Delegate Pat McDonough's predictable Baltimore bashing brought him one of the Baltimore SUN's harshest ever editorials.
It's impossible to overstate the shamelessness of certain politicians who make it their business never to miss an opportunity for self-aggrandizement by stoking racial, ethnic or religious fears. New York hotel magnate turned 2016 GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump, whose bashing of immigrants, Muslims and minorities has vaulted him to front-runner status in recent polls, is a particularly vile example of the species, but he's hardly unique. He's of a piece with a depressingly long list of preening demagogues, including Baltimore County's own Del. Pat McDonough, who was Maryland's version of The Donald before the real Donald ever dipped a manicured pinkie into politics.McDonough's propensity of grandstanding and bluster appeals to the instincts of the lowest common denominator where more complex thinking is either not desired or exceeds the capacity of his audience. Ignoring the man doesn't keep him from getting re-elected time and again nor does it keep a faithful follower-ship from being mesmerized.
The story of the Scrooge or Mr. Potter who consider the poor as people who want stuff that they don't deserve and who are the cause of all mayhem in the world, its not a new one and has been told from in tales from Charles Dickens (Christmas Carol) to Frank Capra (It's a Wonderful Life). But in the books and films compassion wins, the sour and dour lose and there always is a happy end. In real life, this sometimes takes more of a fight.
Therefore, I took McDonough's retort to the SUN editorial as it is printed in Sunday's paper and inserted my comments "one slice at a time" in McDonough's words, he probably means baloney.
Since your editorial board has decided to designate me as "The Trump of Baltimore County" (Dec. 18) I have decided to designate the editors at the Baltimore Sun as the "Bernie Sanders of the Journalism World." Now, let us begin to put the phony baloney you created with your editorial rant through the grinder one slice at a time.What a witty comeback! If one overlooks that Sanders and Trump have nothing in common, except that they both don't represent the main-stream of their respective parties. Where Trump goes ad hominem even within his own party, Sanders never attacks the competitor. Where Trump just makes pronouncements ("I will build a wall") Sanders lays out a fact based argument. Where Trump does entertainment Sanders does information.
•The race card: In all of my comments about the misguided Section 8 housing policy, race was never mentioned or implied. It is a pathetic tactic of the left that whenever they disagree with someone, the person is characterized as being a racist or subjected to name calling. How childish!McDonough plays the innocence card, like many on the right pretending he wouldn't have anything to say about race. That proves, of course, how completely he missed America's discussion about race especially in 2015 and decades before. Being a racist without using racist terms is the oldest trick when everybody knows anyway what is meant. His attack on policies that try to level the playing field is racist, not the words he uses.
•County residents are racist: Baltimore County residents are sincerely concerned about the value of their homes and neighborhoods. These are large investments made in good faith by hard working people. A young woman approached me and said, "I would like to own a mansion and a luxury vehicle, but I can't afford those things and I'm not going to ask my neighbors to pay for them."Another good trick is to let other people say the nasty things one is too timid to say. It also allows to go way off topic. The voucher program doesn't include mansions or luxury vehicles, but who wants to argue the fine-points when the big picture can be so elegantly painted? The sad old hat of the poor who yearn for something they do not deserve has worked for decades. Let's use it again.
•Nuisance houses: While some editors are sitting at their desks pontificating on how to save the world in the Sunpaper Ivory Tower, I am on the streets working for the people. It is Delegate McDonough who receives the phone calls and emails on a regular basis from citizens concerned about drug dealing and other problems related to Section 8 housing. The housing authority has no response policy. That is why I am introducing legislation to create a commission that will study the impact of Section 8 housing in Baltimore County.Cry me a river. The poor delegate who would be so enlightened if he only wouldn't hear so much nonsense in the streets. It is his constituents who give him the idea that the voucher holders are the real menace in society from drug dealing to riots and murder and he just has to believe it!
There is news: A true leader, instead of stoking the fires, should provide real information, even if sometimes unpopular. There is plenty to read out there about vouchers and section 8 tenant. It has been studied all across the United States that dispersed poverty and individual voucher tenants among market rate apartments works well and allows the poor to step up in life. He can go to Ellicott City and study the reconstruction of public housing as Burgess Mill Station to see the success. This is the reason why this is the current HUD policy.
•Quiet or deceptive: The editors attempt to describe the sneaky entry of Section 8 housing into Baltimore County as "quiet." I remember when the Baltimore Colts quietly sneaked out of Baltimore in the dead of the night in Mayflower Vans.Brilliant again! Bring up the locally most hated sneaky move of all times: The Colts betraying their city with an overnight Mayflower truck! Never mind that the Colt's furtive move has absolutely nothing to do with the open HUD policy of dispersal of poverty.
Non-profit and taxpayers' money: I believe The Baltimore Sun and the taxpayers have the right to know more details about the "Homes for America" non-profit group that has helped with this sneaky Section 8 policy. According to The Sun, they have already received $19 million in taxpayers' money, and they are scheduled to receive another $50 million to engage in their sneaky home purchases. I intend to exercise my fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers and demand an audit.An audit, of course, those sneaky non-profits, they are always out there bringing America to the edge of ruin. Remember the big financial crisis? All those non-profits we taxpayers bailed out? Fiduciary responsibility? Since when is a Maryland Delegate responsible for the HUD budget or even for the budget of Baltimore City's Housing Authority?
