March 22, 2017 – Segment 3
We hosted a very special archive edition of The Marc Steiner Show, my October 2002 interview with the late great Irish poet Seamus Heaney.
We hosted a very special archive edition of The Marc Steiner Show, my October 2002 interview with the late great Irish poet Seamus Heaney.
We hosted a very special archive edition of The Marc Steiner Show, Marc’s 1996 interview with boxing legend Joe Frazier!
You hear from some of Baltimore’s talented new young journalistic voices. This spring I have had the honor to work with students at UMBC, the University of Maryland Baltimore County, on a project called Baltimore Traces: Communities in Transition, an interdisciplinary project that brought students into Baltimore City to study neighborhoods, where they conducted interviews with local residents and workers.
We’re excited to bring you the UMBC student-produced radio stories that came out of these courses. We hear about Station North, a neighborhood that has been undergoing a great deal of transition,
The number of households relocated from the Middle East neighborhood of East Baltimore because of the 1.8 billion dollar, 88 acre redevelopment project run by EBDI [East Baltimore Development, Inc], is inconsistent across sources. The website for EBDI states 584 families have been relocated to “healthier neighborhoods” since the non-profit organization’s founding in 2003. The website does not seem to have any data more recent than 2010. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a partner in the project, states that as of December 2010, 700 families have been relocated. The Community Housing and Relocation Work Group [CHRWG], which was established after the Save Middle East Action Committee [SMEAC] disbanded, states that more than 700 families have been displaced in the past decade.
Dr. Lawrence Brown, Assistant Professor of public health at Morgan State University and supporter of CHRWG, asserts that this displacement of the East Baltimore residents, whatever the number, is an American apartheid. Brown defines this as a government supported and enforced systematic segregation, displacement and land dispossession of a group of people. These actions advantage one group while disadvantaging another. Displacement disrupts a culture and cultural legacy. Residents are removed from their homes, their neighbors, and the community they know. It is an abuse of eminent domain.
Social activist Jude Lombardi wants entire communities, not just the affected individuals, to recognize this as gentrification and displacement and to participate in the fight against it. One suggestion by Lombardi, who is involved with the Gentrification (k)NOT Project in Station North, is to claim historical preservation of a neighborhood, such as Middle East. She encourages organization and participation by all; not just the people and community directly affected but everyone in the area. Whole participation can only be done when all who live in the area recognize that the displacement of one group does have a negative impact on the area as a whole. Lombardi encourages us to remember that we are a community. It is not just about a collective few, but an overall us. It is the we that can change this.
“This redevelopment that involves eminent domain and displacement is a continuation of [urban removal]. And I think in order for us to combat it, we need to understand this history, we need to understand the totality of it, so we can apply solutions that will actually fit the problem. And the problem is much more massive than I think we’ve ever really understood. It is always involved for black people and poor people in this country.” -Dr. Lawrence Brown
“All of these processes and policies that contributed to pushing people out to certain areas or containing people to certain areas is all a part of this legacy of American apartheid.” -Dr. Lawrence Brown
“It’s not uncommon for one of the techniques to be to bring in artists to improve a neighborhood…Bring the artists in to make it better.” -Jude Lombardi
“We need to co-create a common vision, we need to articulate our desires, create networks for generating a society that we desire as a group; not just some of us but we.” -Jude Lombardi
Since 2002, when it was first established as a non-profit, the Baltimore Outreach Services homeless shelter has been more than just temporary housing for homeless women and children; it has been a place of hope. Those who seek out B.O.S. for its twenty-four hour emergency shelter services are soon provided with the resources needed to move beyond unemployment and homelessness. B.O.S. aids each woman in finding employment, finding permanent housing, and finding a sense of self empowerment that comes with making positive changes in one’s life.
For the past five years, the population of homeless women and children has stayed consistent in its numbers and the forty beds that are near full every night at the B.O.S. shelter is evidence of that. The shelter has about a ninety-seven percent utilization rate and gets around twenty calls a day from individuals seeking help. B.O.S. is one of only four shelters for homeless women and children.
Upon entry into the shelter, each woman meets with a case worker who provides in depth assessments and the aid needed to advance into a job and a permanent home. Director of Job Development Cathy Wood-Ruppert makes sure the women in the shelter are as prepared as possible to find employment. Writing resumes and conducting mock job interviews are just some of the ways the women prepare for securing a job.
Other services offered by the shelter include educational assistance, substance abuse treatment, and life skills classes led by trained social workers and therapists. One of the successful facets of the shelter is the Culinary Arts Program run by Chef Connie Crabtree. Students learn from Chef Crabtree and her thirty years of experience working as a professional chef and kitchen manager. Graduates of the eight week program find themselves ready for a job in a professional kitchen.
