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The Corrupt System
The “Mikulski Campaign Funds Hit Bonanza” article by John Fritze is disturbing, to say the least, because it seems to convey the following concepts.
1- The more money a politician raises the more respect he/she should be given by the media and by his/her constituents.
2- The more seniority a politician accumulates the more respect he/she should be given by the media and by his/her constituents.
3- Raising campaign contributions and gaining seniority are great accomplishments.
Nothing, in my opinion, can be further from the truth. I believe the spin of Mr. Fritz’s article does a real disservice to your readership. As someone who has tried to emphasize to his students and other concerned citizens of Maryland the evils of money in politics, I believe the process of collecting money for political campaigns is shameful. What’s more, seniority status in Congress is more of a demonstration of the desire for power, fame, self promotion, and personal gain on the part of the politician and not in the best interests of his/her constituents.
As a teacher I’ve practiced what I preach as substantiated in the 2010 and 2012 elections. I ran my campaign for governor in 2010 and senator in 2012 by design, on a budget of $730 and received almost 23,000 votes. Per dollar, I received more votes than any one running for public elected office. Such being the case, I would be beholden to no one, but I would be bound to do what’s right for my constituents. I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade my votes for all of those of Governor O’Malley and Senator Mikulski put together since my votes were obtained the ethical way. Yes, I practice what I preach.
So… what then is the real measuring stick of a politician if it is not money and seniority? The answer is simple – the ideas and moral character of the politician. That’s what really counts. Until these values become the benchmark we will continue to be the victims of our politically corrupt system.
Real Campaign Reform
The editorial, “Good Government Wins,” (April 15, 2013) in actuality falls short of the mark. Bestowing kudos to the General Assembly for passing so-called legislation which makes campaign finance more helpful in “restoring integrity to the political process” is with all due respect misguided.
As pointed out these reforms are offset with other provisions which result in a process that facilitates throwing more money into the political arena instead of getting money out.
The actions of the General Assembly with regard to campaign finance reform bring to mind the following analogy. A smoker seeks the help of a therapist in stopping his/her habit of smoking. The therapist prescribes the following remedy – Go from 4 packs a day to 3 packs for the next 4 years and then come back for a follow-up session.
To endorse the idea of public financing which allows counties to finance candidates running for public office using taxpayers’ money is ludicrous. Go out and ask unemployed people with families if this is a good solution.
How much more beneficial it would be if the Sun would spend less time reporting on and talking with our so-called career politicians about remedies and concentrate more on talking to the victims of these political decisions.
The real answer to campaign finance reform is in fact very simple. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. What we need are ethical politicians who will simply say that they will not take any campaign contributions from anyone because it’s unethical and they won’t try to buy the election either. If these steps are taken, we do not have to question transparency and disclosure. If these steps are taken, we will have integrity in our political system instead of what we have been experiencing for the last 50 years.
What’s wrong with college sports?
The coverage of problems in college sports, such as the Title IX impact, has merely addressed the symptoms of the problem. A focus on the source of the problems would be much more helpful.
One major source can be summarized using 2 words – Jim Patsos. He is the latest college coach to take advantage of the university system which gives coaches the opportunity to become leaders of basketball and football programs while exploiting their “so-called student athletes.” Mr. Patsos recently extracted at least another 5 year contract extension from Loyola University in which he would have been grossly overpaid as a “so-called educator,” receiving considerably more than the average professor makes. But, apparently that wasn’t enough because he reneged on the contract as soon as a better offer came his way. Furthermore, at a press conference in his new position at Siena University he admitted that his real dream job is at the University of Maryland. Meanwhile, he deserted the “so-called student athletes” he recruited at Loyola and left them hanging in the wind. Fast forward to a few years from now, the good folks at Siena will probably receive the same treatment from Mr. Patsos as the people at Loyola did. Assuming he can be manipulative enough to have at least one good season at Siena, the University of Maryland will likely offer him the coaching position with another significant increase in salary – perhaps in the millions. To be fair to Mr. Patsos he is not the only one who acts in such a manner; 95% of the other college coaches demonstrate the same conduct.
Another source of the problem revolves around universities choosing to build these plush stadia. Why did Towson University spend at least 32 million dollars to renovate its football stadium and many more millions on a new basketball arena when that money could be better utilized to provide scholarships to students who really want to get a college education? And then, the President of the University is forced to eliminate some of the sports programs because there‘s no money and we hear the complaints coming forth from the athletic alumni loud and clear.
What’s the real answer to this madness? If truth be told, the role of athletic programs in colleges has to be changed to what it ought to be -that is, competitive, intramural programs with participation by students for the purpose of exercise and weight control. For spectator entertainment, students have the Ravens, Orioles, the Wizards and Capitols. .
I realize my comments will probably be viewed by many readers as unrealistic for the times, but on the other hand, what is for real is that the moral decadence of our society will continue until we decide to get our values back on track!
Where’s the Ethics?
