Baltimore City Power Rankings: Rod Rosenstein, Jimmy's Restaurant, Baltimore Police, more

Baltimore Police
(Alex Fine)

↑ Rod Rosenstein

Tapped in late January (but as yet to be confirmed) as President Donald Trump's second in command at the Justice Department, Rosenstein—the only U.S. Attorney appointed by George W. Bush and retained by Barack Obama—is set to leave Maryland as a corruption fighter, having just indicted seven city cops. He steps into the Trump administration as a clean hand, which is extra good, as his purported boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, having been caught lying to congress about his own talks with Russia's ambassador, just hurriedly announced his recusal in any investigations into the Trump team's ties to Russia. That means Rosenstein will likely be pivotal in the ongoing investigation into those Russian ties, which appear to include diplomats, spies, bankers, and mobsters. One hopes Rosenstein's Baltimore experience has stood him in good stead.


↔ Ben Carson

Former Hopkins brain surgeon and presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson won confirmation as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development last week, sparking comparatively little controversy in TrumpLand—at least, not until he referred to slaves forcibly brought to the US in ships as "immigrants" in his first speech to HUD. Though he has no experience strongg a bureaucracy and, after losing the primary to Trump, Carson had previously said he did not think himself qualified to head a federal agency, Trump gamely picked him for the post overseeing a $50 billion budget housing 4.5 million households, and 58 U.S. Senators said "fine." Apparently congenitally unable to fully open his eyes, Carson has yet to be accused of any illicit Russian ties. And that counts as a win!

↓ Jimmy's Restaurant

Hey, business owners and entrepreneur types can do whatever they want with their ventures, but it was a bit disheartening to learn the new owner of Jimmy's Restaurant, a decades-old diner in Fells Point, planned to go upscale. And it felt a bit craven after that new owner, Rudy Keskin, had previously indicated that he didn't intend on changing much in the fabled eatery. And it became 100 percent icky when Keskin told the Baltimore Business Journal he would continue to call his new creation Jimmy's Restaurant. Those who knew the real Jimmy's—including a number of politicians, whose love of the diner made it an institution of power on par with Chick and Ruth's in Annapolis—know that it is dead. While it's true that nothing lasts forever, there's still reason to be upset when something that was beloved goes away—especially when it goes away for no good reason at all.

↓ Boss Hög

Last week the governor declared a state of emergency in the state's heroin epidemic and pledged $50 million in funding for prevention and treatment programs. This is, of course, a good thing. But it was also something he promised as far back as December 2014, after Hög had won the election but not yet been sworn into office. Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford chaired a task force on heroin in the middle of these events, but if the problem was so dire more than two years ago to yield the promise of a state-of-emergency declaration, why is the funding only happening now? Slow grind of bureaucracy, perhaps. But the real kicker was when Hög appeared on WBAL Radio to talk about the current gridlock with funding city schools and called the system an "absolute disaster." Listen, the situation on North Avenue is not pretty and hasn't been for years, but when that is wielded in a fight over money, it comes off as petty. And it is yet another shot at the city to the delight of Hög's county base. Tying this all together, let us not forget that the "heroin epidemic" only became a thing when it spread to the counties. Business as usual.

↓ Baltimore Police

Although it's just a tiny fraction of the city's 2,500-plus police officers, the arrest and pretrial detention of six veteran detectives and their sergeant on federal racketeering charges casts a huge pall over the department. Now, hundreds of gun seizures are in jeopardy because the men who made those collars are accused of thuggery, shakedowns, and theft. Cops who knew these cops are saying they suspected all along, prompting more questions about the department's culture. And who the fuck approved all that bogus overtime?