Vozzella: The surgeon on speed dial
After the stabbing death of a young Hopkins researcher in Charles Village, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake agreed to talk to Baltimore Sun colleague Julie Scharper about the time eight years ago when her brother was gravely wounded in a stabbing.
In a city freshly rattled by violent crime, it might have been smart politics for a mayor to let people know she'd been personally affected by it.
Except for this part, Baltimore Sun colleague Laura Vozzella writes: The mayor recalled in the interview that when things looked dire for her brother, Wendell Rawlings, her powerful politician-dad pulled strings to get him moved from Sinai Hospital to Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
"Delegate [Pete] Rawlings called Thomas Scalea, physician-in-chief at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, who rode an ambulance to Sinai to pick up Wendell Rawlings," The Sun's Julie Scharper wrote.
I can't blame the late delegate for pulling any string he could to save his son. What parent wouldn't?
But was it smart for the mayor to offer up that tidbit — that her dad had one of the world's greatest trauma surgeons on speed dial, and that the doc was willing to hop into an ambulance on his behalf — in the context of an interview meant to show that she'd been touched by violent crime, just like so many ordinary Baltimoreans? Kinda undercuts the everywoman theme, doesn't it?
I bounced that off attorney Warren Brown, a reliably colorful observer of Baltimore crime and politics. Turns out, he represented one of the guys charged in the matter, but only until he got the case transferred to juvenile court. ("I don't mess around with juvenile court," Brown said. "It's a mess down there.") So Brown is not exactly a disinterested observer, but I still wanted his take.
He had no issue with what Pete Rawlings did for Wendell. "I'd do the same thing, no question about that," Brown said. But when it came to the mayor's comments, he did question "the wisdom of her broadcasting" what amounted to "special treatment."
"As much as, you know, in her position, she wants to appear to relate to the people, there is this little something in her that still causes her to let folk know that, 'I am a little better than you are,'" Brown said.
Did Brown give Rawlings-Blake any points for honesty? After all, she didn't have to offer up that detail, which had not been reported at the time and likely would have stayed buried if she hadn't volunteered it.
"Honest," he said, "but not particularly wise."
Ryan O'Doherty, the mayor's spokesman, saw it differently.
"If it shows anything," he wrote in an e-mail, "it is that the fight against violent crime in Baltimore is deeply personal for the Mayor and she will continue to pursue aggressive policies to confront crime including hiring 350 police officers in 2011 and seeking tougher penalties for illegal gun possession."