Dan Rodricks: A western Maryland split to West Virginia would be expensive as well as foolish | COMMENTARY

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Nobody asked me, but those attention-seeking politicians who want Maryland’s three westernmost counties to leave the state and become part of West Virginia strike me as ungrateful. One of the first things Larry Hogan did after 884,400 voters across the state made him governor was kill Baltimore’s Red Line and send $61.5 million to Garrett County for roundabouts and road extensions of dubious necessity at the Grantsville exit of Interstate 68. The project turned out to be so much fun to drive, it’s practically a tourist attraction.

And one more thing about Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties breaking away: Maryland owns Deep Creek Lake. If the westerners really want to become part of West Virginia, they would have to buy it back. The same goes for all the state parkland in those counties, the lake and casino at Rocky Gap, the bucolic prison complex near Cumberland and the campus of Frostburg State University. It’s an expensive proposition, but hey, the governor of West Virginia is a billionaire. Maybe he could help you out. Good luck with that, you foolish fellows.

Michael Bloomberg (net worth: $59 billion) didn’t ask me, but now that he’s given another $43 million to Johns Hopkins University, on top of the $3.55 billion he already gave his alma mater, maybe he can do something directly for Baltimore. I’ve suggested it before. Here’s another try: Give $1 billion over 10 years to the nonprofit Baltimore Community Lending for affordable housing and small-business loans. That would be a huge stimulus for the city. BCL will be hosting a fundraiser at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture on the evening of Thursday, Dec. 2. Show up there with a check, Mr. B., and I’ll see that you’re first in line for the buffet.

Nobody asked me, but if I had to undergo a medical procedure that required anesthesia and Rep. Andy Harris turned up as the anesthesiologist, I think I’d just ask for five shots of Sagamore Rye and a stick to bite on.

Nobody asked me for it, but here’s a little perspective on the results of that Hopkins study of Marilyn Mosby’s no-prosecution policy. The Baltimore State’s Attorney publicly declared that her staff would no longer take minor cases such as drug possession and prostitution. The Hopkins study looked at 741 defendants who benefited from Mosby’s policy and found that only a tiny percentage of them committed violent crimes within a 14-month period. That’s impressive, but it only underscores the fundamental flaw with zero-tolerance policing; people arrested for low-level offenses are not predisposed to more serious criminality. (Didn’t we already know that?) The report supports Mosby’s premise that arresting drug addicts makes little sense; it doesn’t mean the city is on the way to being less violent. The real test looms in the other half of the premise — that, relieved of having to enforce nuisance crimes, police and prosecutors can focus on the repeat violent offenders responsible for so much of Baltimore’s misery.

One other thing: The Hopkins study also noted a significant decline in 911 calls for minor offenses, but I’m not sure what that proves. Citizens might be fed up with drug corners and other neighborhood nuisances but make fewer calls because they know nothing will be done. Clearly, the proposed public health response to all this needs to be ramped up and better funded.

Nobody asked me, but Hogan doesn’t wear the Trump nasty hat well. That rhetoric he used about calls for new approaches to law enforcement — “re-fund the police” and “dangerous far-left lunacy” — just doesn’t play well coming from the supposedly moderate, supposedly bipartisanship-seeking governor of Maryland. Hogan claimed that “too often our law enforcement officers are unfairly criticized,” but when was that? He singled out Baltimore leaders again for the city’s violent crime problem, something any loudmouth on talk radio can do. And it’s based on the lie that Mayor Brandon Scott and the Baltimore police brass are sitting on their hands while the city suffers through another year of 300-plus homicides. Plus, Scott increased the most recent police budget; he’s not defunding the cops. So Hogan is not speaking to anyone around here. He’s obviously trying to throw red meat to a larger audience as he plans his political future, and we’ve not heard the last of it.

Nobody asked me, but, given questions raised in the last year, isn’t it about time that Hopkins clarified whether its founder actually owned slaves?

Nobody asked me, but the camel cricket (or spider or cave cricket) is one of the creepiest insects you’ll find in your basement. It’s as if they arrived from another planet.

Nobody asked me, but no one besides Tom Waits should have ever recorded, “Ol’ ‘55.” Of course, the Eagles did exactly that in 1974, and thus my point. There have been some decent covers since, but none get into the bones like the original, so I’m sticking with that.

Nobody asked me, but espionage was a lot more fascinating when people who became spies were motivated by ideology and not money. The Annapolis couple accused of conspiring to pass nuclear secrets to a foreign country hardly resemble the true-believers of the Cold War. This case, prosecutors say, was all about money, and I’m long past seeing money as a fascinating motivator for anything. As Miss Peggy Lee put it, “Is that all there is?”

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