction 'they'd' in the same sentence. Bonus points for me for using the word 'contraction'.

While we're at it, how about reducing or eliminating property taxes for police officers who move into high-crime areas?

This also sounds divine.

What happened to the oft-rumored police station in Eastport?

Don't worry my friend...this is in next year's budget: $3,600,000.

Reducing response time couldn't hurt crime statistics.

Well, response time is its own statistic, but we'll ignore your mistake because the rest of your letter was so excellent.

Brad, good work....I won't try to pronounce your last name, but if I see you at a bar, I will buy you a drink.

The Capital Reports on Mayor's Public Housing Plan

Today The Capital reported on the mayor's HACA crime fighting plan--the same one that AP commented on recently. If you want to read their version, click here. If you want to read my version, click here.

(When I refer to The Capital article in this post, I am referring both to the front page article by Nichole Young and the 'B' section article by Eric Hartley. I have a lot to write about today, and I don't have time to do separate posts. So lay off.....just kidding.)

I actually think The Capital dropped the ball on this one ( which wouldn't be the first time). They alluded to the $200,00 the city gives HACA to fight crime; but, they failed to mention that the mayor wants to take this away AND make HACA share additional costs such as cameras and sub-stations.

On the other hand, I think The Capital did a good job of portraying how un-cooperative and aloof the mayor seems to be. The mayor apparently was a victim of shock and awe:

The first thing I get hit with when I get back in town after meeting with our sister cities is "We've got a crime problem. We've got a crime problem. We've got a crime problem," the mayor said.


Ms. Moyer called that charge unfair and said she's been working with residents on crime issues for 20 years, going back to her 14 years as an alderman from Eastport.

Bullshit. The charge is fair.

And let me sum up HACA's reaction to this whole thing:

Capital Reporter: What do you think about this whole thing?
HACA guy: Uhh, this is what we have been saying for, like, many months now.
Capital Reporter: But what do you think about the mayor's ideas?
HACA guy: It's all the same crap.
Capital Reporter: And what if you had a pen pal in a sister city?
HACA guy: Neat-O!!

And now for my favorite part of the article(s), a quote from police chief Johnson:

We already co-op secondary employment to them, but we need more manpower.

What, I ask you, WHAT does this mean? This is horrible. Grammar. That should. Be a better sentence. With logic.

Ever onward!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Selected Quotes From Mayor's New Drug Fighting Plan

As I briefly announced 2 posts ago, Mayor Moyer wants to establish illegal drugs and illegal guns task forces that work with federal and state agencies. So says she:

In 2006, the Annapolis Police Department made 275 arrests on drugs and conducted 45 raids. Our goal, with the unified effort I am requesting, is to double the number of arrests and to make it crystal clear that the Capital City is not a Drug Capital.

Great. So, you're going to hire the additional 23 officers to do this?

Surveillance for some nuisance crimes may have to be reduced, but available personnel must be utilized to deal directly with serious crime.

No, no. Silly me. You are not going to fill the vacancies in the police department to achieve this goal--you are willingly and knowingly going to sacrifice the quality of other crime prevention so you can better prevent these crimes!!!!!

I'm all for prioritizing, but why not do both? Why not hire the 23 officers that are lacking in the police department, continue addressing nuisance crime, AND work harder to deal with serious crime?

And, Mayor Moyer, what do you expect of these new policies?

Over the past few days I have made some specific recommendations and requests. I am hopeful that the agencies involved will join me in assuring that Annapolis remains one of the finest Cities in the world to live in and visit.

Let's re-visit these specific recommendations:
-get a horse
-buy Segways (instead of bicycles)
-have better lighting
-end policing grant to HACA to centralize duties and increase accountability
-make entire city a drug free zone (a formality, largely)
-reduce number of police shifts from 5 to 3
-create drug and gun task forces with other agencies

What I like about this:
-acknowledgement that public housing is probably the biggest crime issue
-possibility of cooperation with other jurisdictions
-city takes its own responsibility for policing all areas

What I don't like about this:
-no commitment to fill 23 vacancies in police department
-no plan for community policing/foot patrols
-increased overtime for police officers, paid by taxpayers
-why Segways?
-why a horse?
-mayor blames everyone but herself ("Accountability from HACA has been questionable", etc.)
-no mention of a change in police department leadership
-inability to collaborate with HACA
-no structural plan to provide incentive to public housing residents to improve themselves/take a stake in the community

I suppose it's a start--at least the mayor is paying attention to the problem. But how committed is she, really? Does the have the will to see this through? Does she expect with honesty that her changes will help the problem?

