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Local News Roundtable: Solutions Other Than Policing

Thumbnail image Police Criminal Justice Crime Handcuffs Law Enforcement | ANNAPOLIS, MD -- 12/6/08 -- MD GANGS 07 HAIRSTON --Capt. Kevin King, of the Maryland Division of Corrections, Eastern Correctional Institution in Somerset County, holds handcuffs as he listens to his collegue Capt. Walter Holmes, also from Eastern, make his presentation. The two men are founders of a program called "CHOICES...Part of the Solution" and bring the program to young people at the Eastport Community Center. Their talk centers on keeping kids out of gangs and the criminal justice system. KIM HAIRSTON [Sun Photographer] #9085 MANDATORY CREDIT: Baltimore Examiner and Washington Examiner OUTJune 26, 2017 – Segment 2

We hosted a Local News Roundtable and discussed ways we can combat the violence in Baltimore City other than through increased policing. We dealt with issues of schooling, child care, and the politics of funding in Baltimore. With: farmer, educator, and food justice advocate Denzel Mitchell; former City Councilman Carl Stokes, founder of Banneker Blake Academy of Arts and Science; and Jaisal Noor, reporter and producer for The Real News.


Mayor Dixon Announces Her Resignation

Mayor Sheila Dixon’s pending resignation is a real tragedy both politically and personally.   

We don’t know the details of the bargain she made with the judge and the prosecutors, although that will all  come out shortly. My guess is that there will not be another trial and that she will fight to keep her  pension. I predict that she may run again in the future.

It is hard to say what a Stephanie Rawlings-Blake administration will be like. The hope is that she will  keep on some key personnel to make the transition easier for our city. However, rumors abound that Frederick  Bealefeld’s tenure as police commissioner will be short under acting Mayor Rawlings-Blake. Many feel that  the pending acting Mayor, along with her ally Governor Martin O’Malley, did want to see Bealefeld named  commissioner, that they favored former D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey. The commissioner believes that  public safety comes first and that massive arrests are not the way to ensure the safety of the public. He is  a tough, smart cop who needs the years ahead of him to turn the culture of the department around.

I have questioned Mayor Dixon about her integrity on my program on such issues as voting on the Board of  Estimates to give contracts to Utech (a company that employed her sister), taking free tickets to an event  at 1st Mariner Arena, and awarding a computer contract to her campaign manager–if you remember, a contract  paid out in sums small enough to not have to be disclosed officially. But she was not indicted for any of  those events. She was indicted for perjury because she did not disclose fur coats given to her by her  boyfriend, albeit a contractor. She was found guilty of taking less than $600 in gift cards. What happened  in the state prosecutor’s office that they could not indict her on issues of substance?!  

The mayor has made some bad personal blunders. But I don’t think they merit her going to jail or having to  resign. She should have apologized to this city, and the whole mess should have been a matter for an ethics  hearing that could have forced her to repay the money and face the voters. I find using gift cards meant for  poor children to be abhorrent, but it’s hardly an offense worthy of resignation.

Having said that I do not think Mayor Dixon should go to jail over these offenses, I want to add that I  don’t think anyone else should, either. Thousands of people have languished in the Baltimore Detention  Center for stealing far less than the mayor did. This should be a call to reform our entire justice system.  

We will see what the administration of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake brings to us. More importantly, I hope we  see the people of this city bring something to her, to force some creative thinking about the problems we  face and to build our own dynamic future.

Marc on Last Night’s Elections

photo by Michael Cantor

Last Night’s Elections


Woke up this morning to the headlines about last night’s elections. Republican wins for Governor in New Jersey and Virginia, gay marriage overturned in Maine and the much ballyhooed battle over the 23rd New York Congressional District was a lesson about the future of Republican conservatism.


The elections in NJ and Virgina should be a wake up call to the Obama White House and Democratic leadership. I fear they won’t be. American voters put Obama into office because they had real hope that it was not going to be politics as usual. Many feel their hopes are being dashed.


In Virginia, enough of a portion of Obama’s base among progressives, young people and African Americans stayed home to hand a defeat to an uninspiring and lackluster Democratic candidate and campaign.


In New Jersey, a Democratic Governor with deep ties to Goldman Sachs and Wall Street (much like Obama’s inner circle) went down to defeat in a failing economy, unemployment, distrust of corporate capitalists, and disappointment in the hopes that he was a reformer.


In New York City, Bloomberg barely won for the exact same reasons that Corzine lost.


It is interesting that even though most Americans say they are satisfied with their health insurance, a majority of Americans, 56% at the least, want a strong public option. A majority of Americans are upset or very angry at a bail out and stimulus that seems to be going to the financial industry and not touching the lives of ordinary people. Citizens are worried about their jobs, paying for the needs of their children, the rising cost and intensity of just living normal lives day to day. The economic issues, not health care, are the issue gripping America.


The defeat in New York shows that, even in Republican districts, the harsh, mean spirited, hate-filled, conservative, Fox-fueled, Limbaugh, crippled point of view is an anathema to most Americans.


What Obama and the Democrats need to learn from this is that many Americans are upset that he has come into office and conducted things as his predecessors would have done. He is surrounded by Wall Street and the financial industry interests seem to be cleaning up with our money, killing new regulations to safeguard people, and none of the stimulus money is going to jobs or saving our homes from foreclosures.


What they need do have done is to have fought for a public option to counter the interest of insurance and pharmaceuticals. A very simple, straight forward message of health reform that would have inspired Obama’s millions to back him and force Congress to respond.


I fear the message they will hear from this is to play the same conciliatory game even harder than they have done before. The uninspired will not inspire us to support them.


Gay Marriage Referendum


We have come a long way since we thought sweet Uncle Harry was a little light in his loafers and spinster Aunt Peggy was just a little different than the rest of us. A majority of Americans have come to accept an open gay and lesbian world and support equal rights for gays and lesbian. But most of our citizens are not ready for gay marriage. It might have passed in Vermont, or San Francisco, or New York City, or Eugene, Oregon, even in Salt Lake City. The young and the urban cosmopolitan worlds are there. The battle will continue, it just might take a little longer.

Happy 90th Pete Seeger!

photo by Michael Cantor

Pete Seeger turned 90 on May 3rd. They threw him a 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden. He is an American icon, a national treasure that embodies the heart of the great American soul of liberty and justice for all.

For more than 70 years he has been singing about freedom, justice, civil rights, human rights, for the workers, for the environment. Wherever someone struggled for freedom in America, Pete was there. On Barack Obama’s Inauguration he sang with Bruce Springsteen and closed out the event with every stanza of “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie. He fearlessly and to the glee of the revelers included the long unused stanza that called for the “breeching of the wall of private property.” He bounded off the stage like a man forty years younger. He was hugged and greeted by the new President.

He lives his beliefs as he sings them. When Senator Joe McCarthy and his dreaded House Un-American Activities Committee came after him, he refused to cooperate. He was blackballed and banned for ten years. He said “I don’t give a shit about my career.” When he returned, the Smothers Brothers brought him back to TV. He sang the anti-war and freedom folk song “Waste Deep in the Big Muddy.”

When he helped make Huddie Leadbetter’s, (aka Leadbelly’s), “Good Night Irene” into a hit, he made sure that Leadbelly got the royalties. He did the same for the family of Solomon Linda who wrote the African Freedom song that everyone sang in the fifties, sixties and seventies that became a rock‘n’roll hit, “Wimoweh.” He could have stolen the proceeds of the royalties and kept them for himself, as so many of the unscrupulous did to Black performers. Not Pete Seeger; he lives his life by his word, by work, by his politics, by his beliefs.

I first saw him as a young civil right worker singing with the Freedom Singers in Mississippi, a young Bob Dylan by his side. I grew up with his folk music because my mother always played him.

They say he has memorized more songs than any performer alive. Whenever he hears of a struggle for human rights in America, for the poor, for the infirmed, for our earth, he is there at 90. On his banjo, that he has had for over 60 years, are written the words “this Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces it to Surrender.”

He has become a sage. When asked why, in the face of so much opposition, of so many backward turns and some say the hopelessness of the causes he believes, why does he keep singing, pushing and fighting for justice, he gives a New Testament parable about a soldier who with his sword slashes open a bag of seeds. Some fall on the rocks and die, some seeds drown in the water, some are crushed under foot, but some fall onto fertile ground. They sink into the soil and grow a thousand fold. That is who we are he says. He knows the fight for freedom, for a just world is endless, and that every song we sing, every word we write, every story we tell, every oppression that is pushed aside brings more people to a better world and one day the fertile soil will win.

Peter Seeger, one of the few heroes I have in life …. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all, and to my Mom, wherever your spirit is floating around.  I am sure you are having a Guinness and shot.   She is the reason that I am so Irish.   Well, she was Irish by immersion.   Maisie Anne Round Steiner grew up in the north of England, the daughter of North Country miners and a Scotswoman of the MacPherson clan.   She was a wild, unruly, alive renegade whose mother sent her to a Catholic convent (though she was Protestant of Baptist/Methodist roots) in the mountains of Wales.  It turned out that the nuns were a bunch of Irish pro-IRA radicals who embraced my mom as she embraced them.

So we were brought up on the legends of ancient Irish warrior kings like Brian Baru, IRA revolutionaries like James Connolly, the first Jewish Mayor of Dublin Robert Briscoe and the great Irish poets and writers who graced our bookshelves.  The nuns imbued in her a sense of social justice.  As a young British woman she embraced the IRA, anti-colonial struggles and love for humanity and human rights.  Her mother sent her away to be disciplined and straightened out, so she could act more like an English lady.  Instead, she came back with the fire, soul and love of life of the Irish.  She passed it on to her children and breathed it deeply with each breath she took.  She found four leaf clovers and had conversations with the leprechauns and the spirits.  Though Eire did not flow in her veins, it lived in the depths of her being.

Thanks Mom, for making me Irish.  I’ll have a Guinness and a shot for you tonight.

Marc on Mayor Dixon’s Indictment

I hate watching this happen.  It is no small matter for a sitting Mayor to be indicted.

I have known Sheila Dixon for over thirty years.   We are not close friends.   We have not been in a private social setting together in 32 years. We met when we were both counselors and teachers at Baltimore Prep, a program at Westside Shopping Center for street kids who had just come out of prison or had been kicked out of school, whose lives were on the corner instead of the classroom.   Sheila was committed to those kids. She didn’t take any stuff from them and she knew every game they could play, because she came from the same streets that they did.  Baltimore Prep is also where she met Mark Smith, who later became her husband, with whom she raised her nephew Juan Dixon and his brother.   The boys’ parents had died from heroin addiction.  Sheila and Mark saw those boys to manhood.  This is the Sheila Dixon I know.

I knew her a little in the intervening years.  I remember when she was first elected to the city council.   I remember when she banged her shoe on the table exclaiming it was our turn now.   She was committed to working class black folks. She lived and knew their pain, joys and struggles.   A lot of white journalists, politicians and others thought she hated white people.  I don’t know what her innermost thoughts about race were, but I can say that anyone who came up in a certain way who was from a certain place had historical reasons to have a mistrust of white people.  Whatever she thought then, however, she has grown from that place, as did William Donald Schaeffer from his place of not caring about Black folks before he became Mayor.  She bleeds working class blue in her veins.   That is the Sheila Dixon I know.

So, these indictments are just tragic.  If they are true, they show stupidity and sheer greed.  

As I wrote last week, the only difference between the actions of our city officials and indicted power developers, and goings on in Congress between politicians and corrupt corporate leaders, is the thin but sturdy line of legality.  

Politicians are always doing favors for the powerful and their friends.  It is part of human existence.   Nevertheless, it was not the fur coats that bought Ron Lipscomb city contracts, but rather all of his city and corporate contacts.  

I am not excusing anything here.  If Sheila and others broke their sacred trust with us, they have to leave elected office at the very least.   It cannot be tolerated.  

The worst offence would be if she actually took gift certificates that were intended for poor families and children to enjoy Christmas.   I hope that even if the bribery and malfeasance indictments are true, that stealing from street kids and poor families is not true.   That could break a city’s heart.

That would not be the Sheila Dixon I know.   Soon we will know whether she broke the law.  If she did, then the court will decide her fate.  If she is exonerated, she could become one of our greatest Mayors. If not, she will become one of our greatest disappointments and tragedies.

Marc on Mayor Dixon’s raise

We all deserve a raise. City workers, police and fireman, got their small increase but lost much of their overtime. Police patrols of our city streets have been curtailed.  City middle management will not get raises because of the city budget deficit.  We are in a time of deep financial crisis.  The news in January promises to be even harsher.  I think we will see some of the city’s largest developers selling off property like crazy in their rush for liquidity and to pay off debts.  Many working class folks may lose their homes because of the mortgage crisis. This will disproportionably affect the African American and Latino communities.  It is an insane time, and one that calls for frugality-substantive and symbolic. 
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This is why it so hard to understand Mayor Dixon’s agreeing to take a salary increase, along with members of the Baltimore City Council.  Sure, it is only 2.5% and sure the increases for our top city officials are less than a drop in the bucket of our total city budget.  But is now the time?  Couldn’t she behave like Howard County Executive Ken Ullman and some of our city council members, who have said "I am going to defer this or give to charity until we are solvent again." 
I suppose it was the sheer arrogance of her anger at being questioned that bothered me the most.   She deserves a raise, we all do, but a public official living in a land of deficits and furloughs should be a shining example of leadership and inspiration.   She appears so petty and greedy at the moment.  I think she is better than that.  We all have kids, mortgages, college tuition but most of us don’t make $151,000 a year with a chauffeur and the perks of being a Mayor. 
And, if as she claimed, she believes that this raise was fair and justified at this moment, why then did the Board of Estimates do everything they could to keep the sunlight off these raises?  Not only did they vote on these on the day before Thanksgiving, but they also coded the raises as "salary adjustments" and instead of referring to the positions directly they called them "position job categories 88E, 887E, 83E and 81E", without any indication of what those referred to.  As the Baltimore Sun pointed out, other personnel items on the agenda included job titles as well as job categories.  And finally, there was no discusson at the pre-board meeting or the board meeting during which this vote took place.  If Mayor Dixon believes that these raises are appropriate at this time, why did the Board of Estimates do everything they could to keep these raises from being noticed?  It seems like they tried to sneak this one by us.  Why?
It is not near as bad as the actions of Governor Blagojevich of Illinois but what they have in common is the hubris that political power seems to breed in some. 

Marc on the killing at Lemmel Middle School


In 1962 there was a sixteen-year-old kid who had to survive in the streets of this city, terrified.  

He was a confused kid in a lot ways.   He read Hemingway, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, Spinoza, Bertrand Russell and Marx.    He was a non-violent warrior in the civil rights movement who experienced the terror of violence by white mobs and cops.   He was also a street corner boy.   A jitterbug with his 20-inch pant cuffs with pleats, banlon shirts and porkpie hats.    Drinking wine, shooting nine ball, looking for parties, talking shit and sometimes getting into trouble.   All over the place he was, in the midst of violence but not violent, going for bad because you had to and standing up even when you knew you would be hurt.   You had no choice on the corner. 

This kid hung out on the Heights, the next neighborhood over was the Junction.   Now the boys on the corner from the Heights and the Junction knew each other, didn’t war, walked through each other’s zones, intermingled and went to the same parties often but had different corners they owned and different pool halls and basketball courts they played on. 

One day he went into Arundal’s Ice Cream parlor on the Boulevard, that long stretch of street that connected the two corners.   Arundals was in Heights territory.  They always had better spots on the Heights.   Big Hand Bey and Blue Eyed Plu and the some of the boys from the Junction were hanging out there.   As was custom, this kid walked up to Bey, a titular top dog from the Junction, and held out his hand palm down to slap five with Bey.   Bey didn’t offer his hand, just a glare with a broke down mug that signified something was up and it wasn’t good.   The other boys with him just postured and stared.

So, this kid knew something bad was going on and that these guys meant him some harm for some reason.   He remembered just months before when Big Hand Bey beat down Blue Eyed Plu into submission on the corner.   It was a bad beating but Plu now ran with Bey.   At this point discretion was the better part of valor and that ice cream soda could wait a while.

Later that day he went over to the elementary school yard where the boys from the Heights hung to talk, play basketball, shoot craps and do whatever.   When he got there Ronald said he should split because Bey and them had been up here earlier looking for him with a .45.   All the brothers in the yard turned their backs on him, because he was a marked man and no one would stand with him.  

It was a terrifying moment.  He was alone.   He turned to his walking partners Scott and Methu.   They called Phillip Methu because he looked so much older than everyone else. Methu was short for Methuselah.   Even though he was 16 he could pass for 21 and often bought the wine and malt liquor everyone loved. Methu was scared of no one. 

At any rate, he turned to Methu and Scott and to his best friend Little Billy for help.   He knew Scott and Methu would stand, or he hoped they would.  Little Billy had taught him how to dance, fight with a knife, talk to girls and survive the streets.   There was a deep bond between the two.  All three said they would stand with him, as would Taz and Jerry.   Taz was Ronald’s brother.   Where Ronald was mean and a terror, Taz was sensitive, smart but a brave stand up guy and Jerry was cool.  Always dressed cool, knew how win the ladies over and was a damn good boxer and a bit country to boot.   Against Bey and them that wasn’t many guys but you knew they had your back. 

They said we need a war council, so they all met at his house.   To his surprise two of the older heads on the corner who were also two of the baddest boys around, period, Benny Lee and Meathead, showed up at the council that was held in the basement of his house.  

Most of them thought that the only way to avoid a throw down with a much bigger force was to have him fight Big Hand Bey straight up, one on one.   That was a terrifying thought.   Bey was big, strong and bad.   He had seem him fight before and knew that he could not win and would be badly beaten in a face off with Bey.   He knew he may have no other choice. 

If it came down to it on the corner or at a party everyone would throw down with him, come whatever.     He knew they would stand with him, have his back, but his loyalty to them did not want to put them through it.   The meaning of real and true friendship was defined as never before.   That definition would define his life from that moment on.

He couldn’t understand why all this was happening?   What was it?   What had he done to incur the wrath of Bey and those boys!? 

A few weeks earlier everyone had thrown in some money to buy some wine and malt liquor up at the bowing alley.   This boy, Binky, took the money to buy everything.  When he returned empty handed he gave some of the money back to everyone but him.   So he said to Binky, where is my dollar?  Binky said he wasn’t going to give him his dollar.   Fuck you, Binky said.   So, he said, Boy you are going to give me my money back.   As Binky took off his coat he knocked him out with a flurry of punches.   Then took a dollar from Binky’s pocket and walked away.   He thought he was cool but Binky was one of Bey’s boys.

Then there was that night a month or so before when there was a party over on Bentalou.  One of those blue lights in the basement parties.   He was slow dancing with this girl who this other boy wanted but he kept on with her.   He pulled her not the other dude.   They went off together but the other boy threatened to fuck him up.   He payed that no mind, the girl was just too fine, phat and willing to be with him to worry about that threat.  Didn’t know the boy but he might have been one of Bey’s boys, he thought.

Or, was it because he was white?  The only white boy on the corner, there weren’t too many like him.    An easy mark for many … boys who did not like him, the cops or other white folks who saw him as a traitor and a freak.

