Ban on reporter part of a larger prob­lem

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND VOICES - Mark This­tel, Bal­ti­more

Congratulations to The Sun for tak­ing a stand con­cern­ing a col­league, Ken­neth Burns of WYPR, who has been ex­iled by Mayor Stephanie Rawl­ings-Blake from all post-Board of Es­ti­mates news con­fer­ences on the grounds that he is a threat, pre­sum­ably phys­i­cal (“Let Ken­neth Burns in the room,” Oct. 17). No ev­i­dence, no due process and no re­course for Mr. Burns or WYPR — just a may­oral edict wor­thy of a gar­den­va­ri­ety banana repub­lic some­where.

I en­deav­ored to look up when the next Board of Es­ti­mates meet­ing would be held so that I and/or my wife and/or who­ever else might be in­ter­ested in do­ing so might show up to lodge a cit­i­zen protest, or at the very least ask Her High­ness for an an­swer to Mr. Burns’ very rea­son­able and ap­pro­pri­ate ques­tion about whether the Bal­ti­more Po­lice Depart­ment’s sta­tus as a state agency im­pacts her abil­ity to make the kinds of re­forms she be­lieves are nec­es­sary af­ter the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s scathing re­port of some weeks ago.

What I found from the Bal­ti­more City Comptroller’s own web­site are the rules passed in 2014 con­cern­ing who may speak and who may not speak at such meet­ings. It is dif­fi­cult if not im­pos­si­ble for any­one to say or ask any­thing at these meet­ings that is not ap­proved of by those pre­sid­ing over the meet­ing. We pay for these meet­ings! The mat­ters dis­cussed are en­tirely per­tain­ing to how our tax dol­lars are be­ing spent or might be spent in the fu­ture. Of all the meet­ings held by the city and its fear­ful lead­ers, this is the one where pub­lic com­ment is most im­por­tant and where the role of the press is most im­por­tant.

Mayor Rawl­ings-Blake has for years clois­tered her­self in the tower of Bal­ti­more’s bu­reau­cracy at a time when the city is most in need of vis­i­ble, en­er­gized lead­er­ship. Now, she ap­par­ently is too fear­ful to even field a rea­son­able ques­tion from a pub­lic ra­dio reporter. Un­der those 2014 rules, we are deprived all ac­cess to our elected of­fi­cials and the abil­ity to par­tic­i­pate in pub­lic pro­cesses which we pay for and de­pend on. This in­ef­fec­tual mayor has but weeks left in of­fice but the legacy of her ad­min­is­tra­tion will live on in the cul­ture of fear and iso­la­tion and ex­ec­u­tive priv­i­lege that she has in­stilled at the high­est level of our mu­nic­i­pal man­age­ment.

Is it any won­der the state does not trust the city, nor does any other informed per­son, to ad­dress the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s re­port re­spon­si­bly and en­act mean­ing­ful re­form within the po­lice depart­ment? If Mayor Rawl­ings-Blake can’t stand up to a reporter, how can she stand up to the Bal­ti­more Po­lice Depart­ment?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.