A more detailed look at my platform, which is Pot, Progress and Peace
Pot – Civil rights are the foundation upon which all other law is built. The marijuana issue is more than a medical issue, it’s more than a recreational issue, it’s a civil rights issue, since the preponderance of punishment for the pot related activities has fallen on one racial group, blacks, while virtually all racial and ethnic groups used pot for many uses now known factually — to be less harmful than many alternatives and in some cases, marijuana is the only drug that can help people with certain conditions.
This problem didn’t sneak up on the Federal government, they’ve known for a long time pot wasn’t harmful and have purposely mis-lead the public with propaganda like “Reefer Madness”. People think that film is funny but I don’t, it’s proof my government was willing to outrageously lie to me, to keep a helpful substance illegal, which coincidentally punished blacks at a grossly disproportionate rate. I don’t think that’s stupidity or coincidental, I think it was and is racism, and it won’t stop until we demand that it does.
Where are the young black men of Baltimore? Many of them, a highly disproportionate number, are in jail. And when they get out, their record, reputation and employability in our modern economy will be trashed. This is an outrage. It has split families like the Civil war where sons fought on both sides and the parents wept for their children, the country and justice. Today in Baltimore, many families have sons and daughters on the police force and sons and daughters in jail for marijuana possession and/or sale.
This all must stop. We need legalized marijuana and we need to release the prisoners jailed for possessing and/or selling marijuana and we need to expunge their records.
We can heal Baltimore; We can make it bigger, denser, more prosperous and attractive to investment. It can look like Amsterdam or Denver — and be vital and growing.
But Prosperity will remain elusive while this civil rights issue boils beneath the skin and stigmatizes an entire swath of the a specific racial group.
The state of California recently passed a model marijuana bill covering everything from pot branding, pot selling and pot growing to paraphernalia and taxes. This wonderful piece of legislation, with minor modifications could work wonderfully in Maryland and in particular would benefit Baltimore city.
Progress – Baltimore can be a shining example of urban planning and land use because it’s natural advantages are so plentiful, only not managing them well has lead to the dismal state of economic development and job growth Baltimore suffers from.
The $64,000 question for economists, politicians and business leaders is all the same one; how to create high real gdp growth (5%+) without excessive debt, excessive environmental damage and/or war.
The following theory is pretty simple, doesn’t require math or physics and is basically common sense. I theorize that our country and Baltimore’s lower gdp growth is the lack of a basic recognition that cities themselves are the engine of a high marginal productivity rate vital to strong, environmentally conscious growth.
This idea isn’t mine. Augustus Caesar, after losing 3 legions of troops in the German forest, altered tactics and began building cities in his conquered lands. He didn’t think of it either. His home was Rome, the first city in the world with more than 1 million people and he could see, right out his front door, the marvelous engine of marginally productivity that the world’s first city was. Culturally, militarily, architecturally and in so many ways it’s silly to list them all, Rome was at the top or even inventing the category altogether. I’ve fallen in love with the idea that was Rome and could be Baltimore, a great shining city full of growth, new ideas, young people and young companies..
How can we fix our cities and re-prioritize our national planning, economic and growth priorities around cities? Priorities that will pay back these investments hundreds of times over, rather than sap our economic growth potential by ignoring how much explosive economic growth can happen, inside of our established cities, with relatively minor economic and environmental disruption — if we simply re-prioritized; modernized, and in some cases radically change — our transportation systems, all of which is doable.
I also contend that socially we will progress faster as a united nation if we simply apply the lessons history has taught us over and over again about what humans are capable of and how much better things are when we cooperate, build, and strategize to solve these problems.
Baltimore and the city centers of Montgomery County need to be simultaneously prioritized, made denser, with friendly mass transit, and the resulting economic growth will create the expanding governmental tax revenue to fight it’s core priorities; while providing the economic growth the population not working for the government, depend upon, for wealth creation. Wealth creation or erosion being defined as the difference between an expanding ability to buy goods and services for the household OR a declining ability to do so through some combination of inflation/deflation, wage growth or stagnation, and either an acceleration or decline in the rate at which innovation improves your wealth base.