There are also programs for the children living at the shelter. There is a daycare for infants and toddlers as well as an after-school program for all ages. Certified teachers lead educational activities, organize field trips, and assist in homework help. The staff at B.O.S. creates a stable and safe environment for the children who have to deal with the effects of homelessness.
Located in the Federal Hill neighborhood, Baltimore Outreach Services has seen its relationship with the community evolve positively. Founding Executive Director Karen Adkins acknowledges that in the beginning, residents had questions about what it would be like to have a homeless shelter in the neighborhood. But, the success of the shelter is in part due to the support of the Federal Hill community. The community association donates to the shelter and community residents like Anne West have become dedicated volunteers.
Staff members like Shelter Director Carla Richardson and Deputy Director Donna Rich are working hard to ensure that the shelter continues into another decade of success. This includes not only working with the women but creating and maintaining those partnerships within the surrounding community and with local businesses and organizations; organizations like Baltimore Outreach Services that are willing to give these women a helping hand.
City Council Ordinance 12-0159 known as the Local Hiring Bill has invoked criticism and caused nothing less than controversy since its introduction to the city council in November of 2012. The ordinance is now on its third reading and in June the council will take its final vote. Sponsored by President Bernard C. Young and championed by Councilwoman for the 14th District, Mary Pat Clarke, the law would require “employers benefited by City contracts and subsidies to take measures to hire Baltimore City residents.” It targets contracts worth at least 300 thousand dollars and government subsidies of at least 5 million dollars. The “measures” to which the ordinance refers include posting new jobs to MOED [Mayor’s Office of Employment Development] seven days before advertising publicly as well as filing monthly reports that highlight the number of employees needed, new jobs created and listed, new hires, and other statistics to keep the employer accountable to the mandatory 51 percent.
The Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Business Journal, the Greater Baltimore Committee, and even the City’s legal department have criticized this ordinance; calling it unconstitutional. Marta Mossburg, Columnist for The Baltimore Sun and The Frederick News-Post, is concerned not only with the constitutionality of the ordinance but also with its punitive measures. Complex issues like education, job preparedness, poverty, and health all factor into the city’s unemployment rate of 9.4 percent (the report for April 2013 according to Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation) but this ordinance will address none of these issues. Mossburg asserts that “top-down” approaches like the Local Hiring Bill do not benefit the city’s economy and this move will only cement Baltimore’s reputation as “anti-business.” Cory McCray, a labor activist and co-founder of the B.E.S.T. Democratic Club, is in favor of the ordinance. He believes that if this ordinance becomes a law, it will inspire those in need of work to learn necessary skills; skills that will also qualify these individuals for those jobs posted by employers.
“We, the City, need to do what we can to get a return on our investment. It is untrue that we do not, in Baltimore City, have the kinds of skilled workers that people need…because they don’t even know where the opportunities are.” -Mary Pat Clarke
“This law is very well intentioned but it assumes that these job coming into the city match the skills of the workers in the city unemployed.” -Marta Mossburg
“We’ve increased the graduation rate in Baltimore high schools but if you go to the community colleges and talk to the incoming students, a majority of those students do not have basic writing and math skills. How do you expect to get any job with that?” -Marta Mossburg
“It challenges the conversation and we need to have it. This is a time where people want to go to work and we can’t be scared to have the conversation.” -Cory McCray
On Monday June 3, the city council unanimously approved ordinance 12-0159, the Local Hiring bill. According to Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s spokesman, the ordinance will become law without the signature of the mayor and will take effect six months from now.
Just days after her inaugural address as President of Towson University, Dr. Maravene Loeschke found herself addressing students, faculty, and staff on issues of a serious and immediate significance; issues that have pushed Towson University into public scrutiny and controversy in the past year.
There were rumors of a racist group who claimed to be a part of the university and threatened to participate in aggressive vigilante actions on campus. The Students and staff and the neighboring communities paid close attention to how Towson could maintain a balance between students’ rights to free speech and encouraging an atmosphere of respect and diversity on campus. Amidst these pressures, Dr. Loeschke and an appointed task force had to work to address and resolve problems surrounding the athletics program; including the possibility of cutting men’s sports.
In recent years Towson’s athletics program has fallen out of compliance with federal law and Title IX responsibilities. The university failed to adjust its funding for women’s sports which is to be maintained in proportion to the female student population. The university’s funding remains at about 52 percent while the percentage of female students has grown to about 60 percent. A terrible truth is that Towson cannot afford to support its current 20 teams. Dr. Loeschke had to look at the long term financial stability of the university and the possibility of keeping the sports teams competitive; especially basketball and football which generate enough revenues to finance most of the other athletics on campus. In the end the decision was made to cut men’s soccer and baseball, something Loeschke admits, was the hardest decision she has ever had to make.