Time will give us the answers. And if not, the candidates running for mayor will be sure to jump on the opportunity.

Politics On Tap


Drug Task Force

The mayor has just directed the city police department to work with federal agencies to conduct more drug raids. It seems that she is still looking for ways to fight crime without hiring any additional officers, or making a committment to community policing and/or foot patrols.

More to come soon.....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Capital punishment saw it fit to praise this blog, and in this post I endeavour to do the same for him, and others.

When I started writing this blog a few months ago, I did it mainly for my own benefit--as a fun way for me to stay involved and keep up on city happenings. One of the first people to contact me was CP's publisher, Paul Foer, and since then we have become friends, and tend to agree on most ways to make this city better.

I also have received feedback and interaction from concerned citizens, as well as city officials. For this I am very grateful, and I am tickled that this blog is becoming somewhat of a voice for the local issues.

Compared to most public servants, activists, and politicians, I am young and inexperienced. It is my desire to continue to be a sponge--soaking up the information regarding how the city works, and trying to apply any enthusiasm and logic that I have to efforts to make this city better. I have lived here for all of my 26 years, and plan to be here for the rest of my life--pending approval from Mrs. Politics.

Thanks for reading.

Politics On Tap, 8/23

Tommorrow night, August 23:

What: Politics on Tap, an informal (read: with alcohol) setting to discuss topics of the day.
Where: Weather Rail, Loew's Hotel, Annapolis.
When: 7 pm
Who can come: Anyone, although the waterfront tables are reserved for republicans. (read: joke)

Hope to see you there.

The Mayor Proposes Changes to HACA Crime Fighting

In perfect coordination with the topics discussed on this blog, the Mayor today unveiled a proposal to change how the city fights crime in public housing (HACA) areas. Although AP is convinced that the mayor did not act as a result of this blog's objections, maybe I will make a post demanding a $1,000,000 discretionary grant from the city, and let the leaves fall where they may!

The issue is that HACA is a somewhat independent agency. The commissioners are appointed by the mayor, but have to operate under federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines concerning public housing. Apparently the city gives HACA $200,000 per year, which is to be matched equally by HACA (probably through money collected for rent), to total a $400,000 public safety program.

The mayor wants to city to be able to control this program, and is requesting that the $200,000 grant be terminated, and the city spend its own $200,000 protecting crime. A problem, at least as I see it, is that the city does not have the track record to prove that they can do any better of a job at preventing crime. They should be able to, in theory, because they can raise their own police force.

The grant would have to be terminated within the context of the FY 2009 budget.

The mayor also proposes 4 procedural changes:

1. The Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis and the Annapolis Police Department share to outfit each HACA neighborhood with surveillance cameras.
2. HACA and APD share costs for a sub-station program.

3. APD, if HACA agrees, assign undercover police to the area and enhance neighborhood watch training.

4. HACA to implement the community service program for all residents as required by HUD.

My feeling, and I imagine the feeling of HACA as well, is that if the city takes away their grant, then requires HACA to share costs for cameras and a sub-station, then the city had better do a hell of a job policing these areas.

To do this, almost everyone involved advocates filling the 23 vacancies in the department as a start. And when I say almost everyone, I mean all males and females age 1-100, except the mayor and the police chief.

The mayors next request:

Additionally, I am requesting the City's Community and Housing Board to review successful housing programs in other jurisdictions, research opportunities for home ownership and social service needs, and to recommend changes in our federal housing program required to enhance public safety.

I would be appalled if HACA is not doing this already---I am sure that they have studied other jurisdictions and are trying to figure out how to get people to own their homes. And to do the above:

Money will be allocated for a staff consultant to assist in the task.

I have participated in the budget process for the last 2 years, and I cannot tell you where this money comes from. When the budget is made, all requests for money have to go through committee, and be voted on by the city council. The mayor has some discretionary money, but not enough to hire someone else. If the money comes from the "contract services" portion of the budget, it means that the budget process was secretive enough include enough unspent money to hire this person. Not good, not good.

I believe that the city has more 'teeth' when it comes to enforcing laws and preventing crime than HACA does, which leads me to believe that the mayor's proposal COULD BE a good idea. But we have still not seen a commitment to fill the police vacancies--we still do not know how the mayor's plan will improve the situation. We do not need more consultants, or studies. People already know the solutions, or at least better solutions. The mayor needs to listen to these people, many of whom will help for free (that is, without being paid taxpayer money), and commit to implementing their solutions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Email: Police Force

This was actually a comment on my most recent post, but I decided to put it up as its own post because the information is worth sharing. To the author: thank you for your service and for this comment!

