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C. Fraser Smith: Looking hard for morale boosters

We could all use a little morale boost these days, so in my usual public-spirited way I offer one:

  • Terps basketball fans woke up yesterday to reports that Melo Trimble, the basketball team’s best-known player, will stay one more year in College Park. We know he’s been advised to wait while his draft status, marketability and salary potential could rise. So, no, he’s not doing it for us. But we understand.

Some of us, at least, need those moments as respite from concerns we have about our failed voting system. The State Board of Elections finally certified the primary election results, give or take a few miscounted or un-counted or over-counted ballots. Not exactly reassuring of course. But, we are told, none of this confusion had an effect on the outcome of any of the races. We are not filled with quiet confidence.

The day before the Trimble decision and the ballot re-certification questions, we learned that a somewhat obscure but critically important panel had lowered the velvet boom on the Baltimore Development Corporation.

Why? Because the corporation met privately, behind closed doors — without press or public present—to consider a half-billion-dollar tax break for (follow me now) Sagamore Development Co., the private development arm of Kevin Plank, Under Armor’s talented, wealthy and powerful 1-percenter.

Who else gets that sort of consideration? Does money talk? The BDC move encouraged snarky commentary.

The state’s Open Meetings Compliance Board called the Plank-Sagamore session “improper.” Indeed. And worse than that.  A thumbing-of-the-nose to the press and to the voters.

We are going to be told that Baltimore’s future depends on big tax breaks. Developers simply won’t develop without this sort of help from cities like Baltimore. This is a kind of cleaned-up version of favoritism or leverage backed by an unstated possibility that Plank might go elsewhere with his billions.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re lucky to have him and his blockbuster company. We are among his most loyal fans, wearing as much UA advertisement as we can layer. We’re one big, moving billboard

OK, we’re in. But don’t shut us out.

I don’t have to say why we need these morale boosters. But here are a few more examples why:

  • The Baltimore school board decides to secretly choose a new CEO. People are upset. I wonder why. Has the board concluded that no one in Baltimore cares about the schools or who’s running them? Is there something in the water? (Yes, but that’s another story.)
  • We are well along a path toward a general election pitting two major-party candidates no one really likes. You’ve seen the poll numbers. Republicans at almost every level can’t believe Donald Trump is their nominee. Pretty much true of Democrats and Hillary Clinton. The GOP gets credit for both these situations because its hit squads have unremittingly trashed her, adding to Clinton’s own remarkable success at trashing herself. Computers have wounded all of us; her private, personal computer stuff was maybe fatal. Bad judgment, not necessarily what you need as president.

And now for one of those promised boosts:

  • On the way to work Thursday I heard Cal Ripken on the radio talking about the O’s. He wasn’t prepared to talk about “productive strikeouts,” a new Orioles’ coaching term suggesting a new level of PR. Orioles hitters have been taking the K (baseball scoring for strikeout). Cal said something like, “A strikeout is like – an out.” They happen. If you try to cut down on them, he said, you probably cut down on the number of home runs you hit. Defensive at bats don’t leave you relaxed and ready to take advantage of the pitchers’ mistakes. Mistakes don’t happen often in the “Bigs.”

OK, you’re right, I’m not coming up with enough boosters here. But there is this: We’ve had such a run of great third basemen shortstops — Brooks, Cal, Manny.

Those guys had a lot of productive strikeouts – and a lot of class.

There, feeling better?

C. Fraser Smith is senior news analyst for WYPR. His column runs Fridays in The Daily Record. His email address is fsmith@ WYPR.org.