Thursday, August 14, 2008

Violent Crimes Down

This was a press release from the city. Normally I would accompany this city propaganda with some of my own, but as it is I am on a zero-expense-paid vacation in Spain and I'm lucky to have this time on the internet. Quicky, I did notice a correlation betwen the new police chief, with new policies, and this reduction in crime:

Crimes Statistics Show Significant Drop In Violent Reported Crimes

The Annapolis Police Department is releasing the Crime Statistics
for the period of January 1st, 2008, through June 30th, 2008. As compared to the
same time period of 2007, the number of violent crimes is lower in 2008. Total
reported Violent crimes for the period in 2007 were 231, while there were 190 in
2008, a reduction of 17.75%. Shootings are down 25% from 15 to 12. While
both years saw 6 Homicides, in 2008 we had the happenstance of five within the
first three months of the year, but, only one in the next three months, and none
since May. Robberies are down from 101 in 2007 to 79 in 2008, and Aggravated
Assaults are down from 123 in 2007 to 100 in 2008. The statistics are part of
those compiled during the course of our participation in the Uniform Crime
Reporting System as reported to the FBI.

Even more significant is
that the reductions seem to be at an accelerated pace since April of 2008 -
perhaps not coincidentally when a number of tactical and strategic changes
were implemented. For example, violent crime dropped from 137 to 88 ( -35.77%) when comparing the second quarters of 2008 to 2007. Robberies dropped
from 55 to 35, and Aggravated Assaults from 77 to 50.

This success is attributable to many factors, not the least of which are new
initiatives brought about by leadership and carried out by the fine officers of
the Annapolis Police Department. It is important to note that none of the
initiatives would work without the full support of the officers on the street,
which has been outstanding.

The new strategies include:

*Senior Commanders assigned to street duty during periods of peak criminal activity. *Emphasis of intelligence gathering and targeting of the most
frequent and likely offenders.
*Creation of a street enforcement unit,
combining K-9, Drug Enforcement, Intelligence, Traffic and
foot patrol teams with senior, direct supervision.
*More efficient use of the overlap hours of 10 PM to 2 AM, when two shifts are on -
*Supplementing of Downtown Foot Patrol with officers assigned to
administrative duties
*Increased use of technology such as roll call
briefings backed up by video of wanted persons or known
*Increased emphasis on the serving of existing warrants.

Through the reduction in violent crime, it is clear that these and
many other things are making it much more difficult for the criminals. Another
key factor is the increased cooperation from the public, as demonstrated by more
and more calls and tips from the citizens concerning criminal activity. The
police and public each energize the other, and results by one serve to encourage
more effort by the other.

We hope to continue this very positive trend for the remainder of this year and beyond.

Friday, August 8, 2008

"Working" Together In Ward 3

The Capital today has an article about the grand opening of the Mt. Olive A.M.E. church community center, entitled "An Example of Working Together". How sweet. Sadly, I fear that 'working' might not be the proper term for the arrangement.

The article says that the developer of Parole Town Center pledged $2 million to the church to get the project going. I thought to myself "self, developers are shrewd people. The left sides of their brains are Intel processors, and their bones are made out of recycled granite counter tops. Why would a developer give that kind of dinero to a church?"

Next, I went to the grocery store. But after that, I though to myself "self, what about this Mt. Olive Church? Does it have anything to do with politics?" Yes!! If I've learned anything from this blogging racket, it's that Mt. Olive is the unofficial church of Ward 3, and Ward 3 Alderman Classie Hoyle.

The best I can figure, there is a love triangle out in parole that involves the Parole Center, Mt. Olive Church, and the Honorable Alderman Hoyle. Here are some of the facts:

1. Mt. Olive becomes the unofficial church of Alderman Hoyle. I don't know exactly how this happened, but Alderman Hoyle is the chairman of the Mt. Olive Community Development Corporation, and the church's reverend (Johnny Calhoun) did give a modest donation to the Hoyle campaign for county council.