Probably it was all of that but being white didn’t help … did not help at all …

One night he was going to visit his girl friend.   The same girl he met at the party.  Beatrice, really beautiful girl who was down from Harlem for the summer to visit her aunt.  It was late.  He was walking down a street with few lights but a peaceful, warm, quiet night.   Earlier, he was going to go to a dance at the hall in his neighborhood but Scott and Methu said the Junction boys were there and it be best if he did not go.  So, he split to see Bea.  

As he walked a couple of blocks past the club on a residential street, a car slowed down.  He could feel it sliding slowly over his left shoulder.   He was aware of it, very conscious of everything around him, then a shot rang out, then another.   The boys in that car were shooting at him.  

He took the hat from this head and ran hard.   Through the bushes, leaping a fence, another shot rang out, he leapt another fence was then faced by a Doberman, but he kept running, the Doberman hard at his heals, but he leapt another fence over into an alley as another shot rang out.   He hid, then ran, then crept, knowing they were driving around looking for  him.  He saw them, but hid in the shadows behind a garage in a dark alleyway. 

Then he made a dash for it down the alleys, around the corner and down another alley.  He got to Bea’s crib, banged on the door, she answered, he pushed her inside, panting and out of breath, disheveled, socks falling down around  his shoes, pants torn, drenched in sweat and fear.  He spent the night there in her basement curled up beside her.

Little Billy had given him a switchblade.   He wanted a gun.   He carried the switchblade everywhere.   At night he would walk with it open, up his sleeve.   The handle of the knife rested in his palm, the blade resting on the underside of his forearm as he bopped with that pimp walk that was  how you did back in the day.    He was keenly aware of every shadow, every movement and would walk out into the street when he got to alleyways.    He would turn to look down the alley, always terrified, always nervous and jumpy, leaping with fear at the slightest abnormality or sound.

One night he was coming home from a party.   Scott and Methu peeled off to head in the opposite direction to their homes, Taz and Jerry walked a way but then they too left, walking west to get to their houses.   He was once again alone for the next seven blocks to his house, switchblade open against the sweat of his forearm, head pounding with fear that made the eyes and throat dry and tight.  

As he passed an alleyway he sensed some movement.   A figure darted out, grabbed his left arm, spun him around.  Then another figure punched him hard in the right side of his head, sent him twirling, almost losing his feet from under him.   They were on him.  The switchblade slid down his palm twisting the blade end out,   He lashed out stabbing and slashing blindly as fists swung around him.   He felt the knife hit something hard then soft, it was sickening sensation.    He kept slashing and stabbing, one boy fell to the ground, and a knife skidded from his grasp down the alley.   The other boy staggered back down the alley.   He heard screaming and moaning as he glanced at the scene before turning on his heel to run.   Run, he ran hard, scared, not stopping for blocks until he got to his house.   The knife still in his hands as opened the front door.   He ran to the phone, dialed the Operator, said two boys were stabbed in an ally, then hung up the phone quickly.  He stumbled into his room, falling into his bed.   His hands were covered with blood, his shirtsleeves were red with blood, blood all over his clothes.

What the fuck had he done.   What was he going to do?    Had he just killed someone?   What was he going to do?

I stayed awake all night thinking about those boys.   Did I kill somebody?!   What was going to happen next.   I knew they would find me, my hat was in the alley, they would snitch, one of them would die.   I would go to jail forever, no one could save me, just like no one, not my parents, not the cops and not my brothers on the street could save me from the Junction.  


I could not get this story of my past out of my head after reading about that 14-year-old child who was stabbed and killed at Lemmel Middle School on Friday.   My first reaction was wondering what happened.  What fear drove them to carry weapons?   What madness lived under the reason for the killing?

At first people were saying it was gang-related.   Now, one of the stories surrounding this young man’s death is that he was a bully and the kid who killed him was one of his victims.   The child who did the stabbing turned himself into the police. 

Many people do not understand the fear that so many of our children in the inner cities of America live with every day of their lives.    I would venture to say that the vast majority of young people who carry weapons, be they knives or guns or clubs, do so out of fear and self-protection.   You have to live with a mask of neutrality and fearlessness on your face at all times.   That joy of youth that so many children in our nation enjoy cannot be allowed to blossom for most inner city kids.  When gentleness can be a weakness, the hard cover you are forced to wear keeps the joy at bay.  

So, if it is true that the poor boy who died was a bully, and this kid who stabbed him then turned himself in was in a corner with no where to go but slashing his way to escape, then what should our response be as a society who judges actions of others like this?  

What do we do with this boy who took a life perhaps defending his own in a world where no one can protect you but yourself?   What are we as a society and our government willing to do to invest in these children to be able to learn, live and find joy in their schools?   Will we send an army of counselors and therapists into that school to help the children and their teaches cope with what just happened?   Will we teach alternatives to violence?  Will we invest in recreation centers staffed with counselors to reach out to street kids?   Will we invest in the green economy to put their parents to work so we can build stable families?

Can we show we care?   Can we build a society that cares enough to put people to work, to eliminate poverty and invest in our children the way we do highways, McMansions and prisons?  

We can if we have the will.  We can’t lose another child to the streets.

Marc on the Bailout

It is interesting to read the New York Times columnists and editorial writers, among many other papers, ridicule the Neanderthal Republicans for voting against and killing the bailout package negotiated between the Democratic congressional leadership and the White House. They seem to forget that 40% of Democrats in the house (90) voted to kill the package, as well.

 Click "READ MORE" below!

Without the Democrats voting no, the bill would have passed despite Republican grassroots anti-government conservative opposition. The Democrats who voted no were Progressive Democrats, Mexican American and Black members (many, not all), the Blue Dog populist southern and working class democrats who did not trust this bail out of wall street that did not have enough safeguards for working people, regulations on the financial industry or controls over the fox Paulson watching the banking/financial industry henhouse.

They knew when they voted against this that the nation is in a crisis that has to be addressed. They did not believe this bailout package was the answer.  Perhaps the congressional representatives who voted no thought that the idea that the government would come back in five years to report to congress made little sense, or that that the little guys’ interests would never be taken into account when the bill presented used words like "may" instead of "shall" or "encourage" instead of "mandate" when it came to aiding Americans confronting losing their home or rising mortgage costs.

The Republican opposition may never vote for a bailout. They love deregulation, voted for it, created it and bow down to it. They think the market will correct itself, and the people should not be bailing it out. They helped create this mess and they seem content to live with it. They have a strong, passionate ideological belief in small government and an unfettered marketplace and they are sticking to their poltical guns.

In the eighties and nineties, they killed the Glass-Steagall Act created under FDR to regulate the banking industry that ensured that lines of investment and banking would not be crossed. They led the deregulation of everything possible and pushed through bills that made it easier for banks to foreclose on people’s homes. Instead of protecting mortgage lending, they allowed bundling to make billionaires out of thin air with faked paper to be traded across the globe. They did it till the dot com bust and they did it until the housing market’s sandy bottom gave way.

Ahh, but to be fair, let’s not forget the crown jewel was laid during the Clinton years when another Goldman Sachs leader, Robert Rubin, was Secretary of the Treasury. What began under Reagan had its last driving nail in the coffin of regulation protecting the citizens’ interest under Clinton.

Now the Democrats better get their act together. It might have made sense to vote this pro Wall Street bill down as it was written but we are in a hell of a mess. Credit is tightening. We are about to be served big time with tightening credit on everything from our cars to credit cards (you think 20 something percent is high, just wait) to our homes and our small businesses, which are the backbone of this economy. Banks are going belly up, being eaten by bigger banks, banks are not loaning each other money, let alone us, our retirement accounts are getting hit hard (remember it is all privatized and in our 401K hands now), gasoline shortages are beginning to occur, many small businesses may close, unemployment is going up and will go higher.

The leadership better stop worrying about brining the needed votes in to pass all this by Thursday and start paying attention to the smart voices in our society who are warning them about what to do.

Hedge fund leaders, like George Soros, who helped get us into this mess, are trying to say no to the bailout, there is a better way. Hundreds of economists, led by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and others, are saying no to the bailout. Social thinkers like James Galbraith and Mark Sumner are outlining alternatives. Read them, hear their testimony and wrestle with their ideas to help us find a solution.

We need to pass a bill to help America, put credit back on track, invest in our infrastructure, protect those losing their homes and regulate our finance and banking industries to protect them from themselves and from destroying us. The marketplace must be free but with freedom comes responsibility and limitations.

The sweeteners that the Democratic leadership offered today of expanded FDIC coverage to ensure deposits up to $250,000 may assuage the small banks who will then lobby their congressional representatives to pass this measure. Will it turn the tide? I am not sure. Will the power of the Congressional leaders in the House and Senate be able to twist arms hard enough so their members drop their call for safeguarding mortgages, more regulation on finance and greater oversight on Paulson and Bush?

That question will be answered by tomorrow when the House votes again. Will the citizens win or will the power of finance rule the day? We will find out.

Marc on Ken Harris

marc steinerFriday night at the Carroll County Arts Center, I was interviewing Malcolm X and Martin Luther King in a meeting that never really took place.  In this Chautauqua performance, sponsored by the Maryland Humanities Council, we spent a lot of time discussing the hideous self-destructive violence that is born of the poverty and dislocation of inner city life.


On Saturday morning I opened my e-mail to a subject line reading “I am so upset about what happened to Ken Harris.” I could not believe what followed: Ken had been murdered. I was stunned. I had just spoken to Ken last month before going to Denver to cover the Democratic convention.  Then I saw that the murder happened at the New Haven Lounge.   I called Keith Covington, the owner and a good friend, to make sure he was okay. 

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Ken Harris


Former Baltimore City Councilman Ken Harris
Keith told me the story. Ken had come by to borrow a corkscrew. As the two of them stepped outside the club, four men confronted them. While one man put a gun to Keith’s head and forced him back inside, another one shot Ken in his chest. The men fled when Keith grabbed his gun and started shooting. Ken died in his car as he tried to escape.
Keith is devastated, still in a daze. He recognized the murderers as the same cowardly thugs that had robbed him six months ago. He is ready to give up and close the club.
You see, for years now, Keith has been pleading with the city government and the police to do something about the deterioration of Northwood Shopping Center. He told anyone in power who would listen that gang violence was on the rise there. Nobody listened. Nobody responded. Nobody paid attention. Now, too late, they are paying attention.
Keith Covington and Ken Harris are examples of what a person can achieve no matter how much at a disadvantage his life begins. Ken grew up on the tough streets of lower Park Heights, the son of a single unmarried mom. He made a decision that education would be his way out. He was a scholar and stellar baseball player at Dunbar, and then worked his way through Morgan State. He married, built a career, and became a wonderful father. He was elected to city council because he worked hard for his community.
Ken’s mission was to inspire Baltimore’s youth not to let race and poverty hold them back. He believed deeply in the promise of young lives. It is utter madness that he was killed by the very kids whose lives he was trying to save.
But Ken did not die because he failed; he died because the system failed. As my friend Ray Cooke, an ex-felon who works with gang kids, says, “If you don’t reach out to touch our children, you will be touched by our children.”
On the west side of town, organizer Dante Wilson trains ex-felons and gang members as mentors for our children. Dante’s work proves that nothing is more powerful than a thug who has turned to peace. Miracles can happen, but people like Ken, Keith, Dante, and Ray can’t do it alone. We must all invest in our communities and our children. Build recreation centers. Create jobs.
Ken Harris wanted his life to make a difference. Let’s not allow his death to be for naught. I believe we can put an end to senseless violence. We must. For Ken. For our children. For our future.

Marc’s Response to Palin’s Speech

The Republicans really kicked it out last night.      They laid out their battle plan and came out swinging a message that will resonate with that portion of the American public that could go either way in the election.   Their votes could be the ones who will decide who becomes the next President of the United States.

Palin proved herself a combatative, tough, smart and savvy politician last night, and those who spoke before her provided a powerful build up to her speech.     On Tuesday night, I thought well,  these guys are boring and have no spark.   I was surprised knowing how smart, and at times underhanded, their campaign strategists can be.    They have the Karl Rove team in place, after all.

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Well last night they pulled it off.    First, former Md. Lt. Governor Michael Steele spoke and gave the conventioneers a new slogan that caught on like wild fire.    Remember when McCain, in North Carolina I believe, said we have to “Drill now, Drill here?”   Well, Steele came out with a play on that shouting “Drill, Baby, Drill!”  which itself was a play on the sixties slogan, "Burn, Baby, Burn!" that people chanted in the inner city riots of 1965 and 1968.     The delegates ate it up and chanted  this new slogan all night long.   It will be a campaign cheer to whip up the crowds from here on through November 4th.  Ahh, some white folks just get so titillated at hip Black speak.

When former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke, the crowd spontaneously broke out in the cheer "Drill, Baby, Drill!".   First it was clear the Rudy had not listened to the Steele’s speech because he smiled, repeated the phase with an incredulous laugh.   It showed the rallying power of that slogan, but it also showed how no one in power listens to Steele.   He is their symbol with so little real substance.   They don’t have many African American voices so his role is important to them.

In between Steele and Giuliani, former presidential candidate Governor Huckabee of Arkansas spoke.   He was the soft opening.   His was a pleasant kind voice during an evening of non-stop assault on the Democrats.   He spoke of hatred of racism, growing up poor and coming from proud working class roots.  His line of the night was that he decided to work his way out of poverty and not wait for the government to pull him out.

Rudy Giuliani was a pit bull.   He stoked the crowd, belittling Barack Obama and the Democrats in general.    I thought he would never end but he did his job.    He loved being up there, the bad boy New Yorker taking on his Democratic neighbors.

Governor Sarah Palin clearly will be the one who go for the jugular against the Democrats in this campaign.    She told America that she has a loving family with all the foibles and problems of every other family.   She was the every woman of hard working mothers.   Yeah, my baby has Down Syndrome, I love him and I have to keep going and working.   I will be the advocate for Special Needs families in the White House.

One of the central themes of the campaign emerged, as Sarah Palin and the other speakers took the stage. They will argue that McCain’s POW experience, serving America, not bending in front of his evil (and that was one of the word of the night) tormentors at the Hanoi Hilton is the kind of courage and integrity America needs.   They will argue that the Democrats are untested, Palin has a run a state and McCain stands up for what is right and they will take on the Beltway establishment.

Their themes were clear:   

  • McCain was right about the War and the Surge.    He had the courage to fight and we are winning the war in Iraq because of it.  The Democrats are defeatist with no understanding of victory.
  • The Democrats want to raise taxes on small business and on all of us to make government larger, which is not what we need for the economy and the 21st century.
  • America needs to be energy independent, which means drilling for oil, and we will use alternative energy too.   Democrats don’t get it; we can have our own oil and not be dependent on the world.   

They touched that part of America’s soul that is conservative.   They did it deftly with a saber, while belittling the Democrats and their candidates.

The war is on.   Obama may have the lead now, but you can see where the blood will be drawn in the next two months.

McCain’s turn tonight.   We will see what he does and how the Democrats respond.


What did you think?


Marc on Sarah Palin and the St. Paul Protests

My producer Jessica Phillips just wrote a wonderful and intriguing blog that I agree with completely. It is abhorrent and abominable the way some are treating Sarah Palin. It is both sexist and classist (to coin a phrase). I have a known a lot of families like theirs in the rural worlds I have lived in over my life. She is no different than urban feminists, other than she knows how to shoot and dress a moose or that she drives her kids to hockey games rather than playing tennis and golf and driving kids to soccer games. She is a professional woman married to a working class guy. I think they are actually kind of cool. I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say tonight. I have never heard her speak. I want to see what she has to say for herself.

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I am more concerned about what she stands for politically than what her lifestyle is about. She seems to be a climate change denier who thinks intelligent design should be taught in classrooms and Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Now, those things bother me. While I could tromp through the Alaska tundra with them we would fight all the way about those issues.

Let’s see what happens tonight. Let’s hear what comes out of her mouth during interviews and in her speeches. I could care less about the rest.

On the Streets

What I do find appalling is the behavior of the police in St. Paul. There was a police riot in 1968 in Chicago but in St. Paul the police riot was about preventative detention. They violated hundreds of our citizens’ constitutional rights. It is madness. It was something out of the fiction and reality of totalitarian societies.

I was hoping the Republicans would say something. The Democrats too for that matter.

Homes were raided, people handcuffed, some beaten, many arrested on specious charges. It is hard to believe that no one in officialdom is raising hell about all this. I have a feeling this will have a life beyond the convention. We will certainly keep watch. Some of our local non-violent citizens have been arrested, some charged with felonies. We will find out why and more.

So, far it seems the Democrats put on a grander Broadway production for America. We will see what happens over the next two nights. Both conventions are doing a fine job of revving up their troops.
Now it is our turn, as the American voter to decide who wins in what I think is one of the most crucial elections of my lifetime.


How did Dr. Mary Washington sleep last night?

My nephew, Logan, was born in March of 2007, just about a month after Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential nomination. I desperately want to use his 17 months on the planet as a metaphor for this 2008 primary season. But I won’t. Instead, I will simply say that after hearing Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, I slept like Logan.


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My sister tells me that last night, Logan watched the entire speech, mesmerized. He hasn’t really gotten into TV so it rarely holds his attention, but last night he pointed at the screen, talked and looked back at her and my brother-in-law and smiled. I’d like to think that in looking at the face and eyes of the man that would dare to be president, Logan saw the same bright future that I and his parents wish for him and his sister, Ryann. When Logan fell asleep, he was grinning ear-to-ear and so were we.

I slept like Logan last night, not because I think Barack Obama has this election in the bag. Indeed, quite the contrary. The Obama campaign and its allies will have to work even harder because, as Obama made clear in his speech, the 2008 election is not just a competition for the White House, but is more importantly and more lastingly a competition for the hearts and minds of the American people and our way of life. Last night, in just under 40 minutes, the improbable reality that the Democrats could very well win this thing became very real for a lot of Bush Republicans. They will not take this laying down.

I slept soundly, despite the fact that I know that the Rove machine will redouble its efforts and that the McCain campaign will seek to galvanize the too many people in our Nation, who are reliably swayed by their fear and prejudice, their self-interests, and their out-dated world views. That they, in sharp contrast to Barack Obama, will appeal to the basest of instincts that inspire a narrow-minded cronyism and simple unwillingness to truthfully engage the real threats to American security that has destroyed our moral authority in global arena.

I spoke to many of my friends and family and they also reported sleeping well last night, despite knowing that there is so much to do and so little time to do it. With the stakes so high it would seem natural like-minded Democrats, Independents and Republicans committed to Obama’s election would feel anxious about making the personal sacrifices necessary to conduct massive voter registration drives, raise tons of money, volunteer thousands of hours to go door-to-door canvassing and being a part of a Get Out the Vote effort like no one has ever seen in electoral history.

And yet, millions of us went to bed with a smile on our faces because for the first time in a very long time we stopped holding our breath and exhaled. We relaxed because once again, the Barack Obama campaign demonstrated in the acceptance speech and throughout the Democratic Convention, the temperament, judgment and leadership needed to win this election. We just have to believe and follow. Not a hard thing to do on the 45th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. We slept peacefully, because we knew our candidate and campaign was ready. No more preparation was needed. It was time for a good night’s rest because in the morning the real work would begin.


