Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
NewsOpinionReaders Respond

Committee bungles Harrison replacement

ElectionsEthics

On Friday, Feb.15, the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee convened at the Oliver Community Center to select a candidate to assume the seat once held by Delegate Hattie Harrison, a longtime political stalwart in East Baltimore ("Community leader picked to replace delegate," Feb. 19). Ten candidates interviewed for the position, and three of the candidates were also members of the committee conducting the interviews. The oddity was that at no time did the chair or committee members think it was inappropriate for them to participate in deciding who should succeed Delegate Harrison. On several occasions, Chairman Scherod C. Barnes was questioned about obvious conflicts of interests to which he expressed having no qualms. For those with the temerity to question the process, they were told the Maryland Constitution allows such a vote and the candidates were all known to the district and have done good work followed by another two minutes of complete obfuscation.

Yet, several issues remain. It is unclear why the committee would not utilize its two at-large members to replace those seeking the position (not that it would have changed the outcome), but it would have given the perception that the proceedings were above board. It is also unclear why committee members who were also candidates did not recuse themselves from the vote. It appears that ethics is but another area to be overlooked when seeking a legislative replacement. Here was a unique opportunity for the three committee member candidates to rise above others and show leadership and honor and they failed the test miserably opting for typical East Baltimore politics instead. A huge disappointment! And finally, why did one committee member consistently submit an ineligible ballot by selecting two persons when the instructions specifically asked panel members to vote for only one? Is the work of the central committee so unimportant that abrogation of duty is thought to be comical? Unfortunately, this was not the most bizarre act of the evening.

Then there were the candidate questions. It is unclear why the interview questions were so pedestrian in nature. They included: Who are the city and state legislators in the 45th District? What do you believe is the role of a state legislator? Tell us about a situation when you had to deal with a very upset person. What was your approach and how did you deal with it? Why do you believe you are the best qualified person for the position? Yes, it is important for the potential candidate to know basic civics. However, the 45th District needs a person who can think critically and offer policy and position statements on the myriad challenges of the district such as state budget, education, jobs, housing, health care, environment, gun crime, public safety issues, taxes and fees, gambling, etc. None of these questions was asked of the candidates. It is unclear what skill sets the committee was seeking in this appointment which has the capacity to extend into a four-year term. Are the difficulties of the 45th so unremarkable that we have no need to set a high bar in terms of requiring candidates to be deep thinkers with some degree of mental dexterity?

If the politics, ethics, leadership, and questions asked on Friday are any indication of 45th District's capacity, then the trajectory of this district will continue to be in serious trouble economically, politically and otherwise.

Brenda Pridgen, Baltimore

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts
  • Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
    Related Content
    ElectionsEthics
    • Oliver Community Association director nominated to replace Del. Hattie Harrison

      Committee members needed to re-vote twice to pick replacement during heated meeting

    • Brown has a lot to answer for, too
      Brown has a lot to answer for, too

      Larry Hogan should release the questionnaire from the National Rifle Association but only as soon as Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown answers all the questions about the rollout of the health exchange. After all, he was in charge.

    • O'Malley should ban fracking
      O'Malley should ban fracking

      Based on Robert Lawrence's commentary, "Ban fracking, O'Malley" (Oct. 10), we have to be ever grateful that Gov. Martin O'Malley and the legislature decided to "look before they leap" by requiring a health study before authorizing hydraulic fracturing to drill...

    • Balt. Co. bond bills a mystery
      Balt. Co. bond bills a mystery

      A few days ago, I received a sample ballot from the Baltimore County Board of Elections. I am a recently arrived resident of Maryland and consider this a worthwhile public service. Other states I have lived in did not provide such a guide.

    • Texas ID law is fair and necessary
      Texas ID law is fair and necessary

      The claim there is a lack of evidence of voter fraud is not a good enough reason to dismiss the voter photo identification law here in Texas as unconstitutional ("Messing with voting rights in Texas,The Sun's recent editorial also claims the ID law will do, is a complete fabrication...

    • U.S. had role in Iraq's chemical weapons
      U.S. had role in Iraq's chemical weapons

      I want my local newspaper to be fearless and to report the unvarnished truth. I am aware that opinion writers have a different role from reporters. However, in expressing an opinion, one must place everything on the table. This came to mind when I read Jules Witcover's commentary,...

    Comments
    Loading