“There is a fiscal reality. Do you have enough money to support that many teams or don’t you? And we don’t.”
“They are in my opinion a racist group and promote white supremacy and truly are engaged in disruption of the campus on those issues.”
“We were able to come together as a campus and set forums for discussion…[They] are continuing and it allows students to come up with alternative ways of dealing with that kind of confrontation, sometimes fear…feelings of disrespect.”
“There is an opportunity to determine what you have to stop doing. It’s an opportunity to stop and say, ‘Is everything we’ve always been doing, still a part of our mission and still where we are going?'”
“A quarter of Maryland’s teachers come from Towson. We supply the second largest number of nurses. We have the largest undergraduate business major in the state. We’re very big in STEM…”
President Obama makes his first trip to the Middle East this week. He will visit with leaders from Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. While many presidents in the past have traveled to the Middle East promoting plans and ideas for a peaceful resolution between Israel and Palestine, there is no official statement from the White House on Obama’s intentions. Without official word, many are wondering about the purpose of this trip. If Obama were to advocate a resolution between Israel and Palestine, how would it be addressed? And, after decades of violence, protests, and failed negotiations, is a permanent peaceful resolution still possible? Rashid Khalidi, Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University and Jason Isaacson, Director of Government and International Affairs for the American Jewish Committee acknowledge the symbolism in an American president traveling to Israel but disagree on its substantive value.
“Besides general reassurance to Israel and the Israeli people. He clearly is not carrying with him any major initiatives in so far as Palestinian and Israeli issues are concerned. [And] the topic of Iraq…is not a burning one of the moment.” -Rashid Khalidi
“It is a substantive trip in terms of the symbolism of America’s alliance with Israel and America’s support for the two-state solution…” -Jason Isaacson
“What the American public should expect of the American presidents is that they support peace in that region and that they will help the parties reach peace between themselves. United States has profound security interests in the region.” -Jason Isaacson
“Israel constitutes a huge drag on the American interest, quite frankly. …since the Cold War, it’s really arguable that Israel has gotten the United States into a lot of problems.” -Rashid Khalidi
“[The Palestinians] are very wary of their own public opinion on this issue. It has not led to peace, it hasn’t led to Palestinians’ self determination, it hasn’t led to anything positive as far as the Palestinians are concerned.” -Rashid Khalidi
“It’s important that the Palestinians get back to the bargaining table as Israel has offered them an opportunity to do.” -Jason Isaacson
Ten years ago, writer and activist Rachel Corrie was killed by Israeli soldiers during a protest in the Rafah region of Gaza. At the time Rachel and other members of the International Solidarity Movement were leading a non-violent resistance against the bulldozing of Palestinian homes for Israeli development. The ISM was established in 2001 to counter the Israeli occupation and focuses on non-violent, direct-action methods and demonstrations. Articles in remembrance of Rachel Corrie can be found on their website.
Craig and Cindy Corrie admit that before their daughter’s involvement in the Middle East they knew little more about the Israeli-Palestinian relationship than what was occasionally covered by the major news networks and papers. But before Rachel left for the Middle East and during her time in Gaza, she shared the history of the area and its current events and issues with her family. And when she was in Rafah living with Palestinian families and within the constraints of Israel’s occupation, she sent emails to her family about what it was like to be on the ground and dealing with-to some extent-what Palestinians have been dealing with for decades. In honor of Rachel and to continue her dedication to a peaceful resolution, Mr. and Mrs. Corrie founded The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice. While the foundation establishes and supports grassroots movements of education and peaceful action in Palestine and Israel, the Corries believe in the importance of educating and encourage Americans to recognize the United States’ involvement in this and the responsibility and power we have as citizens.
“Once she started to share with our family and friends…it just opened up the issue to us in a new way. So when she started to write about what she was witnessing that really just opened up the issue to…all of our family and friends.” -Cindy Corrie
“I would like people to look…for the justice in all of it and work together to try to see that there is eventual justice and peace in the Middle East.” -Craig Corrie
In 1963 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that state courts are required under the 14th Amendment to provide a lawyer to those facing criminal charges who could otherwise not afford one. According to Douglas Colbert, professor of law at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, the Gideon ruling “changed the landscape of what a criminal felony trial looked like.”