Marc, Blogging live from Invesco Field!


This stadium is hushed during this documentary about Barack
Obama. His is an American story. Yes, there are many things from
FISA to his lack of willingness to take on the financial industry but
his story is the American story. I look at my three daughters age 40,
38 and 11 and how much they are moved by him. My two oldest are women
of color who are Obama. My youngest is enthralled by him. He looks
like so much of her family.

America is changing. The mythology of America was blown up in the
fifties and sixties with the battle to end segregation, and Vietnam War.
Now, it is seems they want the dream of America to be its reality.

So, no matter who wins this election, America has made a turn. I
only hope we can redirect ourselves to save this nation, this earth
and life for my children. We can’t give them a heaven on earth but we
can’t leave them with this hellhole of environmental and human disaster for them to wade through. `


He is walking on stage …let’s see … we will talk together later


9:31 I guess most of you who are reading this have been watching or
listening to all of this. I am curious about your thoughts on Gore’s
speech. I thought he told it like it is. I want this planet to
survive for my kids and grandkids and their kids w when they get here.

Gore like Bill Richardson who attacked the integrity, honesty and
capability of the administration of the last four years. It is one of
the keys to there ability to win.
gotta save the power for Obama and later…



8:41 It is amazing I am not sure if I am concert or a convention … actually it is a celebration of Democrats. This is one joyous diverse smiling crowd. Stevie Wonder is singing.

Crowd on its feet … hard to move around and will be almost impossible for me to call into the show tonight on WEAA. So, I will blog for as long as the computer holds out. No outlets here, just people … lots of people …

You know if Obama wins Maryland could make out like a bandit. Two Marylanders would have serious access to the President, Congressman Elijah Cummings and Attorney General Doug Gansler. They came out for Obama early and it is remembered.

If you go to DNC on this site you will be able to hear the interviews we have been doing in Denver, some of which were on WEAA. I think my interview with Elijah is up now. It is moving and telling … I asked him what he wanted to get out of this if Obama wins. He said "to be able to pick up the phone and call the President and say this is what Maryland needs, this is what the city needs, this is what America needs."

Well, more later … hope the computer holds out .. forgive the typos .. writing fast and furious as Stevie Wonder jams

write back .. what do you think of all this?



Marc Steiner on this historic moment, and the power of big business

A Historic Moment

On August 28th, 1963, I was among the hundreds of thousands on the mall in Washington marching for "Jobs and Freedom Now!" I will never forget the exhilaration of that day. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech brought all of us to our knees.
We have parsed his speech from that day down to four words: “I have a dream.” His speech was so much more than that. That day was the culmination of a hundred years of struggle. It was a moment built on the back of three years of sit-ins, freedom rides, community organizing and voter registration. It came after thousands had been jailed, beaten, killed and injured in the struggle to end segregation in our country. It was the most amazing moment of my young life as a teen-age civil rights activist.
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Tonight I will see a black man, an African American, be nominated for President of the United States. It is an amazing moment. It is numbing. I just think how far we have come in a generation. This is a very emotional moment. Every time I interview an African American about this moment their eyes well up and voices become choked with emotion. After 400 years of slavery, a hundred years of segregation and intimidation and forty years of struggle for a seat at the table in an America based on equality, Barack Obama is going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party and may be the next President of the United States.

When he stood up on stage I broke out into a huge grin. He is standing there on the shoulders on all those who sacrificed to create an America that brings truth to liberty and equality that our nation was founded upon.
I think about my friends who died in the struggle for freedom and those who sacrificed their well-being to fight for human rights. I think about my African American and white children and grand children. This is their moment. We fought hard and bled to see this moment.
Tears are welling up now in my eyes as I write. It is so difficult to convey in words how powerful and wonderful a moment this is not just for me but also for all of America.

Two Conventions

There are two conventions going on here in Denver, as there will be for the Republicans in Minneapolis. One is for the well connected and the well off, and another for everyone else.

Lobbyists are everywhere. They are having private receptions for all kinds of political figures and their wealthy patrons. Now, I have nothing against wealthy patrons and supporters of good work in America but what is going on here is unseemly.

An ABC reporter was arrested and really roughed up by Denver police when he tried to film and question guests going to one of these events. He was grabbed around the throat and manhandled. Other reporters have been threatened and roughly pushed by private security guards and police offices for trying to report this news.

DNC delegates are given bags with the logo of AT&T emblazoned on the side. AT&T threw a huge party for the Blue Dog Democrats on the first night to thank them for voting for FISA and ensuring that corporation could not be sued for eavesdropping. Democracy Now! reporters were pushed around by private security for trying to talk to people walking to the entrance.
Barack Obama and John McCain have profoundly different visions for America. The elephant in the room is the corporate political alliance that has access to power that the citizens of this country could never imagine.

The Democrats should be leading the charge against this. Perhaps if Obama is elected the other part of this democracy, the community and political activists who believe in a more open government will have a voice.

We have to hope so.
Talk to you all tonight…
-Marc Steiner

Marc, liveblogging Wednesday night at Pepsi Center!

9:13 pm Clinton is here. This is wild-pandemonium. People are cheering louder and longer and madder than ever .. screaming yes yes yes" " .. waving American flags …

"I am here first to support Barack Obama" … wild cheers …

Clinton is amazing. Love him or hate him, he engaged at once.

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He smiles and bites that lower lip and the crowd swoons ..

Offered Obama their 18 million votes … that we will see if they come through with a commitment after Labor Day.

He is talking about Obama being the leader the world needs ..

OK OK Bill .. where you gonna take this?

His subtext is Hillary did want to be VP … this is a stronger endorsement than Hillary gave him …

10:07 pm "People are more impressed by the power of our example than the example of our power"… great quote from Bill Clinton.

Well he is not equivocating .. and Bill is lapping it up … but folks

people yell yes he can and he says "first we have to elect him"

He is outlining all the beliefs of the Dems and how to wage the
battle against the Republicans. The question is can the Democrats get
this message with this passion and succinct specificity to the people
of America ..

WOW … during the primary they said Barack was too inexperienced
but now he says that what he says that it wrong to say that about Obama
as it was when it said about him in 1992 …

He is undoing or seeming to undo all the negative things he said and did during the primary …


double message?

OK, he did it short sweet hard and to the point … these Democrats can’t be more pleased …


10:30 pm First, the military speakers were good and effective especially
Tammy Duckworth who was shot down in Iraq while piloting a Blackhawk
helicopter. She was real, not canned. Someone who had seen battle,
been badly wounded, met Barack Obama while wounded and made the
decision that as a military person the nation needed Barack Obama. As
Bob Sommerby said tonight on our radio show, the Democrats have no
shortage of stars. But can they do the trick after Labor Day. We will

Beau Biden really did a job introducing his Dad. Here he comes.
THey just hugged and kissed. So, now we have the best Dads in the
world ticket.


10:49 pm The state of deleware … the state of corporate America ..

When he introduced his mom and her face came up .. the crowd around me just said aww .. this is an aww moment …

They’re preaching, these speakers .. everyone is equal and no one is
greater than me … these guys are going to run on the American dream.

I never really heard Biden speak before but he does really know how to relate to hard working Americans.

But Joe, then why did you kowtow to MBNA in Delaware to support and
work for that bankruptcy reform bill that screwed millions of working
people, blue and white collar, in this country? Why did this son of the
working class from hardscrabble Scranton let himself be bought by the
corporate state of Delaware?

Everything he is saying about making this country right for working
people is right. Hope it is true from this man from the state of
Delaware … the state of corporate America.

He is on the attack .. More of the same is the campaign theme…Will it work? Does it work for you?

Barack Obama will cut taxes for 95% of the people … that is the
change we need. Is there a contradiction here talking about all this
investment in our country for alternative energy, for schools, for more
cops on the street, social security … and cut taxes …

The dream is great and McCain’s plan will drive us into greater debt than Obama’s but change cost change ..

Rumor has it that Barack is back stage…you heard it here

10:52 All the cameras have turned in the same direction and all the media studios below us are a buzz …

If he is here what is left for poor Bill Richardson to say

10:55 pm There he is …

10:59 I am smiling. I know I shouldn’t be, I am supposed to be objective … but there is something about this guy, about this week. Unity is what they want and they are working for it… diversity, working people, jobs,health care and new energy free of
oil ..

And there is a poor stadium guy trying to clear people off the steps and out of the arena .. good luck … poor guy .. let it go

11:04 ‘We are family’ is playing it is over poor bill richardson has been pushed till the morrow

night you all




Marc Steiner with more on the Hillary divide…

Well, it is the day after Hillary’s speech. She did what she was supposed to do, encouraging her supporters to come out and vote for Barack Obama. It was a stirring speech.
While she was unequivocal in her support and insistence that John McCain not be given the Presidency she did not do anything to renounce the negative pronouncements she made about Obama during the primary.

That not withstanding, Hillary Clintons non-keynote keynote, if it was act, was a damn good act.

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Her PUMA supporters do not appear assauged at the moment. What’s PUMA? It is a slightly derisive depiction of the most die-hard Hillary supporters that stands for Party Unity My Ass. I think this goes a lot deeper than many realize and has complex reasons that go back to the divide between early suffragettes and abolitionists. Most things have their historical roots. And progressives, radicals and reformers do have a tendency to eat their young.

Still, I think, as Tom Schaller, Salon columnist and UMBC political science professor, said in an interview with me this morning, that most of them will come into the fold come Election Day.

But Bill Clinton’s decision not to be in Denver on Thursday night when Barack Obama accepts the nomination at Ivesco stadium seems to once more prove this is about the Clintons and nothing but the Clintons.
The reality is that there was no conspiracy. Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean did not conspire to give the election to Obama. The Clintons (yes, plural) lost this election on their own. They had more money and were 30 points up in the polls. They squandered their money on old-fashioned techniques, like direct mail fundraising. Hillary Clinton’s organization was dysfunctional from the top down. Hillary and Bill ranted and raved at staff and their campaign went into panic after the initial Obama surge. They were not prepared and did not know what hit them. They lost control of the party to a new vision and broadening base. They won’t give up easily.

For the sake of the right to choose, ending this war in Iraq, getting health care to citizens and leaving room for populists and progressives to join the debate, ardent Democrats are hoping that party leadership will get their act together by November.

-Marc Steiner

Marc Steiner on the wrath of Hillary supporters

The Hillary resistance within the Democratic Party runs very deep. Many women who supported her feel that they would have defended Obama from racist attacks but that he did not say a word when Hillary Clinton was under sexist attacks and ridicule by the media. They felt that fraud took place in the primaries, that the party tried to get her to drop out even as Clinton kept winning primaries, and they are furious that Obama did not offer Clinton the VP spot. Click ‘READ MORE’ below.

Click ‘READ MORE’ below.

Hillary’s grassroots supporters are furious that they have been asked
to get over it. They sense or sensed themselves as much part of the
movement as Obama’s primary supporters felt. They want to be included
and feel they have not only been spoken with and in fact they say the
party and Obama’s leadership have spoken down to them.

One third of the Clinton delegates say they are not yet committed to
voting for Obama. One poll found 27% of the 18 million who voted for
her may not vote for Obama.

Many say that it is only now that the Obama people and the party are
paying attention to them because recent polls and surveys show the
depth of the anger from some of Hillary’s supporters. That situation
makes them feel more belittled and angrier.

Barack Obama and the Democrats have a problem on their hands. These
working women, blue collar and white collar voters, are part of the
Democratic base. If they lose them in the significant numbers that some
feel is possible, it could make a difference in toss up states like
Colorado and Michigan, to name but two.

All the seemingly logical arguments like McCain appointing anti-choice
judges or his winning the election are not holding water. The Democrats
better heal this wound quickly before it festers out of control making
the entire body ill.

-Marc Steiner

Marc, blogging live from the Convention on Tuesday night!

Here we are Hillary night. Right now there is a Barack in New Hampshire video playing. There is palpable excitement in this room. But tension as well. I have seen Hillary delegates sharing their passes to get her supporters into the hall. What that means I don’t know.

Music is loud, good and rocking …

OK getting to go on the air and back later.


“This is going to be a tough election”-Marc Steiner

I am sitting here in a church that is the headquarters of the Progressive Democrats of America. Feels like I am back in the sixties. It looks and feels like the old days. But it is unfortunately a new day with some of the same issues facing with this war in Iraq. Progressives, though most support Obama, want him to push harder for the end of the war, withdraw troops now and tie it to the economy.

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It ain’t gonna happen but they need to push. Obama has a tough opponent. Last night on Jay Leno, Jay tried to humorously ask McCain about his houses, and McCain said, "I was a POW." We are in a war, McCain says we are winning, the press for the most part are not disagreeing or questioned, and he is a POW, a tough man for a tough time.

This is going to be a tough election.
-Marc Steiner


Marc’s reaction to Michelle’s speech

Well, it was fascinating sitting in the Pepsi Center last night. It was something I never experienced before.
Watching Michelle Obama so much came to mind. Some positive and some troubling.

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I harkened back that time when I was 18 years old at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. It was 1964 and Blacks were being killed, injured, and arrested for trying to live free as Americans. They forced to live under apartheid in America’s south.
Out of that in Mississippi came an African American woman, a sharecropper who had been beaten and arrested for fighting for her civil rights Her name was Fannie Lou Hamer and she led the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. We were at the Democratic National Convention demanding to be seated in the hall. MFDP was the true representation of freedom in America. She gave an impassioned speech from the heart of living under the vilest oppression in America.

And there was Michelle Obama standing there beloved by so many. Vilified by those who may never get it and for whom the African American life and experience is so foreign.
Yet here we are at a moment when America’s first lady may be Black. Tears came to my eyes with just the sheer joy of how far we have come.
It was a handing of the mantle to a new generation in that party, from Jesse Jackson to Caroline Kennedy to Chelsea Clinton to Craig Robinson to Barack and Michelle themselves. Ted Kennedy handed off the baton to the next generation while holding to the values he believes the Democrats should hold.

It was, for that party, a historical and moving moment.
There is a lot to question here, though. The power of large corporations loom large over this convention from their logos on the bags delegates receive to the expensive receptions they underwrite. Big Coal is everywhere trying to clean up their image and buy the votes and minds of delegates. Anti union and right wing Coors Beer flows freely for thirsty delegates.
So, while change is soaring through the air, some things have not changed.
More later.
Back to the streets and to the Dems.


Marc is inside the Pepsi Center in Denver!

Inside the Pepsi Center. It is loud, man I mean loud. Not a place to think just applaud and enjoy the scenery For those, like the young people speaking now it is wonderous moment. The youth here are amazing. They are energized in a way that I have not seen for forty years.

It is almost surreal. This the anointing of the winner. This is not the conventions of my youth where it was hard fought until the last gavel.

Delegate Michael Buckley just walked up with a huge smile on his face. He is joyous and overwhelmed by what he feels in this hall. He is a partisan soldier who will work to put Obama in the White House. Smiles abound.

We are all awaiting Michell Obama. I am really curious as to what she will do. There are so many who cannot stand her. Don’t understand her. Think she does not adore her husband.

So many Americans are fascianted by, imitate, fear and loath Black people. Black women like Michelle Obama are threatening. I am not sure that she will convert those folks.

But most of America is not like that. Our nation has changed. Michelle Obama has to bring those in doubt to her and her husband tonight.

Well, I am going to wander the hall. Get some pictures and stories.

be back in a minute.


Marc on what’s important at the DNC

What Really Matters

by Marc Steiner, in Denver at the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Everyone is fulminating over Biden. Was he a good pick, should it have been Hillary, the negative things said about Obama in the past …Will Obama have a bounce after the convention .. will it be nullified by the RNC. blah blah blah …The election starts after Labor Day. The one mystery in this convention will be answered on Tuesday and Wednesday nights when Hillary and Bill speak, respectively. Will they behave, will they support Obama unabashedly and fully? And even more important, will they stand with him on Thursday and pledge to campaign with him. That is the biggest question of this convention. It will be the substance that will make or break this convention, Obama’s anticipated awe-inspiring acceptance speech on Thursday, not withstanding. All the rest is pundit window dressing.

What makes a difference now is whether Obama can stimulate the undecided voters who are not racist and would vote for a black man. The Change theme may have worked in the Democratic primary but he has to bring hope with substance to the larger electorate. He has to inspire with creative ideas about how he will rebuild Detroit, create jobs that pay to build new energy, give us our public schools back, and get us out of Iraq with dignity. American voters are as equally divided now as they were in the last four elections. There are more folks than the polls show who would never vote for a Black and can’t stand Michelle Obama as strong Black woman but the demographics have changed. There are more Latinos, Blacks and young people in the population and voting. If he cannot inspire his base to stay with him and come out to vote while convincing those unsure that his message of hope has substance, then welcome John McCain to the White House.



marc in Denver

Hello Denver!

by Marc Steiner

We arrived in Denver. Safe and sound .. all set up and ready to go. Biden is in but there are more important things going on. Justin and I will be moving around Denver going to the Big Tent where the progressive movement is meeting, then we go to Maryland delegation headquarters to interview state chair Mike Cryor and have a discussion with Clinton and Obama delegates, bring sounds and stories from the convention floor and out in the streets. Lea Gilmore will be arriving today so our whole crew will be here.Stay tuned … write often .. listen every night from 8 to 11 on WEAA 88.9 FM ,and we will blogging and sending all kinds of stories on this website.Off to some of our sites now..back in a bit,marc

Marc on Obama and Race in America

Last week I wrote a blog about Obama. I originally wrote in my essay that 30% of the people in America would not vote for a Black man for President. Jessica Phillips, one of my producers, challenged the stat, asking me where it came from. Well, I could not pin point the source, if there ever was one. Maybe it was an amalgam of things or that 30 odd percent of Americans would always vote Republican. There is an element in that number for whom it would be anathema to vote for a black man. But then again, I have met a number of traditional Democrats who have blatantly and without flinching said the same thing. So, why was that in my head?

This morning I was watching Fox News while I was working out at the gym. It is really the only time I watch that channel. I don’t watch TV much to start with. At any rate there was one time Bush right hand, yet to be indicted, slick as a slippery eel Karl Rove waxing forth on Obama. He commented that given the economic state of the nation, the war and the President’s poll numbers there is no way this race should be so close. He said it clearly showed that the American people had doubts and did not trust Obama.

OK, that may have some merit. Senator Barack Obama is not the be all end all for America’s future. He is a politician who wants to get elected, who could use more specifics, and has altered or nuanced his position in order to remain on top of the electoral heap. So, in that I am not sure how different he is from McCain other than public perception or media projection.

There is one glaring difference other than their political vision. RACE.

I know what the polls said but let’s look beneath the polls. Attitudes about race in America are more nuanced and subtle. They are subterranean and not spoken about in the open.

The New York times polls often cited also says, as Ball pointed out in his NYT column last week, that 16% of Americans think Obama will favor Black over whites and almost 20% think racial relations will get worse (that again could have many political interpretations and meanings). The poll also said that 48% of voters oppose any preferential treatment for minorities. Now that is striking and deserves greater exploration.

A third do not know or work with someone who is Black, a quarter think America is not ready for a Black president, more than a quarter feel they have been discriminated against because they are white and 27% say too much is made of problems facing black people in America.

