It's a city I am proud to call my home, even with all its faults, fatalities and character defects of those that govern Charm City; it's still a city of neighborhoods that even outsiders fall in love with and end up calling home! It's the birthplace of one of the greatest baseball phenoms of all time, Cal Ripken; one of the most exhilarating author's in American history, Edgar Allan Poe; and the two most celebrated African-American attorneys and businessmen, Thurgood Marshall and Reginald F. Lewis; along with being home to the AFC North champion Ravens and playoff contending Orioles.
So how has 2012 changed the landscape of Baltimore City, and what does 2013 have in store for the 'City that Reads'? Well here is a glimpse into the highs and the lows of the past year – from this journalist's perspective!
1) The 20-year journey of one of Baltimore's most celebrated 'freedom fighters' in journalistic activism, Marc Steiner; and his continued pursuit for justice on the airwaves of one of Maryland's most historic African-American stations – WEAA 88.9FM – Morgan State University. “I started in radio twenty years ago, with one mic, a chair and a phone and told to make it happen,” says Steiner. And that he has! Creating the non-profit Center for Emerging Media in 2009, he has taken the Steiner Show, and even the Anthony McCarthy show, to greater heights; therefore, it is certainly my pleasure to encourage la-di-dotti and everybody to donate to this 501(c)3 tax-deductible organization – before Congress possible eliminates that possibility in 2013?
2) The Unites States Senate Debate sponsored by, and brought to Marylanders LIVE on-air by the home of the greatest black-owned radio outlet in Maryland and D.C., WOLB1010AM – Radio One. Morning Show Host Larry Young orchestrated a media coup with having the only live radio debate of the political season for the state's highest office on the ballot.
3) The emergence of online media outlets like this Examiner site – which has become one of the top ten internet news outlets in the country; and the creation of one news site in particular – Red Maryland. The right-wing blog shook things up in a town dominated by left-leaning Democrats, and has been a go-to outlet for conservatives and independents statewide.
4) Fox45 certainly takes the cake with television journalism; from their investment in the hiring of investigative journalist Stephen Janis, to the morning show on-air personalities like Patrice (Harris) Sanders – who broke many (male) Marylanders hearts (and probably some females as well) when she up and married a great man, Monte Sanders.
5) The greatest media story of the year without doubt has to be the on-air police stand-off of Baltimore Spectator Frank James 'Jimi' Mac Arthur (try saying that name three times straight). The local citizen journalist took to the online airwaves and social media site Twitter, in his 5-hour stand-off with the Baltimore City Police Department and their tactical unit known as SWAT. Making national headlines, along with baiting national media personalities into the discussion such as CNN's Roland Martin, Jimi certainly made people wake up to the power of an ever-changing media outlet known as the internet!
*The worst of journalism in 2012 was the absence of an icon in radio broadcast, WBAL's Ron Smith; who passed away late last year after a battle with cancer! RIP...
1) Maryland being one of four states to approve same-sex marriage at the polls this year, the 'Free State' – who has a terrible history of discrimination and racial profiling laws – became of the one most progressive states in the country with 52.4% of its voters approving a measure that had been shot down in 32-states prior when the measure appeared on the ballot. Also, it became a leader in immigration reform, at least in terms of education, with the passage of the controversial DREAM Act; which allows for undocumented students to receive tax breaks in both junior two-year colleges, as well as four-year institutions.
2) The approval of a local ballot initiative that now allows for independent and third party voters to be appointed to local boards and commissions; 80% of Baltimore voters rung the bell for Question L in November, making it the first jurisdiction in Maryland to change this antiquated law that locks out registered voters not affiliated with the two major parties (Republicans and Democrats).
3) The emergence of MdPetitions.com and the effective utilization of a 1914 constitutionally approved law that allows for citizen petition reforms to place Maryland General Assembly approved bills on the ballot for voter approval, or lack thereof. Though all three statewide referendum petitions failed at the polls, with voters approving Gay Marriage, the DREAM Act and the gerrymandered Congressional Redistricting Map; the procedure itself reinvigorated citizens who had thought their voice was lost in government.
4) The passage of an annual audits bill, that unfortunately became not-so annual having been watered down by the administration of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her gang of eight. However, to have a ballot petition that was supported by nearly 90% of the city's electorate, should show its sponsor, Councilman Carl Stokes, that the fight was certainly worth the effort.
5) The re-election of President Barack Obama was not just a Baltimore thang, but it certainly will have a monumental effect on the city moving forward, and has to be the most celebrated election story of 2012?
*The worst election policy had to be Question K, which legislators snuck by the citizens and then tried to retract their vote for it when they were put under fire. However, the policy to move the city elections to be aligned with the 2016 Presidential Elections, rather than moving to it to 2018 and aligned with the state's Gubernatorial Elections like the rest of the state and what citizens preferred, passed anyway – giving our current local officials 5-years in office instead of the 4-years approved in 2011.
1) The re-emergence of the seemingly dead franchise known as the Baltimore Orioles. After 15 consecutive years without a playoff appearance, the Angelos-owned baseball team of Charm City finally showed signs of life and made us proud by making it to the divisional playoffs.
