Fraser Smith's Commentary

WYPR's Senior News Analyst opines on recent Maryland news.

Baltimore finds itself trailing many other cities when it comes to transparent handling of police brutality settlements.

It’s the holiday season but the move from Democrat to Republican government in Maryland continues as it must. Just what that may mean gets clearer by the day.

When you get on the civil rights train, you can never get off. That was the late Parren Mitchell’s urging. Contemporary events, if nothing else, prove him quite right. He and his famous civil rights family knew the landscape as well as any. You couldn’t get off the civil rights train because it had not – might not ever – reach its destination. The struggle would not end. You had to ride on and on. 

Howard County Library System via flickr

Comptroller Peter Franchot has a finely tuned political ear – and little regard for political correctness. He realized early that former governor William Donald Schaefer was in decline and ready to be knocked off – by his own party. Franchot stepped up.

 Franchot saw the anti-tax sentiment of Marylanders peaking as the 2014 election loomed. Earlier actually. He declined to pamper reliable Democratic voters as he was defeating Schaefer.

Gage Skidmore via flickr

Former governor Bob  Ehrlich for President? Really?

Why not, he's saying. He’s got his toe in the New Hampshire waters. It felt like Dundalk to him, he told The Baltimore Sun this week.

Not many will take him seriously. “Ludicrous,” said a veteran Democrat. “If people have trouble taking Martin O’Malley seriously as a candidate, how in the world does Ehrlich think he has a shot?” said another.

chesbayprogram via flickr

Having labored for years to save the bay, Maggie McIntosh turns now to matters of the purse. How Maryland spends the taxpayers’ money is about to become her new Job 1. 

 She takes over as chair of the House Appropriations Committee at a moment of  great challenge. The Baltimore delegate takes control of this body when cuts in spending are in the offing. Unless handled carefully, cuts could undermine values such as public education. 

Who you gonna call? taken by warrenski via flickr

The election’s behind us. Winter lurks. And depending on who or where you are on the political spectrum, it’s a season of change, challenge and melancholy.

Call it the Transition Blues. No one’s immune.

Take governor-elect Larry Hogan. He’s about to take charge of a $40 billion government with a deficit of about $1 billion. You probably can’t keep your tax-cutting promises. The ecstasy of victory slams into reality.

Christopher Connelly / WYPR

Is the Red Line rail project dead? It’s a $2.9 billion effort. Advocates say it will re-energize the Baltimore region.

But word on the street says it’s dead.

The man who may know, governor-elect Larry Hogan (R), won’t say. Maybe even he doesn’t know. He’s suddenly got a lot on his plate.

He wants to know what he’s talking about before he starts talking.

We can all sympathize. 

Tom Chalkley

A disturbed and obstreperous hospital patient was physically restrained and then hit with an electronic stun gun repeatedly. The patient, George King, fell into a coma. A week later, he died.

“Natural causes,” according to the state medical examiner. And the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office says the police were not responsible.

For an old police reporter, the report was reminiscent of the arrestee who falls getting in or out of the police wagon. Used to happen all the time – as a way to explain bruises accumulated on the way to the station house.

Tom Chalkley


It ain't over yet - Maryland's gubernatorial race is giving voters the full end-of-campaign treatment.