OK, so maybe I have no scientific or polling evidence to say what I almost wrote last week, but something is going on here. Race is a reason a majority of Black folks will vote for Obama and why a deeply significant number of White people will not vote for Obama whether they are open about it or not.

We are not in a post racial world; people and institutions are not color blind. It is not really more nuanced but it is more complex. It involves wars of class and generation in the Black world, as well as changing attitudes about race in younger generations. Race in America is beyond black and white and is Mexican, Latino, Asian, immigrants, and it is still in white America wrestling with itself and our collective national legacy.

Maybe we are in a perfect moment to have a really different and open look at race and ourselves as a nation. It won’t be in our schools or our churches; they are mostly made up of one race or other. Won’t be in the media, much too substantive not to mention frightening for their bottom line, which is not our well-being.

Where? I don’t know. Maybe we will have to start it together.

Marc on Legalizing Pot

It is such a beautiful, unseasonably cool August morning, crisp, cool and a tad cloudy.  I picked up the Sunday papers on my way back in from walking our dog, Charley.  I opened the Times, put it down and glanced at the front page of the Sun, below the fold on the right hand side.  “Community in shock over Harford man’s drug charges … Ecologist, decades long teacher revered by residents.”


My gut told me this was not some heroin dealing, gun toting, cocaine smuggling outlaw swaggering through the Harford County landscape posing as a mild mannered teacher of our children.  I was sadly right, as I read the story.  Sadly right and really, really pissed off.  


A sixty-two-year-old man who spent his life teaching kids about nature, our environment and love of life.  He smokes marijuana and it appears as if he might consume some psilocybin mushrooms sometimes.  He must really be an evil man.  Pretty soon, all the kids in Harford will be smoking dope, dropping acid, snorting cocaine, having sex and god knows what else.  Known as Ranger Bob to all the kids, why, if there ever was a contrived name, Ranger Bob is it.  Look, he even has a beard and plays Santa Clause on his Christmas tree farm.   That’s how he snares all those kids.  The devil in disguise.   You think he is really teaching about the earth, nature and our history, respecting life and the planet we live on…


OK, enough with the sarcasm, but this is just madness.   I don’t think anyone should go to jail, or have their home or children threatened with seizure, or livelihood taken away from them for smoking, growing or even selling marijuana.   Most Americans who are 62 and lived through the counter culture world of hippies, slogged through a rice paddy in Nam, were active in the anti-war movement, in some non-combatant military role or alive in 1968 smoked a joint.  Presidents did it.   Some folks still do it that lead functional, successful and productive lives.  


Most people I know, at some point in their lives, smoked dope.   There is a reason why we call it dope.   So, most of us don’t do it anymore.   Most of us don’t get drunk anymore.   We have more important things to deal with then people’s personal behaviors. 


People should not go to jail for using marijuana.  We should legalize it, tax it and let it be.   Grow hemp so we can stop cutting down trees for paper, and let marijuana bloom like we grow tobacco for cigarettes and hops for beer and barley for whiskey.    Many Indian reservations want the chance to grow hemp for industrial uses.   It could help our environment, create new jobs and new industries.  

 Every 45 seconds someone is arrested on a marijuana charge, and most of those for mere possession.   In 2003, the last statistics I could find, there was an all time high (no pun intended) of 755,186 with 88 percent of those arrests were for possession, not the manufacture or distribution, of marijuana.  The cost in imprisonment of these offenders’ amounts is conservatively $1.2 billion each year.   If you are arrested for growing over 100 marijuana plants you go to jail for a minimum of five years.  That is longer than for manslaughter or for grant theft auto.  Conservatively, it costs $1.5 billion a year to incarcerate these folks.  If you add in law enforcement and courts along with imprisonment, it may be as high as $15 billion a year. We could have spent that money to build new schools, to open homeless shelters or veterans’ hospitals, to preserve the environment or even to fund anti-drug programs in schools. 

Harvard Economist Dr. Jeffrey Alan Miron produced a highly acclaimed study, "The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition," which was endorsed by hundreds of economists, including conservative leaders like

Dr. Milton Friedman of the Hoover Institute, Dr. George Akerlof of the University of California at Berkeley, and Dr. Vernon Smith of George Mason University.  He concludes that “replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of legal regulation would save approximately $7.7 billion in government expenditures on prohibition enforcement — $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels for a combined savings of $10 to 14 billion dollars."

 Everyone has statistics.   This argument has been going on for a long time.  The bottom line is that chasing down pot smokers is a waste of our time, energy and money.   People should have the right to have as they wish, consume what they want and pursue their pleasures as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others, harm our children or the environment.   

Bob Chance, by all accounts from the former Mayor of Bel Air to the head of their county library, is a good soul who loves children and a defender of our environment who loves teaching.  He should not have his life destroyed because he likes to smoke pot on his own time.  He should be able to wake up on this unseasonably cool August morning not worrying about going to jail or losing his beloved farm.

Marc on Wal Mart and Unions

When I opened the Wall Street Journal this morning, that centerpiece article Wal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win:


"Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they’ll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies — including Wal-Mart.

In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized."

Wow, I just read it and sat there stunned for a minute.  Then I woke up,
and wondered what I was so shocked about. 

Here we have Wal-Mart, a store, that despite its new green image and it’s pronouncements about the Green economy with SEIU boss, Andy Stern, has a history of abusing its employees, paying low wages and few benefits.  

Wal-Mart says they are not telling any employees how to vote or who to campaign for. Right, I am working the cash register at Wal-Mart wearing a big Obama button.  Oops, is that a pink slip floating after me?!  Who’s to know, who’s to protect my rights.   Oh yes, that would be Papa Walton. 

Let me be clear about my past.   I have been a member of union.   I have
been a union organizer.   I am one of those who believe that if had not been for unions we would have had no middle class in the numbers that we have in America.  They fought to ensure that their working class members had a decent life.  

Now, unions have become increasingly irrelevant to life in America.   Partially of their own making by becoming lethargic corporate giants themselves.  Union leaders got too far away from their own members forgetting what it means to work hard to pay your bills and take care of your families.   They stopped organizing.  Yes, unions were victims of this economy and of the erosion of the industrial base of America.  But they have done little to fight it, to change with the times, to organize new workers, to speak up for the unorganized and to enter the 21st century.   They became lethargic dinosaurs. 

They became easy targets for onerous laws to destroy or curtail or cripple their power to organize.   Unions became the media demon and the business
the clean good guys in white shirts that knew how to run a nation. 

Unions are only here because so many employees get screwed.    It is
interesting I can think of five friends who own companies that don’t have unions.  Their workers don’t want or need them.   These owners run the gamut from libertarian to progressive to conservative to liberal.   They don’t have unions because they treat their employees right.  They offer health care, take care of people, worry about their families and take human beings into consideration.  They are small companies, too, from 50 to 200 employees.  They do it right. 

If business leaders don’t want unions, then treat people right.   Meanwhile,
America’s laws should be union friendly.   Unions need to be protected while organizing and have the freedom to do so.  The Employee Free Choice Act that Wal-Mart and others are so worried about is the least our government can do to protect an employee’s right to organize and better their lives.

Senators McCain and Obama, what say ye?   We are waiting here.

Marc on Mayor’s Control Over Baltimore Schools

 Psst!  Looking for Marc’s blog post on legalizing marijuana?  Click here to read it!  We sent the wrong link in the last email!  Sorry!


Yesterday’s Sun carried a story about Mayor Sheila Dixon’s desire to
reclaim control of Baltimore City Schools. She was always troubled
by the state takeover, as were many of us. She is being encouraged by all the other Mayors who have taken control of their city’s schools.

I remember when State Superintendent Dr. Nancy Grasmick made her move
to control the management of city schools. We aired a number of
conversations in this debate. I was very doubtful then of the logic
of the move. More importantly the state’s bureaucracy was no more
nimble or creative in its work, or willing to take the risks necessary
to change the city schools than the city school’s entrenched
Paleolithic-minded bureaucracy.

It was not until the Baltimore City Board of Education’s leadership
and direction changed that things began to move. More importantly it
was not until parents, students and teachers started to demand charter
schools that any movement took place. Ultimately, it was when Dr.
Andres Alonso arrived that our city schools began to make the
radical leaps needed to shake the lethargy out of aging special
interests. Now our schools have begun to blossom. Students,
parents, teachers and principals are beginning to be heard, held
accountable and be made part of running our schools.

The Board and the new CEO and our schools seem to be operating almost
independently of the state or the city. Things are changing. The
state needs to get out of the way. The city should not get in the
way. Maybe an entirely new partnership has to be created between the
city and our schools. Perhaps we have not invented the next step, yet.
The Mayor and the School CEO need some quiet time together to think
this through. City officials, the CEO, the school board, parents,
teachers, students, and our business and philanthropic leaders need to
spend some time thinking calmly and clearly about the future.

There is no going back to old paradigms and designs. There is no
handing pack power to old models of control and management. We need
to be moving forward to new ideas, not stuck in 20th century power
politics playing with the lives of our children.

We have a unique opportunity here. Let’s build it not blow it.

Marc on Baseball


That was some game last night at Camden Yards.   Hard fought between the Toronto Blue Jays and the O’s.  The crowd was on its feet, people did the wave over and over.  It was the bottom of the 9th,  2 outs,  bases loaded,  men walked standing on base, full count three and two, just two runs away from winning the night that was a see saw battle.  People were chanting go O’s … then the pop fly … out … it was over.  Three men left standing.  Oh well, it was beautiful night in our lovely Camden Yards.  We had great seats, six of them right down by third base. I bought ‘em at silent auction for Young Audiences, it was a steal.  Well, it was a contribution.

But I looked around and the stadium was empty. I was shocked at how empty the place was. It struck me that the more expensive the seats, the more people were in them . The bleachers, such as they are in Camden Yards (I mean by that they are still pricey but there is not a bad view in the house)  were the most empty.

The price of a ticket to a game and the cost of having a beer or a soda and some food is astronomical. My daughter Maisie and our friends’ daughter Jahia went down for some food.    I bought a beer, two waters, a crab cake, shrimp and box of popcorn.  It cost almost fifty bucks. It could have been a $200 night.

No wonder it was empty.   The economy is sinking, people are stretched paying for gas, groceries and the essentials. Who can afford baseball or football? To watch on TV you got have cable and that ain’t free either.

The time when you could turn on local TV and watch a game, or go to a game with your family of four or five, buy some food and drink, and have money left over, is gone, long gone.

I sat having another beer, eating some peanuts with our friend Sherrilyn and my lady, Valerie.  I remarked how long the game was taking.   There used to be just a seventh inning stretch. Now everyone was stretching between every inning. What was that?  Well, that was the big screen entertaining while baseball and television made their multi-millions selling advertising on television between each inning. So, a long game is even longer. Have another beer!

With all that money flowing and public money to build private stadiums, why is this simple entertainment costing us so much?   It’s more than just the huge salaries.

Maybe the owners should open up the park sometimes for less money. Go out to the middle class neighborhoods, the Latino community and inner city. Put some baseball back in the lives of people . Build tomorrow’s lovers of the game.

When the game was accessible on the tube, in your home, it belonged to everyone.   I saw a man walking down to his seat with his son. He had on an Orioles jersey with the number 34 on it and the name Hagy above it.  Remember him? Wild Bill Hagy, the Dundalk cabbie who led the cheering section in section 34 up in the bleachers of Memorial Stadium on 33rd street…. It was a people’s game then, wild, raucous, safe, and fun. And affordable!

He died not long ago.  An era went with him. 

It was still a great game, though.  Great baseball being played. We had a blast.   The girls holding up their home made Go O’s signs in orange and black trying fruitlessly to get the camera to see them so the world in Camden would see them waving on the big screen…it was fun.

Beautiful, beautiful stadium, great weather, good friends, good night …

But it ain’t the people’s game no more.

Marc on the New Yorker Cover


 That infamous cover

The cover of the July 21st issue of The New Yorker

Today I received a flurry of e-mails about the controversy that surrounded last week’s cover of The New Yorker depicting Barack Obama as a muslim in the White House with a picture of Osama bin Laden over the mantle with the American flag burning in the hearth. He is shown fist bumping with Michelle Obama who is sporting an Afro, ala 1960’s revolutionary Angela Davis, with an AK-47 slung over her back, camoflauge pants, and combat boots.


My initial response was to laugh at the satirical absurdity of the cartoon.   Ah yes, all of us sophisticated readers of The New Yorker. I am one, I love the magazine. I always find one or two or three articles I can’t wait to read. We are all so erudite, that is why we know how to laugh at the cartoon on the cover, when others do not. (You’re detecting my facetious tone I hope.)


But then I stopped a minute. I began thinking about how that cover plays into the hands of racists and those who deeply believe that this cover represents reality.  I heard this morning of one blogger who has used this cover in an animated gif. First you see the cover, then a message that reads “Why take the risk? McCain 2008.” The alleged and purported sophistication of many New Yorker readers not withstanding,(and I run the risk of angering some people here) some liberals often lack judgment that may be inspired by a racism that they would deny, or perhaps are not aware even exists within their consciousness. It runs deep in America. Or maybe it is just real satire that New Yorkers and other cosmopolitans get but others don’t. Maybe it is all the above.


I oppose censoring any kind of speech no matter how hateful, racist, sexist, anti Semitic or insulting to any group it might be.   I have a deep American rooted libertarian strain in me that chafes at any rules governing an individuals rights to say what he or she believes whether spoken in truth or satire.


Many people coming from minority cultures in America are often accused of being overly sensitive to what can be perceived as hatred, blatant or latent.   I am one of those. I feel the anti-semitic and racial stings deeply. When I read Tim Wise’s critique of that cover cartoon,  I found his comments to be at the very least latently or subtly anti-Semitic, though there was truth in his argument that the media is loathe to satirize Jews but are willing to do it to Blacks. And of course, we are all willing to satirize images of poor whites.


The New Yorker’s article became just another distraction in what needs to be a real conversation about this race. It even distracted from the interesting article in that issue about Obama’s Chicago political roots by Ryan Lizza. The story gave us new insight into how Obama got his political roots, lending to speculation about what kind of President he would make.


If I was editor of the New Yorker, I would have said no to the cover but maybe yes to it on the inside of the magazine as an illustration to create a discussion.   Satire should attract intense debate not distract us from debate. 

What did you think?


P.S. Some cartoonists have made their own versions of this cover, swapping John and Cindy out for Michelle and Obama.  What do you think?

Marc on Today’s Layoffs at The Sun

Another 100 layoffs with 60 from the newsroom. Our once vaunted paper is being decimated. Owner Zell already informed employees, the reporters and journalists that they were expendable and costly. He instituted a mathematical analysis of how many lines a reporter wrote to determine worth and wondered aloud why it takes 5 or 6 or 9 journalists to turn in one story on Iraq. It has all become bottom line and profit. Sure a business has to make money for reinvestment but news should not be entered into to make a financial killing. Maybe all papers should be non-profit, or maybe owners need to be satisfied with a smaller profit margin.

Who do we turn to understand, get stories and analysis from and of the daily news in our city, state, nation and world? Fox? Tabloids? Blogs? A democracy needs a free press that functions.

There was a time, when I was a kid, that the Sun was read every day in the White House. Now it is fast becoming fodder for the parakeet cage.

The writers and reporters at the Sun are some of the best in their world. I admire and feel their frustration at not being able to work their craft. We all deserve better.

Maybe there is an opportunity to create something new with all that talent now on the loose looking for work.

Marc’s take on spying on peace groups


The Maryland State Police Homeland Security and Intelligence Division have been spying on peace activists and anti-death penalty activists. Is this serious? Is this 1968 or 2008? If it were not such a dangerous precedent for the future of our civil liberties and our democracy, it would be laughable.

I want to ask, and will ask, Governor Martin O’Malley what he thinks. Governor O’Malley has been a leader among Governors (and Mayors when he was Mayor) in decrying the lack of attention and funds for state’s and city’s to deal with homeland security. He must be outraged at this misuse of funds and personnel. Spying on peace groups opposing the war in Iraq and anti-death penalty activists instead securing our port, rails, airports and following leads of those who may actually do us harm!

Will he oust the Col. Thomas Sheridan or demand explanations? This is truly a misuse and abuse of state power and authority.

We will be asking questions about this and discussing this on our website and our show next week. What do you think?


Marc on Keswick and the media



When I got back from Cape Hatteras last week, I was driving down Roland Avenue and saw all these signs saying “Stop Keswick.” I thought maybe all the retirees and senior citizens who live at Keswick Multi-Care Center had run amuck in the streets or became merry senior pranksters.


Then I went through a weeks worth of local papers to find out Roland Park was up in arms because the old Baltimore Country Club wants to sell its grounds for $14 million to Keswick Multi-Care Center to build their nursing home on new grounds.


You could dismiss it as wealthy North Baltimoreans whining over losing a bit green space to run their dogs or play Frisbee. It is more than that. Our green space is limited. It keeps getting eaten up by development deals and ever expanding businesses. Yes, we need business but there is plenty of room to expand without eating one more acre of green. Our uniqueness as a town and our quality of life is at stake.


It is not just the neighborhoods of North Baltimore. In the inner city there are vast tracts of brown dirt fields where houses once stood, not to mention the  acres of useless and unredeemable housing. Some are whole blocks and some just the width of a house or two. Why not turn these into green spaces as parks or urban farms or unique architectural landscaped oases for people to bask in?


It is all connected. The problem is that our communities are not connected. Each pocket whether in Roland Park, or Hampden, or Guilford Avenue or Forest Park goes it alone. Each fighting their individual battles to save their open space. They often lose because they go it alone.


Leave the green alone in on Falls Road and build gardens in the devastation of West Baltimore. Communities need to come together to support one another and determine what our urban landscape should be.



Media and the Campaign


Most of the political pundits in print and on the airwaves seem obsessed with guessing whom McCain and Obama will pick as their running mates. Take a breath; we will all know that answer right around Labor Day.


Cable talk, radio talk, even respected columnists keep talking about the insult of the week. How much longer can we talk about Wesley Clarke insulting John McCain, or whether Obama is moving to the center and do white men like him, or all the clap trap about Michelle Obama or Cindy McCain, and now we will hear ad nauseum about Jesse Jackson’s latest ridiculous comment about Obama. … STOP ALREADY!


There are serious issues facing America. Our commentators and pundits seem to all have taken the yellow journalism pill of “gossip is the news”. We deserve better. Can my colleagues in the media please focus on issues of substance?


Where is the debate over the candidates positions on FISA and wiretapping American citizens? Our economy is in a tailspin. What are their responses to the ever deepening mortgage crisis? Rising oil costs do not just effect gas prices but the cost of most of what we consume in the carbon powered economy of ours. What are are their plans?


Both candidates tax and spending proposals will drive our nation further into debt. Obama’s less so than McCain’s but who is asking them the tough questions about our future.


Both candidates want to boost military spending, add numbers to the Marines and Army. Ideas may differ on how they spend it but who is asking them about this and its implications?

The chances are we may not get to interview Senators Barak Obama or John McCain (we will try) but we will talk to their issue people and political leadership to hear what they have to say about their candidates’ vision for America. Forget gossip, the horse race and the specious scandal of the week, we need answers about the future of our nation.


