Governor returns to Baltimore, 'Capital for a Day'
Gov. Martin O'Malley's "Capital for a Day" program, which transplants top-level government officials from Annapolis to far-flung areas of the state, rarely garners much major media attention.
But today the capital is Baltimore, meaning state officials will descend on a city reeling from a high-profile crime that has left residents questioning their safety.
Stephen Pitcairn, a 23-year-old Johns Hopkins researcher, was stabbed to death while walking from Penn Station to his home in the Charles Village area. A man and woman with long criminal histories have been charged.
City officials, including Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld and council members, visited the grieving community yesterday, where they encountered furious, frustrated and fed-up residents. Later, a man was found shot to death in Station North, as if to emphasize safety issues in the Penn Station corridor.
As a former Baltimore mayor, O'Malley, a Democrat, is no stranger to soothing a city in suffering, and it will be interesting to see whether he slips into that role again today.
He has just one public safety item on his packed agenda -- a quick announcement of new crime-fighting grants. He briefly addressed the Charles Village killing yesterday, saying it's critical for judges to protect society by giving the most dangerous criminals lengthy prison terms.
O'Malley's experience as a crime-fighting mayor has had an impact on how he governs. He frequently heralds statewide crime reductions that he says have occured at least partly because of public safety programs and policing tools he put in place.
He touted his administration's acheivements in a press office e-mail this morning. "We have driven violent crime down statewide to the lowest rate since 1975 and over the past decade here in Baltimore we've achieved the greatest overall crime reduction of America's most populous cities."
But according to his schedule, most of O'Malley's time in Baltimore today will be devoted to other matters. He will visit a Habitat for Humanity project on Fulton Street, tour a charter school he helped launch as mayor and a University of Maryland BioPark tour to highlight job creation.
(The visit to New Song Academy comes as Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. -- O'Malley's likely challenger in the fall election -- tries to identify himself as the pro-charter school candidate.)
Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Donald W. DeVore will help serve city juvenile warrants, and Maryland State Police Col. Terrence Sheridan will assist with adult warrants -- just a few of the governor's cabinet member activities.