AZ Sheriff Arpaio punishes ‘unpatriotic’ inmates after ethnic targeting costs county millions

AZ Sheriff Arpaio punishes ‘unpatriotic’ inmates after ethnic targeting costs county millions (via Raw Story )

Last week, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s use of racial and ethnic profiling cost Maricopa County at least $22 million to monitor and re-train those in the county’s employ. This week, Sheriff Arpaio announced that he is punishing 38 unpatriotic inmates…

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Tourism in Baltimore: the violence behind the curtain

In Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s third State of the City address, she declared to Baltimore City “The state of our city is now better, safer, and stronger.” Those inside the council chambers met the announcement with polite applause. In Baltimore: ‘The Wire’ or heritage hotbed? we addressed the decrease in the homicide rate and increased safety around the downtown core.

The Mayor’s third State of the City address fell at the beginning of the 2012 Presidential election cycle. At the beginning of the last Presidential election cycle Al Jazeera-English explored poverty and violence in Baltimore City. In this 24-minute program, Al Jazeera’s Avi Lewis looks at Baltimore’s crime problem from an angle often ignored by American mainstream press.

A pre election look at violence in Baltimore (Source Al Jazeera-English, Broadcast 3/29/2008)

Using data and tools provided by Baltimore City’s open data project, Sustainworx takes a look at the extent of the city’s violence.

Powered by Socrata Violent Crime in Baltimore City Maryland (Source: Baltimore Open Data Project)

The crimes reflected in this heat map include homicide, shooting, rape, aggravated assault, and street robbery both with and without a weapon.

Around the time of the Mayor’s State of the City, Al Jazeera returned to Baltimore. This time they were interested in how much things have changed since the election of America’s first African American president. The story airs on Tuesday August 21, 2012. The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik offers WYPR  a preview of the documentary during the radio station’s ‘Take on Television’ segment.

Comcast in Baltimore City does not carry Al Jazeera. The presentation will, however, be carried on the network’s website as part of its ‘Faultlines’ series.

Baltimore: ‘The Wire’ or heritage hotbed?

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Sailabration highlights Baltimore’s maritime heritage. (Source:Greg Cundiff)

On June 18, 2012 State Delegate Pat McDonough in a press release declared downtown Baltimore a no travel zone. McDonough, a Republican representing parts of Baltimore County accused Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Baltimore City Police department of covering up criminal activity. The accusations come in the aftermath of the St Patrick’s Day beating of a tourist and flash mob attack on a downtown 7-11 store. The beating went viral on YouTube.

Incidents of violence reported in the media capture the imagination but fail to reflect the day-to-day experience of visitors and residents over time. Baltimore City Council member William Cole presents a more nuanced view of crime in the city,

“If you look at our track record overall, you’ll see that this City has had a number or events without any violence whatsoever.  We host 10 or more football games, an international soccer match, one major college football game, and 81 baseball games yearly without any issues.  We hosted the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix with more than 165,000 guests without so much as an arrest.  We hosted Sailabration 2012 with hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the region and country and had no major incidents.  We’ve had a few isolated and horrific incidents in the last few years, but they are grossly outnumbered by the safe, family friendly events we host each and every year.  I’ve lived near the Harbor for more than 25 years now and am raising 3 children not even three blocks from it — I feel it’s as safe (or safer) as any suburban mall in this state.”

The following slide show illustrates Councilman Cole’s point about feeling the harbor is as safe as a suburban mall. During Sailabration 2012 the Inner Harbor had a crowded but relaxed atmosphere.

Baltimore’s Sailabration 2012 from Greg Cundiff on Vimeo.

Cole notes, however, that perceptions matter,

“Obviously, those random incidents were highlighted in the news and create this belief that there’s a crime problem.  Some of it is perception, but perception becomes reality when you are best known for crime dramas like the Wire, Homicide, and the Corner.  BPD has shifted deployments appropriately both on a nightly basis and for major events to create a more visible police presence if for no other reason than to signal that we won’t tolerate foolish behavior.”

Police data available on Open Baltimore confirms that the city’s homicide rate is indeed on the decline. Crime reports from both Sailabration and Independence Day indicate that contrary to media impressions the Downtown and Inner Harbor neighborhoods are not free-for-all zones.

Five year city-wide homicide rates compared to Downtown and Inner Harbor rates. (Data Source: Baltimore City Police Dept.)

Sailabration Downtown and Inner Harbor Crime (Data Source: Baltimore City Police Dept.)

July 4 Celebration Downtown and Inner Harbor Crime (Data Source: Baltimore City Police Dept.)

Management of perceptions is critical in the context of tourism marketing. Living Classrooms Foundation, which manages the National Historic Seaport of Baltimore, reports that its operations result in $104 million in economic output and 1760 jobs annually for Baltimore City. An Americans for the Arts report shows that arts and cultural organizations supported 9505 full time equivalent jobs and over $260 million in household income for city residents in fiscal year 2010.  Baltimore’s annual arts festival, ArtScape is expected to have $25 million impact on Baltimore City this year.

Baltimore Payroll by Sector (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Councilman Cole explains the value of heritage tourism,

“The war of 1812 bicentennial and the three years worth of events surrounding that celebration give us another opportunity to market Baltimore as a destination for history buffs.  We played a critical role in this country’s history and have many wonderful museums and tourist attractions to see.  We are easily accessible for day-trippers by car and train and our airport is easy and accessible for conventions and longer-stay visitors.  We’ve got much to celebrate so Visit Baltimore is looking for any and all opportunities to market the City both regionally and nationally.”