2. The Parole Town Center Development is in the planning phases, and seeks the blessing of the Ward 3 Alderman, even though it is outside of city limits. A business named "Parole Service Inc" gives $500 to the Hoyle campaign, presumably with an expectation that the development will go forward and that businesses' value will be propped up. The development corporation ponies up $1000 for good measure.

3. Alderman Hoyle begins a persistent string of political favors on behalf of Mt. Olive. First, she moved to change the Moderately Priced Development Unit (MPDU) Program to allow non-profits to buy the properties--rumor has it that she wanted Mt. Olive to be a landlord for these dwellings. Next, Hoyle introduced and passed R-14-08, making a certain area of Parole (including Mt. Olive!) a "designated area". As "luck" would have it, designated areas can receive funding from the state, but first need the blessing of the municipality. So, in due course, Hoyle introduced and passed R-15-08, which gives such a blessing. None of the other businesses in the designated area received a similar resolution.

The whole mess smells fishy, but there are questions that still remain. Why is Alderman Hoyle so loyal to Mt. Olive? And why do the Parole developers feel the need to donate to the Hoyle campaign and give such a big pledge to her pet church?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rules Are Rules....Unless You Don't Want To Follow Them

So, a while ago I posted the campaign finance reports that were due July 1st of this year. Silly bloggers like me over analyzed what the reports meant, and there was some interesting email chatter. Everyone who raised or spent money, or had balances in their campaign accounts, reported their dealings. Everyone except Sam Shropshire.

Rather than filing a report, Alderman Sam filed a letter explaining why he didn't file a report. Apparently, his house was flooded on May 13th, preventing him from accessing records. In his letter, he advised that everything should be back to normal shortly, and that we could expect a report to be filed by the end of July. The other day, a friend of mine called to remind me about this. He said he talked to the city clerk, and that as of a couple of days ago, no report had been received from the Honorable Alderman.

(Post Intermission: While we are on the topic of Alderman Sam, allow me to recommend watching the city council meeting on television. Alderman Sam, each and every meeting, looks up at the camera and addresses his loyal subjects, literally saying on the record "For all of you watching on television, rest assured that I am working for you". It's a surreal experience.)

A few questions come to mind:

1. Why does the treasurer not have these records?

2. Why did it take 5 weeks for the "piecing together of records" to get started?

3. Why is there still no report, a month after it was due and almost 3 month after the flood.

4. Why, in the name of at least trying to satisfy the laws which he is sworn to uphold, did Alderman Sam not go to the bank and report how much money is in the account?

Is this upsetting? Yes. Is this inappropriate? About as inappropriate as I was in 7th grade when my first girlfriend ever called me to talk, and within 3o seconds I asked "so why did you call me". But, at the end of the day this matter per se does not matter all that much. Would the other candidates like to know how much money he has? Of course, but it wouldn't change that much for the average person.

The underlying issue is more troubling. The city--specifically the Moyer administration--has a history of following rules selectively, if at all.

Example 1: The Mayor, in a work session, advocated implementing the sidewalk tax even though an advisory opinion from the attorney general deemed it unconstitutional.

Example 2: When the city was sued by police and fire retirees, it lost a statute of limitations argument, then was told in March by the courts exactly how much it had to pay, but still has not paid.

Example 3: In cases where rules must be followed, this administration simply changed the rules. Political appointments are to be expected. But, Mayor Moyer changed the charter to create a new department, which she promptly staffed with a friendly who now makes $100,000+.

Example 4: When the Mayor fired former public works director John Patmore (because Patmore brought up valid concerns that city resources would be stretched for the triathlon), the Mayor replaced him with City Administrator Bob Agee, ignoring the requirement in the code that the DPW Director had to have an engineering degree.

There are other things that I'm certain are against the rules, but I just can't find the rule. Aldermen spend their "education" budgets to travel to sister cities, and Mayoral Candidate Chuck Weikel gets free advertising through the Annapolis 300 program--to name 2.

(Post Intermission II: Isn't it Annapolis 301 by now? Heck, when the Annapolis 300 program began, Mrs. Politics had not even given me her phone number.)

Following minor rules is important because it forecasts how strictly you will follow the important rules. The uncertainty for Annapolitans is which rule will be broken next.