By: Sam Jones, Columnist
Former Mayor of Baltimore Catherine Pugh was sentenced on Thursday to three years in federal prison for funneling illegal donations to her campaign through her fraudulent children’s book, “Healthy Holly.”
“Unfortunately, the type of fraud and public corruption that Ms. Pugh committed, and was sentenced to three years in federal prison for today, undermines everyone’s faith in government and what government can do for the people” said U.S. Attorney Robert Hur.
This is exactly right. Baltimore has a long history of electing corrupt mayors and Pugh is only the latest example. Several city and state officials have been prosecuted as a result of corrupt behavior such as State Senators Larry Young, Nathaniel Oaks, Mayor Sheila Dixon, portions of The City of Baltimore Police Department for some time, and Pugh.
A 2017 Washington Post-University of Maryland poll asked Maryland residents what they thought about corruption at all levels in Maryland. 57% of Baltimore residents responded “a big problem”, while 59% said “big problem inside their own city.” However, even though they know corruption is plaguing them, Baltimore voters will likely continue to elect do-nothing, corrupt leaders that will allow the city to continue to burn.
Among the list of formally announced candidates, lies Dixon, who is best known for being convicted in 2009 for embezzlement of gift cards meant for poor residents. She is likely to be a front runner for the democratic party. A recent poll had Dixon with a slight lead for the upcoming April Democratic primary. Three candidates, T.J. Smith, Thiru Vignarajah and State Senator Mary Washington, are all in striking distance according to the same poll.
A former federal prosecutor, Vignarajah is campaigning as the law and order candidate, however, the former police spokesman Smith had the largest move in the poll. I humbly believe that both of these candidates would be a huge step in fighting the corruption that has turned Baltimore upside down. Dixon is not the leader that Baltimore needs to begin to improve the daily life of its residents.
“We’re sitting here while Rome is burning” State Senator, and former Senate President Mike Miller said on the opening day of the 2020 Maryland General Assembly.
Hopefully the citizens of Baltimore will elect leadership in 2020 that will begin to pour water on our burning city. However, if history has taught us anything, Baltimroe will elect a do-nothing, possibly an even more corrupt mayor that will let the city burn.