Tag: otis rolley

Mommy, Where Do Campaign Funds Come From?

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A recent article in The Examiner compared the sources and sizes of Baltimore’s Democratic mayoral candidates’ campaign funds.

In terms of cash on hand, incumbent Stephanie Rawlings-Blake finds herself in an almost luxuriously comfortable lead with $1.4 million. Compare that to the funds of Catherine Pugh or Otis Rolley, the mayor’s stiffest competition, who have each raised around $250,000 over the course of the entire campaign.

Rawlings-Blake’s money tends to come from unions and businesses; Rolley’s from individuals; Pugh’s from elected officials, loans, and one Scott Donahoo, a car dealer who donated $75,000 to the Pugh campaign.

Perhaps hoping that distancing himself from our disgraced former mayor was worth $1,000, Rolley returned the grand donated to his campaign by Sheila Dixon. Pugh took it.

What do you think? Do the sources of campaign funds give us important information about the candidates? Or is it just another distraction from the real issues?

Despite the misprint on the sample ballot sent out by the state board of elections, the Democratic primary (which nearly all news outlets are calling “election day”) is September 13.

Big Fish Q&A with Mayoral Candidate Otis Rolley

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Mayoral candidate Otis Rolley III has a criminal past. But wait! Here in the city of Homicide and The Wire, it’s not what you might think. Not even close.

Back in 1995, when Rolley (rhymes with wholly) was an undergrad at Rutgers University in New Jersey, he spearheaded a student coalition media campaign to oust the school’s president, who had uttered what many considered a racist comment. Going public with students’ grievances, Rolley appeared on NBC’s The Today Show and BET’s Teen Summit, and spoke openly and critically with the Philadelphia Inquirer and Newark’s Star-Ledger. Arrested during a protest near the president’s residence, Rolley faced three misdemeanor charges, but was found guilty of only one: disturbing the peace. His efforts earned him something of a red badge of courage: a 1995 New York Times Young Citizens Award.

Raised one of eight children in Jersey City, NJ, by his mother and stepfather–Rolley did not meet his biological father until age 32–he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and Africana Studies at Rutgers in 1996, and two years later completed a master’s in city planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Rolley moved to Baltimore in 1998 to take a post with the nonprofit Empower Baltimore Management Corp., before segueing quickly into a skein of jobs in city government. After serving as a top administrator in the Department of Housing and Community Development, he was named Baltimore’s director of planning in 2003, overseeing the city’s first comprehensive master plan in nearly 40 years. From there, he worked for 10 months in 2007 as then-Mayor Sheila Dixon’s chief of staff, returning to the nonprofit sector at the end of that year when, as president and CEO, he led the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance. Since 2010, Rolley has worked as a consultant for Urban Policy Development. He announced his bid for mayor in April.

Rolley, who turns 37 this week, lives in Northwest Baltimore’s Cross Country neighborhood with his wife, Charline, and their three children.
 
Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.      

Don’t tell God how big your mountain is; tell the mountain how big your God is.

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?

In high school I got my first taste of life beyond the limits of my family situation and income. I saw a world bigger than my block and neighborhood, and it pushed me toward several important goals. I decided then that I wanted to learn as much as possible, create more opportunity for kids like me, and fight for equity.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?

Run for mayor.

The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?

My older sister advised me to lick a pole in the winter. Unfortunately, I followed her advice.

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?

1. Hurt people hurt people.

2. It’s all about relationships, or it ain’t about nothing.

3. First-rate people hire first-rate people; second-rate people hire third-rate people.

What is the best moment of the day?

Waking up with my wife, Charline, by my side.

What is on your bedside table?

My Bible, my iPad, and a box of Mike and Ike’s.

What is your favorite local charity?

There are two whose missions speak to me: Family Tree and Center for Urban Families.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?

Don’t let anyone tell you to wait your turn or that it’s not your time.

Why are you successful?

God’s grace, and I value what is truly valuable.

Your background in city planning must give you a keen eye for the built environment. What do you consider to be Baltimore’s most iconic building–and why? 

Hands down I’d say the Victorian-era American Brewery building. Beyond it being aesthetically beautiful–I could stare at it for hours–it is also beautifully Baltimorean. It speaks of our past and our future.

No doubt, you and your family have a go-to restaurant, a reliable place that best meets your needs. What is it, why do you like it, and which dish do you recommend?

Salt, because the food and service never disappoint. The Kobe burgers.

If elected mayor, which item will be foremost on your agenda–the specific initiative you immediately strive to accomplish? 

Education reform.

Violence at the Inner Harbor Provides Fodder for Mayoral Challengers

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After a fatal stabbing and a non-fatal shooting at the Inner Harbor on Independence Day, mayoral challengers were quick to present their explanations for the violence.

According to an article in The Baltimore Sun, Otis Rolley offered this rather simplistic syllogism: “When you fail to invest in education, when you fail to invest in rec centers, you can’t be surprised when you see this kind of violence.” State Senator Catherine Pugh reportedly blamed the two separate incidents on lead poisoning, which can cause behavior disorders.

Violent crime is a major issue for Baltimore, and it deserves a more realistic discussion. Surely, greater investment in education and community-building programs could have positive effects for the city, one of which might even be a decline in violent crime, and lead poisoning is a concern worthy of city-wide attention. But it is irresponsible to offer premature and politically convenient answers to what are specific, unsolved crimes.

The implication in these opportunistic claims by Rolley and Pugh is that violent crime is not determined by several complicated factors, and further that the mayor is endowed with the godlike power to end violence in the city. It’s as simple as implementing some particular policy.

I’m willing to believe that the mayor and city council may have the ability to make Baltimore a safer place, through programs and legislation, but the argument for any given course of action needs to be supported by coherent and logical reasoning, not emotional sloganeering.

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