When Gregg Bernstein tossed his hat into the ring in July the pundits didn’t give him a chance. Then the Police Commissioner, Frederick Bealefeld III, put a sign on his lawn showing his support for Mr. Bernstein. Pat Jessamy’s vehement protests against the commissioner catapulted Mr. Bernstein’s candidacy into the limelight. She didn’t have the wisdom to drop the subject, and thus unwittingly became Gregg Bernstein’s unpaid publicist.
She claimed that Gregg would become a “rubber stamp” for the police department and she opined that Baltimore would become a “police state.”
More recently her supporters have campaigned on issues of race. Unhappy with one of Mr. Bernstein’s campaign ads the local NAACP demanded that he pull the ad. They threatened to rally and protest if he did not acquiesce to their demands. He did not. The NAACP did not act on their threat. This suggested that they can no longer muster popular support. Next Heber Brown III announced that Mr. Bernstein’s “strategy has primarily focused on incarceration and the criminalization of Black people.”
He offered no evidence to support this accusation. He wrote that “Bernstein would be another arrow in the quiver of Martin O’Malley’s “lock ‘em all up” strategy.” Bringing our Governor’s ethic heritage into the discussion he quipped that the Governor “is counting on the Afrikan community in Baltimore to march around in Irish green and vote for him anyway despite the fact that he wishes to lock up their children!”
It speaks ill of Jessamy strategists that they failed to rein in this supporter. Mr. Brown has authored articles with titles such as “Black People Should Control The Baltimore City Public School System.” Any attempt by the Jessamy camp to claim that their campaign is not about race became hypocrisy when they failed to distance themselves from this sort of nonsense
People who have lost their loved ones to city violence will vote who may have never voted before. The political establishment is not ready for this. During primary season they place bets on the fact that merely having the support of the liberal establishment is enough to win. This time it isn’t.
Statistics don’t mean much here in the city. We know the revolving door moves just slow enough so that the bad guys can take graduate courses at Jessup or Hagerstown to hone up on their skills before they return to Mobtown. We aren’t stupid, as the incumbents would like to believe. We know, for instance, that the dramatic drop in rape cases was not the result of good police work or effective prosecutions. It was the result of under-reporting.
Similarly under the Mayor-ship of Martin O’Malley the police had a policy of “zero tolerance” that created a statistical spike that becomes misleading when used to represent a drop in actual crime. At every debate Ms. Jessamy points out proudly that these figures come from the F.B.I. What she fails to point out though is that the F.B.I. collects the data from local agencies. The Bureau clearly states that “Since crime is a sociological phenomenon influenced by a variety of factors, the FBI discourages … using the data as a measurement of law enforcement effectiveness.” My goal is not to blame the police or to blame the former mayor, but rather to point out that the statistics Ms. Jessamy uses are flawed.
Mr. Bernstein’s statistics reflect ‘conviction’ rates. Ms. Jessamy counters with ‘commitment’ rates. This merry go round would be a delightful diversion save the fact that my neighbors are being shot, stabbed, and beaten to death.
This Tuesday Baltimore voters must decide whether to re-elect Ms. Jessamy, who sees the role of top prosecutor as that of a social worker, or to elect Gregg Bernstein, who sees the role of top prosecutor as that of being, well, a prosecutor.