Iten Naguib, a law student who spent time at Maryland’s Justice Access Clinic speaks of direct experiences working with individuals who could have benefited from the aid of a lawyer at the very beginning of their cases. Both Colbert and Naguib are quoted in a recent New York Times article that discusses the often “empty promise” of this right to a lawyer as well as the exclusion of civil cases from this constitutional right. And fifty years after this landmark decision, Colbert, Ms. Naguib and Debra Gardner, Legal Director of the Public Justice Center, argue that inadequacies and inefficiencies in the justice system still leave those without the lawyer they need.
“It really is such a core issue when it comes to people being arrested. What happens at the initial appearance–it’s critical.” – Iten Naguib
“When you have a lawyer present, our data shows that two and a half times as many people who are charged with non-violent crimes will get released on recognizance. They won’t have to go to a bail bondsman; they won’t have to pay money that they don’t have.” – Douglas Colbert
“From beginning to end, in criminal proceedings, it’s very difficult for people to get high quality representation […] The office of public defender here in Maryland has seen its staff greatly reduced in recent years, and its case loads are twice what the ABA [American Bar Association] recommends…” – Debra Gardner
“The answer is that the legal profession has to really step up here. And every principal player: judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, the Bar itself–has to recognize that what we do as a profession is that we help people. We help people get back on a path again.” – Douglas Colbert
“[…] We need to care about everyone who might be in this situation and we need to make it the social priority that the constitution says it should be.” – Debra Gardner
Since the case against two high school football players accused of raping a female classmate in Steubenville, Ohio, gained public attention, questions of gender equity and patriarchal societies as well as opinions surrounding sexual assault and assault prevention have raced to the top of public discussions. It is not often that a rape case becomes a national story but sexual assault prevention advocates and educators are using this one in particular to call attention to the ever-present inequalities between men and women and the rape culture that our society perpetuates.
Neil Irvin is one of those advocates. He is the executive director of Men Can Stop Rape; an organization whose mission is “to mobilize men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence.” Training workshops, after-school clubs and public campaigns are all part of MCSR’s work to encourage men to take the lead in preventing violence against women. In Baltimore, Gail Reid, Director of Advocacy at TurnAround, Inc. claims that society intervention plays a huge role in the after effects of a public sexual assault case. As a health educator at Planned Parenthood, Rashaad Banks leads group discussions in which understanding what consent means is a main focus. Agreed among advocates is the belief that now is the time for a change in how we respond to violence against women.
“Classic victim blaming. Adults who are themselves entrenched in a culture. That’s the conditioning of it. Adults-men and women- feed into talking about ‘Oh these poor boys who were led astray’ versus ‘Here’s another example of violence perpetrated against a girl.'” -Neil Irvin
“…Boys are receiving unhealthy messages about who they’re supposed to be as men. And a lot of those messages center around forms of violence so that when they are amongst one another, they attempt to compete with who can be more violent or more vile as a way to perpetrate or role model their type of masculinity. ” -Neil Irvin
“A lack of response or a minimal response is a message to the youth: ‘That’s fine.’ A response early and immediate is giving that person an opportunity to look at the situation a little differently and change their behavior and not escalate and feel entitled to this behavior.” -Gail Reid
“Instead of always putting the blame on the person or the victim, we need to look at what is the perpetrator, what is the abuser, what is the person thinking that causes them to do these actions and get to the root of that before we start looking at what the victim might have or could have done.” -Rashaad Banks
On Friday, March 15th, the House of Delegates passed a bill (HB 295) that would repeal the death penalty for future crimes in the state of Maryland. The bill was previously passed in the Senate (SB 276) on March 6th. It is no surprise to hear Governor Martin O’Malley confirm that he will sign the bill when it comes to his desk. He has been vocal against the death penalty since taking office in 2007. The Governor pledges that this is a step in the right direction and one that will allow his office to “focus on doing the things that actually work to reduce violent crime.”
To those in favor of the repeal, the death penalty was seen as too costly, racially biased and ineffective as a deterrent from crime. Local activist and community organizer with Maryland Offshore Wind Coalition, Reverend Meredith Moise, sees the passing of the bill as a sign of social and judicial progress. Those who oppose the repeal argue that taking away the possibility of the death penalty as punishment is a step backward. Trae Lewis, former president of the Baltimore Area Young Republicans, argues that the death penalty can be an “effective tool” for the prosecution when bringing a case against the charged individual.
“The anchor that should hang over their head is that they might not have the privilege to live [on] this good earth amongst good people.” – Trae Lewis
“The actual deterrent for crime in part is jobs. Let’s bring opportunities back so people don’t feel like they have to go down that path.” – Rev. Meredith Moise