Now the Delegate does an interesting turn. The American right to buy property without asking politicians for permission? That right is thrown under the bus when freedom loving, government hating conservatives see the "free market" being used for helping the poor. Isn't HUD doing exactly what the conservatives and libertarians always preached: Privatizing public housing, put residents in charge where they want to live? We can be sure McDonough and all the others of his ilk will continue to run for government so they can continue to hate it but use it to squash progress.
•Failed politicians: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake deserves the "Pinocchio Award." She has been blathering for years about bringing more residents into Baltimore City, including illegal immigrants. The mayor's support for the HUD program flies in the face of her population goals. Has any reporter asked the mayor about this hypocrisy? After $22 trillion in anti-poverty taxpayer spending, the results are the destruction of Detroit, violence in Chicago, and riots and murders in Baltimore.Pinocchio the Italian story of the boy whose nose grows longer when he lies that Disney brought to McDonough's attention, no doubt? Where is the lie if SRB for wants to grow the city and at the same time send some poor people from City disinvestment areas to County opportunity areas? Such a dual strategy of making the city more attractive to new residents by having less concentrated poverty should be raise the Delegate's admiration since he would be the first to like the City better with fewer poor in it. But maybe this is too complex for McDonough to digest. Instead he resorts to another old hat, the Heritage Foundation's long $22 trillion figure of all the welfare money spent in the 50 years since President Johnson declared the "war on poverty". That figure is bogus, of course, it includes huge amounts of money that has nothing to do with welfare or poverty eradication (post disaster aid, for example) but what a nice story that without America's internationally acclaimed solid welfare net Detroit would still be the shining beacon it was 50 years ago.
•Black mobs at the Inner Harbor: Violence by black youths at the Inner Harbor and downtown were occurring on a regular basis for years without any reaction or solution from the mayor. The mayor's lack of action with the harbor violence was a clear indicator and prediction of how she mismanaged the riots with her lack of action and failed leadership. My wife and I came close to being victims of that violence when our vehicle was stopped at a red light at Calvert and Pratt streets while returning from a charity event. An unruly mob of youths, swinging baseball bats, were coming right at us and other vehicles in the vicinity. We were witnessing a crime in progress, and the police were nowhere to be found. I was always instructed to be accurate and honest when witnessing a crime. They were youths, they were black, not white, Asian, or Hispanic. That's how I described them. When I reported this incident, The Baltimore Sun, in another attack dog editorial, called me "racist" and demanded an apology. Read my lips! My parents taught me to never apologize for the truth. The Sun should apologize for name calling.I have worked for 20 years downtown and been on Pratt and Lombard at all hours of the day and night and have never seen those violent black youths. McDonough is one time in Charm City and is close to becoming a victim. really bad luck. "An unruly mob swinging baseball bats" (is he sure it wasn't baseball hats?) and "no police in sight". He "witnessed a crime", what exactly was the crime? Did anybody actually hit anything? Did he call 911? Did he stick around to report to police or did he just go home with new munition for his next radio show? Only this Delegate sees the absence of police as the pre-cursor for the riots three years later, everybody else sees police actions as the main cause.
•Section 8 and vacant housing: Here is a novel idea. Why not convert the 30,000 vacant houses in Baltimore City into new public housing? The contractors needed to accomplish this goal could employ thousands of young people as helpers and trainees. Thousands of Baltimore City families would be provided with the opportunity to become "rent to own" homeowners. The homeownership surge would help stabilize neighborhoods.Sorry, this is neither novel nor a very original idea. In fact the Atlantic and the Washington Post asked the same question in 2014 and 2015 except when they wrote about 16,000 vacant rowhouses in Baltimore. Habitat for Humanity, BUILD and countless others have been on this since the early nineties and longer. Why not convert all those houses to low income public housing? How about because at a cost of between $50,000 to 250,000 per boarded house to get them into a presentable and HUD compliant state. the cost would be $4.5 billion for all 30,000 units he sees. Fiduciary responsibility?
Let alone that this approach would entirely miss the point of the ACLU consent decree that mandates de-concentration of poverty.
•My viewpoints: As a representative of the people, having been returned to office for four consecutive elections, I view my job as being a public servant, community leader and lawmaker. Because of my visibility on radio and television, my office probably receives more constituent calls than other legislators. My great staff and volunteers have responded and helped more than 5,000 citizens with their problems.In the area of community service, the Seventh District represents two large counties, Baltimore and Harford. This large district includes a great number of community organizations and other associations. I have worked closely with all of them from the tragedies of Tropical Storm Isabel to the current problems related to Section 8 housing.As a lawmaker outnumbered dramatically in Annapolis by liberal Democrats, my chances of passing legislation are difficult. Because I am outspoken on the floor of the House and in public, I am considered by some to be a threat to their "tax and spend" agenda. Regardless of their opposition, over the years I have introduced more than 100 legislative proposals, including last year the "Rain Tax Reform Act." As a result, the "Rain Tax" is terminated in Harford County and on its way out in Baltimore County. I even coined the term "The Rain Tax" on my radio show. The "Bernies" in the editorial office may not agree with my philosophy, but it would be refreshing if they exercised a little bit more honesty.
Del. Pat McDonoughThe writer, a Republican, represents District 7 in Baltimore and Harford counties.The big baloney slicer ends his retort with the stormwater bill and, no doubt, his greatest accomplishment. His accomplishment was the coining of a dishonest term in the honest fight for clean water. What an achievement!
With McDonough's policies the poor won't be less poor any time soon, the water won't get cleaner and neither Baltimore County nor the City will get any safer or more prosperous. But the fearful can feel assured that they have a friend out there who can't imagine a world in which not everything is a zero sum game.
Klaus Philipsen, FAIA