I have been reading your blog with interest. I read often and never feel the need to comment. Today you have some misinformation that needs to be corrected. I am a 15 year veteran of the Annapolis Police Department. There are no such orders to remain reactive in our patrols. Annapolis Police embrace community policing and do our best to interact with citizens. You like stats so here is one for you to think about. Our patrol division consists of 63 officers. About 10 of them are supervisors. 53 officers answer all the calls for service in the city!!!!. Well we had about 45,000 calls for service last year. Not much time for proactive policing huh? A good place to start is to fill the 23 vacancies.

It's becoming very hard to defend the position that we do not need to fill the vacancies, as the mayor seems to be doing.

I soon hope to have the data on service calls (not just arrests, as the data detailed in the previous post was), so we can continue the analysis.

I am very happy that citizens, and the police in general, are concerned about this situation.

Analysis of Actual Crime Data

A reader sent me a detailed study of all crime committed in 2006, broken down by type, location, and perpetrator. Here are the main findings, and my semi-excellent analysis is to follow. (Only semi-excellent today--my brain works better with sunshine, which we haven't seen in a while. The backup plan for occasions like this is to drink a lot of coffee, but my caffeine level is already approaching the maximum safe level as recommended by the Surgeon General.)

2006 Crime Statistics
(Note: According to published statistics, about 6% of city residents live in HACA communities)
(HACA stands for the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis)

-7.4% of all crimes occurred on HACA properties
-5% of all arrests were of HACA residents
-16% of all crimes occurred on OR NEAR HACA properties
-29.5% of all violent crimes occur on HACA properties
-26% of all drug arrests occur on HACA properties

The point that this blog has made is that ratios of officers per thousand employees are not helpful because Annapolis has more public housing than any other city its size, and crimes occur more frequently in these areas. We now have the data to show that this theory was largely, ultimately correct.

The first thing we need to consider is that this data UNDERESTIMATES the true link between public housing and crime. Why?

Reason #1: Nobody really knows how many people actually live in public housing. HACA has lease records, but an unknown number of people live in these dwellings and are NOT on the leases.

Reason #2: There is subsidized housing in Annapolis that is not subsidized by HACA, but rather by the federal government. So, crimes committed by individuals in these communities are attributed to the 'rest of the city', not the public housing areas, because the study that I have data for only considers HACA properties (and not the federal public housing properties.)

So, what this data shows is even more true when you try and understand the situation as it accurately exists.

We can see that drug crimes and violent crimes occur at a disproportionately high rate in public housing communities. (Drug crimes and violent crimes are undoubtedly correlated with each other, but we would need more detailed statistical analysis to determine by exactly how much). Furthermore, many of these crimes are being committed by people who shouldn't be there.

So, what do we do about this? HACA, like this blog, has advocated more police, and particularly police walking beats (this means on foot) in the public housing communities. This would allow officers to cover more remote areas than vehicle patrols, and would be a better deterrent to drug dealers/users. It would also allow officers to develop personal relationships with the residents, which would make it easier for officers to identify non-residents and people who don't belong there.

Sounds simple why aren't the police doing this? Answer: because they have general orders that they are to remain "reactionary", and not proactive*. Let me repeat this. Officers have general rules of conduct, coming straight from the top, ordering them to remain in their vehicles even when responding to a call. They are prohibited from preventing crime.

(*I have heard this from 2 reliable sources. Although I have not utilized a Public Information Act request to look at the general orders, I know people who have.)

Please reread that again...the police are prohibited from doing their job. Who can change this culture? The police chief, and the mayor.

Let's assume that eventually the city has a mayor and a police chief who are committed to addressing this problem in the right way. Done. Good. Now the question becomes, what is the strategy for structurally preventing crimes--that is, changing the culture so that people want to commit fewer crimes.

The answer, I would argue, is ownership. If people own their houses, they become stakeholders in their communities. They would be less likely to encourage or tolerate criminal or destructive behavior. Is this happening now? Sort of. All HACA subsidized housing is rental-only. HACA is trying to promote ownership in and around their communities, but there is too weak of an incentive for families to move out of public housing. If a family moves in to public housing, there is no requirement that they leave, even if they eventually earn enough money to buy their own house. HACA gives preference to working families and tries to promote self-sufficiency, but there is only so much they can do.

