Baltimore Businesses Plead For Help With Rising Crime

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

While the crime spikes in cities like Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia are getting more headlines and national attention, business owners in Baltimore say that crime in their city is out of control as well. The city is on pace for its seventh straight years of 300+ homicides, and the state’s restrictive gun control laws aren’t having much of an effect on violent actors. While the average citizen cannot obtain a concealed carry license (Maryland is one of eight “may issue” states that require applicants to show a justifiable need to carry a firearm in self-defense), there are plenty of people illegally carrying and using firearms in Charm City, and several business owners recently begged Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to do something to improve the safety in their city.

Crime in Fells Point was a contentious issue earlier in the summer after scenes of rowdy behavior surfaced while Baltimore Police Officers seemingly stood by and watched; then a string of shootings and fights broke out, raising serious public safety concerns from some community members and business owners.

“This is the number one factor why people do not come here,” Beth Hawks said talking about crime, owner of Zelda Zen in Fells.

Hogan said the state has allocated billions of dollars to the city to help address some of the root causes of crime, like education, housing and workforce opportunities.

“It’s really frustrating. We’ve invested $22 billion in state investment in this City,” Hogan said.

“Why are we allowing this,” Furman rhetorically asked Hogan.

“Well, we shouldn’t be. We need a mayor that’s focused on crime, we need a police commissioner that is actually having his officers enforce the law and we need a prosecutor interested in prosecuting crimes instead of whatever other political stuff she’s focused on,” Hogan responded.

Hogan went on to mock Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who recently held a press conference to tout her office’s seven homicide convictions this year while downplaying the fact that Baltimore has had at least 226 murders since January.

The governor is right that his options are limited, given the Democratic control of the statehouse in Annapolis and the one-party rule in Baltimore itself. Hogan is also correct in pointing out the failures of Baltimore city government, which goes far beyond issues of public safety. You want to talk about root causes? How about the Baltimore Public Schools, where grades are being inflated and some students are graduating without even a basic understanding of the classes they took.

A two-year Baltimore City school system investigation has found that administrators at one city high school schemed to inflate enrollment, pressured teachers to change grades and scheduled students into classes that didn’t exist.

 

The report is a devastating account of how the former principal of Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts and three other administrators fabricated courses and approved students for graduation when they had failed to legitimately pass classes. While the report does not determine a motive, principals’ evaluations are based on graduation and attendance rates.

As a result of the scheme, at least 15 students improperly earned passing grades from the West Baltimore school — including some who may have earned enough credits for graduation based on those improper grades. The city school system is now discussing with the Maryland State Department of Education whether it will have to reimburse the state for money it received to educate students who didn’t actually attend classes.

Does anyone really think that these problems are isolated to just one high school? Or perhaps a better question; does anyone believe that the folks in charge of Baltimore’s public schools will seriously investigate how widespread these issues are?

The sad truth is that Baltimore is plagued with problems created by decades of mismanagement and one-party rule, and there is no quick or easy fix to be found. The only hope on the horizon (in terms of public safety, anyway) is the prospect of the Supreme Court striking down New York’s “may issue” carry law in the coming months, which could force Maryland to adopt a “shall issue” policy when it comes to issuing concealed carry licenses. That wouldn’t the deep-rooted and systemic failures in Baltimore’s governance, but at least more residents could protect themselves as they live their lives in a city beset by crises of its own devising.