Volume XVII, Issue 39 # September 24 - September 30, 2009

from the Editor

All of Us Lose

That’s how I score Annapolis’ mayoral game

Politics ranks with baseball at the top of my list of favorite spectator sports. Fandom, of course, brings special privileges: We who so designate ourselves get the right to cheer and jeer with hysterical abandon that would get us locked up in other contexts.

You know what I mean — and I’m not talking about baseball.

Across America, politics has gotten people so worked up that the rules of civility have been tabled.

The consequences of the recent mayoral election in Annapolis have me shrieking like the other lunatics.

Here’s why:

On September 15, primary election day for Annapolis city government, Zina Pierre wins the big race, polling 1,411 votes.

On September 17, when absentee and provisional votes were counted, she pulled in a few more votes, for a grand total of 1,461.

It’s an upset, but the city Democratic Party and Josh Cohen, the guy she’s beaten by 127 votes, embrace the local woman who’s surged to victory in her hometown.

With Democratic majorities hereabouts, Annapolis appeared well on its way to having its first African American mayor — and second woman mayor.

But wait!

On September 18, Paul Foer reports on his blog, Capital Punishment, that Pierre is sitting on a record of years of bad debt and a stack of court judgments forcing her to pay.

That same day, Pierre — who might not, by the way, actually live in Annapolis — withdraws from the race. Or so her campaign spokeswoman says.

Then, on September 19, Pierre, like Michael Jordan, says: I’m back! Didn’t mean to withdraw but was the victim of misinformation, and ditches her campaign spokeswoman.

If this were baseball, Annapolis would not be playing in the big leagues.

If this were baseball, my grandson Jack’s Little League team the Lugnuts — on which only some of the kids’ favorite sport is Nintendo — could play a better game.

Here’s how the scoreboard looks:

Pierre wins — unless another shoe drops, and she withdraws again or is disqualified. So far, two shoes have dropped, and on most occasions when we’re talking about a two-footed, shoe-wearing population, that’s equivalent to three outs in baseball. (Pierre, of course, may have as many shoes in her closet as Imelda Marcos.)

Foer wins. The blogger beats the pros.

Journalism loses. Three daily newspapers cover Annapolis politics, but none of them dug out this news. That’s the kind of diligence we used to expect of our newspapers and that our newspapers used to give us. Apparently they don’t anymore. Or can’t.

Why? Fewer readers and advertisers have meant cutbacks on every side: fewer experienced reporters, less time, more omissions. The Capital, however, has confessed itself at fault and promised to correct its ways.

The political process — which is how we manage our commonwealth — loses. Politicians are not the people many of us trust most. On their shoulders we’re heaping all the woes that have befallen us — and many of us are saying their solutions stink like French cheese. Pierre’s history — past and recent — tells us our distrust is rightly placed.

The Democratic Party loses. Maryland’s Republicans — who have disorder in their own house — can point their fingers and say Is this the best you guys can do?

Democratic voters lose. Political parties exist in part to give order to the chaos of political ambition. On September 22, Pierre met with city party leaders to justify herself. Democrats might well wonder if that wasn’t a little late.

Voters lose. All the Annapolitans who went to the polls expected their votes would decide the game. They were wrong. The rest of us? We, too, like to believe voting perfects our democracy. Looks like we’re wrong, too.

African Americans lose. Pierre’s winning votes came by and large from the black community, eager to make local history. Now they’ve voted in a candidate who many of us think plays like a Lugnut.

Nonetheless, the disenfranchisement many African Americans feel — in society and the economy, not just at the polls — is so great that Pierre is being seen as the victim.

Hence another racial chasm deepens our divide.

The way this game’s been played, a lot of us look like losers.

       Sandra Olivetti Martin

   editor and publisher