Sun and Post

You mean the “Washington Post” is NOT a liberal newspaper?

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Gregory Kane

Contrary to an assertion in my last column, at least one reader feels it isn’t. He didn’t want to give his name, but he made his point darned clear.

“Dear Mr. Kane: in your most recent “Baltimore Times” piece, you describe the Washington Post as ‘far from a conservative publication.’”

“This, if false:

  1. Editorially, under Fred Hiatt, the WP is now a neocon mouthpiece.
  2. If you recall, the WP endorsed Bob Ehrlich against Martin O’Malley in the 2006 gubernatorial race.
  3. More to the point, the WP’s assault on the Correctional Officers Bill of Rights is the publication’s virulent anti-union bent. The WP— i.e., the Graham family— has never gotten over a major strike by the typesetters’ union in the 1970s, which generated a case of anti-labor PTSD that has afflicted the newspaper ever since. If you were a regular reader of the Post, you would know this.”

Actually, in his e-mail, the reader referred to Ehrlich as “Bo(o)b Ehrlich.” Rather clever wording, but as O’Malley prattles on about the corruption scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center and the subsequent indictments of 13 corrections officers being a “positive achievement,” we all might want to ponder who the real boob is.

However, the reader was right: I am NOT a regular reader of the “Washington Post.” I only read enough of the paper to have learned that Peter Hermann, the former city editor and crime reporter for The Baltimore Sun, is now working for the Washington Post.

Hermann was nearly a legend at The Sun. I remember when I started working at the paper in 1993 that he was working the cop beat in the Anne Arundel County bureau.

Soon he was working the cop shop in the city, and was superb on both beats. He cranked out so many stories as a cop reporter in Anne Arundel County and

Baltimore City that reporters and editors had a nickname for him: The Hermannator.

Eventually editors sent Hermann to Jerusalem to work as the paper’s Middle East correspondent. Then he returned to the States and worked a bit as a city editor before returning to working the cop beat.

Hermann continued to hang in there as a faithful, loyal Sun reporter even after the turmoil of 2008 and 2009. In 2008, over 40 reporters and/or editors took management’s offer of a buyout. A plethora of talent walked out the door that summer.

In 2009, the paper purged a number of editors, including the head of the copy-editing department. I was stunned.

A newspaper with virtually no copy-editing department! Just how far was the Tribune Company, which owns The Sun, willing to go in ratcheting down journalistic standards?

I got my answer this past March— Sunday, March 3, 2013 to be exact— when I picked up a copy of the Sunday Sun.

There, on what is called the bottom fold of the newspaper, was a “summary of the news.” Here’s what was printed there:

MARYLAND

CALL FOR JUSTUCE: The family of LaRelle Ashlyn Amos, a young mother killed by a stray bullet on Labor Day weekend, urged witnesses to come forward as they gathered Saturday to mark the six months that have passed since her death.

Yes, on March 3, 2013, The “Baltimore Sun” did indeed issue a “call for justuce.” And you can bet there was nary a copy editor near the joint when that call was issued.

I have no idea why The Hermannator bolted from The Sun to work for the “Washington Post,” but I have a hunch that the Tribune Company’s lack of devotion to anything even remotely resembling journalistic standards had something to do with it.

O’Malley, O’Reilly and Cobor, Oh My!

This story about the federal indictments handed down regarding corruption at the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC) just keeps getting better and better or worse and worse, depending on your perspective!

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Gregory Kane

Let’s recap: in late April some 25 people were indicted on charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering and drug possession with intent to distribute.

Seven of those people were, at the time, BCDC inmates and members of the prison gang known as the Black Guerilla Family (BGF). Five were gang members, relatives or sympathizers not incarcerated and 13 were corrections officers, all of whom worked at the BCDC. All are female.

The indictments allege that the corrections officers helped the BGF smuggle drugs, cell phones and tobacco into the BCDC. Federal officials also say that four of the corrections officers had sexual relations with Tavon White, head of the BGF at the BCDC.

All four allegedly became pregnant with White’s children, one of them twice.

By any reasonable standard, what we have here is a mess. It might even be called a “putrid mess,” as one U.S. senator called America’s involvement in Vietnam back in the 1960s.

Enter Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley— a.k.a. the Notorious Martin O’Shameless— telling the press that the indictments are a “positive achievement.”

The proper words to describe what happened at the BCDC might be “low down, dirty, crying shame.” However, O’Shameless is a master at making his political failures look like victories.

Didn’t the man run for governor in 2006 on a record of failure? Didn’t he win?

Didn’t he commit the gaffe of the decade in 2010 when, running for re-election against former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, he called illegal immigrants “new Americans”? Didn’t his popularity surge after uttering such nonsense?

Any guy who can do that can certainly hoodwink Marylanders into thinking that what happened at the BCDC is a “positive achievement.”