What do you think?


Marc on Money and Political Power

Money and Political Power

The Baltimore Sun came out with a story this morning about the Mayor’s former boyfriend, Ronald Lipscomb, being part of a deal that won a lucrative contract even though another firm was given a higher rating, from the city’s housing commissioner, to receive the contract (read that article by clicking here).


I wish I had a dollar for every time we have reported or had discussions on a government contract going to "favored sons" instead of a seemingly more qualified group. I don’t think Mayor Dixon’s relationship with Lipscomb had anything to do with who was awarded this contract. The Sun raises a non-issue here, connecting dots that do not meet.


The real story is the cozy relationship between developers and local politicians. The real story is the inside track conversations that take place between the financially powerful and politically powerful over a drink, on the phone, during dinner or at some high priced ticket event.


It is almost impossible to keep money out of politics. All we can do is pass laws and have rules of ethics that elected and appointed officials of government must follow. We must have watchdog agencies that do not allow the wheels of power to be greased so they speed passed us unseen.


It appears that Mayor Dixon did not follow the rules. Successful politicians and their powerful friends get over on us all because they follow the disclosure rules. Then they go about making their millions perfectly legally (or at least getting away with it because they follow the modicum of procedural rule) though unethically.


Mayor Dixon and Senator Ulysses S. Currie (get up to speed on that story here) appear to not have made full legal disclosure of their contracts and contacts. They did not recuse themselves or make their relationships known before voting on contracts involving friends, clients or families.


Speaking of power and money…


Many of Senator Barack Obama’s supporters and others who want to and may very well vote for him were very disappointed when he did not accept public financing of his campaign. I must admit that I was shocked at how he went about this decision.


I was surprised that he, and his advisers, did not enter into serious discussion and negotiations with the McCain campaign to come to an agreement on public financing. If he had entered into those talks they may have come out with a plan that would have worked. Of course negotiations might have fallen apart.  If the latter happened then they could have announced no public financing. Instead, they did not even try. He made great statements about public financing before he became the front runner and then presumptive nominee.  

Given the legal lay of the land he could have accepted public financing as a show of integrity and still counted on hundreds of millions of dollars not covered by the public finance laws. Congressional and Senatorial campaign committees, independent 509 committees and other groups could have raised all the money they need to support anyone’s candidacy.


We should not be surprised. In politics, money seems to be the most powerful medium for alleged free speech.


Many are upset at what appear to be Obama’s moving to the center and changing positions, but we will save that commentary for another time.

What do you think?




Medgar Evers & Obama

Today is the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Medgar Evers. Medgar Evers was a Mississippi civil rights leader, and the head of the NAACP On this day 45 years ago, June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was gunned down in the drive of his home, the same day that Alabama’s segregationist Governor (and later Presidential candidate) stood on the steps of Alabama’s all white university to personally block the entrance of two black students.

President Kennedy gave one of his most impassioned speeches about the moral crisis that America was facing. He sent federal marshals to ensure the safety of those children.

The man who killed Medgar Evers was a man tied to the White Citizens Council, Byron De La Beckwith. He was never convicted in two trials, by two all white juries. They were both declared mistrials. It took thirty years but De La Beckwith was finally convicted of those murders before he died.

I will never forget the photos of Medger Evers, the great civil rights warrior lying in his own blood just feet from his home.

I was thinking about how so many died to end segregation in
, when Jessica Phillips, my producer, asked if I had seen what Fox News said about Michelle Obama. I had not and I wish I still hadn’t.

They are doing stories on their news about how the Republicans are going to go after Michelle Obama. The title on the screen under the story which ran on TV, that I was shown on the web, said “ Outraged Liberals: Stop picking on Obama’s Baby Mama.”

How outrageous, how disgusting, how blatantly racist. How is it that we have come this far and someone could still think this is ok?!? This is a major TV news operation, owned by Rupert Murdoch, known for its conservative slant and blatant untruths…but this reaches new heights, or should I write, new lows of despicable behavior.

This is the state of our media. This is the mindset that must be defeated. This is why we need to take back our media from corporate, uncaring bottom feeders who only think about the bottom line.

FOX News, Rupert Murdoch, you owe the Obamas, you owe your viewers, and you owe the nation an apology. Local outlets should stand up.

I am outraged.

Since we live here in Maryland, let’s call up Fox 45 to ask them if they will repudiate what their parent company has done.

Medgar Evers and Barak Obama are the bookends of our history of building an
that is a nation of hope for all our people and children. Fox News is the expurgated entrails we thought were thrown in the garbage, only to have its slime ooze over the edges onto our floors.

06/10 Marc on Larsen’s resignation from the PSC

 Steve Larsen’s Resignation

I am not surprised that Steve Larsen resigned as the head of the Public Service Commission. When community activists railed against him and O’Malley as sellouts to Constellation Energy, I always defended Larsen as a man of integrity and honesty. He believed in using the tools of the government to make the public sector more responsive to the citizens. He was a quiet, diligent and intelligent crusader on the inside, whether it was health insurance or regulating energy.

I think he resigned not to go back to the public sector to make more money but out of frustration. When the state reached the deal with Constellation Energy that ensured that the PSC would have no subpoena power, it took the teeth out of the PSC. Larsen would not be able to get to the bottom of any sweetheart deals between the Constellation and its subsidiary BGE to unearth whatever potentially unscrupulous deals were made to purchase energy at the consumers’ expense.

I wondered aloud how long Steve Larsen would stay after this. He was crusader for the people who had his cape destroyed. He chose to walk away rather than plummet to the ground.

Given the price of oil, the cost and real crisis we are facing with electricity generation and looming public wars over our energy future we need more caped crusaders or this secure world of ours could be in trouble. -Marc

Related blog posts:

04/09/08 Looking back at the session

03/28/08-Marc’s argument against the settlement

03/03/08 Marc on what is missing in the investigation


Banning Little Cigars

What would it really accomplish to ban the sale of small cigars in the city of Baltimore? What I am writing about is the Mayor and Health Commissioner wanting to ban the sale of individual little cigars that many young inner city folks use to make into blunts. Blunts are cigars stuffed with marijuana. Many young people and young adults buy the individual cigars because they can’t afford to buy a whole pack. They come in flavors that are very enticing to some such as watermelon, sour apple, and grape. Some people just like to kick back and have a smoke to relax. Much like more well off patrons who go to cigar shops and throw big bucks for a wannabe Havana cigar. I never did like them even when I smoked though I do like a Havana a few times a year.


Let me admit, I always have an initial visceral response to the banning of most anything. Outlawing substances that people choose on their own to ingest does nothing but increase criminalization of what is otherwise activities of individual choice. Tax products, go after unscrupulous manufacturers and distributors, and find creative ways to combat it. Don’t ban it.


If you ban the sale of cheap cigars by corner stores in the inner city then some enterprising young hustlers will buy them up and sell them on the street. I understand what the city is trying to accomplish, it is just the wrong way to go about it.


As some City Council representatives said to me “What do we do about the young people on the corner who terrify the older neighbors … it really is a generational thing . .lack of respect for the elders….” The response has to be much more profound than banning little cigars.


Take this to the state legislature, ban the sale of individual cigarettes state wide, tax the cigars, put warning labels on them, take on big tobacco, their Annapolis lobbyists and friends in the legislature, start an education campaign about health and smoking theses little flavored cigars. Open recreation centers, work programs for youth and hit the streets with street workers to challenge the street culture.


Banning cigars sales… a waste of time, money, energy and it is just the wrong thing to do.




06/06 Marc on 1968

"Where were you when…?"

Resurrection City, June 1968. Photo by Ollie Atkins.  See more.


I remember clearly where I was for all the horrible assassinations of the 1960’s.


I remember my quiet walk with Adrienne Cooper (who later died from a back alley abortion) around Stockbridge Bowl the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. We walked and reflected on the world we lived in light of that horrible event.


I remember two years later standing in line to view Malcolm X’s body as it lay in state in Harlem. I had taken a bus to New York as soon as I heard about the assassination.


I was living in the heart of the D.C. Ghetto, and pulling up to my apartment in my old VW bug when I heard the news on the radio that Martin Luther King had been assassinated. I was in the heart of the city, our nation’s capital, and within hours the city was burning all around me. I walked through that rebellion in the wake of his death.


When Bobby Kennedy was killed I was living in a plywood shack between the U.S .Capital and the Washington Monument with thousands of others in a place called Resurrection City.


Resurrection City was an encampment of thousands of poor people-Black, White, Puerto Rican, Mexican American and American Indian. They came from mountain hollers, the rural south, Indian reservations, small mill towns and inner cities. The Poor People’s Campaign, one of King’s last acts before he was assassinated, was an amazing movement because of its racial unity and its class-consciousness. It was led and driven by the poor themselves. They marched on D.C. from a dozen routes from across the nation. They took over the mall, built the city out of plywood. We slept there, cooked our meals there, had meetings, studied, played and created theater. This movement went beyond notions of white power or the new slogan of Black power. This was the people’s power, the power of the poor united across color lines. There were many in both Black Nationalist and white conservative movements who despised the interracial power of this movement and many wealthy supporters of civil rights were put off by the class demands of this group. I think this march may have heralded the end of the civil rights movement. Right now the mainstream media is doing story after story about the magical, mad, terrifying and glorious year of 1968-but in all that reporting, almost nothing has been said about the Poor People’s Campaign. A notable exception is the public radio program Weekend America which did a great piece on Resurrection City as a part of their series This Weekend in 1968.  Click here to for their interviews and multimedia slideshow.


Bobby Kennedy was one of those who supported the idea of the poor marching on the capital. His death brought a pall over our encampment. His body passed us on the way to the Rotunda. The mourning was palpable, soulful and deep among the thousands who camped on the mall that summer.


It has been forty years since a politician like that captured the imagination of America. Bobby Kennedy was loved by all the communities camped out on the mall that summer and by working and middle class people across our country. You can’t help but ponder what America might have become had he become the President of the United States.


Do we have another running now like that? Do we?


What do you think?


6/05 Marc on the end of the 2008 Democratic Primary Season


The Marc Steiner Show Returns!


OK, folks we are about to launch our new show on WEAA. In the beginning we will only be on WEAA once a week, but we will be moving to a daily show in September.


For now, join me every Wednesday morning at 9 AM on 88.9, WEAA, for a live show. We will have some town meetings over the summer so you can join us live in the evening, as well.


At last, a candidate!


Tell me what your take is on the Presidential election. What do you make of Hillary Clinton’s speech? If the delegate count is what it is and the voting is over then should she not concede? Should she not now unite in a way that allows the increasingly divided Democratic electorate to heal and unite?


In her defense, Senator Clinton has stated that she has won the popular vote. The issue of the popular vote is real given how cheated, dismayed and angry Democrats felt in 2000 after Al Gore won the popular vote but did not attain the presidency. However, is it right that Hillary Clinton’s camp counts Florida and Michigan in vote counts when those primaries were invalid? When Senator Barack Obama wasn’t even on the ballot in Michigan?


That brings up another issue. I thought it was insane for the Democrats to disallow Florida and Michigan from participating in the primary elections. The whole primary system is ridiculous to begin with. It is an anarchic system with each state vying for supremacy of importance. Iowa and New Hampshire, whose caucus and primary did not come into importance until 1972 and 1953, respectively, are anachronisms. The entire system of primary and general elections needs to be shortened and simplified.


All that not withstanding, should Senator Hillary Clinton concede and bring her troops in for the battle for November? Or should she fight on in hopes of his stumbling bloody before the finish line?


I really want to know where you are on all of this.


More soon….


5/14 from Marc


Lou Cantori 

Lou Cantori was a force to be reckoned with.  We lost him this week to a heart attack at his home on Monday.

Lou appeared on our show dozens of times over the last fifteen years. He was just a lovely and wonderful  human being with a powerful mind.


He was every bit of the Marine sergeant that he was as a young man in the fifties. He was a patriot who continued to teach not just at his academic home, UMBC but also at our US military and intelligence academies.  He taught them reality of our world, not just what they wanted to hear. He was no one’s parrot. He spoke fluent Arabic and defied America‘s academe by trying to enlighten us to the true nature and soul of the Arabic and Muslim worlds.


He was that unlikely combination of a military and intelligence analyst who was a champion of social justice in America and the world.


Despite all his work, his first priority was the love he had for his family. As his son Greg Cantori said to me this morning, Lou was the best father in the world.  He was always there for them.


Greg also told me the story about when they lived in LA  during the mid-sixties. Lou was the head of the West Side Housing Association, fighting racial discrimination in housing at a time when you were allowed to have "Whites Only" and "No Colored" signs in your advertising.  The great Carroll O’Conner, Rob Reiner and others were fixtures in their home, as board members of Lou’s movement.  It was there that Greg first learned about fighting for social justice.


He is a beacon for all of us. He was a tough guy and gentle caring soul, he was a patriot, a progressive, a jarhead (Marine) through and through, a fighter for social justice and deeply devoted father and husband. Lou Cantori ..  I love you and will miss you forever. I will carry your spirit in my heart.

From the Cantori Family

 There will be an open house to celebrate his life on Sunday, June 8 at Nadia’s home near Laurel, Md. We would be honored to have you attend. Please RSVP by responding to


Exact details on time and directions will be available soon on our memorial blog/website:


Please check back soon. We will be updating and checking this site frequently.


In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either of the following:


UMBC Foundation, Lou Cantori Scholarship Fund, C/O Kim Robinson

8th Floor, Administration Building

1000 Hilltop Circle

Baltimore, MD 21250




Kidsave c/o Lou Cantori Memorial Fund

PO Box 277587

Atlanta, GA 30384-7487


Lou touched many lives: personally, professionally and in his community and it’s been quite a job contacting so many people.  Please feel free to forward this message to others that knew Lou.


Our family would like to thank everyone who kept Lou in their thoughts during his illness.


The Cantori Family

5/12 from Marc

Juvenile Justice

The Sun story on Saturday May 10, 2008 of the Juvenile Justice Center being out of control is not new news (read it here). The teachers are fearful and have had enough so they stepped up to the Governor.

Last year, we reported on the Marc Steiner Show about the potential for an explosion and the loss of control at the center.

Ray Cook, who works with gangs and inner-city kids in trouble with their lives and the law, through his program On Our Shoulders, was hired by juvenile services after meeting Secretary Donald DeVore on my program earlier in 2007. Ray is one of those unique figures who can walk into a situation and can instantly demand respect and trust on the toughest corners, with young people deeply involved in Bloods, Crips, and other gangs. He is from those streets. He has hustled, led criminal operations and been jailed on those streets. He turned his life around. Now, he’s obsessed with saving the children of our city. He is a father figure to kids around Edmondson Avenue and now down in Cherry Hill.

At any rate, Ray took a job with DJS because he thought he could make a difference. Secretary Donald Devore, who I truly believe wants to and is trying to change the system, hired him because he knew Ray could make a difference. Ray, and another man he brought in to the Juvenile Detention, Dante Wilson, who runs Reclaiming Our Children, (ROCAP,) had the hardest cases in that joint listening, weeping and talking and on the move, the slow grueling move, to come face to face with their emotions and turn their lives around.

Ray and I spoke everyday that he worked at the detention center. It was tearing him up inside. He kept saying to me “Man, it is out of control. They won’t listen (talking about the bureaucrats.) It is off the hook.” He quit in frustration.

Ray Cook is not a company man but an effective man who knows how to move children who are deeply damaged by the streets and poverty, in a way most with all the graduate degrees in the world cannot.

This is not to disparage all the teachers, social workers, counselors, and therapists working with our kids who have been busted, detained, arrested, and jailed. It is a process where all parties and skills are needed to work together to salvage our collective future.

It is to say, this is not new news. They would not listen to Ray and the others.

The solutions are right in front of us. Maybe the Juvenile Justice system ought to turn the school and therapeutic sections of that institution over to men and women who can run it successfully. Bring in an independent non-profit designed to do the job right. Give them the independence and power to do it right. Hire people who come from the streets themselves, who have track records of successfully working with children in trouble. Don’t be afraid to hire ex-cons and others who can make a difference.

Maybe the state should think twice before building more maximum-security juvenile institutions. Maybe we should start investing in community programs, halfway houses and community corrections facilities instead of prisons. Maybe we should put money into recreation centers and after school programs, turning our neighborhood schools into community schools that operate 24/7. Maybe we should invest the resources we have now in new directions. Maybe spend a little more in the right and most effective places. Maybe the state government and bureaucrats should start listening to and heading the advice of the Ray Cooks of our world.

Then maybe we can start to turn this thing around.


From Marc – May 8


On May 19th, from 6 to 8 PM, I will be hosting a special two-hour, live call-in with Baltimore Schools CEO Dr. Andres Alonso on WEAA, 88.9 FM, your community radio station.

One of the issues we will talk about is violence in our schools. In many city schools, it is palpable when you walk through their halls or when you talk to students and teachers who are in them every day.

It is fine to give more control to individual principals and schools, but there needs to be a system-wide policy to address what is in their control to address. Violence cannot be tolerated. Students who attack teachers and other students have to be dealt with firmly. Students have to know the limitations. The response can be therapeutic and healing, but it must be swift and with consequences.

Then you can talk about what individual schools can do.

So, please, join us on the 19th; it will be great being back on the air with you and taking your calls.


So, I wandered over to the WYPR website yesterday. Don’t do that often. Actually, this may the second or third time I have done it since they kicked us off the air. I thought I would take a gander to see what was going on.

The Board of Directors meeting scheduled for May 20th at the Learning Tree has been turned into an internet meeting to be streamed live. Apparently, so many folks still outraged by the senseless cancellation of our show called in to say they were coming to attend the meeting. So, the folks at the top at the station said we could be in compliance with Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) open meeting rules by streaming it on the web.

It is amazing they really have no respect for the people of this community or their station’s listeners and members. It is outrageous and very telling when the leaders of that station are afraid to face and listen to their listeners.

For a while a few years ago, I was excited by how much underwriting was being brought into the station. It was to be a model for the nation’s public radio stations on how to address the dwindling federal support for public broadcasting. Then I realized that while underwriting grew, funds for expanding and building membership were being eviscerated at the station. Underwriting accounted for over 53% of funds and membership was down to the thirties. Underwriting by large corporations has steadily grown at WYPR since the station’s founding. The influence that the corporate money buys is significant, but that is clearly to the liking of the management.

I now realize that this is not the salvation of public radio, but the bells chiming that could be its death knell. Public broadcasting is supposed to be adventuresome, where opinions outside the mainstream are heard and given voice, where creative experimentation is unleashed, where members and listeners actually participate.

We are losing control of our public airwaves and we must demand them back.


I was reading in the Sun about the MTA light rail dilemma, which got me thinking about mass transit. So, more people seem to be using light rail because of high gas prices. That is a wonderful thing. Most seem to believe we can’t get people out their cars into public transit. Well, I think over the long run we can. Keep gas prices high, stop building new developments, squeeze the auto industry to make hybrid/electric/hydrogen vehicles, and for god’s sake put money into mass transit and stop building so many bloody highways. Life can change. It takes, it takes patience …… it takes money.

