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Tomlinson: A trio of fools worthy of pity

Those of us who are active on social media can count on friends, family, and acquaintances posting on April 1 that they are unexpectedly expecting or abruptly moving to Europe.

These are, of course, nothing more than innocent pranks perpetrated in honor of April Fools’ Day. While some of us may find ourselves on the receiving end of an April Fools’ Day joke today, some in the public eye have been quite foolish for the past several weeks. Three Marylanders decided a few weeks back that April 1 could not come soon enough and chose to make fools of themselves a little early this year.

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Last month, the chairwoman of Maryland’s Democratic party, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, decided to deal the first joker of spring. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Gov. Larry Hogan stated that he came from “the Ronald Reagan school of politics.” Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, is a conservative icon and is one of the most popular presidents in modern times, having carried 49 out of 50 states in 1984 in a landslide re-election. Reagan was also known for cultivating cordial relations with those on the other side of the aisle, and was known to tip back a beer with liberal Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill after punching out of the Oval Office for the day. It comes as no surprise that as one of our nation’s most popular governors, Hogan would model himself after “The Gipper.”

In response to the governor’s quote, Cummings publicly stated, “With this, Larry Hogan promises to be a dog whistle white nationalist instead of a Trumpian white nationalist.” Not only did the chairwoman accuse President Reagan of using dog whistle politics, or coded language, to preach and promote racism during his political career, but also referred to Hogan as a white nationalist.

Hogan has poured record amounts of money into public education in Maryland, with Baltimore City receiving a disproportionate share of the pie. The governor has also led the effort to combat crime and opioid abuse, issues that heavily impact minorities. For Cummings to make claims that the governor has ignored or insulted minorities and underserved communities is laughable at best. Only a fool would find it offensive for someone to compare himself to the president known as “The Great Communicator.”

Not to be outdone, Cummings’ fellow Baltimorean, Mayor Catherine Pugh, is starring as the jester in a scandal that continues to unravel. While she was serving as a board member for the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), one of the largest private employers in the state, the UMMS purchased 100,000 copies of Pugh’s Healthy Holly children’s books that she authored, for a cool half-a-million dollars.

Pugh failed to report her interest in Healthy Holly LLC and the transaction with UMMS on her financial disclosure forms with the Maryland State Ethics Commission while serving as a state senator. Furthermore, when she completed her Baltimore City Board of Ethics financial disclosure forms as the Mayor of Baltimore, Pugh managed to disclose that she held an interest in Healthy Holly LLC, but fell short of reporting that she was a UMMS board member, and that her company had done business with the UMMS. To top it all off, as of last week, no one can say where half of the 100,000 books that were purchased and meant for schools and daycare centers, ended up. Many are speculating that many of these books may have never even been printed. Most recently, nearly 9,000 copies of the book were found in a Baltimore school district warehouse collecting dust. Whether it was an oversight, as Pugh claims, or intentional, her actions are troubling and dare I say, foolish.

Last week, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh drove down to Washington D.C. to defend Maryland’s gerrymandering of congressional districts before the Supreme Court, jamming, no doubt, to the classic “Everybody Plays The Fool” made famous by The Main Ingredient and later covered by the likes of Aaron Neville.

Last November, a federal district court ruled that the composition of Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, which previously included Carroll County before the 2011 redistricting, violated the First Amendment, and decided that the state would need to draw a new map for the district before the 2020 congressional election. Frosh, proudly representing the Democratic party instead of the people of Maryland, appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the case was heard last Tuesday.

How anyone can argue with a straight face that Maryland’s 6th Congressional district, and the state’s other seven congressional districts are not gerrymandered to benefit the Democratic party is beyond me. Former Gov. Martin O’Malley, who oversaw the 2011 redistricting, even admitted that the congressional districts were designed to damage the Republican party. O’Malley admitted in a 2017 legal deposition that “partisan politics plays a role in redistricting.” Hogan, who appeared outside of the Supreme Court before and after the case was heard, said to the press, "This is not a fight between the right and the left. This is a fight between right and wrong.” Frosh can put his blinders and ear muffs on, but the facts are there. Like the song goes, “It may be factual, may be cruel. I ain't lying. Everybody plays the fool.”

As you make your way through April Fools’ Day today, try not to fall victim to a practical joke or hoax. There is no reason to make a fool out of yourself when the aforementioned trio have the market cornered. To paraphrase Mr. T as Clubber Lang in “Rocky III,” I don’t hate Cummings, Pugh, and Frosh, but I pity the fools.

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