But O’Shameless has presidential aspirations. He would be sorely mistaken in assuming that voters in the rest of the country are as sappy as the ones here in Maryland. And he would be just as mistaken if he believes that all of us are going to buy into his spiel that the protections that corrections officers get in a bill he signed into law three years ago didn’t help foster the culture of corruption.

It’s called the Correctional Officers’ Bill of Rights, which I’ve abbreviated to COBOR for the sake of simplicity.

If we listen to Jeff Pittman, a local representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, COBOR is pretty harmless. It doesn’t protect dirty, corrupt corrections officers at all.

“It’s not about protecting dirty correctional officers. It’s about protecting due-process rights of officers of integrity who are facing charges.”

Look, Pittman, I was born at night. But not last night, OK?

The fact is COBOR will, indeed, at some point protect dirty corrections officers. FBI agents that investigated the corruption at the BCDC acknowledged that.

According to a story that appeared on the Web site www.foxnews.com, “one FBI agent is now claiming the ‘rights’ helped shield bad apples from discipline,” and that “an affidavit attached to the indictment and written by an FBI agent clearly states that disciplining guards under the bill of rights ‘has proven to be very difficult, so cases are dropped.”

The piece de resistance comes from The Washington Post, far from a conservative publication.

“The absurd situation took root at least partly because….this bill of rights grants extraordinary rights to guards, including shielding them from threats of prosecution, transfer, dismissal or even disciplinary action during questioning for suspected wrongdoing.”

The “absurd situation” WP editors refer to is, no doubt, what happened at the BCDC. It’s so absurd that Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly has commented on it at least twice, in an attempt to do what most Marylanders will refuse to do: Hold O’Shameless accountable.

O’Malley has called O’Reilly’s comments about the BCDC mess a “cheap shot.” Methinks the shameless one doth whine too much.

Should baby killers be executed?

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Gregory Kane

There are baby killers among us. At least one, possibly three, of them killed little Carter Scott.

Carter was only 16-months-old. He was sitting in a red Chevy with his father, Rashaw Scott, at Cherry Hill’s Cherrydale Apartments around 7 p.m. the evening of May 25, 2013.

According to police and news reports, at least two gunmen, possibly three, riddled the car with at least 16 bullets. Both Carter and his father were hit.

The little boy died of his wounds. If those who committed this heinous act were indeed guilty, what would be the problem with executing them, these baby killers?

Well, our governor and most of our state legislators apparently have a big problem with it. The Legislature passed a bill to abolish capital punishment earlier this year, and Gov. Martin O’Malley was only too eager to sign the bill into law.

Oh, they felt quite noble about themselves. When the bill was passed, legislators cheered and clapped and patted themselves on the back.

NAACP head honcho Benjamin Todd Jealous could be seen in the throng, helping to lead the cheering. Abolishing the death penalty in Maryland was high on the NAACP’s agenda this year.

A question for Jealous: what are you going to do for little Carter Scott and his surviving relatives?

There’s no need for him to answer, because you know, I know and HE knows he’s going to do exactly jack diddly. So are those legislators. So is O’Malley.

Have you noticed the lack of outrage, the eerie silence coming from the abolish-the-death-penalty crowd about the death of little Carter?

Back when they were whooping and hollering to deep six the death penalty— in other words, back when they were all celebrating “Be Kind to the Homicidal Month”— we couldn’t get these people to shut the hell up.

Now a 16-month-old baby has been gunned down on Baltimore’s streets and all we get from these folks is their best Harpo Marx routine.

Perhaps that’s because they’re at their most eloquent when they’re advocating FOR criminals, instead of condemning them.

While our legislators have spent the last couple of years figuring out how to prevent murderers from getting their just desserts, two suspects in little Carter’s murder were running up quite the arrest record.

The two suspects that have been arrested and charged so far are 26-year-old Cornell Harvey and 20-year-old Eddie Tarver.

A visit to the website: www.courts.state.md reveals the arrest record for each.

It appears Harvey was the busier of the two, racking up arrests on charges of drug possession, robbery, armed robbery, second-degree assault, possession of a firearm with a felony conviction, illegal carrying of a handgun.

In May of 2011, Harvey was charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder but found not guilty.

Tarver’s record includes arrests for second-degree assault, drug possession and a handgun violation.

Both Harvey and Tarver are entitled to a presumption of innocence in the death of little Carter. But, if they’re convicted, given their criminal history and the nature of the crime— baby killing— what would be the reason why they SHOULDN’T be executed?

The death penalty isn’t a deterrent— opponents of it love to argue. But the argument has several flaws.

First, the death penalty is meant to be a PUNISHMENT, not a deterrent. That’s why it’s called the “death PENALTY,” not the “death DETERRENT.”

Second, the death penalty most certainly deters murderers from murdering again. Some of those on death row aren’t there for their first murders, but for, at the very least, their second.

The death penalty for career criminals who’ve committed more than one murder is justice, not, as opponents of capital punishment love to proclaim, “revenge.”

If Harvey and Tarver did indeed kill little Carter, then justice will elude them, courtesy of our governor and our Legislature.