In the meantime, MTA has to get its act together. The state should take some of that highway money (those highway contractors and developers are powerful lobbies in Annapolis) and put it into MTA and the MARC to buy more cars, high speed (give them a lane) hybrid alternative diesel busses, and more maintenance workers and inspectors. In the long, they should build more rail (so MARC runs faster and the Light Rail has at least two tracks with more routes.)

That is the answer. Short term – buy more cars and busses. Long term – give us more rail.

It can be done. Am I nuts? What do you think?


The common wisdom has been, and primary election vote analyses tell us, that higher income people with more education, African-Americans, and younger voters are voting for Obama and that older voters, white women, Latinos, to a degree, and working people with less education are going with Clinton. No matter what happens, a portion of the Hillary voters will never vote for a Black man and a portion of the Barack voters will never vote for Hillary or a woman. The majority of primary voters, many of them new or voting for the first time in many years, could be Democratic voters in the fall.

It means that the two candidates have to come together and convince their supporters to support a new tomorrow together or they may once again lose despite Americans’ frustrations and anger over the state of the economy and the war in Iraq.

They have to ignore the demagogic demons of cable talk TV, these so-called pundits with nothing to say but divisive viscera of mistrust and hate. Democrats have to stop talking about Reverend Wright, ignore and rise above the media’s obsession with their “bittergate" and dividing people with emotionally charged rhetoric over race and class. Sure, race and class are at the core of our fears, our mistrust, and the most horrendous parts of our history.

They have to speak forcefully, passionately, persuasively and intelligently about those things that concern Americans. You have to speak to people’s hopes and fears about the future. There is no reason why the wealthiest nation on the planet cannot guarantee a decent income, health care, and schools that we want our children to go to. Someone has to make sense of immigration and our relationship to the world economy honestly and clearly. People will hear it. Americans want us out of Iraq; we did not want to be there in the first place. Now it has to be clear that the Republican mess has to be cleared up, and it won’t be easy. Say it clearly; it will be heard. Most Americans want large corporations and the financial investment industry to be regulated and allow small business to flourish. People want immediate help and a vision for the future. Most folks don’t mind paying if they know where they are going. That is as long as the paying for is equitable where the wealthiest and the major corporations are carrying their weight and then some.

Talk about those issues and bring our future into the clear light of day and most Americans will go…"Reverend WHO?”

The Republicans have their vision and their candidate(s). The Democrats better see to theirs unless they want to sit by the gates of the White House panting like a thirsty dog for the next four years.


So, one of my favorite spots to eat near our new Hampden office is Soup’s On, located on 36th Street in Hampden. They’re closing this Saturday for three months. Just two days left to get your favorite soup, salad, chicken pot pie, iced coffee and dangerous cupcakes. The lovely Cynthia, proprietor and creator of Soup’s On, is going to have a baby. Get her wares while you can, or wait till the end of the summer.

Also, went to Luca’s Café in Locust Point, on Fort Avenue across from the Phillips Seafood HQ. The food was just phenomenonal and prices, well, four of with a few drinks was $96 bucks. Great wine list too. Check it out.

At the Baltimore School for the Arts, students and faculty are putting on four one-act Moliere plays. It runs through Sunday. Don’t miss it. The plays are really well acted by adults and students. My old friend Tony Tsendas is hilarious, right in his element (I think he channels the Marx brothers.) Richard Pilcher directs it all. Don’t miss it. Our School for the Arts (and Carver in Baltimore County) is among the best in the nation.

5/02/08 end of the week

I am sitting here at my computer; I have not blogged all week. I have really wanted to write something.The week has been taken up with planning the future of the Center for Emerging Media, so we can become the new public media for our community.It has taken time to raise money and plan productions. I am lucky that despite the uncertainty, Jessica Phillips and Justin Levy, my producers, left WYPR to work with me and build CEM.

So, this morning I was all set to wax forth on Presidential campaigns, Obama and Wright, the property tax wars in Baltimore City, and the future of the bay and the crabs that are trying to survive in it, but I am just not there right now.I will be, though, in the coming days. Right now, I keep reflecting on how this has been an interesting two weeks of lecturing at colleges and emceeing.It has filled me with a joy and hope for our future.

And this morning, I was all set to write, when I went outside to look at the field across from our home.A family of foxes dug its den across the road.The mama fox gave birth to five kits the other week.So instead of writing I went outside with my binoculars to watch the kits cavort with one another, leaping in the air and wrestling.Some wandered over to suckle on their mother, who sat calmly watching over her offspring to ensure their safety.

Then, just as I had my fill of my new neighbors the Foxes, Valerie called me outside again.Her hands were cupped around a baby finch that had left its nest too early.It was huddled up on the windowsill of our den.She called the wild animal rescue lady and now has the baby in one of the carrying cases she keeps around to rescue small things lost or injured.My lady is a reiki master and performed her reiki healing on the young bird.We will see how the young, downy-covered boy fairs today.

The spring is full of life and new birth, as I’m witnessing with the exciting and creative growth of the Center for Emerging Media.

We will be sending our fund drive letter out to you all soon, so you can support your new public media meeting ground in Baltimore.CEM will be doing some interesting things for and with you in the coming months.

Last night, I was the emcee for a Baltimore Green Week event at Morgan State University.The keynote speaker was Van Jones, who is the founder of Green for All. WEAA recorded his talk.It was so inspirational.He is working to bridge the gap between social and environmental justice.His thrust is that building a green economy creates jobs and is the way to start ending inner city poverty in America.

He is right.We have to build industries in this country based on solar and alternative energy technologies.Just retrofitting all the buildings in America can create millions of jobs.He calls for a Green New Deal to stimulate this economy, government stimulus that will release the entrepreneurial spirit to create new jobs and new industry.He is right we have to dream big and push for a new America.Our country needs to be the world leader of the new Green Economy.The earth and our future will not wait.It has to happen now and we have to make it happen.

This week, I also lectured to a graduate communications class at Morgan and moderated a panel of actors, a writer, director and producer from The Wire at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.You can hear The Wire panel right on our site.

Two weeks ago, it was Goucher, this week Morgan, and I continued to be inspired by this generation of twenty-somethings in our midst.They want to do the right thing, are socially committed, and the graduate students I met at Morgan want nothing to do with corporate media.They want to create their own and say what has to be said.

So, all in all, it has been a good week.And next week, well I promise to write more…and want to hear from you.

Have a wonderful weekend…see you at the Flower Mart in Mt. Vernon.


4/24/08 Youth Violence and More

Youth violence seems to be in the air now.   At least it is all over the news.   Fifteen-year-old Nakita McDaniels was sentenced to the juvenile system for leading the attack on a woman on an MTA bus.   From accounts discussed in court and published, she seems to have a history of violently attacking people who she feels have disrespected her.    Disrespect – that is a key phrase.

When I got home late last night from my speaking engagement with Goucher students, I got on the web to look at the latest KAL cartoon videos.  When I got to You Tube I noticed videos commenting about an earlier video of eight young people who invited another teen to a friend’s home, so they could beat her up for a comment she made.  The idea was to tape it and put it online. 

It made me think of the teacher who was beaten up recently at Reginald F Lewis High School in the city.  A young person taped her beating and put it up on the web.

It seems that it has become a badge of honor to commit an act of violence, videotape it, and put it online.     

When I interviewed the students from the Algebra Project yesterday (available for podcasting on our website later today) they spoke about the hopelessness of stopping the violence in our schools.    They said it comes from the street and carries over into the schools.  It is a matter of respect they say.   You have to respond if you are disrespected.   The communities are a dangerous place they said.   They seem to be critical of the violence but accepting of the moral rightness of “defending yourself if you are disrespected.” 

What we face here is more than implementing policy to address violence in our schools and among our youth.  We are facing an issue of major ethical and moral consequence for our world.     Violence is nothing new. Mob violence and gladiators are age old, as old as humankind.  This nation was built on violence. Lynch mobs and mass beatings resound throughout our history.   

But it is different now.   When I was in elementary school and junior high school, we had fights.  I remember one big one in the 6th grade between a good, tough guy and the school bully.  It was the biggest fight I had ever seen, up to that point in my life, which is why it has stayed with me all these years.   I went to Garrison Junior High, known as little Alcatraz, I suppose, because it was where middle class/poor blacks and whites met for the first time in a school setting.  My second day there I got into a fight defending another kid who was being picked on.  I got the stuffing beaten out of me by another kid who later became my friend. 

Those were fights.  But what are happening now are mass beatings.  

There is a confluence of social events that is exacerbating violence in our world.    

First, violence is in our face all the time.   Media saturation has changed the way we live and think.   One of the reasons that the Vietnam War was ended by protests was because it was in our living rooms every night on the evening news.   Our soldiers killed, wounded, and in distress were scenes America could not get out of its collective mind.

Now with cable and the Internet and the market demanding its profit, the media is pervasive, with us 24/7.   So, the sex and violence that has always titillated us as human beings draws us in constantly through the television and our computers.  Once we had boxing and wrestling; now it is extreme fighting.  Sex was something we did or had to go to a foreign film or porno theater to watch.   Now, just click it on… any kind of sex, from joyful to perverse, is a mouse click away. 

We are like kids on sugar.   Humans love sugar, but we had to search for the fruit to get it until we packaged chocolate and candy.   Now, look at us. 

Put that access to violence with the culture of violence we breed in America and you have an explosion.  Those who live in the direst of inner city poverty in America absorb that violence like no other part of our culture.   It is reflected back out at us liking a blinding beacon.  Since the turn of the last century, America’s oppositional culture has come from or been reflected out of Black America, from blues to jazz to being cool and hip, to challenging the established order and world, and now on to hip hop.   We have kept Black America imprisoned and that prison culture has taken over the street and that street is the mirror America must face. 

We have to recognize what we have done to ourselves, so we can figure how to fix it and mend our country.  We can do it. 


Last night I spoke at Goucher College.   I left so inspired by the young people I met there.  I met students who had gone to New Orleans to rebuild the 9th Ward, who were studying Chesapeake Bay grasses to save our environment, who were working with the Latino community in East Baltimore to tell their stories and start a low power AM station, who wanted to join Teach for America when they graduated… 

An African American woman, a little older than the students, came up to me after my speech saying she read about it in the Examiner.  She was concerned about these kids being so naïve but wanting to do good.  She herself was trying to find out how to get involved in social change to lift up her community. 

These were the Obama kids full of hope.   They want to use their minds, their skills, and new technology to change their world, to make it a better place for all of us. 

I am meeting young people like this everywhere I go, in Baltimore’s public high schools and in private schools like Park and Friends.   They are at University of Maryland Law, Medicine and Social Work schools.   Undergraduates at UMBC, Coppin, and Morgan.     

Students from UM and Baltimore law schools going to New Orleans in droves to provide legal services for the poor and incarcerated of Katrina.   The Albert Schweitzer scores from UM that are more interested in humanitarian work than raking in the bucks. 

In this world, the positive and the negative dwell side by side in the dialectic dance.   These young people and the countless thousands like them in public, parochial and private high schools, in our communities, wealthy, middle class and poor, and in our colleges and universities, are our hope, are our future, are the beauty and joy in this madness we live in.

 More about them in a later blog.



4/21 from Marc


Our new website is born. So please spend some time with us here. Our endeavor is to create a new public media that crosses all the platforms and makes you part of all that is going on around you. We have archived our Peabody Award winning series, Just Words and the documentary series we produced on the Vietnam War that we taped here in the states and Vietnam. Our new programming, like conversations with folks from the Wire, Phil Donahue, Andre Codrescu and others is here, as well. There are also video, still photography, and places for your comments.

Speaking of places for your commentary, we opened forums for you to comment on anything that is on your mind. It’s sort of like open phones on the web. Please join us there and send us some story and interview ideas. Tell us what is happening in your communities and things of interest you think we could share with everyone.

Politics and the Media

The Pennsylvania primary is tomorrow. Thank God, at last, we thought it would never get here!

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama debate in Philadelphia.  Photo Credit: AP Photo

I don’t know if you saw last week’s faux debate between Hillary and Barack on ABC. I do mean faux, it was just horrible. What is wrong with major media in our country? Is it just them or are we all becoming that shallow, uninteresting and banal? They are shirking their duty to all of us. Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos were pushing Barack Obama on his relationship with Bill Ayers, former SDS Weatherman who went underground in the sixties. They’re focused on Hillary and her claim that she had to run under sniper fire which turned out to be false. The media created “bittergate” as they call it, and are pushing the capital gains tax! Well that fits, most of the big media stars are so well paid and run with such wealth that I guess they are worried about capital gains. What about the rest of us?!

Where were the questions about Iraq, the economy, health care, our infrastructure, home mortgages, the financial market, No Child Left Behind and our schools, veteran’s benefits, Afghanistan, global warming, the environment and the future of this nation?

It is all about selling product and the drivel they think will sell to the masses. Well, give the masses some credit. Those who are involved and voting deserve better.

In Pennsylvania, they could have devoted the debate to the economy. What are their ideas about the financial markets? Do they believe that hedge funds and speculation of billionaires need the same oversight as banks? What role does the federal government play in stimulating this economy? Can we create a green economy and rebuild the infrastructure of America the same we did in the 30’s or in the 19th century when the federal government stimulated growth by building the canal system and then later the railroads?

Give us something! America is at a crossroads with wars, the economy and a 21st world that will be very different that the last century.


One small tidbit that I would like to share. I heard that management will be spending considerable money for an advertising firm to rebrand the station. It feels it must clean its tarnished image of the last several months. It must purge the identification of Steiner with WYPR.

They tried that before, spending at least $20,000 on the 5th anniversary for WYPR.

Oh, well…join me, join us at the Center for Emerging Media as we create a new public media for our community, for all of us, for the 21st century.


4/09/08 from Vietnam, to Annapolis, to the Movies

This has been an interesting week. First, the Peabody Award comes for our work on the series we produced called Just Words. It was funded by the Open Society Institute and aired on WYPR for a little over a year. We submitted the work for the prestigious Peabody but had no expectations of winning one. It is a little overwhelming to be in the company of Steve Colbert, Planet Earth, Sixty Minutes, and other incredibly important national shows (including Project Runway, which I watch at my 11 year old daughter’s behest). It is quite an honor.

From 2005 to 2007 dozens of NPR stations around the country aired our six part documentary series, Shared Weight. I don’t know how many of you heard them (all six will be up on our new website for you to hear and podcast). They are six stand-alone hours produced with and about Vietnam veterans from both sides of the conflict. We spent six weeks in Vietnam recording and three veterans of that war went with us.

At any rate, we planned to return to Vietnam sometime in June or July to finish one of our stories. The first hour in our series was the story of Vietnam Veteran Homer Steedley and North Vietnamese soldier Hong Ngoc Dam. Homer killed Dam on his first day in Nam. They met coming around a bend in the road. There they were alone face to face. Homer got his gun our first. Dam died. Homer took the documents off his body. He kept them in his mother’s attic. For over thirty five years the image of that young man’s face and the documents he kept haunted him. He had to find Dam’s family to give them back that piece of him, of their son, husband and brother. We found the family. That first hour was called Wandering Souls because Vietnamese Buddhists believe that souls of the dead wander if their bodies or something of theirs is not returned home. Dam was one of 350,000 Vietnamese MIAs.

Now, Homer is going back to Vietnam for the first time since the war. He wants to meet Dam’s family and together they will journey to Kontum to find Dam’s body. We want to be there to finish this story of healing.

Well, we found out this week the trip is moved up to May. So, producer Jessica Phillips and I will be journeying to Vietnam. Hopefully, we will be sending back stories to you, with any luck with sound and pictures.

When we get back, we will head out in early June to the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They want to hear, and we want to tell, the story of what happened at WYPR. We want to tell the story of this community’s efforts to keep the public in public radio and to build and keep our sense of community. There will be thousands of people there who are dedicated to keeping alive and creating community non-corporate-controlled media. We will let you know what we find.

Then I am off for a week to the Pueblo Indian reservation in New Mexico to teach radio to a national gathering of Native American high school students. It is a camp called Native Visions started by the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. It is not my first time there over the last fifteen years, but I love teaching at the place. Hopefully, more stories for me to share.


OK, Annapolis is done. The session is over. So, what really happened?

The biggest crime was the Constellation Energy deal being ratified by a bullied State Senate and House of Delegates. It was 1999 deregulation redux. I know, I know, the reregulation debate can still occur. The Public Service Commission was not granted subpoena power. This is the single most important failure of that deal and legislation. Read Sun Business Columnist Jay Hancock’s column today. We still do not know why energy cost so much after the 2005 auctions or what goes on at the auctions. The control of the grid and wholesale electric market is opaque, at best, at the state, regional and national level. It is controlled by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is controlled by the federal government, which, as we found at the beginning of the Bush/Cheney administration, is controlled by big oil and coal. Remember Vice President Cheney’s Energy Task Force in 2001 that would not release its report and never did. Do you remember that it was made up of all his friends in oil and coal and their ancillary industries?

What we needed was a bill that put teeth in the PSC, that changed laws to allow full disclosure of deal making in that industry and encourage our elected Congressional representatives to demand reform at the national level.

We can have openness, honesty, and a strong energy future with Constellation or anyone else. These ideas are not mutually exclusive.


OK, enough blah blah … what I want to know is when will these clouds go away? I want sunshine.

We saw the film Stop Loss the other day at Hunt Valley. It was a powerful movie about the back door draft affecting the lives of so many American soldiers. It was by directed by Kimberly Pierce, whose previous film was Boys Don’t Cry. We went to a 5 PM show. We were the only two people sitting in the theater. I know Mondays at five may be a slow movie time but I think Americans don’t want to hear about this war. So few of us know people who serve, who died there or who were wounded in battle. What about you, do you know anyone who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan? After we saw the film I was thinking about my student’s brother who died in Iraq and another woman I know whose son was killed in Iraq. This war makes me angry.

We also saw John Sayles’ Honeydripper at the Charles. What superb acting, wonderful script, great music and uplifting. God, it felt good to walk out of a movie smiling.

And Thursday night, it is the Stones in Scorsese’s Shine a Light at The Senator. I can’t wait. Talk about feeling good. I am afraid to tell you all that I saw my first Stones concert in the spring of ‘64 in Albany, New York. I have been hooked ever since. I was always more of Stones man than a Beatle boy. Though I loved post 65 Beatles. OK, too much information.

See you at the movies.

4/3/08 More on Iraq War

Yesterday in Washington DC, we interviewed Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro, who co-produced the documentary on the Iraq War, Body of War. The subject of the film is Thomas Young, an Iraq war veteran who was shot through his fourth vertebra and is paraplegic. It is one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever seen. On Friday, we are going to interview Thomas Young. Living with the injuries he sustained in that war tires him out, so, he could not join Donahue and Spiro when we interviewed them yesterday. He graciously agreed to reschedule our interview and meet with us tomorrow morning. Once we have that interview in the can, we will be producing an audio/videowebcast and public radio show on the Body of War. It is coming soon.

This week I have been thinking a lot about the veterans of this Iraq war. I watched Body of War three times preparing for our interviews with Phil Donahue and the others. I have been talking with Josh Kors who exposed how the Department of Defense labeled over 20,000 veterans with “pre-existing conditions” so they could deny them millions of dollars in benefits. And last Monday I gave a keynote address to veterans and those who work with disabled, addicted and homeless veterans.