There is only so much anyone can do with a mayor and chief who don't want to help.

Conservative Refuge

The Conservative Refuge hosts a weekly podcast, and this week I participated along with Brian Griffiths. As of right now the new podcast is not ready yet, but you can listen to the old ones and see how it works.

To listen, simply go to the site and click on the link they give. Enjoy.

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Ideas Abound From The Mayor's Trip

In what seems to AP to be an attempt to justify the mayor's 6-week absence while touring Europe, The Capital today provides testimony that the mayor has some new ideas as a result of her sister city voyage:

Ms. Moyer said she's now armed with a "whole notebook of ideas" - and she's ready to go through it and find out which are viable options for the city.

Is that so? Well, the city could use some fresh ideas. I had a fresh idea once, but was distracted by my friend who claimed to be using his computer to access some type of 'internet' (that's what we called it back then), and since that time my creativity has taken a turn for the worse. So continue, Mayor Moyer, whadda' ya' got?

Near the top her list is lifting some transportation ideas from Paris, including more underground parking and increased public transportation on the water.

Umm, geez, you didn't think of this before? Also, I bet that the underground parking city was not the same as the public transportation on water city. Because when you have water, you usually can't build underground. If we had a public works director, we could ask him what the city rules are regarding underground building near waterfront.

So, most notebooks have, like, 200 pages or something. What else do you have?

She described bicycles lined up in the main tourist areas; with the swipe of a credit card, a bike could be unlocked for use.

So, instead of car rental, bike rental. Many towns have this already (although they may be run by private enterprise). I have a hunch: that this idea has been discussed before while Ellen Moyer was mayor. This guy might be able to verify that.


A public "boat bus" stops at eight locations around the city.

A boat bus? You mean a water taxi? Right. We already have that. Way to waste space in your notebook.

These are not new ideas, and I'm guessing they are especially not new for transportation experts like hopefully we have working for the city. So what's the point of all this, from the mayor's point of view?:

Ms. Moyer said she's also interested in planning special programs to raise money for the sister cities program, to "treat them as well as they treat us."

B-da-bing!! Nailed it!! Right on targ.......

Subsidized housing just doesn't look like it there.

Oh no!

The cottages all have flowers in the yard and are well-kept and fairly attractive.

Too much propaganda....this post is out of control.

"No Taj Mahal (parking) garages there.


Ok, enough with the quotes. The main issues touched here were public transportation and public housing. As far as transportation, we need to look at a solution that gets people out of their cars and off the roads. Building more parking garages and widening roads only encourages driving.

And with the public housing, ownership is the key. Using a highly anecdotal (and highly current) piece of evidence, just look at the kind fellow who was featured in the paper yesterday.

(If you want more scientific evidence, as I do, I must offer an apology. I am one of the worst "search term" people ever. I never know the right keywords to put into Google. Other people find things right away, and it takes me forever. So if you know where to look, or already have this data, let me know.)

This has been the city Republican Central Committee's objection to the direction of the MPDU program. People who qualify for public housing should be on the path to ownership, not renting from a non-profit or anyone else. (Note: the MPDU program is very different from public housing.)

To be fair, it doesn't matter where the mayor gets her ideas. So long as they are developed, and proper solutions implemented, I would be fine with that.

Politics On Tap

About 2 years ago, the Annapolis Republican Central Committee (note: this is different from the AA county CC) started a 'politics on tap' schedule of informal meetings. Basically, on the 4th Thursday of each month we would meet at a bar and talk about things.

Attendance has dropped off somewhat, but I know that this blog is viewed by some people that are outside of the quasi-blast emails that we send for the central committee. So, what I'm asking is, would you folks like to institute this type of thing? Not necessarily republican oriented, but city oriented, and I promise that we will have it at a bar.

Capital Punishment does this on Thursday mornings at Aah Coffee, but I was wondering if people are interested in meeting at night. (Sometimes I am at bars on Thursday nights, regardless of whether or not there is a meeting going on.)

Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. If response is good, we'll set it up.

Employer Responsibility for Illegal Immigrants

Last week, county executive John Leopold issued an executive order forbidding the county from entering into contracts with businesses that employ illegal immigrants. This order is somewhat redundant, as county contracts already stipulate that all businesses contracted by the county must be compliant with federal laws, and since we are talking about illegal immigration, this is already covered. But, in Mr. Leopold's words,

I wanted to make it clear that there is this federal law and that this county takes this law seriously.

