At a meeting of the Baltimore City Green Party last Thursday, Feb. 23rd, at the Alternative Press Center in Baltimore, Green Party Gubernatorial Candidate Eddie Boyd slammed O’Malley’s arrest policies as racial profiling.
Boyd responded to a question concerning O’Malley’s recent comments that, if elected Governor, he would not apply a police policy of arresting 1 out of 6 residents of Harford County, or Frederick, or Gaithersburg in the same way he has arrested 1 out of 6 Baltimore City residents. O’Malley said the reason for this discrepency is that the residents of Harford, Frederick, and Montgomery counties live in wealthier counties and thus don’t need the police attention that he applies to Baltimore City. Boyd said, in regard to this discrepancy in police policy, that “O’Malley is practicing racial profiling”, using one policy — of arrest — for predominantly African American Baltimore City, and another — non arrest — for the majority white areas outstate and in the suburbs.
Boyd further commented that the “illegal surveillance and arrests of Baltimore City makes me physically ill”. He said that he, as an African American himself, is more afraid of being picked up by the police than of being robbed.
Boyd cited an example of a friend of his who spent 30 days in Central Booking- after being arrested by Baltimore City police and then not charged. Yet, this person was in jail for 30 days, after which he lost his job (because his employer couldn’t make do with an employee gone for such a long period). Furthermore, this wrongful arrest disrupted his friend’s plans for attending school. Furthermore, the lengthy incarceration was aggravated by court paperwork being misplaced.
Boyd also complained of O’Malley’s police policies of spying on peaceful anti-war groups.
The Green candidate took issue with O’Malley’s propaganda slogan “believe”. He referenced a “believe” sign at the corner of 21st and Barkley streets; meanwhile, just across the street from the sign, is a pile of garbage. Boyd wondered just what are residents of Baltimore supposed to “believe” in?
Apprenticeship Programs One Answer to Attract More Highly Skilled Jobs
Boyd addressed a queston concerning how to deal with the deindustrialization of Baltimore and of Maryland. He said that apprenticeship programs, which were common in the 1970s, were successful in training a skilled workforce. This method could then be used as a means to attract manufacturers and other skilled trades companies to the area. The apprenticeship programs could be developed through labor unions as well.
He spoke of how summer internships and apprenticeships prepared young people for jobs, often having them work with future employers. He said that this approach would alleviate the “criminal justice pipeline”, and the “economic draft” where young people are pressured economically to join the military.
The Problem with the Schools, and How to Improve Them
Boyd said that Baltimore City had a “horrible” school system. One problem was that there was a problem attracting decent instructors. The teachers badly needed a positive environment.
He cited a program successfully used in DC, where houses were sold to teachers at discounted rates in order to promote teaching. This housing subsidy- in attention to a program he advocated for paying for college education for teachers- could be linked to a committment for teachers to work up to 4 years in an inner city school.
Boyd also opposed efforts being pushed to close a number of the city schools. He supported efforts of the NAACP and WOLD Radio to fight school closings. He criticized some of those voices calling for school closures as developers who would like to take control of prime real estate for private development.
Boyd said that the $1 Billion dollar state surplus needed to be spent on improving the Baltimore City Public Schools, to be used to create a skilled work force to attract manufacturing, and to safeguard the environment.
The Green candidate also supported a more intense focus on mentoring.
Decriminalize Minor Drug Offenses
Boyd strongly criticized drug policies which cause a person to lose his/her job-as a result of incarceration-for the mere possession of a dime bag of weed. He called for the decriminalization of minor drug offenses.
As regards more powerful drugs, he suggested programs to give more options to young people to avoid the avenue of using drugs.
An audience member pointed out that 50% of the intake at the Diagnostic Center was for minor drug problems, so a more enlightened policy here could also address these types of issues as well.
Yes to Rent Control
Eddie Boyd believes in Rent Control. Rent control helps working families manage the rising cost of living, with such costs rapidly exceed their wages.
One argument Boyd put forth in behalf of Rent Control was that Rent Control would make housing more affordable in Baltimore, thus making the City more attractive for workers. This would attract more folks, more families, and would assist in the rebuilding of neighborhoods.