On top of that, this week in Adbusters and Rolling Stone there were articles about the Iraq war’s Marlboro man, James Blake Miller.

The photograph of him taken during the battle of Fallujah with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth, eyes staring off, with blood and dirt on his face became the iconic image of the young, tough, swaggering American war hero. He was a teenager then. His image was used and abused to support the war and entice other young people to join up. James Miller, who suffered severe PTSD, is now home in Kentucky, violent, angry, reflective and alone. He refused to let his image or name be used to support Bush’s war.

There are now over 4,000 American service people who have died in Iraq and almost 29,000 wounded or horribly maimed and crippled. There are tens and tens of thousands more who were wounded in body and soul. They estimate that up to 40% of returning vets will suffer from PSTD. The National Guard, whose rate of PTSD is astronomical, gets few federal benefits.

Our advanced medical technology kept those 28,000 badly wounded service people alive. If this were Vietnam, most of them would be dead. Yet the system of medical care for our veterans is in worse shape now than it was forty years ago. There is a scene in Body of War, when two veterans, one from the Iraq war and the other from the Vietnam war, both in wheelchairs, are talking. The Viet vet said he was in the hospital for a year with his wounds and was taught how to care for himself. The younger Iraqi war vet was in the hospital for only three months.

We went into this war without thinking about the consequences for Iraq, and for our veterans. All this mayhem and blood spilled for what?! For oil? For strategic political hegemony?

Yes, it was for oil. Yes, it was a war to protect our oil interests and our allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel. We produced many shows on the lead to up to this war. In that, we discovered Project for A New American Century, a think tank in Washington DC. Papers written over a twenty year period by all the shining lights of the Bush administration (Abrams, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Libby, and others) lay it all out in clear detail why we need to invade Iraq: protect the oil and secure American political power in the Middle East.

So now the Bush administration has gotten us into this madness, we have to deal with our responsibility to Iraq, a nation we have torn asunder, and to our veterans. We will be paying for the steep social and fiscal costs of this war for a generation, maybe more.

I don’t mean to rant or bring you all down, but when I meet and interview veterans of this war, and when I interview Iraqis here and in Iraq, I become so angry at what has been done to us. Now, we as a people have to make it right.


3/28/08 Constellation Deal

So, what is up with this deal between O’Malley and Constellation? Where are the voices of dissent? Where are the voices in our state legislature, in print, on TV and in radio who are raising questions about this so-called settlement?

Martin O’Malley ran on a campaign to address consumers being shortchanged, over-charged and ripped off by Constellation and their home state company BGE as a result of the 1999 deregulation of the industry. A move pushed by Sen. Pres Mike Miller and one of the forgotten forces behind all that lobbying in Annapolis in 1999 – ENRON.

The state government and Constellation say this will allow us to deal with a looming energy crisis in the next few years that will lead to brownouts across the state. We don’t generate enough electricity for our growth. But how does this “settlement” address that issue?

OK, so now we are getting some credit and rebates and the state won’t have to pay the bill of deactivating Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plants. We all get back $175 if we are lucky and they get to profit millions or even billions. We are still saddled with at least a 72% increase in our rates. Governor and state leaders, tell that to our bank accounts every month!

Because of the settlement, there will be no more investigations into stranded costs paid to Constellation to compensate them for losses that never occurred when they took over BGE plants. What about the investigation into the corporate relationship between BGE and Constellation? What about the accusation that Constellation sells Maryland energy sources outside the state, then sells them back to us, to BGE for huge profits? No further investigations into the wholesale power auctions and our exponentially rising utility bills! Investigations in 2005 and 2006 clearly showed something amiss. It clearly appeared we were being gouged and huge profits were being made. We will never know the answer to what happened to us and what Constellation really did.

No subpoena power for the Public Service Commission! How will they get to the bottom of anything as they look at re-regulation of the industry and plan for the energy future of our state? Steve Larsen, Chairman of the PSC, on my show, said he wanted the answers to this and more. Now his hands are tied.

Constellation stock is now on the rise. They can have outside investors without state regulatory approval.

What about the future? Hydropower will have its end. Our dams can’t handle the load and the silt is building up. Solar, wind and nuclear will take years to make a dent in our total energy supply. Does this give Constellation the power and right to continue to mine coal, spew its death into the air, and make West Virginia look like a moonscape after the tops of our most ancient mountains are lopped off?

We need better answers to what de-regulation did and what was going on between Constellation and BGE. We need a better plan for our energy future than we are getting.

State legislators need to raise their voices and raise questions. Our local media needs to investigate and keep this discussion alive. We all need to be involved at whatever level we can to keep the pressure on.

Dealing with the power of Constellation Energy and the rates we pay was a central theme of Martin O’Malley’s run for Governor. This shows all too well the power that corporate giants have in our state political process. I know Governor O’Malley felt pushed against a wall. We have a very precarious energy future in the next few years. This settlement, however, was not the answer. It was not even close.


3/18/08 Obama’s Speech Today

Photo Credit: Wall Street Journal

Today, I was a guest on Doni Glover’s show on WOLB.   When we finished our conversation on the air, I stumbled into their lunchroom.   Everyone was glued to CNN listening to Obama’s speech on race.  I sat down.   I became glued to the TV, to the words Obama was speaking to us all.

I don’t know how many of you heard it, but you can watch and read it here.  I have never heard a politician running for office talk about race in that manner.  He tackled it head on.

We live in a nation where race has always been at the root of our social and political discussion.   Race is at the root of our national persona.   It is complex, very complex.  Our generation, our race, our region, our gender, and our exposure other races define our feelings and sense of race as a nation.   Barak Obama clearly understands the complexity of race in America.   My own sense of him is that growing up as a Black child raised by a socially and politically open white mother, with conservative white grandparents in a white world, with an African father whom he did know, defined his own search for racial identity in America.   He lived in other cultures and saw race not just through the lens of Black and White but through Asian worlds that most non-Asian-Americans ever touch.   This is a life journey that took him, and continues to take him, wrestling with race through all its American complexities.

America needs to have this conversation with itself.  Maybe Barak Obama is the only one, at the moment, who is able to create this conversation among ourselves.

I really understood what he was saying about his minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.   White America easily dismisses Reverend Wright because they identify his words with the words of Farrakhan.  Most of us in the white world have to be willing to admit that this visceral reaction is what motivates us to become angry at the words of Reverend Wright.

Obama said he could no more turn against Reverend Wright than he could his white grandmother.   He said Reverend Wright came out of a generation that grew up in segregation and in the face of outright racial hatred in America.   He is still a distrustful and angry man.  He also said how much he learned about his faith and life from Rev. Wright.

Obama went on to say how much his white Kansas rural-raised grandmother loved him.   How much she loved this Black child in her life but how he cringed at her racist remarks.

This is life in America.   This is an America where love and family cross all those lines.  This is an America that must have a conversation with itself.

When Obama turned his conversation to the white working class of America and its frustrations, it was clear that he understands the anger of white working class Americans who feels like Black folks are getting a free ride, while they worked for everything they have.   He understands how that is all wrapped around the economic conditions they face with factories closing, mortgage foreclosures, and crumbling public schools that intensify the anger around race.

He understands the responsibility Black America must take for itself.   He called on Black fathers to come home to their children while understanding the devastation and desperation of life in the Black inner city streets of America.

He also understands that to get beyond race we need to have more than just a conversation with ourselves as Americans.  We need to rebuild our economy so that it supports stability and equality.   A nation rebuilding its infrastructure, breeding and teaching creative minds, a nation at work with decent paying jobs, a system that provides health care for all its citizens, and public schools where we feel safe and confident sending our children, just might allow us to go beyond race.  A movement fighting for this America has the power to transcend race.

I hope and pray that Big Media in America will do this speech and this conversation justice.   I am not optimistic but will jump for joy if proven wrong.   Let’s see what sound bites they use from this magnificent speech.

Let’s see if the rabid hosts of hot talk television and radio and the knee-jerk response columnists can keep their powder dry.   Let’s see if they can stop to think for a moment and help us have this conversation.

I was sitting with a dear friend at lunch (yeah, I can have lunch these days – what a novel idea) who said his liberal Jewish mother and her friends could not vote for Obama if he defended Rev Wright’s words.

The first thing that came to my mind was, how short our memories are.   His Mom is obviously part of my Dad’s generation.    I remember growing up in a world where we Jews lived in our neighborhoods apart from the rest.  It was because of discrimination against us and by our own choice to live among one another.  Non Jews were not trusted not to be anti-Semitic until we were satisfied they were not.   Goyim jokes (jokes about those who were not Jews) abounded in the community.   I grew up with cousins with numbers on their arms tattooed on by their Nazi torturers in concentration camps.   I knew that at any moment they .. the proverbial they .. could turn on us before sunset.  There is a distrust born of being a discriminated against minority.

You overcome it, you go beyond it, you fight against it, both in society and within your own being.  It is a complex thing.   I, too, understand the anger in Rev. Wright and in other dear friends of mine.   I don’t agree with it.   Race is both deep and superficial.  It means nothing in the reality of existence but it defines our every move in America.

President Clinton’s conversation on race when he was in the White House was superficial, elitist and detached.   Maybe now we can have a conversation based in the material reality of our everyday lives.  Obama’s words were eloquent but eloquence is not enough.   If he wins, he must build the America he preaches about.  If he loses, he has to build the movement he talks about.  Words of beauty will only take us so far.

I hope the substance is as powerful as the speech.   We will see.


3/3/08 Monday Morning Thoughts


Fifteen years ago today the first Marc Steiner Show aired.    Tuesday
March 3rd, 1993.   It was a show on Norplant.    There was a huge
controversy in 1993 on the use of Norplant as a contraceptive
administered by the city health department to mostly inner
city teenagers.   Some argued that the long-term effects of the drug
were not known, others that the city had to do something to respond
the rates of teen pregnancy in the city.

So, there I was, bathed in fire on the air.    Four guests, all women,
an hour and a half with no breaks.   We started the show with a short
documentary that we produced on the subject.  We did that a lot in the
first year of our show.    I miss that.

Becoming a public radio host was total serendipity.    In 1990 after
three years spent producing, directing and casting radio commercials for
an ad agency I longed to get back to something with some substance.
It was time to leave the world of selling white bread, beer, BMWs and
the lottery. I had learned a lot about producing and mixing sound,
music and voices for radio.

I had this idea for a thirteen part series on the History of Jewish
Music.  I knew it was an idea that could work.    So did David Creagh,
the General Manager of WJHU who gave me office space to work on the
idea.   Well about a year later with some promises in hand and great
board of advisers, the project went belly up when the station ran into
some financial difficulties.    It is still a great idea and I have
the proposal waiting in my files.

A couple of years later, in late 1992, I ran into Denis Kita at my
dentist’s office.   Dennis had been Assistant General Manager when I
first met him.   He was now the new GM of WJHU.     We sat there in
the waiting room of Dr. Charlie Stine, who at that time was producing
and hosting a short program every week on the wonderful natural
wonders and histories found in our back yards.   Charlie, besides
being my and Dennis’s dentist, had been my Dad’s best friend and my
natural history mentor since I was a young lad.

At any rate, Dennis Kita and I were talking in the waiting room when
he said to me “We are thinking about launching a public affairs
program at WJHU.    You know this city so well from the street corners
to the corporate board rooms, I thought you might have some ideas.”
Well for some reason the first thing that blurted out of my mouth was
“You should let me be the host!”   Dennis said but you don’t know
anything about radio.   I said, ” What do you have to know?   You
read, you talk and ask people questions.  I do that at my dining room
table all the time.”

Well, poor Dennis, he opened the door.   I would not let go.  I hocked
him for months.   Finally, one day when I was at the station, after
bugging him for months, he said “OK, here is your desk, here is your
phone, no money, no producer, I will take off All Things Considered
every Tuesday night from 7 to 8:30.    That will be your time slot.
See what you can do.”   I took it.   And the rest is history.   Well
there is much more to that history, but we’ll leave that for another day.


Tomorrow is a very critical primary day.  Not for John McCain, he
has the Republican primary all sewn up.  Well, then again it might
be important for him because what happens to Democrats internally, how
they behave towards one another and how they do or do not support one
another could have a profound effect on the November general election.

If they split Texas and Ohio or if Hillary Clinton wins them (lets not
forget Rhode Island and Vermont) then the race for the Democratic
nomination is still on.   It could get quite volatile and nasty.
Texas with its weird primary/caucus blend might well not be decided by
tomorrow night.    Lawsuits could erupt.   The Democrats could commit
fratricide.  You never know, it has happened before.    The Democratic
front runners could easily decide it is not necessary for their party
to win the White House when they can let their egos rule the day

If Barack Obama wins then the Democrats would hope that Clinton would
not only bow out but also come out supporting Obama in a big way.   If she doesn’t, then the wound could fester and hurt the Democrats in their quest
to regain the White House.   If Barack wins, I hope she and Bill
Clinton can bow out gracefully with class, putting their party and
its beliefs ahead of personal animosity and ego.

The New York Times over the weekend had some very interesting stories
about the race.   On Saturday, Jeffrey Rosen wrote an op-ed on civil liberties and the Democratic candidates.   The article was making the point that Barack Obama was able to forge a working coalition in both the Illinois and US Senates between liberal civil
liberties advocates and conservative libertarians on everything from
police harassment actions to the far reaching aspects of the Patriot
Act.   Rosen made the argument that the Clinton administration and
Senator Clinton’s record on civil liberties was, by comparison, questionable.

While the article said only about 20% of American voters care deeply
about civil liberties, it does not say how many care about their
liberties, or how many conservatives care about libertarian values.
I did not read how the question was asked in the polls but my sense is
that Americans have a visceral response to the ill defined notion
liberty.   Civil libertarians and libertarians have much common


So, the state government beat Constellation Energy to the punch with a
.   The state says Constellation still has to reimburse
citizens for the rate increase.    Constellation thinks that since the
legislature did not approve its merger with Florida Power and Light
then there is no deal to ameliorate the rise in rates.

While the state and the Constellation battle this out in the courts
there is a question that going unanswered by anyone.    Steve Larson
does a great job.   He wants to protect the consumer, but neither he
nor Constellation’s representatives ever answered the question I think
is the most critical when I posed it to them on my former show.

Is it true that Constellation Energy sold its energy cheaply out of
state then resold it back to BGE for a huge profit?     What are the
inner workings and relationships of these two companies?    One is
owned by the other yet we as citizens of this state reap no rewards
from this alleged economy of scale.    There is a serious
investigation both in public hearings and state investigations that
must be had here.   Where is it?  Is it going on?

It is unbelievable, but then again maybe not, that 1 in 100 adult
Americans are in jail

This has its roots not just in Reagan and Bush the first but also in
Bill Clinton’s eight years.   Clinton’s administration maxed out the
time to be served for crack cocaine, but not powder, remember?    Who
snorts it and who smokes it?

That is not even the most important issue.    People like Governor
Martin O’Malley have the power and the opportunity to do something
about this.   We need to radically reform our juvenile and adult
justice systems.    Put money at the front end, create a responsible
system of community corrections for non violent offenders, stiffen
sentences for violent offenders, create a prison system where non
violent offenders and those addicted are separated from violent
offenders into a system that offers job training, drug rehabilitation
and hope

America can become the leader in the new world green economy.    In
the process we can transform our inner cities with work building the
new green economy and our infrastructure.

One in 100 is a frightening commentary on the future of America in the
21st century.

Your thoughts?


02/29/08 Leap Day!

OK .. I am back. There is so much going on..

First, let’s get to the WYPR stuff right away.

The board and management of the station keep saying that there are reasons they cannot divulge as to why they cancelled my show.

So, I am asking them now …. Freeing them up from any fears they may have …

Tell everyone, the listeners, the press, why you did this.
Tell me, you have never told me. I and my friends and people who loved and listened to the show would love to hear your reasoning.

My guess: they don’t have one, other than the reality we have all witnessed over the last month.

Anyway, on to bigger and better things!

It is time to get back in the saddle, so we are going to be bringing you new interviews. Until we get our new website up, you can find them right here on our blog, ready to listen to or to podcast.

How many of you are fans of the WIRE? My guess is a lot of you are.

I love the WIRE. It is a show that speaks not only about life in the inner city neighborhoods of our land but about what they are emblematic of in America. It speaks to who we are becoming in America. The acting is just phenomenal and the writing is the best on television.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we will air interviews with actors, writers, producers, and others from the WIRE. We will start with creative partners Ed Burns and David Simon. This week you will hear actors Clarke Peters, who plays Lester Freamon, Andre Royo, who portrays Bubbles, and Robert Chew, playing the ill-fated kingpin Prop Joe. There will many more this week and in the coming weeks.

We won’t stop there. More interviews with authors, public figures, artists and just interesting folks coming your way. Many of them will be multiplatform stories, with pictures and more. Download the scripts, download the interviews. The Marc Steiner Show is back!

Let us know what is happening in your worlds and what you want to hear.

I will be writing more after the weekend, reflecting on what’s in the news, in our communities, in the arts.

Stay tuned… more exciting stuff coming our way.

Have a great weekend!


2/21/08 thoughts today

I really want to get past this and build a new and creative world for us and for you.  We will and we are.  We’re going to post a new interview in just a few minutes. 

I wanted to write a few words about last night, as well. 

The gathering last night was amazing.  It was a cold snowy night.  A night that saw many events across the community cancelled.   But in Charles Village, an auditorium was filled with 300 people or so. 

The people there represented our community.   It was Black, White, Asian, Latino, elders, youth and middle aged, gay and straight.   There were truck drivers from Baltimore, school bus drivers from Bel Air, steel workers from Dundalk, university professors from every discipline, lawyers, nurses, doctors, social works, inner city activists, students, school teachers, filmmakers, journalists, artists and artisans.    Some were activists who came as an organized group but most were just folks there to speak there mind. 

It was inspiring to hear what my listeners and station members had to say.   Sure, on one one level it was about me and about the fact that I have been part of people’s lives in this community for the past fifteen years.     But all this was and is much larger and more important than any one man or any show on public radio. 

This is about community, about building community and a radio show that drew diverse communities together.  It is about the future of public radio and what the public means in public radio. 

Speakers stood to tell Tony Brandon, Barbara Bozzuto, Andy Bienstock, the management and board of WYPR that the program gave voice to the voiceless in this community. People testified that they had been introduced to voices, people and ideas from our community that they would never run across in their daily lives.  One inner city activist, Dante Wilson, said that all the media shows is negative images of Black communities.   He said that our program showed the world that there is a different side to the streets of Baltimore and people who were working to make a difference.   

School teachers stood up to say that nowhere else did teachers and regular working people have a forum to speak to the public.  Jewish-American and Arab-American leaders were there because our show was a place where ideas were non-threateningly shared.  

It became clear that the people in that audience felt that the Marc Steiner Show was a place that built community, built bridges between the diversity we live in, and created communication.  One thing was very clear; people understand that and want public media to be a place to build community.

The concept of public ownership of the airwaves was foremost in the minds of those who attended last night.    The “your” in Your Public Radio is more than just words.    When I came up with those call letters, it meant that it was to be a community owned and run station.   I believed it, the people who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy the station believed it, and in the ensuing years those who became members of WYPR believed it.  I told them to believe it, and the station during its fund drives told them to believe.   We were telling them a lie.

