There has been no lack of outrageous statements passing the lips of politicians this year, but we must say if there was an award given for a statement that takes the cake, it would go to our city’s mayor by abdication, Jack Young.
Responding to criticism the other day that the Baltimore murder rate will top 300 for the fifth year in a row, the mayor said to reporters: “It’s not any lack of leadership on my part. I’ve been moving this city forward.” He added: “I’m not committing the murders. And that’s what people need to understand. I’m not committing the murders. The police commissioner is not committing it (sic). The council is not committing it (sic). So how can you fault leadership? I know this has been five years of 300 plus murders, and I don’t see it as a lack of leadership.”
This statement was simply stunning and is disconnected from reality. Violence in Baltimore – including violence in the central business district – is killing the city. It’s bad for individuals and it’s bad for business. Contrary to the mayor’s denial, we do see the murder problem in this city resulting from a lack of leadership in City Hall, and much of that blame we need to place on the office of the mayor. We do that because he has assumed the leadership of the city. And he has let down the citizens of this city.
The mayor’s “it’s not my fault” statement begs two questions: First, does the mayor think the murder problem will fix itself, and second, if not, does he think this homicide rate is acceptable and should be considered the new norm? Moreover, if the mayor does recognize that the murder problem needs a fix, we need to ask, “Who will fix it?” For him to deny that it is a role of leadership to end the murders in this city is a stunning suggestion that he either views himself as unable to cause change or he sees his role as mayor divorced from the homicide problem. Either way, this is not acceptable.
In the last five years, more than 1,500 people have been murdered in this city. Good people have given up and left the city and businesses have closed. People stuck in dangerous neighborhoods are without hope and their quality of life, in a word, is dismal. This city is suffering a malaise and its international reputation is horrid. We expect more from the mayor’s office.
We strongly disagree with the mayor’s premise. It is the leaders of this city who must work to find solutions to an inexcusable murder rate and execute on a plan. This is their job. While this mayor has served in that office for less than a year, he served as president of the City Council for much of this decade, and by his titles he is considered a leader. We call on the mayor to step aside and hand the job to someone who sees fixing the city’s No. 1 problem – murder — as his or her job.
Editorial Advisory Board member Michael P. Van Alstine did not take part in this editorial.
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS
James B. Astrachan, Chair
James K. Archibald
Arthur F. Fergenson
Ericka N. King
Stephen Z. Meehan
C. William Michaels
Angela W. Russell
Debra G. Schubert
H. Mark Stichel
Michael P. Van Alstine
The Daily Record Editorial Advisory Board is composed of members of the legal profession who serve voluntarily and are independent of The Daily Record. Through their ongoing exchange of views, members of the board attempt to develop consensus on issues of importance to the bench, bar and public. When their minds meet, unsigned opinions will result. When they differ, or if a conflict exists, majority views and the names of members who do not participate will appear. Members of the community are invited to contribute letters to the editor and/or columns about opinions expressed by the Editorial Advisory Board.
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