At the Parkway Theatre last night, Baltimore magazine held an event touting visionaries in the city, people profiled in the current issue who “are shaping the future of Baltimore—one big idea at a time.”
In her remarks, Mayor Catherine Pugh used a considerable amount of time to bash the city’s “perception problem” and “media problem.”
While she did allude to very clear truths about how investment, equality and inclusion are lacking, she said her goal was to “change that perception and work on the media not for thinking of Baltimore always as this negative place to be.”
This would seem to be a critique of national media, but no, the city was recently listed as one of 52 places to visit by The New York Times, she pointed out. This is about local coverage.
Pugh defended her widely criticized remarks, reported in the press, that she was not following the Gun Trace Task Force trial.
“No, I don’t get to sit in courts every day, because I have a city to run,” she said. “But do I know what’s going on? Absolutely.”
“Am I focused on reducing violence in our city? Yes,” she went on. “But the story they didn’t say yesterday, is that violence is down 37 percent, homicides are down 30-some odd percent in the city.
“Non-fatal shootings are down 47 percent. They didn’t tell that story yesterday.”
Pugh shifted her focus to a story in The Sun about her plans to build a six-figure TV studio in City Hall, which she called “totally incorrect.” She said she told a reporter: “You all come here every week and plug in your television stations. And so we don’t have to run the risk of you all blowing up City Hall, we have to rewire this whole building, which costs about $150,000.”
The money for these improvements was coming not from the taxpayers, but from Comcast because the city owns CharmTV, she said.
“So we have a media perception problem, it’s always this ‘I gotchya moment,'” she said.
After acknowledging the problems highlighted in the Department of Justice’s patterns and practice report on the Baltimore Police Department, Pugh said the city is working to improve community policing and said she is “excited” about the direction of Baltimore.
“So I can tell you that, as the mayor of this city, I’m excited about the future of Baltimore,” she said. “Because it’s minds like these, who sit on this stage and people out there like yourselves, who come here to hear about visions and things that we can do together.”
She then launched into remarks about the billion-dollar 21st Century Schools program and her appreciation for the tech community.
Her conclusion thanked the visionaries “who believe in Baltimore, who want to be here, who know that we can be a great city.”
“But again, it’s how we continue to work together.”
The mayor’s remarks did not go unnoticed to one of the people Baltimore Magazine named a visionary: City Councilman Ryan Dorsey (3rd District). On Twitter, he likened Pugh’s remarks to President Donald Trump and said they were “incredibly embarrassing and appalling.”
— Ryan Dorsey (@ElectRyanDorsey) February 8, 2018
This was so incredibly embarrassing and appalling. It reminded me that we have a Mayor who closed her inaugural speech with “Make Baltimore great again.” https://t.co/k8vwaltSjm
— Ryan Dorsey (@ElectRyanDorsey) February 9, 2018
Baltimore Fishbowl has reached out to Mayor Pugh’s office for comment.
A full video of Mayor Pugh’s remarks can be seen here at about the 31-minute mark.