Anirban Basu: Worse Than Gift Cards

Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby (D). Office of the State's Attorney photo.

As I understand matters, the person charged with leading the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City is responsible for prosecuting criminal and civil cases for the people. This person, along with a group of legal professionals, is the voice of the people in the community’s courtrooms. A key aspect of this position is to efficiently hold violent offenders accountable, get them off the streets, and thereby accomplish the twin goals of advancing justice and public safety.

Marilyn Mosby – this job is currently yours.

I hear you … haven’t been in Baltimore very often. According to the Sun, in 2018 and 2019, before the Great Pandemic put a wrench in your travel plans, you failed to request approval from the Board of Estimates for more than a dozen trips in 2018 and 2019. Various groups flew you to conferences in Kenya, Scotland and Portugal. Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming of the Office of the Inspector General notes that you spent 144 days away during those two years.

I hear you … were in Germany and Portugal between May 5-17, 2019. You stayed at the Berlin Hilton and PortoBay Liberdade. Sounds nice. Does it bother you at all to know that during that time Desha Jones was found murdered in Baltimore in an overturned vehicle on May 5? Does it bother you that two days later Ebae Drake was shot to death and that two days after that Darrell Walker spent his last day on Earth? Is it of any concern to you that the day before the conference ended, Terrell Patterson died as part of a triple shooting and that as you were saying your auf Wiedersehens, Dejuan Conoway was no more.

I hear you … continued to travel as the body bags piled up in Baltimore. Your voice was not in our courtrooms. When precisely did you hear that Donald Jackson had been shot and killed on West Coldspring Lane? Was it on Aug. 27 when it occurred or upon your return a day later? Did you hear about it at all? Did you ask the police, ostensibly your partner in fighting criminality, if they had a suspect on hand?

The day you returned from Kenya has become associated with a quadruple shooting involving Milton Carrington. Ironically, that victim participated in the BMORE Beautiful program, meant to keep Baltimore beautiful by changing behaviors among residents, businesses and other stakeholders. If we made Baltimore more beautiful, Madame City State’s Attorney, would you stay here more often, perhaps to do the job? The other victims of that shooting were ages 14, 15 and 33.

This state of affairs doesn’t seem to daunt you. You have managed to translate your public office into a series of adventures. Less than a month after that quadruple shooting, I hear you were staying in Atlanta. A month after that, I hear you found yourself in Edinburgh, Scotland. Just wondering, do the Scottish offer any penetrating insights into fighting violent crime in Charm City?

Anirban Basu, chairman and CEO of the Sage Policy Group.

Oh, and should I mention the gifts? I think I should.

You may have convinced your apologists that your attendance at conferences around the world and the U.S. have positioned you to be at the vanguard of fair and just prosecutions, but does the acceptance of gifts fulfill such a goal? I hear you reported 41 gifts received in 2018 and 2019 on your financial disclosure. I also hear you made the claim that you offered them up for auction to help Baltimore’s crime victims.

Very kind. Here’s the problem.

The Office of the Inspector General “found no evidence that any of the gifts … had been donated and auctioned.” Are we wrong to ask about that Tiffany bracelet or two pearl necklaces? Many years ago, we made a big deal about gift cards.

And if all this weren’t enough, I hear you somehow have found the time to start some businesses on the side.

We in Baltimore tire of the crime, of the corruption and incompetence of our elected officials, of the children being shot…Do you hear us?

— ANIRBAN BASU

The writer, an economist, is chairman and CEO of the Sage Policy Group Inc. in Baltimore.