Boyd indicated that the majority of homeless residents do have jobs, but they don’t get paid enough to afford housing.
Boyd said the Rent Control would act to stabilize rents, with possible future increases based on increased costs to the homeowner.
A House Lottery for Vacant Houses: Combined with “Seed & Feed” Funds and Sweat Equity
In conjunction with Rent Control, Boyd sharply condemned the practice underway by the O’Malley administration of taking over vacant houses in the city, then knocking them down indiscriminately and not rebuilding on the lots.
His answer to the run down shape of many homes and neighborhoods in Baltimore was to have a housing lottery. Vacant homes would be awarded to city residents in a lottery- Boyd called this a “real lottery” as opposed to the other variety. To rebuild these homes, the state and city would grant “Seed & Feed” funds for repairs, renovations, improvements to make the homes not only habitable, but homefriendly. Sweat Equity would be required of the new homeowners as well to participate in this renovation.
This combination of lottery, funding, and sweat equity would act to reclaim vacant homes and restore pride to people, Boyd pointed out. He said that this combo program would give them a stake in the system, something to believe in; it would be tough for folks, but in the end, better homes and neighborhoods will result.
Problems with Service Systems in the City
Boyd tooks questions and comments from the audience. One questioner highlighted the bureaucratic red tape and non-centralized service providers which patients have to battle just to get needed care. The point was made that a person gets food stamps in one location, then has to travel across town to get medical attention.
Also, mental health issues plague patients who don’t have the ability to navigate the maze of paperwork and delays and red tape prior to treatment, resulting in people not getting the care they needed.
Boyd listened intently to these issues, and said he would work with health care providers in addressing these problems.
Phony Job Stats for Real Problems
Boyd skewered phony job statistics being peddled by O’Malley and Erlich. He said that the statistics being presented on job growth are not comparative, i.e. they don’t relate to the income level of the job lost vis-a-vis the income level of the job created. O’Malley and Erlich hide their failures behind such statistical fog, keeping the public in the dark that high-paying jobs are being replaced by low paying service sector jobs.
Boyd even took a swipe at President Bill Clinton on this. Clinton had pushed “welfare reform” in the 90s, and cited the reductions in welfare as an accomplishment of his administration. Boyd set the record straight, saying that the jobs created had such low pay that families often were worse off in the new jobs than on welfare.
The Environment is Critical to Maryland- for Quality of Air and Water…and Quality of Life
Boyd is a strong environmental proponent. He blasted Erlich’s cuts to the budget for the environment. He said that not only is quality air and water critical for Maryland residents in its own right, but that such factors also contribute to a better quality of life in Maryland, which is a factor to attract economic development.
Boyd talked about the Bay and the mountains in Maryland, and how their vitality and protections was so important to the vitality of the state.
Boyd relayed how his interest in the enviroment was developed years ago by a prior girlfriend who was involved in the Green Party in Germany; she had not only been influential as to the environment, but she challenged Americans on their wasteful ways.
Boyd endorsed the Healthy Air Act in Maryland, being pushed by CCAN. He also chastised the Erlich administration for neglect of the Bay: letting the crab/oyster populations disappear, with higher fish kills as well, and underwater vegetation dying.
He called for a novel approach to protecting streams from pollutants by covering key parts of them, citing a successful effort in Newfoundland, Canada to revive dying streams through similar approaches. He recalled how in that Canadian experience, the residents of St. John’s, NF, were brought around to this idea when activists had people walk near the local streams, and the pollution and stench shocked them into taking action.
Boyd agreed that aquaculture was important for Southern Maryland, and that urban sprawl hurt the Bay as well.
Boyd opposed the ICC, too, for the same reasons.
Activist/ Specialists Will be Welcome in a Boyd Administration
Boyd indicated that he doesn’t have answers to all the questions, and that he intends to listen closely to ideas and suggestions by the public.
Boyd said he would welcome activist/ specialists on various issues: citizens who are active on an issue, and have specialized to the point where they can bring knowledge and expertise to an important topic.
Boyd said such folks would play an important role in implementing policy in his administration.