This order reinforces Leopold's anti-illegal immigration stance, as he recently denied a $115,000 grant to an organization that could not prove that it worked with only legal immigrants. (Much of this money was later restored by the state.)

(On a side note, anti-illegal immigration should not have to be a stance. It is ILLEGAL--that's the key word--we should be opposed to everything that is against the law, or we should change the laws.)

But this raises the much responsibility to employers have? Currently employers must make a copy of 2 forms of identification, as well as complete a new hire reporting form called an I-9. Is this enough? Should employers also be required to check their employees against a national database? Or are employers going to be penalized for hiring illegal immigrants no matter how hard they work to verify their legal status?

I know what you are thinking, and normally you would be right. You are thinking "What a hypocrite. Here is a free-market guy whining about the free market being to expensive to deal with. Get your story straight AP." But there is a difference. In this case, the private sector is being asked to do what the government is responsible for doing--securing our borders--and indeed they are being asked to succeed where the government has failed.

Businesses are not required to verify that the money they accept is not counterfeit; the Secret Service is responsible for this enforcement. Why should they be responsible for verifying identity, when the government has 2 chances to do it first? Secure borders should be preventing illegals from coming, but if they don't, the MVA and/or the Social Security Agency should be refusing to issue identification. What I'm trying to say is, if somebody shows up to work with a driver's license and security card, an employer should have every reason to believe that this person is legal.

That having been said, I applaud Mr. Leopold for this order. He seems to be doing what little he can to oppose illegal immigration, which you will recall, is illegal.

Employers should not knowingly hire illegal immigrants, and should be penalized if they do. I would even be in favor of requiring employees to be checked against a national database, provided that this process is fast and inexpensive.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mike Collins Email

Mike Collins provided some additional context for the events surrounding the county central committee. I have not posted it here, but I did post it at Maryland Politics if you want to take a look.

Actual Crime Data!

I came to a conclusion about police staffing using data from the most unscientific study possible, in the hopes that in time I would be proven either wrong or right with some real data.

To my delight, an elite reader of this blog has emailed me this data! He said that his data shows a different picture than mine (which I expected), but the conclusion he came to with regards to police staffing was the same.

I look forward to reading this data and passing it on to you, even though many of you are undoubtedly also 'elite' readers and have seen this study already.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Where is Crime in Annapolis Happening?

Encouraged by an emailer today, I did some research on where most of the crimes around here are happening. I did this by using the daily email report from the police department, which you can get by clicking here. I recorded the crime if it was a felony--I tried to exclude 'citations' such as driving violations--and the location.

(Disclaimer: I am not a criminologist. I may have mis-categorized which crimes are felonies and which are not. But my point will be the same. I am also not a statistician, but this math is simple enough that I can guarantee accuracy.)

(Personal reflection: I just realized that I am not many things. In fact, the only claims to fame I have are being able to make good crab cakes and being a moderately handsome blogger.)

I have come to a conclusion, and I don't care if it is not politically correct, because it is right:

If we want to get rid of the crime, we should get rid of public housing.

Of the crimes that I looked at, 66% of them occurred in or very near public housing developments. So, 66% of the crimes are committed by about 10%* of the population.

(*I have heard numbers saying that the public housing popluation in the city is actually 1 in 6 (16.7%). But, HACA's web site claims to have 2,2oo residents, plus a couple hundred more as a result of section 8 vouchers, which I do not understand because I have not researched. The city of Annapolis population is about 37,000.)

The mayor has frequently cited the ratio of officers per thousand citizens as a measure of how well the police department is staffed. But, if the majority of crimes happen in public housing areas--which they do (I will work on a citation), and Annapolis has more public housing per capita than anywhere else in the country--which it does (ibid), than that freggin' ratio is useless.

I hope that somebody can actually prove me wrong, because to do this would require a level of statistics that we can use to really analyze the problem, and figure out a solution. Apparently, though, we will have to do this without the help of the mayor.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Crime Plan From the Mayor

Yesterday AP asked how exactly we plan to combat crime. So, when I received a press release from the mayor's office entitled "Mayor Ellen Moyer proposes a five point plan to address concerns being raised about public safety in the City of Annapolis", I was jubilant. After all, I was confident that the mayor could not oppose the political winds that are demanding the fulfillment of the vacant police positions.

But then I read on.

Here is a summary of the mayor's 5 point plan:

1. REDUCE the number of shifts at the police department from five to three. Idea being: more officers per shift = higher visibility.

