Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who unexpectedly overthrew Democratic hegemony in Maryland in November, demonstrated what good governance – smart governance – looks like, in stark contrast to Baltimore’s mayor.
On Saturday, Hogan ordered the National Guard commander to “get ready,” preparing the executive order declaring a state of emergency in Baltimore City. He set up an emergency operations center in advance of the “emergency”: no willful blindness, just rational anticipation and a worse-case analysis that demanded preparation.
When the mayor of Baltimore called with the request, the governor signed the emergency order “within 30 seconds.”
Hogan refused to engage in the blame game, giving everyone credit for doing the best they could. No finger pointing; just a focus on three clearly stated priorities: order, protection of the innocent, and protection of their property.
Hogan assembled his cabinet, not in sleepy Annapolis but in West Baltimore, the epicenter of the violence. He demanded that each cabinet secretary outline what was within their power to bring to bear to assist the city and the victims. It is not unrealistic to anticipate the governor will hold to account those in his cabinet who fail to perform to his priorities. The governor appears to understand how to move a bureaucracy: with clarity, clear objectives, and stubbornness.
Hogan spent the day amidst the results of the violence, engaging the results of the violence; community leaders and real people, the good people of Baltimore who had already set about the task of picking up the pieces and restoring their neighborhoods. The governor made a point of speaking to and about these good people who value their neighbors and their neighborhood.
Governor Hogan was, in a word, flawless. A demonstration of what calm, effective, and committed, engaged, anticipatory leadership looks like. Politics was absent, except as projected by competence.
The temptation to make a comparison with Detroit and Chicago is too powerful to ignore. In Baltimore, as in Detroit and Chicago, the leadership of the city has been perpetually Democratic and frequently African-American. And yet, the problems and true inequities that exist for the African-American communities persist. Reverend Al danced like Fred Astaire when faced with the question Monday morning on MSNBC: “It’s not just race, its class; if political leadership is of a different class, that’s a problem.” One would have to assume that by Reverend Al’s analysis, street people should be running the city and then everything would be fine. Or would there simply be another standard or justification that is unassailable on the basis of political correctness and a lack of courage?
I have connections to Baltimore and to the people who serve and lead their communities. Those people are exceptional! There are, unfortunately, not enough of them who are driven by sincere commitment and egalitarian impulse, but there are some. The mayor apparently is not one of them.