That third one is the important one. Over time all those other factors actually average out to almost zero, the thing that matters is marginal productivity increases through innovation, those are the important changes that add permanent, systemic wealth and actually all the other factors combined – DON’T equal this one.
If you made the same money, paid the same for everything except gas, even taxes, and the value of your currency was stable BUT, because of a new invention, your car got twice the gas mileage, this could impact your standard of living hugely through some combination of cash savings, more freedom to travel, and lower fuel prices (as a result of lowered demand). Those other factors, over time, do equal out, but not the productivity one.
Knowledge is power and great knowledge is great power, and great numbers of people living and working together in great cities (and Baltimore!) have great communal, cooperative, directional power that has fueled human innovation, and therefore our ability to care for one another – since we began having this ability. Tribes were the first cities and even at this level, the benefits are so obvious, no science is needed.
It’s the cumulative effect of all these productivity enhancements that have provided all wealth growth, and accomplishing these levels of high productivity is easier in cities where humans are concentrated.
The Internet can partially offset this effect — but only partially — and we must recognize this openly in our planning doctrine, which is currently structured around inhibiting the growth of cities, not promoting them. Baltimore has the potential, with the infrastructure base already in place to radically transform using this formula and it will with the proper leadership.
Peace – With civil rights progress on the Pot issue and a focus on progress economically and in our schools, Baltimore can have peace. The police and the community do not need to be at war and while they are, progress will be difficult and expensive. The police are scapegoats here in a war they don’t want. They have to enforce the laws of the country, state, and city; EVEN if they are stupid laws which discriminate.
They risk their lives to protect the innocent and even with police brutality, which I definitely abhor, look at how many lives are lost in the street every month when the police are not actively fighting the criminal element. This cannot go on. We need a new relationship between the police and the community and this is possible through two big changes, both of which as mayor, I will champion, fight for, and bring to Baltimore or resign; first the full legalization of pot and secondly the use of camera’s on every cop.
An ever-growing number of Americans, black and white, have lost faith in our justice system. There are many root causes for this — that unfortunately will be very hard to address.
Fortunately, there is one aspect of this horrible, many year long running tragedy, that we can address quickly, and that will stop the finger pointing, lying, propaganda and political movements that now accompany individual police actions.
Get the He said, She said, Black said, White said, out of Everybody’s head.
It’s simple technology to the rescue. If every officer of the law in Baltimore is wired and required to be recording while on duty, 99% of this nonsense disappears. Ordinarily, for a solution like this to get implemented, we’d have to fight tradition, stupidity, and false agenda’s that would oppose such a simple and obviously effective solution. But this time, in Baltimore, it may be the time, because of Freddie Gray of course, and many others like him whose names we don’t know, it might be different. Listen to Denver police chief Robert White. “We’re very comfortable that we are going in the right direction.”
He’s referring to buying and outfitting every Denver policeman and woman with cameras. It’s estimated the cameras will cost $1.5 million. The city will save that in legal expense every year the cameras are operational. The Freddie Gray settlement was over $6 million dollars, dollars that could have bought these cameras and I believe kept Freddie Gray alive. The civil rights value exceeds that figure. The value of the recorded evidence will help the entire law enforcement community in Denver and most importantly get rid of the He said, She said, and Black said, White said.
“Citizens should know officers are being held accountable,” White said. “The only officers who would have a problem with body cameras are bad officers.”
That is true in Denver, Baltimore and anywhere police have duties. We need not fear this change, we need to embrace it.
The Feds should also step in and do three things immediately. The first is to listen to capable and reasonable police Chief’s like White all over the country who are calling for this and are speaking wisdom: “The ONLY (emphasis added) officers who would have a problem with body cameras are bad officers.” Then they need to make funding and/or loans available to every police department in the country for camera’s and a recording system. And lastly, they should also require that every department do this within a certain number of years, whether they’re willing or not.