While the Baltimore Sun paper has provided a lot of coverage on the conviction of the former Anne Arundel county executive, there are other public servants who are guilty of disreputable conduct in office. Yet little, if any, coverage for these good folks has been given by the paper. What’s more, any attempt to shed light on the misconduct of these government officials with the various ethical boards or commissions is fruitless. Let us take the Maryland State Ethics Commission as an example. Any complaint concerning a public servant which is filed by a non-board member is usually dismissed by this commission due to their claim of “lack of jurisdiction.” Apparently, any violations that revolve around “truth” and “public trust” are matters that do not come under the domain of this commission. If this is true, then the Maryland State Ethics Commission is a waste of time and taxpayer’s money. Right now, we have no governing body that deals with “real ethics” in Maryland. It’s a big “problem.”
Some Hidden Lessons
What does the article, “House Passes Bill to Widen Uses of Campaign Funds” (3-8-2013) convey to us?
Maybe we need a new bill passed which would allow candidates to use campaign funds to pamper themselves with new hair styles and to clothe themselves with new outfits to wear when attending these professional conferences.
Maybe Delegate Carolyn Howard and the other 109 delegates who voted in favor of this bill should be ashamed of themselves for making this bill such an essential item
Wouldn’t paying for trips and other “necessities” out of their own pockets really be the right thing to do? In reality, just how much is accomplished at these conferences anyway? Do we really know what the politicians learned or gained from attending such events or how they have applied their learnings for the benefit of their constituents?
Anybody who gives money to a politician should ask the following: “Would the money be better spent for the “needy” of our community?”
What’s more, the real issue is not whether one is conservative, liberal, or independent who is voting for such a bill. Rather the compelling issue is whether the individual is ethical or unethical.
10 Reasons To Vote For Ralph Jaffe For Governor
= Leading a movement to get rid of the corruption and money in Maryland politics and to bring about ETHICS into our political system
= Does not take campaign contributions (disguised bribes)
= Will serve one term only
= Will not deal with professional lobbyists
= Will serve without taking a salary if elected
= Tells the truth all the time
= Will not support any tax increases
= Will attempt to abolish the Maryland State Emissions System
= Will attempt to abolish the Maryland Public Service Commission
= Will attempt to abolish the Maryland Stadium Authority
The “Public Service Commission Approves BGE Rate Increases” article by Jamie Smith Hopkins serves to reinforce three noteworthy comments. One – BGE continues to rip off its customers as has been its practice for the last 20 years. Two – The Public Service Commission should be abolished because it’s been nothing but a puppet for the current governor as well as his predecessors. Three – The General Assembly continues to pander to BGE.
These observations make for a rather sad commentary, don’t you think?
WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN?
After reading the article, “The Battle For Baltimore” (2-20-13), I find it somewhat sad but also amusing. Senator Mikulski makes these grandiose statements about better care for the veterans of Baltimore. However, it appears to me that very little was happening to help our veterans until the Baltimore Sun exposed the deficiencies of the VA.
Senator Mikulski – you’ve been a career politician for more than 40 years, and now you are among the most powerful members of Congress because of your seniority. However, where have you been Senator all this time with regard to the nightmarish performance of the VA?
What’s more, where have you been Senator Cardin? Where have you been Congressman Sarbanes and Congressman Cummings? Congressman Ruppersberger – where have you been?
Here’s the real question – WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN?
No Help From The Judge For BGE Customers
For a second time, the same judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City dismissed the case I brought against Exelon-Baltimore Gas and Electric Company and its Chairman of the Board, Mayo Shattuck for the mistreatment of BGE customers during power outages. Apparently the judge lacks sensitivity and understanding of the suffering BGE customers experience during these storms. We need better judges.
Disappointing But Not Surprising!
I filed 2 complaints with David McClintoc, the Inspector General of Baltimore City, concerning the behavior of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake with regard to the speed camera fiasco and the acceptance and distribution of Ravens tickets. Below is a copy of my formal complaint to the Inspector General followed by his response.
Dear Mr. McClintoc,
I am filing two complaints with you concerning the behavior of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Complaint #1 – It’s my understanding that the Mayor has a policy of accepting and distributing Baltimore Ravens football tickets to her friends and also other entertainment tickets as well. I believe this is a clear violation of ethical behavior on the part of an elected public official. She should not accept any gifts from anyone outside of her family.
Complaint #2 – I believe the Mayor has violated the public sacred trust by approving a speed camera program in advance in which the speed camera company would get a certain portion of the fines for each ticket issued to the drivers. In addition, even though the Mayor had knowledge of the fact that a number of cameras were malfunctioning, she allowed the city transportation department to continue to issue tickets from these defective cameras. This is a clear violation of the public trust.
With regard to complaint #2, I am faxing over to you a copy of my original complaint to the Baltimore City Ethics Board and a copy of the Board’s disgraceful ruling.
I am asking you to show the courage that the Ethics Board refused to do by calling a press conference in which you acknowledge that the Mayor’s behavior regarding these two policies are morally unethical.
Inspector General’s Response
The Inspector General refused to rebuke the Mayor’s behavior and he also refused my request to recommend to the President of the City Council the need for new legislation – legislation that would make the ethics law of Baltimore City more meaningful.
This response just validates for me the point that unfortunately, the current Baltimore City Ethics Law is practically meaningless which therefore makes the Baltimore City Ethics Board almost weightless.
The only way we are going to get ethics in politics is to insist that we have ethical politicians in office. That’s what the Jaffe Movement is all about.