2) The fifth straight season that the beloved Baltimore Ravens have taken this city to the NFL playoffs. Though the beginning of the year became more of the worst of, when Lee Evans dropped a TD pass that would have sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl against the N.Y. Giants – who they beat in 2001 for our only Super Bowl ring to-date; and of course the field goal kick that went wide left that would have at least taken us into overtime against the Patriots in that same AFC Championship game – the Ravens continue to make Baltimore proud, even with the shaky performances of QB Joe Flacco!
3) 'Hey diddle-diddle, Ray Rice up the middle', the check down play that will forever be talked about as possibly the best play and effort by a single player in NFL history; when RB Ray Rice took a 4th and 29 play that seemed to be the last play of a Ravens loss to the SD Chargers, and ended up with 31-yards and it being their resurgence in that game and led to a much needed victory!
4) The almost undefeated Baltimore Blast, the city's soccer franchise that many have abandoned and long forgotten about; has now come on as the elite team in the MISL – yet again!
5) The Dunbar Poets unbelievable high school football team, Michael Phelps being the most celebrated athlete in the world (and a Baltimore [County] native) and the football analysis of the most celebrated female sports gal on social media - @theNFLchick
*The most heartfelt story of the year, which if you were a DeadSkins fan would say RG3, a Vikings fan would say Adrien Peterson and a Broncos fan would say Peyton Manning; but hands down has to be Indianapolis Colts Coach Chuck Pagano, his successful battle with cancer and his team going from 2-14 to coming back home to Baltimore on Sunday to face the Ravens in the AFC Wild-Card game!
1) The departure of Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld was heartfelt to many, as was the Mayor overlooking his obvious replacement, Major Anthony Barksdale; yet, the appointment of his successor, Anthony Batts, seems to be working out pretty well – so far that is!
2) The cover-up of City Hall's Sex Scandal, which saw 9th District Councilman accused of sexual harassment of one of his all-female staff, which didn't seem to shock anyone downtown but was covered up by the powers that be, who informed this Examiner to sue them if I had a problem with it. And while I still plan to do so, the allegations made by employee Cameo Walker should at least be made available to the public that elects this man to office?
3) The water bill fiasco of 2012 has to be the worst mismanagement of government and political oversight of all-time? Having estimated, and in some cases made up, water bills issued to residents, some of whom lost their homes over, was bad; yet, the inaction by City Hall to act with at least a moratorium on house foreclosures because of these erroneous bill was even worst. Not to mention it was later revealed that big businesses and corporations in the city, including the city's beloved Zoo, hadn't paid thousands of dollars in their own overdue water bills for months, if not years; yet, some houses were being foreclosed on for overdue water bills as low as $300?
4) The initial refusal of the Mayor's Office to produce a economic impact report on a highly unpopular Grand Prix race that seems to only be supported by one person – the Mayor; was a slap in a face to the voters who believed the Mayor when she said her office would be one with a foundation of transparency? Guess that was only an election ploy/promise that went out the window she decided to open it to let out the stench of her latest gaffe, when she decided to offer phone contracts to those she wouldn't even share with her colleagues – the City Council President and Comptroller?
5) The 13-officer related homicides that remain on the books for 2012, none of which resulting in any charges being filed against these officers sworn to 'protect and serve' the community – not kill'em! Including that of Anthony Anderson, who the coroner's office declared a homicide, debunking the lie told by these officers that he must have choked off the fictitious drugs they said he had swallowed?
Best (or most transformational) politicos of 2012:
1) Governor Martin O'Malley, for placing his moral ideals aside for his presidential aspirations and following two steps behind New York Governor Cuomo's lead on his push for the legalization of Gay Marriage, along with the Dream Act and expanded gambling in which he opposed when it was Governor Robert Ehrlich's idea? Also could be on the Worst Of side for his push to deselect the PG County's Democratic State Central Committee's selection of Greg Hall to fill the void left by Delegate Tiffany Alston - which was Doug Gansler's Worst Of gaffe of the year by offering an opinion contrary to the law - again going contrary to the words of Maryland's governing document – the state constitution.
2) Dan Bongino, the Republican official who has never served a day in elective office; yet, became a conservative darling statewide in this year's run for U.S. Senate – which he lost but built a serious ground campaign of followers.
3) Councilman Carl Stokes, for his leadership against mayoral budget cuts and the closures of area rec centers, pushed for reform in the water bill fiasco and led the fight to finally get audits on the ballot and approved for at least the Top 13 city agencies on a quadrennial basis.
4) Delegate Neil Parrott, for his successful creation of MDPetitions.com and the three ballot petitions the GOP were able to get on the ballot this year.
5) First term, and first year, of Councilmen Brandon Scott and Nick Mosby, the two youngest members on the Baltimore City Council; and their leadership in policy from the grading of food establishments to a push to have parental or adult supervision of children entering liquor establishments, respectively.
*The most heartfelt void of transformational elected officials would have to be the passing of former state senator Clarence Mitchell III, aka the Bear. A mentor, friend, brother, father and son of civil rights icons, Clarence Mitchell Jr and Juanita Jackson-Mitchell; C3 was a giant amongst men, an unforgettable and compassionate leader who was the youngest person elected to the Maryland House of Delegates!
**A few state officials that certainly make the list are: fist term PG County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks and her two-years of leadership, second term Howard County Executive Ken Ulman; and newly elected Chair of the Black Caucus, Delegate Aisha Braveboy and her fight to stop the building of another Youth Jail in Baltimore.
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