Consider these major local news stories of 2013:
1. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake pledges new speed camera system. We learn that the citizens of Baltimore are the proud owners of a couple of million dollars of faulty speed camera hardware and can rest assured that our public servants will get them back in business, regaining the city's position as the largest harvester of taxpayers through photo enforcement in the country.
2. Gov. Martin O'Malley says major health exchange problems are fixed. After announcing to the nation that Maryland would be a leader in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and with tens of millions of taxpayer funding and three years of development, we end up with one of the worst Obamacare rollouts in the country. After a couple of months, our esteemed leader declares the problem fixed and attempts to put in his rear view mirror as he continues laying his presidential groundwork — only to be forced to backtrack when the real-life status of the website is revealed in the press to be anything but fully functional.
3. State Corrections Secretary Gary D. Maynard steps down. This year, Baltimoreans and all Marylanders became the laughingstock of the nation when the extent of corruption at the Baltimore Detention Center was reported. Instead of firing this incompetent public servant, our esteemed governor offered a resounding vote of confidence in Mr. Maynard, and it wasn't until the bad news was due to be released to the media that this brazen bilker of taxpayer funds offered his resignation, triggering the final million-dollar jackpot.
4. Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance discovers a conflict of interest. After purging the prior ethically-challenged $260,000-per-year man from the top job at Baltimore County Public Schools, the school board bypassed local candidates, scoured the nation for a new superintendent and found someone whose resume was short on experience but long on political correctness. In spite of the long list of major problems in the district, Mr. Dance immediately awarded a massive no-bid consulting contract to a national firm, hired on as one of its consultants and began working on the weekends in Chicago. Instead of an ethics lesson, he ought to be sent packing and the job given to one of the many dedicated teachers in the district.
5. State and county officials weighing raises for themselves as public struggles. Twenty percent raises over the next four years for top officials? Why not? The people in the private sector of Maryland are doing great with all of those new government, health care and private sector minimum wage jobs being created. Its not as though we're struggling under the weight of massive government-inflicted cost increases, incredible income stagnation and a real estate collapse that has put us at third in the U.S. for housing foreclosures.
Now, what do you see? Is it just me or does anyone else sense a pattern here?
Gary Moyer, Baltimore
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