Last night the community demanded that the station management and board include them in the process.    People believe that listener-members should have seats on the Board of Directors.   They should be part of the process of directing our public radio.   Some demanded that the board resign or that Tony Brandon and the management resign or that the board should fire the management and start over.  

A theme that was constant throughout the night was people demanding that the public mean something in public radio.

Out of this meeting the CAB will write a report to WYPR’s Board of Directors.  The meeting is March 12th.  You may attend that meeting.  You just have to register with WYPR to reserve a seat.

This is about the ownership and future of public radio.



2/20 A few words from Marc

Hello everyone,

I have a few short reflections after seeing what I wrote last night. I don’t want to fall into the trap of he said/she said quarrel of inconsequential detail. On some levels I have allowed myself to do that.

First, I realized when I spoke of the $750,000 raised that I inadvertently left out that $70 some thousand dollars of that amount was really contributed or in a sense forgiven by Johns Hopkins University. I realized after I sent it in to my blog that I left that line out.

Second, I want to be clear how grateful all of us should be to the original guarantors. Bill Clarke, Jonathan Melnick, Anne and Jane Daniels, Tony Brandon, Charlie Salisbury, Earl and Darielle Linehan, Tom and Barbara Bozzuto and Albert Williams. Without their guarantees we could not have saved the radio station for Baltimore. I just want to be absolutely clear about that.

Finally, the problems boil down to certain things that leadership of the station just doesn’t get.

  1. This should have been a partnership between guarantors, contributors and members to create a board to oversee the fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities of WYPR

  2. Martha Rudski, WJHU Marketing Director, came up with the name Your Public Radio because we believed we could create a truly powerful and unique institution that belonged to this community.

  3. When we first started, the story around NPR was the amazing marriage between this conservative Republican corporate executive and a community activist talk show host known for his progressive leanings coming together to build a community radio station. My belief in the myth hurt us all.

  4. All this is madness. There was never any concrete reason for it to happen. They keep changing their story as to what led to the end of my show because they are grasping for straws. There is no reason other than a deep personal and political dislike for me from Tony Brandon and a few others. They could not stand what I stood for, or that I was the face and voice of the station. Ray Blank, the station consultant, has said to me more than once that they see you getting all the recognition. They feel they deserve some. I always gave it to them.

  5. So, all this is for what?


I have nothing left to say unless they come at me or at the public with more specious comments.

See you tonight.


2/19 Writing WYPR’s History

In preparation for Wednesday night’s Community Advisory Board meeting, it is time for a little history to set the record straight.

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2/14 from Marc

Well, I’m back. My road trip was great.   I know I am just a doting Dad (with my older ones who are gone now, and my little one at present) but she was brilliant on the stage.  Well worth the day off. 

I don’t have much to say about the Dan Rodricks issue.  I have no control over it, can’t do anything about it and will just wait and see on that one.   There was a big hole left and opportunity to fill it.   Doesn’t come along every day.  He filled it.   What can you do?  That’s life.

I want to encourage you all to come to the Community Advisory Board Meeting at the BMA on February 20th.    It will begin at 7:00.  It is scheduled to last two hours.  The CAB was formed in response to a regulation that requires all public radio licensees to have a community board.   The event on the 20this your opportunity to speak your piece.  I hear it may be taped and made available on the WYPR website.

A public radio station worth its salt should have some of those who make up the CAB be members of the Board of Directors.   The board, while made up of many good people, should be all inclusive.  It is not.  Listener members should be members of that board.   Community and corporate leaders should interact on the board to help guide the station.   That is a real democracy of the public airwaves. 

Anita and others who wrote on the blog recently talked about how the crowd at the Obama rally held in the 1st Mariner Arena represented that same “view/world”, as she put it, as those who have supported me and my show.   I want to build on that.   We want to continue our public commitment to this community.  We want to create a new forum for all of us.   We are going to start on the web.   We will build it from there.    Jessica Phillips and I are already trying to work on ideas to produce and share with everyone.   Let us know what you think.    What do you want?  More documentary features?  Panel discussions?  One on one interviews?  What topics do you care most about?  What have you enjoyed in the past?

It is Valentine’s Day.    Gotta go celebrate.   Remember, it may be a Hallmark Card day and full of commercialism but reality is if you blow it… you’re done. 

I’m Marc Steiner, for whatever comes next that will be your public media

Take care, talk soon.


2/12 from Marc

Hi everyone, 

Let me say once again how gratifying and humbling it is for all this support.     This is a wild ride and it is not over yet.   There is much more news to come.   Some of it will be mind blowing. 

Rumor has it that Dan Rodricks of the Baltimore Sun and formerly of WBAL will be the new host at the noon hour at WYPR.   If it is true,  I am not surprised.    They needed star power and personality to try to assuage and persuade the audience to stay or to come back.   Dan has always wanted to be a part of WYPR.    Now, he has his chance.    But who knows.   It could anybody.   Either way, I want you to know I am ok. I have a lot of plans for my own work and have a lot of options and opportunities that have surfaced over the last week.

I thought it funny today that Tony Brandon keeps talking about “commitment to the public and community.”   Orwellian corporate speak is a frightening thing.   WYPR has become corporate speak zone.   More than you know, but you will soon know more. 

It is because of all of you that the fund drive was cancelled.   I have heard the station has gotten well over a thousand letters and e-mails.  I don’t know the exact number but it has overwhelmed them.    

Don’t forget on February 20th there will be open to the public Community Advisory Board meeting.   Right now it is scheduled to be held at the BMA at 7 PM.    As we know more, we will let you know what is up with that meeting. 

My emotions with all of this  are all over the place.   Yesterday, I was tired and in a funk but today I feel really upbeat.  I started the day taking a long walk in the woods with my dog Charlie, talking for a long time with the lady in my life, Valerie.  I went to vote and went to the gym, then drove over to our digs in Hampden to start writing and talking with people.   We are going to do wonderful new things.  I really look forward to all of you being part of it. 

What has been amazing to me is the diversity of this movement that has developed since the station let me go.     It has involved inner city community activists, elected officials, university professors, teachers, social workers, receptionists, truck drivers, doctors and lawyers.    The station has heard and I have heard from Orthodox Jewish leaders, the head of the African American Muslim Community, Baltimore Hebrew University, ministers of every possible Christian denomination, Arab Americans.   It has been Black, White, Asian, Latino, young, old, middle aged, rich, poor, middle class, gay, straight.

It is everything I ever dreamed and hoped my show would mean.   When I began the show in 1993 I said I wanted it to be bridge between worlds and communities.  A place where all people and ideas could gather to speak together without fear of ridicule.  A lyceum, an agora, a marketplace of ideas.   A place where people who would never meet in life could hear and meet each other.    

I feel very satisfied with what we have built together over the years.     
The next time I write I want to share with  you the absurdity of all of this. But you know I want this blog to be a place where we can talk about anything, not just the madness and idiocy of what Tony Brandon, Andy Bienstock and Barbara Bozzuto  have done to our public radio. Soon we will be launching an Internet media site and much more.  I look forward to growing more with  you all and talking about all kinds of things. 

I can’t write tomorrow because I have to spend some time my 10 year old daughter Maisie.  She is in a play tomorrow and I also want to celebrate the fact that she just won her first debate.  Did anyone see where she and a friend of hers were commenting on the Baltimore Sun website?  The best part of life is being a Dad.  No question.

Thanks again!   I will  read all that you wrote and write some more.


2/8 WYPR Staff, the WYPR Board Meeting and the CAB Meeting

Hello everyone. I just wanted to share my thoughts on your latest thoughts.
I stopped by to say hello to the protesters at WYPR today. Some drove all the way from the Eastern Shore and Bel Air. I must say I am humbled by the outpouring. You all do love the soul of public radio. You get it.

The staff at WYPR is fantastic. They have been really supportive to me personally. When I taped my Maryland Morning segment many staffers were watching, cheering me on. They know the truth. They have confronted Tony Brandon and Andy Bienstock in meetings. Asking tough questions of management is never easy but they have done it. They are advocating for you, the listener. I know many of them feel lost but I have told them to work. They have families to support and mortgages to pay. Some have refused sit in my place on the air. Despite the difficulties I have faced with sectors of the management and some of the board, it has been a joyous experience to work with the producers and staff at WYPR. They are as upset about all of this just as you and I are.

As for management…are they trying to cancel the March 12th WYPR Board meeting, or are they just trying to discourage people from coming? Certainly all mention of it has disappeared from the WYPR website, where there was previously a message giving you a phone number to call if you wanted to attend. There are also reports they they are considering try to cancel the Community Advisory Board meeting on February 20th, despite the fact that the CAB is meant to be independently operated. I have also heard they on the verge of hiring a host for the midday show. So, we will see.

While the truth squads will keep working, we are going to work on developing new programming for the web and for the radio. I would love to hear what you think you would like us to do besides keep up the good fight. What are your ideas?

Keep letting them know what you think, show up on the 20th and let us know what you want us to do.

I have to read everything your wrote today. I will be back, and we will be in touch by e-mail and blog to let you know our next steps.



2/7 from Marc

I just read each and every one of your entries on the blog. It is hard to know what say.

For starters, show up at the Community Board meeting on February 20th. It will be at the Baltimore Museum of Art in the Meyerhoff Auditorium at 7 pm. I have no idea what the WYPR representation will say but I am sure that it will be a continued misrepresentation of the truth.

What I am really worried about is the future of public radio in our community. WYPR will be here for a long to come. Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Car Talk, Prairie Home Companion and all the other national programming you love will be there. They won’t go off the air.

What is missing in the you in public radio. I think about all the times during the fund drives (which they cancelled for February) I said to you “that you are the public in public radio, that is why I named WYPR “Your Public Radio”. I feel like you were betrayed and lied to.

The management of the station has done a remarkable job building underwriting. Perhaps the best job in public radio
But they have let membership wither on the vine. No money, or I should say very little money is invested in serving members, getting new members or marketing the station.
While they may make enough money with underwriters to sustain themselves, the heart and soul of public radio is the listener members. There has to be a balance. The balance is gone. You are not cared about nor there to ensure the democratic nature of the station.

The board has some wonderful people on it who love and are very devoted to public radio. While we need corporate and philanthropic leaders on any non-profit board what is missing are the everyday listeners who invest their money in this station. They are not heard. They do not have a seat at the table. Gary Levin is there as President of the Friends Group but he is ex-officio with no vote. The board does not reflect those listeners who invest in and support the station.

These are just two of the battles I have fought and lost at the station. I will tell you more stories along the way on this blog, and soon we will begin some new productions on the web.

Jessica Phillips, who was a producer on the Marc Steiner Show from October 2005 to February 2007, has come to work for me. I have a production company called The Center for Emerging Media that has produced a series on the Vietnam War and a series called Just Words, about the lives of the working poor and other marginalized groups. You can go to our website to see some of what we have done. The whole Vietnam series, Shared Weight, will be posted soon. The website itself is going to be rebuilt.

I thought soon, even though we will continue for a time to talk about the station madness, we should talk together on this blog about the issues of day. We will be posting interviews and productions soon as well.

So, we will all stay in touch.

Thanks so much for your support.


Ed Norris

I’ll be on the Ed Norris Show tomorrow the 6th of February at 11 am.  Tune in to 105.7 WHFS.  Call and talk 410-481-1057.

2/5 from Marc

First, thanks so much for all the support. In my next post I will respond directly to the thoughts and ideas you all have shared.

I don’t know if you all heard Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast today. They interviewed me and then they spoke with Tony Brandon,  who is president of the station  and who led the effort to get of me. Quickly, I want set the record straight on one thing that he said which was a bald-faced lie.

He has constantly attempted diminish what I and our listeners did six years ago in raising funds to purchase what was then WJHU. He said on the air that we raised only 5% of the $5 million to purchase the station. I have all the records, and the old bank statements. We raised close to $750,000 after I send an e-mail asking listeners to support our effort to buy the station. $400,000 of that came in huge contributions of six figure. Four people gave $25,000 and numbers more $15, $10 and $5 thousand dollar contributions. Hundreds more gave everything from$5.00 to $1000.00. None of them (those who gave $25 thousand and less) were ever acknowledged or thanked by the station.

At any rate, in many ways this is beside the point. The money is not important. It is more important to them than to me.  But it is important that the efforts of the listeners and early supporters not be diminished.

What is important is the future of public radio. What is important is that this is about integrity of public radio. It is about the corporatization of WYPR and of public radio.

When I raised the money from listeners I said I would return every dime to them if we did not buy the station. You trusted me. I met some people, like Tony Brandon, who I thought would be partners to build our community station. Instead it was hijacked.

There is a history here that I will relate to all of you over the next few days. Right now I have to go off to a lunch meeting so I can continue to ensure coverage of our world in print, audio and video on our blog and the Center for Emerging Media website.

So, I will share with you all our future plans, and my perspective on the history of the past six years at WYPR very soon.

Thank you all so much. I will back at you a bit after lunch and for the next few days.

Take care.. and thanks



Folks, I really thought I would have to time to write something longer today but as you can well imagine it has been madness.Tomorrow I will write you all a tale of the last six years and what may lie ahead. Tomorrow, also, I will be on Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast to discuss this situation. Tony Brandon will also be on giving his reasons for this situation. Thank you all so much for your outpouring of support. Just a thought for tonight. This is not about Marc Steiner but really about the future of public radio. I am merely a public image of much deeper issue.Talk to you all tomorrow.Thanks


Links to some of the coverage

02/02/08 a quick note…

I want to thank everyone for all of the support I’ve been receiving.   I also want to let you know that I’m going to keep this blog open.  I haven’t had a chance to write sooner because the internet is down at my house, but on Monday I will write more about what’s going on.  In the meantime, please post your thoughts and questions here.  You can also reach me at                                                                      -marc 

1/29/08 Marc’s thoughts on today’s show


Dr. Andres Alonso at noon

Paying kids to do well on tests?!?!?!?!?!?!?

My first visceral reaction was no way.  This is antithetical to what we all believe, that we should instill an intrinsic love of education. 

Dr. Andres Alonso, CEO of Baltimore City Schools, is going to spend a million dollars, in part to pay kids in the 11th and 12th grade who failed one of the High School Assessment tests, if they improve their scores on future tests.   They will receive up to $110.00, depending on how much their scores improve.  Money will also be used to pay students to tutor other students.

Some would argue, like Dan Rodricks, that middle and upper class families always bribe their kids with cash, dinner and objects of desire if they do well in school.  What is wrong with the city doing it for unmotivated kids also mired in poverty?

Others argue it is a quick fix and a bribe that hides real issue of why students don’t have an intrinsic love of learning and why they lose in our schools.

Is it a bad idea?  Looking forward to hearing what Dr. Alonso has to say.  Looking forward to what you have to say on air and on our blog.


I was not amazed when I first heard that there was wholesale ethnic cleansing of African Americans from towns across America.  I was shocked when I found out that it occurred well into the depression era of the 1930’s.

One of our guests, Marco Williams, recently made the movie Banished.  It’s about the interactions of three Black families, who were descendents of the banished, and white people now living in those towns.  

The issue of the day will be to find out what relevance this has on our lives now.  The Germans paid reparations to the Jews who survived the camps, the US paid reparations to the Japanese Americans and the descendents of those interned in camps during World War II.  Should the US do the same for those who are the descendents of those African Americans ethnically cleansed from their homes?

Is it different because these are descendents of rather than the victims themselves?  Is monetary reparation the only possibility?  Does this give us as a society a chance for some reconciliation?  Is it just history, something for us to learn about and then let go?

What do you think?  Call in or write in at one, or comment on the blog.
Check with you later.


1/10 Primary Review

At Noon today, we welcome you to add your opinion to the never ending analysis of the 2008 Presidential election and the results of the Iowa caucus, the New Hampshire primary, and the Wyoming GOP primary.  From Obama’s surprise victory in Iowa to Hillary’s emotional moment to Edward’s attempts to keep from becoming completly irrelvent, the Democratic primary has been providing some exciting times. On the GOP side, things are no less exciting, as McCain attempts to accomplish what at times has seen inevitable and at times completly out of the question-to become the Republican candidate for President.  Will he be able to get the Republican base to trust him?  Only time will tell. 

Poll: If the Democratic primary in Maryland were today, who would you vote for?

Poll: If the Republican primary in Maryland were today, who would you vote for?


09/25/07 Gay Marriage

While there are always vociferous and vicious attacks against any gay rights legislation from some fundamentalist religious quarters, I think most Americans and most Marylanders are perplexed and don’t know what we should do.  Many, if not most, heterosexuals in our nation grew up in Christian, Muslim or Jewish homes where marriage was between a man and woman.  Where homosexuality was over there somewhere…someone who was a little “light in the loafers”…some form of aberration, or a way of avoiding the draft.

I think many just have difficulty thinking about sex between two men or two women together.  The idea of same sex marriage is just too foreign for most people.
Do you think that is true?  Now, maybe we should just take religion out of civil ceremonies for marriage.  I mean if Valerie and I were to marry at City Hall, it would not be called a civil union, but being married through a civil ceremony.  So, the idea of civil unions, I think, is just a strategy to make same sex marriage more palatable for the rest of us.

What do you think it would do to the fabric of society if gays and lesbians were allowed to be married in civil ceremonies?  You can’t force a religion to perform marriages that they deem inappropriate, that violates their tenants. Many churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples will not perform marriages between people of different faiths; others may not even perform marriages that cross racial or ethnic lines or when someone is divorced. It is their right.

If our state and nation allowed same sex marriage, no one could force a religious group to marry them or sanction them.  Of course, there are a minority of religious institutions that would marry gays and lesbians.  That is their right, also.

Gays and lesbians are our neighbors, our co-workers, our brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, best friends, acquaintances and cousins.  They have children of their own, or through surrogates and adoption.  They serve in the military and in all branches of public services.  They defend us in court, serve our dinner, perform surgeries on our bodies, build our homes and are part of every facet of life.

Is their right to marry not a human right? A civil right? What would happen to us as a nation if they had the right to a civil marriage with all its protections?  What has happened in Quebec, Vermont, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Holland, Spain and South Africa where same sex couples are allowed to marry?

What are your thoughts?

Join us at Noon today, and here.


Marc’s thoughts on Hurricane Katrina

As we approach this second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina I am just so angry and appalled at lack of response by our federal government.   Over one million people have been displaced, tens of billions in damages occurred, almost 2,000 died, half the hospitals are not open, only 17% of transportation system is up and running in NO, over 40% of the homes have no electricity.   

New Orleans is one of America’s most important cities.   It is one of the keys to our cultural heritage.   Lives have been displaced perhaps permanently.   OK, even if some argue that we should not rebuild in the path of flooding and potential hurricanes what is our responsibility to our fellow citizens who have met with disaster?

The people of NO might as well be living in Darfur or Mozambique or Bangladesh.   What we have not done to massively rebuild that community and to help its citizens is an abomination.  

Most of the work being done in the Big Easy is being done by you and me, by volunteers who give their time to rebuild those communities, to provide medical care, to fight for the rights of the incarcerated.   

If we can’t rebuilt the Big Easy, then what do we expect to do in Baghdad?