2. Buy 4 Segways.

3. Get a horse. (I can't make this stuff up, this is what it says.)

4. Make entire city a drug free zone, get money from other jurisdictions to implement major drug treatment and prevention program.

5. Turn lights on at night.

This is amazing. I barely know where to begin. First of all, the mayor refuses to commit to filling the vacancies on the police department!!!!! She declares:

Our principal obligation is to find new ways to use the people that we have now to enhance public safety.

By reducing the number of shifts, she is actually trying to create the APPEARANCE of having more officers WITHOUT ACTUALLY GETTING MORE OFFICERS!!!!! If we still have the same number of officers, and they still work the same amount of hours per week, then this idea does absolutely nothing. Or, we can pay ridiculous overtime, and have all these officers work until they can't stand up. Unbelievable. In item #1 of the plan, the mayor spends the first sentence detailing what she wants to do, and the next 5 sentences defending what her policy has been so far. She says:

While much has been made recently of the numbers of police officers that are currently employed by the City, the fact is that the APD maintains a ratio of 3 police officers to every 1000 citizens-the national average is only 1 officer per thousand.

We have already been over this. These ratios are useless, especially for Annapolis because it is (1) a maritime city and (2) a capital city.

The mayor goes on to say that the war in Iraq and retirement have caused a nationwide talent shortage of interested police officers:

The war in Iraq and retirement have both greatly impacted the number of qualified people that are available for and interested in police work. Jurisdictions nationwide are drawing from the same talent pool and facing the same challenges.

We have been over this too! There are hundreds of people who want to be police officers in the city of Annapolis, but the city won't offer the entrance exam (until now)!

Now, for the famous "this is not my fault, I am doing everything right" quote from the mayor:

We offer a very competitive package of pay and benefits to our officers and are always looking for talented people. We will aggressively continue that search without lowering our standards.

Yesterday, I said "The prevailing political climate--which usually lags behind the will of the people (unless ignoring it completely)--is that the department needs to fill the 20+ vacancies. There is probably no amount of reluctance from the police chief, or anyone else, to stop this from happening." I was dead wrong, as long as the mayor has something to say about it.

As for the Segways, fine. If the police need the Segways, get them the resources they need. But what's wrong with bicycles?

As for the horse mounted unit, the mayor states that one horse-mounted unit is equivalent to 10 officers on foot. What? Really? I guess so. But by most accounts these units are best utilized in crowd control. And will only one horse mounted unit really make a difference? Will it be in the exact spot to deter a drug deal or stop an assault?

I don't know what the obsession is with a drug free zone; it seems to me like more of a formality than anything else. Shouldn't we be combatting drugs at all times? I think a treatment plan is a good resource, but we need to go after the dealers too. What, besides getting money from the state and county, are we going to do about this?

And for goodness sake, we will turn our lights on if it will make you happy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Solve the Problem, Not the Not-Problem, Part II

This morning, inexplicably, AP was listening to AM talk radio. The topic being discussed was the legal drinking age, and whether it should be lowered to 18 (or some other age less than 21)

The arguments typically go like this:

For lowering the drinking age:
-The age of majority should apply to everything, and when you are determined to be an adult, you should be able to vote, drink, serve in military, get married, enter into contracts, etc.
-Other countries have lower drinking ages and kids do not have the same taboo about drinking that causes them to binge.

Against lowering the drinking age:
-Drunk driving will go up if you lower the age, as will drinking & driving injuries/accidents.

I am not interested in this argument, per se. What I want to talk about is how we frame the debate.

On the radio show this morning, they said they did a poll, and it was about 50/50 for and against. But what if this was the question:

"Do you support lowering the drinking age to 18, provided that EVERY car was equipped with a breath analysis device and the car would not turn on if the driver was over the legal limit?"

I imagine that more people would say yes. So how about the argument that under the current laws, 21 year olds buy alcohol for their younger friends, and if we lower the drinking age, 18 year olds will do the same thing, and we will have really young kids drinking. Well, think about this question:

"Do you support lowering the drinking age to 18 provided that every beer bottle was made with DNA analysis software and the bottle would actually not allow any beer to be dispensed unless the drinker was over 18?"

Obviously this would only happen in a science fiction movie, but do you see the point? These arguments have to do with drunk driving, and underage drinking--NOT THE DRINKING AGE ITSELF.

