With another mayoral election, for all intents and purposes, behind us, I have to wonder if we blew another chance! With historically low voter turn out, an apathetic electorate usually pushes the incumbent button – at least at the state and local levels. We all know what happened to most Democrats in the last national election – pretty much a wipeout with the exception of Maryland (and don’t get me started on that)!
Is the general consensus in Baltimore that while Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is widely considered to lack leadership, vision or enthusiasm for the job, she’s the “devil we know for the devil we don’t,” as the saying goes? The other “also-rans” never really caught on with the possible spike to voter interest in Otis Rolley. As they trolled to the end, all the candidates seemed to get caught up in their own personal implosion. All seemed to have an issue or two that mysteriously made its way into the headlines!
As the country struggles on all levels – political, economic, social – we seem desperate for change, but clueless as to what it looks like. Too much fear of upsetting the apple cart or no viable candidates on the horizon to motivate, inspire and lead us… somewhere… anywhere but where we are! This isn’t working at any level, and yet we continue to do the same thing. Perhaps everyone is caught up in dealing with their own private hells and just trying to survive that we can’t possible take on someone else’s issues! “Let the other guy fix it, I don’t have time.”
And why is it that the very people we think should get into public service never seem to do so? Rudy Giuliani was just in Charm City last week to keynote the Small Business Survival Summit. He talked about the anniversary of 9/11 and how it changed him – and us for that matter – forever. Giuliani is a no-nonsense, unfiltered guy who has shown his love and compassion for our country. The problem is, guys like that rarely get elected. True business guys and gals would have no appetite for the public bureaucracy and red tape, an inefficiency that plagues government. I can almost hear the voices from any government building or agency saying, “we close at five” or “that’s not my job.” Is it too much to ask for government to be run like a business? Herein lies that problem: Whose business is it? Who has skin in the game? Where’s the risk to go with the reward? Who has the power to make decisions regardless of what’s popular? The list goes on but you see where I’m headed!
This chronic problem will not go away until the electorate rises up or more incentive is created for business-minded folks to go into public service. Until that time, we’ll have the same folks vying for jobs that they can coast through until the possibility of cashing out in the private sector or, most likely, coasting into retirement and a fat government pension. Does Sheila Dixon really get something like $90,000 a year for life as a former disgraced mayor? I think she does! Who thought that would be money well spent?
Should we be hopeful that Mayor Rawlings-Blake will get her second wind, have an epiphany or start taking ginseng and Centrum One-A-Day High Performance in her first real term? What hope or experience do we have that might ever happen? And so, I ask you, another blown chance or just none available? Don’t complain, Baltimore, when four years from now, streets are dirty, crime is up, schools are broken, residents are leaving and we’re left with the same cast of characters, expecting a different result!
For those of us who were born and raised in the city and remember the “Do it Now” mantra of William Donald Schaefer, we know it’s possible. That’s the heartbreaker. Schaefer created a mold that no one has been able to fill since he left. He always said being Mayor of Baltimore was his favorite job. Are we sure he had no kids? Let’s start turning over stones to find that Schaefer clone!