Personal Story of Eddie Boyd
Boyd talked a lot about his own personal life. He is a job counselor today, and has a keen understanding of the problems and challenges that unemployed/underemployed workers deal with on a daily basis.
Boyd is a plain speaking, people’s candidate, who talks to folks as if they are in his living room drinking coffee. He reaches out to average folks because he can relate to them, because he is one of them.
Boyd is a veteran, and discussed the problems that homeless vets have. He discussed the issues of some vets with drugs and alcohol as well.
Boyd is on the Executive Board on Housing formed by the late Mitch Snyder.
Boyd has travelled extensively. He lived in Vermont and Germany.
Body said that his goal was to get to Annapolis. He’s running a campaign to win.
He wants the Green Party to look like America, which he would consider a success in its own right.
He wants to be a “drum major for justice”, and is making opposition to police abuses/ police surveillance/ discriminatory police arrests a major theme of his campaign.
He addressed the question 3rd parties often get about voter percentages. He said that many people are disillusioned, so they never vote. His goal is to wake them up, and by doing so- and by reaching out to voters across the state- his percentages may do much better than expected. And, again, Boyd is aiming ultimately for the big prize: the Governor’s Mansion.
It was very refreshing to listen to Eddie Boyd. His committment to progressive goals of justice, stopping police surveillance, opposing police racial profiling-harassment- massive arrests, fairness, creation of good jobs, rent control, converting vacant homes through a lottery-funding-sweat equity, affordable housing, better schools through teacher programs like housing discounts and free tuition for teachers’ college education, is inspiring. And, these are cutting edge, proven programs, positions and ideas, and justifiable criticisms, he’s putting forward. The end results of his efforts-if he’s successful-is a state government which would substantially benefit working families and moderate income folks.
Boyd doesn’t hesitate to take on O’Malley’s racial profiling. He sees it for its corrosive, violent, discriminatory and destructive policy that it is. Boyd is bothered by O’Malley’s police state. His voice is a strong one for justice here.
He doesn’t mince words on bogus statistics frequently used by O’Malley and Erlich. He knows firsthand what kind of jobs these two other politicians are really creating. He knows what really works to make Maryland attractive to high skilled jobs- with apprenticeship programs and affordable housing so the workers can come to the city.
Boyd’s support for the environment is also first rate. He tied together quality of air and quality of water issues-not only as benefits in their own right- but also as factors for further economic development.
Boyd already has a well-developed proposal in place on how to tackle police, schools, jobs, the environment. He is also willing to reach out to activist/ specialists for further development of these goals. This is very innovative, and it is a powerful counter to the tendency of public policy to be ceded to people in “suits” who work in think tanks- funded by corporations and private wealth. Those activist/ specialists who know the issues very well, and have a handle on the intricacies on how the mechanics of their area work, can act as a “citizen’s brain trust” to help create and build public policy.
Decriminalizing drug offenses for minor drugs (aka marijuana) would radically reduce crime and fear in cities like Baltimore, and free up resources to be used for more serious matters. It’s the war on drugs- and not drug use itself- which is fostering the violence, police harassment, and degradation of Baltimore City’s quality of life.
Rent control would, by itself, lead to neighborhood upgrading as renters would no longer fear landlords-and thus begin to insist on building improvements. Rent control does work, and it goes hand-in-glove with clean, solid attractive, and affordable neighborhoods- just look at New York and New Jersey for an example. Even with rent control, the housing market is one of the hottest in the country. So, homeowners and renters both benefit.
I think Boyd’s idea of the house lottery is cutting edge. It has the potential to turn around the delapidated, aging, crumbling neighborhoods which exist in all too many areas in Baltimore, and incentivizes the lottery winners- local renters- with funds and sweat equity, to convert these vacant building into attractive, affordable homesteads. What at great idea!
Boyd’s ideas of rent control and a housing lottery as economic factors to attract new business are exciting. The failed ideas of Martin O’Malley- where O’Malley uses public money as a giveaway to wealthy businessmen to create uneconomical low-paying service jobs (i.e. the Baltimore City Hotel/ Convention Center) and wastes precious resources in the process (and the attendant opportunity costs those misspent resources represent) are, instead, substituted for development based on training the workforce, and creating conditions where skilled workers will want to live in Baltimore; this, in turn, attracts companies searching for skilled workers.
