Thursday, June 5, 2008

Riot in Fells Point!?

I just got this email from a tourist to our town who was visiting from Rhode Island for the Red Sox series. I wonder if ppatin or any other readers out there have any knowledge of this event in Fells Point, and to what degree this is normal behavior on warm spring/summer weekends.

All thoughts welcome!
Here's what she sent: (As Dave Barry might say, I am not making this up)

"Thank you in advance for reading this I have, I guess, a strange question for you. Found you on your website in my googling.

I am from Rhode Island. My boyfriend took me to Baltimore this past weekend to see the Red Sox play (awesome games I might add). we stayed at the Admiral Fell Inn at Fells Point. Neither of us had a clue about the high crime rate until we were immersed in it.

Something terrible happened right outside our hotel in the middle of the night - Sat 5/31 - Sun 6/1 - about 2AM.......on the corner of Thames and Broadway. I am totally perplexed because every attempt to find out exactly what happened has turned up nothing - getting obsessed here. I am wondering if it is because it was unsubstantial in the big crime scheme there, or if it is covered up, etc.

I have been to the Baltimore Sun, police blogs, etc - - NOTHING.

It involved MANY people (maybe 100??), SO MANY police - someone (or someoneS) were badly hurt - people there were horrified, even the people who were involved which seemed to be a crowd that was not immune to this type of violence. It as frightening - awakned to screaming and then yelling which lasted forever, it seemed......nearly a riot - at least 50 people fighting in the street (seperate small fights which the police didn't seem to be doing to much about, though their bilyclubs were out and ready throughout!)......went on for quite some time. Hotel guy the next morning just said it was a fight, maybe gangs, and that there was "a lot of blood'. then, nothing.

The problem is this - I am not seeking info out of morbid curiosity. But I need closure from it - it was all so surreal lthat night.....and then I came home on Sunday night and can barely sleep. I am panicky all of a sudden, obviously more traumatized by it than I thought. I never witnessed anything like it. My boyfriend was freaked also. We were actually worried they would try to overtake the hotel!!

How can somethng so awful be unreported to the public????

Can I have information related to it so i can close it out and put it to rest???"

Lisa in Little Rhody

"PS) wonderng if my instincts are on.........I was scared with goosebumps whenever we were on Pratt St.....just terrible vibes there. Am I making sense??"

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Be careful who you hire!

Businesses in Baltimore are cautioned about hiring people who recently worked for the city. The word on the street now is that the "city will hire anyone". Buz knows that that has been true for a while, except for certain positions, such as police and fire. Recent incidents of employees of the city participating in misconduct while working have once again raised the issue of the degree of managerial oversight and discipline exercised over the city work force.

We agree that people in the city need jobs, but don't go abusing your job, violating the public trust, and join the group of people out of work because you can't control yourself. And then whining you can't find a job!

Some of these schemes make you ask the question: is anyone minding the store?
  • One supervisor from Loch Raven reservoir used a city vehicle to assist in the robbery of a person in East Baltimore--while he was working. Good luck on getting your next job!
  • A big scheme was going on at the city salt dome on Falls Road that had employees and the security guard involved in offloading stolen water onto private owned vehicles. Hope they all have lots of water to drink at their next jobs! Wonder which security company the guard worked for!?
  • And apparently city-worker-criminals are still using city vehicles to go out and buy drugs.  The police recently arrested a worker from the city's yard at Pulaski Highway who was observed in a group buy-in. Hope he has luck finding his next job!
Funny, this stuff has been going on for years. When Buz worked in one of the city's districts, our drug squad often used an ex-city vehicle for surveillance and buys. Best cover ever! 

The city treats it, as councilman Jack Young says, "a health problem". And well it may be. The city usually gives them one chance in rehab, then fires them.

But if you're running a business for profit nowadays, you can't afford to do handholding. You have to look out for YOUR business. Let them get their treatment, but don't you take the risks.

So, if you are one of the nowadays few employers needing to hire new employees, some little tidbits of advice:
  1. Do a criminal background check on all new hires. See if they were honest on their application. It's well worth the money. And you can get a lot of info on Baltimorons for free nowadays. Decide on a case by case basis. There are a few adults who want to change their lives and become good citizens and workers; look for evidence to support that.
  2. Do a drug test before hire. Now, I don't know what you all think about marijuana use, but you should certainly consider that a lot of applicants are smoking weed in many cases. You have to weigh that in the totality of other factors with the applicant. I don't want to have any employee driving my vehicle or train, or on a ladder, though, who tests positive for mj. The general rule of thumb for any other illegal drugs: if they're actively using, they're probably not going to do a good job for you for very long (of course, there's always exceptions). And they're likely to steal from you to assist with their true love's cost, whether booze, coke, or heroin.
  3. Do a driving record check, even if they say they don't drive. It's good if you don't find anything. If you find a record, you might be surprised what's there. (DWI's perhaps?!)
  4. Ask: "Why did you leave your last job?" Have your BS detector activated. Remember, most government jobs are civil service; be especially cautious if the person left for reasons which seem odd before they retired.
Good luck! This list is not all-inclusive. Your hiring needs to be attuned to your industry and your workforce needs.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Get out of my face!

Buz read with interest Dan Rodricks column today on the travails of an idealistic young man who tried to teach in the Baltimore City Public Schools. To use a sports metaphor, their bench was deeper than his. It seems that the first order of business in teaching kids is "classroom management"--which Buz used to think was a B.S. course. I mean like kids will do kids stuff. But some of the things that column mentioned mirrored Buz's attempt to teach high school kids a couple of classes at Walbrook--allegedly a "magnet" school back then.  The class would not stop talking, or throwing things at each other.

Buz and an assistant could not control the classes for even 5 minutes: since what we had to say was not going to be on a test, and we were not their regular teachers, they were not interested. In the school, fights, running the halls, and fires were not uncommon.

The quote "get out of my face" says it all. Buz would never have dreamed to say it to one of my teachers in any of my schools. The kids who say that and throw things at the teacher and talk in class are actually preparing themselves for a life of the streets and the prisons. It's really sad: public education is there and available; a few misfits destroy it for all.

Perhaps the kids should have a smoking break so that they could smoke a couple of blunts and "relax": "it's hard out there".  I guess so if you don't even have a high school education or GED.

I'm puzzled why the teacher blames himself, as opposed to the parents, or even the kids themselves, or the schools system. He wants teachers paid $100K a year; that's a good idea. But it sounds as though we would be getting highly-paid prison wardens--at least in some schools.

The Sun recently had an op-ed columnist who reported that the drop-out rates in the city for the Teach for America and Resident Teacher programs were about 85% after  2 years in the system. An MSTA official recently told your consultant that the rate at which new teachers had their contracts not renewed (fired) was about 50% in the city.

The point of all this is that this is where crime begins: the kids learn that they can do whatever they want, say whatever they want, and no one tells them that there are consequences. "Get out of my face" works on the corner, or basketball court, or in jail with other inmates--maybe. Don't try telling that to your new boss, the inquiring cop, or to the judge.