So many times this happens in debates--sides draw lines in the sand and make emotional arguments based on associations they make with the behaviors in question. More often than you would think, people actually agree on the majority of what they are arguing about. We need to focus on the actual problems.

In the case of the drinking age, we endorse an arbitrary and unfair practice. Rather than using the drinking age as a proxy to try and control drinking and driving, we should focus on simply stopping drunk driving--take out the middle man, so to speak. The act of drinking is not itself an evil act. Failing to drink in a responsible way is the problem, and this is what we should try and address.

Crime: Ward 3

Crime is evolving into a favorite topic of this blog, quite possibly because public safety should be the #1 concern of any government. (Normally I would not make such a blanket statement as this, but this is a generally accepted premise, right?)

I receive the daily email from the police department, which you too can receive by clicking here. I usually scan the police reports, trying to get an idea of what types of crimes are occurring and where.

I happened to notice a trend of events happening in the Bowman Dr./Ct. area:

THEFT ( OR, * SHORTY ROB* STRIKES AGAIN) On August 14th, a Housing Authority Property Manager reported that someone had removed 9aluminum window frames from six different townhouses in the 1800 block of Bowman Court. The perpetrator had removed the frames and windows in tact, then broken out the glass and disassembled the frames before taking them from the scene. Investigation determined that the frames had been sold to a nearby recycler as scrap metal. The man that sold the material was known to the recycling center only as * Shorty Rob.* Other community members also said that * Shorty Rob* was seen taking the window frames. * Shorty Rob* has also been implicated in other unsolved crimes in the area. He is described as a black male, age in30's or 40's, short, with a heavy build. He is known to frequent the Annapolis Gardens. Anyone with information as to * Shorty Rob*s*true name and identity is asked to call police at 410-268-9000.(07-004474)

BURGLARY: On August 8th at 12:38 AM resident of the 1800 block of Bowman Drive reported that she had encountered an armed intruder in her house. The victim said that she had been upstairs. When she came down to the first floor, she saw an unknown male suspect holding handgun on her three daughters. The victim ran back up the stairs. The suspect then pointed the gun at a male resident and demanded that the resident give him something that he claimed was owed to him. The resident told him that he did not know to what he was referring. The suspect then fled out the back door. He had apparently entered through the same door, which had been left unlocked. Officers searched the area for the suspect with negative results, and the investigation is continuing. (07-004332)

DRUG ARREST: On August 8th at 9:01 AM, an officer on routine patrol noticed a suspicious subject lurking behind some bushes in the 1800block of Bowman Court. She was identified as Kim Renee Harris, 39, of Eastport Terrace. Investigation led to the recovery of a crack pipe from her person. She was arrested and charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. (07-004334)

(I'm sure there are recurring crimes on other streets, but this is just one I noticed.)

So I got to thinking...where the heck is Bowman Dr.? Answer: In between West St. and Moreland Pkwy, near the Merrit Athletic Club, and within walking distance of The Capital. More important answer, at least for the purposes of this post: in Ward 3.

Wait a minute....Ward 3? But the alderwoman for Ward 3 just said:

There have been no recent calls or complaints of crime in Ward 3, said Alderwoman Classie G. Hoyle, D-Ward 3. However there have been a few break-ins in the Germantown/Homewood neighborhood, she said.

"I was disappointed that we didn't get the kind of support for National Night Out that we should have," she said. "People are complaining, but we didn't have the numbers out there to demonstrate that we are concerned."

Mrs. Hoyle said mandatory sentencing for crimes involving guns is her top concern, and she's investigating what can be done to reduce the number of guns on the streets.

She also wants to focus attention on enforcing the laws against dark-tinted windows on vehicles.

These seem like "recent calls or complaints". Does the alderwoman pay attention to the reports? What kind of priorities does the Honorable Ms. Hoyle have? Drugs and robbery--including armed robbery--seem like a pretty big deal to me. And these reports just scratch the surface. How many crimes go unreported? How many reports have been filed and I/we have not seen?

Merely adding police officers will not solve the problem. (See previous post) We need a comprehensive plan, which starts with a chief that is willing to admit there is a problem and willing to address it.

Travel Update: Mayor Moyer

Mayor Ellen is still touring Europe, and has updated her blog with accounts of the two most recent cities she has visited.

The mayor started her blog around the time she went on this trip, and thus far it has mainly served as a travel guide, along with some peculiarities of history regarding her various destinations.