Boyd has the ideals, the heart, and the goals of a truly progressive candidate in Maryland.
Best yet: he is not bought and paid for like Erlich, O’Malley, and Duncan. He is not beholden to big money and developers like the other 3 are. He owes no favors to the rich and powerful. His concerns are our concerns.
What about electability?
Like Kevin Zeese- who is running as an independent, but is seeking to be on the ballot under the Green Party (as well as Populist and Libertarian Parties)- Boyd will benefit from the disaffection of progressives and African Americans with the Democrats and Republicans. He may get at least 10% in the polls as the general election approaches (this based on Rep. Ben Cardin’s view-given recently at a meeting of Democracy for Howard County- that Zeese could get 10% in the polls going into the general election [Cardin may have been trying to “scare” Democratic Party regulars into opposing Zeese based on such numbers- the “spoiler” argument- but it is a signficant concession from Cardin that Zeese may do this well; Boyd and Zeese may well get the same kinds of votes as each other).
(This bounce may be impacted by who the Democrats select in the primary. Although Duncan is in tight with big developers and supports the ICC, he is more progressive candidate than O’Malley, doesn’t have O’Malley’s racial profiling issues, doesn’t have O’Malley’s integrity problems with regard to statistical manipulation on crime and jobs, doesn’t support gambling, and doesn’t have O’Malley’s baggage [Erlich will, no doubt, pound away on O’Malley with regard to Baltimore City’s continuing problems with crime and schools]. Accordingly, a Duncan victory could result in less support for Boyd than O’Malley. Also, Zeese might not jump as much if Mfume wins instead of Cardin).
As such, Boyd-along with Zeese- could end up with enough poll support that he would impact the election results-at 10%, he may be the margin of victory. That, in turn, would invariably require the media to include him in any debates between O’Malley and Erlich (a similar scenario may play out with Zeese, Steele, and Cardin). In such a debate, Boyd’s plain talking, candor, and connection with average folks could be a big plus, pulling in even more votes for him.
All of this could push Boyd’s support much higher.
Recent developments in the Senate race may push the Zeese/ Boyd numbers higher still. Michael Steele’s campaign is showing signs of disarray and imploding, after his major blunder on the stem cell comments with Jewish American voters, and the departure of key campaign staff over tactical disputes. If Cardin wins the primary, and if Steele’s polling numbers show lackluster support, many more people may gravitate to Zeese: if Cardin looks like a shoe-in, disenfranchised Dems, African Americans, even disaffected Libertarian/Anti-Iraq Republicans, could flock to Zeese, making his campaign really take off (this on top of Zeese’s extensive grass roots effort currently underway). If Boyd tracks closely with Zeese, than any increase in Zeese’s numbers could pull Boyd up as well, and vice-versa.
(Note: for those of you seeing one of my candidate profile reports for the first time, I believe in disclosure, and I think it’s important for the readers to know where my own political leanings are so they can understand the perspective of this writer; I regularly try to inform folks of those leanings, and my views are as follows : until recently, I had been leaning toward Mfume; now, I am leaning to Bob Kaufman in the Democratic primary based on his willingness to fire Harry Reid as Leader over the failure to apply opposition discipline on the Alito filibuster [Kaufman’s other ideas, criticiques, and programs are important too];[ Zeese also opposes Reid but has indicated discomfort over caucusing with the Dems to challenge Reid in the Democratic caucus])
Again, if Zeese does well, Boyd may benefit as well- and vice versa.
Remember, in a 3 way race- with the support evenly divided- a person can get elected with only 1 vote more than 33%, so if events develope as described above, Boyd would be positioned to become a major candidate right at the very end of the race.
Progressives should take a serious look at Eddie Boyd’s candidacy. He is running a serious race. There is a scenario where he can win outright, and it is a possible scenario. His ideas are great. He’s not bought by big money.
Let’s give Eddie Boyd more time and attention. He is a great candidate for this race.