This past week, Candace and I had the opportunity to interview Brandon Soderberg about the new book he coauthored with Baynard Woods – I Got a Monster: The Rise and Fall of America’s Most Corrupt Police Squad, which is about Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force led by police sergeant Wayne Jenkins. I had the chance to read the book in advance of our interview and can’t recommend it highly enough. It is a tragic story in that it shows more than just an abuse of power, but the destruction of public trust. These police officers terrorized, robbed, and placed drugs on people they were supposed to protect and serve. They did this behind a badge and supported by the institutions of criminal justice.
What this story reveals is just how fragile our systems of government are. Elect, appoint, or hire one bad person, and the entire system can be wielded as a weapon. All the good that may be accomplished by a well-functioning benevolent government pales in comparison to the grievous harm that can be set about by one bad actor operating in bad faith. The actual harm and lives ruined by Wayne Jenkins and his cronies is nothing compared to the manner in which this activity bankrupt the public trust.
And the caution point is that good intentions do not cure this danger. Those who pursue deeply held beliefs while undermining systemic protections (i.e., oversight, protections of minority interests, etc.), create lasting harm. They weaken the system and make it more vulnerable to those with bad intentions. Wayne Jenkins took advantage of our reliance on crime reduction in Baltimore to perpetrate his crimes. But what allowed him to succeed was the need of the Baltimore City criminal justice system in general, and city prosecutors in particular, to protect police officers from reproach. This motivation weakened the system of oversight. And it allowed monsters to grow.
You can listen to that interview, and our discussion of Senator Kamala Harris’s nomination for Vice President, here.
Busy Work – Trump’s secret political weapon: Wasting his opponents’ time (Paul Musgrave – The Washington Post)
It’s a struggle between firefighters and a spree arsonist. The firefighters must stamp out every blaze, while the arsonist enjoys pouring accelerant, igniting a spark and sauntering off to start anew with kindling elsewhere. And the gradual exhaustion of the firefighters makes it likelier that they will someday fail to contain the flames.
Maryland agency, Gov. Hogan’s new chief of staff defend payout he received from previous state job (Pamela Wood – The Baltimore Sun)
[W]hen McGrath voluntarily left his position at MES, the agency’s board voted to give him a severance package of one year’s salary plus $5,250 in tuition reimbursements. He also was allowed to keep his work-issued cellphone and laptop. According to state budget records, McGrath’s salary was $233,647 at the MES. He’s now making about the same salary in his new position as Hogan’s chief of staff, state officials acknowledge.
#DidYouKnow 46 million people live in poverty in the United States? This number has increased 38% over the last 13 years – the highest rate in almost 60 years. Please share and help us serve those in need of #AffordableHousing. https://t.co/BSTjRN2qLD
Representation in a Small Space (Village Green/Town Squared) – about Little Free Libraries
Hall of Shame – August 12, 2020 (HoCo Progress Report) – vulgar name-calling on the Howard County Council
This Week’s Birthdays:
- August 18th – Andy Hall, Shaundra Turner Jones (First Lady of District 2!)
- August 19th – Stan Rappaport
- August 20th – Bill Santos, Walter Olson, Sandy Harriman
- August 21st – David Saulnier