Even so, if this blog failed to comment on the mayor's blog, it would drop to the ranking of, perhaps, only the 200th most popular political blog in Ward 5. Wanting to maintain the popularity of this URL, I have selected 2 items for presentation:

-The mayor of Newport, Pembrokeshire, Wales, is named Barry Onions. Barry Onions! I have a long day planned for today, and I expect to be stressed out--albeit ever so slightly. When this happens, I will say "Barry Onions" 10 times to myself, and surely people will be asking why I have a goofy grin on my face. I mean, just listen to this excerpt:

Today there is a bird habitat nearby. Two swans have finally returned to the area. Mayor Onion would like more.

Laugh out loud!! Are we characters in a Harry Potter book?!! I am sort of a weird person, but I can't help but believe that even the more 'normal' of the people amongst us find this amusing.

-The mayor visited Wexford, Ireland, which appears to be the hometown of Naval Commodore John Barry. She had this to say:

The Mayor wonders why Annapolis doesn’t do more to recognize this Naval hero. John Barry served with George Washington in our war for independence and was listed as #1 in the American Navy.
First, you may be wondering why the mayor refers to herself in the third person. This actually is not unexpected, as we have learned that the mayor does not actually make her own blog posts. Somebody else likely wrote this, and therefore would refer to the mayor as "the mayor" and not "I".
Second, this is how AP interprets the above quote:
"The mayor wonders if she can spend money, or create a position in city government, based loosely on John Barry. Early ideas include statues or a museum, but all opportunities are being explored.
I wouldn't be surprised if John Barry appeared in the budget for FY 2009.
I look forward to her next post!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Capital and This Blog: New Best Friends!

Two days ago, this blog applauded the recent focus on crime by the city council, but lamented the circumstances that have caused this issue to stay on the back burner for so long.

Yesterday The Capital, clearly paraphrasing the excellent ideas of this site, ran an editorial saying roughly the same thing.

I think we have reached somewhat of a turning point in this argument. The prevailing political climate--which usually lags behind the will of the people (unless ignoring it completely)--is that the department needs to fill the 20+ vacancies. There is probably no amount of reluctance from the police chief, or anyone else, to stop this from happening.

So now let's ask the next question. How are we going to use these extra officers to reduce crime?

The first step is proactive enforcement. No sitting around and waiting for things to happen. This requires no new legislation; rather, simply a directive from the powers that be.

The second step is harsh penalties. If the penalties as they currently exist do not provide enough of a deterrent for crimes, those penalties have to be increased by law.

Alas, these are the relatively obvious solutions that can be used to address relatively minor violations--perhaps littering or public intoxication.

We, the citizens, are probably focused on violent crime right now. It occurs to me that violent criminals have a higher disregard for the consequences that the normal person. We need to ask how the new police officers will be used to combat violent crime. Will there be more foot patrols? Will there be cooperation with the county police? Are there other successful models that we can follow?

It is not enough to pledge to fill the police officer vacancies. There must also be a pledge to combat crime, and a proper plan to do it.

Enforcement of Laws

First, some technical business--I have been informed that the official city logo is to be used solely for official city business. Since this blog is the most unofficial endeavour since network news declared Al Gore the new President, I have removed the logo and will now feature various photos of our city.

Let's now move quickly into this letter to the editor. It will be an easy read, as all commentary is at the end.

Our mayor wants to assign police officers to crack down on merchants who put illegal sandwich-board signs out on the sidewalk.

I applaud her. This must have taken courage. We should enforce the law!

It's about time that our elected officials focused on the real criminals. The sooner we get these vicious criminals behind bars, the safer our streets will be.
TOM RIBIS, Annapolis

It took me a minute--mostly because I was in the sun all day today--but I eventually observed the sarcasm in your tone of voice. On the one hand, I agree with your point. There are many more important issues that the mayor should be worrying about, including crime and perhaps a more cooperative relationship with the county. The fact that the administration and police chief have failed to address or even acknowledge the crime problem has been a constant complaint of AP and others.

On the other hand, and this is important, ALL laws should be enforced. If a law is silly, outdated, or over burdensome, we really need to take a look at whether we should have the law at all. If a law exists, the forces of democracy have conspired to deem that ordinance necessary, and it should be enforced. And, we should devote as many resources as we can to enforce the laws.

Trying to prioritize which laws are enforced is a slippery slope. Think about the illegal immigrant debacle! All laws, by the mere fact they are laws, should be enforced equally and to the fullest extent possible.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I enabled this blog to accept comments, but it does not work retroactively. So I have to make this post to see if it works.