Baltimore City Council swearing in ceremony by MDGovpics
Some members of the Baltimore City Council at swearing in Ceremony
surrounding Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector
Is there anything more appalling than mean spiritedness; at least not to this septuagenarian old timer there isn't.
In "my neck of the woods" there are those I call mean spirited that make it a cause. Of course they wouldn't dare refer to it in that way. That would be politically incorrect. But mean spirited it is, couched behind a front, a faÃ§ade of phony public rectitude who make it into "a safety issue".
That "safety issue" has to do with their mean spirited attitude toward the homeless, addicted, mostly unemployed and simply hungry who offend these people's delicate sensibilities.
One of "those" I have in mind has been in the local news lately, one Rochelle "Rikki" Spector, a woman on the Baltimore City Council who herself lives in an area of Baltimore called "Harborview", a new upscale townhouse development where townhouses go for more than a $ million.
This piece of work (and she's not alone where the City Council "is considering legislation to make it tougher for the penniless to beg on our sidewalks". [i] ) objects to people panhandling, asking for change from motorists on the streets, outside restaurants and parking meters where she complains the "police don't enforce laws", apparently ordinances on the books the cops ignore that were intended to curb panhandling.
Now you see downtown Baltimore with its "Inner Harbor" visitor mecca, "Camden Yards" baseball and Ravens stadium football arena nearby and soon to be casino now under construction has become something of a vacation tourist destination and panhandlers presence are not exactly wanted, appreciated or invited to the "festivities".
Add in the nearby gentrification with its upscale townhouses and luxury apartments that has turned areas that were once factories, industrial warehouses, broken down docks and the like and voila Baltimore (or certain parts of it) is no longer the blue collar town it once was. Yeah, crabs and beer still prevail but the "wine and brie" crowd are starting to proliferate.
And it's assumed the latter must be the city constituents who elected Spector to her City Council seat and support her crusade to rid the city of "this atrocious behavior" where she says, "This isn't targeted toward anybody but bad behavior is bad behavior". Oh, really!
America has changed in many ways and in this instance mercilessly as just being poor is looked down upon particularly among the arrogant, self important, entitled, exceptional types who thumb their nose and walk past those in need seemingly incapable of having any sort of empathy.
It may be a romantic notion as this writer wasn't around in the 1930's depression but from reading and video documentaries of the period it appeared millions of Americans at that time were themselves in dire straits, unemployed, hungry and desperate yet it didn't appear there was a stigma attached to their being in need. Maybe it was because the depression was so widespread and not in isolated pockets as it is today.
But today the stigma of being poor is real particularly where the gentrified have moved into the inner cities, displacing the poor as well as long time resident home owners forced to sell and move as they can't afford the rise in property taxes that is a direct result of the gentrification.
We also see these mean spirited attitudes all too well among the tea party types that want to destroy all government and remove the social safety net umbrella of Medicaid, unemployment insurance, food stamps school lunches et al that helps keep people from falling into utter destitution.
Interestingly, this mornings Baltimore Sun newspaper just listed its next poll, "Do you support a proposal to make it illegal to panhandle near Baltimore restaurants, shops and parking meters?"