Cut Crime in Annapolis by Bringing Back Pat Croslan? ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Monday, March 31, 2008

Cut Crime in Annapolis by Bringing Back Pat Croslan?

Local Republican leader Michael Collins pines for the good old days of former Housing Authority Director Pat Croslan in a guest column in The Capital titled "Want to cut crime? Bring back Pat Croslan." Collins makes a direct correlation with violent crime and management of HACA. While CP agrees that Ms. Croslan was a tough leader trying to restore order and efficiency to our long-beleaguered public housing, I don't think it is simply a matter of who holds the position of HACA executive director that really counts.

Collins goes a bit into the history of Croslan's removal, blaming Democrats including Mayor Moyer and House Speaker Busch. It seems accurate to me, but CP is concerned that Republicans will and indeed are making the long festering issue of public housing into an essentially politicized debate. First they claim the Democrats have made a mess of it. True. Then they claim that Democrats will never clean it up. Maybe true. Then they seem to be (or at least Collins is, and maybe others as well...) that Republicans are needed to wrest control and save us. I have heard enough grumblings from Republicans and am trying to sort out the emerging picture.

We cannot allow the public housing debate to be led by or to get mired in a game of Republican-Democratic mudslinging. A good Democrat or a good Republican can lead us out of this mess. Don't make it a party thing anymore than it may already be a party thing. While many Democrats have allowed this wound to fester, I'm not going to concede that a change of leadership to a Republican will matter. And frankly, when it comes to fixing public housing, Annapolitans are not concerned with the party either. We want meaningful results.

Many folks have suggested to me that by somehow keeping thousands of people locked into public housing, Democrats maintain a powerful voting bloc. This seems to have become a bit of urban folklore in these parts. I have no doubt there has been some hanky panky but the essential argument is hard to swallow.

The argument seems to go like this--As long as Democrats keep people in public housing segregated for generations living off the public dole, even subjected to mismanagement, inefficiency, poverty, crime, violence, gunfire etc., etc., they'll vote to keep the Democrats in control because it's goodto live under a welfare state. Can anyone gather hard data to show voting patterns or show a correlation here? It sounds like a research and a philosophical nightmare. The potential pitfalls are mind boggling. I would not even know what kind of model to apply to analyze this. Critical theory? Marxist? Hegemonic? Free market? Social-democratic?

What disturbs me most about Collin's piece is not his call for better management, but that he does not call for a major overhaul, elimination or transformation of public housing. Maybe that's because after learning from Democrats, he and other Republicans can get more use out of maintaining public housing for their own political purposes than if it were drastically changed.

I guess the big question is do we cut crime and poverty by redistributing wealth to make everyone equal or by giving everyone an equal chance to become unequal? Or by eliminating private property and have the people--or the government own everything? Or by letting everyone fight amongst themselves to get more?

I don't know. All I know is that there is no good answer to this as long as it is based along party lines. We all end up losers as long as we have the shame of public housing poverty and despair alongside the shame of conspicuous consumption and opulence.

Read Collin's piece here:

Within an hour, CP received this thoughtful reply from Stanford Erickson of Eastport:


In a perfect world, you are correct. Making Public Housing a partisan
issue, when it really is a societal issue, can do damage. But the key,
practical key not good-feeling theoretical key, is that political parties
came into being because they helped harness and focus people to accomplish
things that they could not get done individually.

A complete rethinking for how we house and care financially distressed
people is necessary in Annapolis. It would be "pretty" to think that those
who have had political sway in Annapolis for centuries? will suddenly wake
up and develop programs that structurally change a system of thinking that
they engendered, nurtured and from which they apparently benefit.

Naturally financially distressed people, their safety, emotional well being
and their ability to ultimately own their own property and not live at the
public's expense, naturally this is our greatest concern, whatever party.

But the practicality of achieving major change requires that someones, some
party, get
behind this effort and bring it about. The Democrats have demonstrated they
neither have the political will or creative ideas. They have demonstrated
this over several years. Those of us, including you Paul, who seek major
change in the approach and management of Public Housing should welcome
support from wherever. The enemies of our enemies are our friends

Stanford....Well, one can always hope--yes? If I am cynical, I get derided for being negative. When I am hopeful, I get questioned for being unrealistic. I love this job..... Thanks for your thoughts.



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