A conversation with members of the Veteran Artist Program explores how arts and culture cement a community and provide a value to the visitor.


Veteran Artist Program at Sailabration from Greg Cundiff on Vimeo.

We invite you to share you experience with public safety in the Downtown and Inner Harbor areas of Baltimore City.

Milarepa Center: Respite for a Worried Mind

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Sunrise in Vermont (source: Greg Cundiff)

The morning air is cool and the grass is damp as a heavy mist blankets the surrounding hills. Thinking about the first quiet night in you can’t remember how long you make your way across the lawn to the main house for breakfast. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee fills the dining room. The worries of the workweek don’t weigh as heavily on your mind as they did yesterday.

A bumper sticker on a car in the yard proclaims, “hasten slowly and you will soon arrive.” The pace here is slow, but what you have missed is the flurry of activity as work-study participants have prepared the morning meal, made water offerings, and readied the gompa for the morning’s meditation session.

Gompa is the Tibetan word for meditation hall. You have arrived at Milarepa Center, a Tibetan Buddhist retreat center in the Green Mountains of Vermont. The Center practices Tibetan Buddhism in the Gelugpa tradition. Gelugpa is the tradition of His Holiness The Dalai Lama.

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Welcome to Milarepa Center (source: Greg Cundiff)

Milarepa Center, part of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition lead by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, holds retreats and hosts world-renowned meditation teachers during its main season. As recently as 2010 the Center hosted a Kalachakra for World Peace offered by His Eminence Choden Rinpoche.

Venerable Amy Miller and other monastics and teachers offer teachings on the Tibetan Buddhist path for beginners and advanced students alike. There are even children’s activities at the Center such as the annual Family Camp.

Milarepa Center is an ideal place to explore your mind. The air is clean and the atmosphere is both relaxed and respectful. The campus sits on 273 rolling acres and features dormitory space and private retreat cabins. Visit the Center’s website to discover how you can regain that which you already possess.

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Hasten Slowly and You Will Soon Arrive (source: Greg Cundiff)

Classified information often involves defense information (Source: Greg Cundiff)

National Security vs Press Freedom

Bradley Manning is a hero, so say some. Notwithstanding the Freedom of Information Act, does the government have a constitutionally mandated obligation to limit dissemination of certain types of information – namely properly classified national defense information? Intimately linked to that question is the matter of journalists and

Classified information often involves defense information (Source: Greg Cundiff)

their legal and ethical obligations relating to classified information.

In an article posted on the Central Intelligence Agency website, James B. Bruce calls the US press, “an open vault of classified information on US intelligence collection sources and methods.” Part of the problem as Bruce sees it is that, “(n)early all of the compelling evidence in support of the argument that leaks are causing serious damage is available only in the classified domain.”

To illustrate the point about damage done to national security he quotes a former Russian military intelligence officer:

I was amazed—and Moscow was very appreciative—at how many times I found very sensitive information in American newspapers.  In my view, Americans tend to care more about scooping their competition than about national security, which made my job easier.

He faults the anti-espionage law as well as politicians, reporters and publishers for this threat to national security. Only one person has been convicted of leaking classified intelligence, and President Clinton pardoned him. Part of the problem is the legal ambiguity of leaking. The practice of leaking information to make a political point also contributes to the problem. Bruce calls for laws that hold both government personnel and reporters legally liable for leaks.

Legal Precedent

Thus far, there have been no controlling legal precedents that speak to the relationship between the First Amendment and publication of unlawfully gained information. In the conclusion of the report, “Criminal Prohibitions on the Publication of Classified Defense Information,” Jennifer K. Elsea writes, “Although cases involving disclosures of classified information to the press have been rare, it seems clear that courts have regarded such disclosures by government employees to be conduct that enjoys no First Amendment protection, regardless of the motives of the divulger or the value the release of such information might impart to public discourse. The Supreme Court has stated, however, that the question remains open whether the publication of unlawfully obtained information by the media can be punished consistent with the First Amendment.”

Not the Norm

While Bradley Manning currently and Daniel Ellsberg a generation ago make headlines with their releases of information it does not usually happen that way. In an article for American Journalism Review, “Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. says national security articles seldom develop the way the public tends to assume: Not since Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971 can he recall an instance in which a single person supplied an entire story to a journalist. Instead, a beat reporter such as the Post’s Dana Priest, who won a Pulitzer for her November story exposing the CIA’s secret prison system of “black sites” for hiding and interrogating some al Qaeda captives, “gradually unearths the outlines of a story.”’

Striking a Balance

A free press is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights (Source: Greg Cundiff)

Bruce notes that, “ the inherent tension between First Amendment rights and the government’s interest in protecting national security is dynamic, and may never be solved ‘once and for all.’ But the current balance so favors First Amendment rights that compelling constitutional interests involving national security can be superseded.”

There is little question that protecting the nation is a public good. However, Bradley Manning makes the same claim in an excerpt published by Glen Greenwald on, “because it’s public data. . . . it belongs in the public domain -information should be free – it belongs in the public domain – because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge – if its out in the open . . . it should be a public good”

Natalie Davis, a working journalist puts it this way, “I am absolutely opposed to laws that seek to limit journalists from carrying out their sacred trust. However, if there is a line, it comes only when other’s lives are involved: Will publishing something get someone killed? Will it put undue hardship on INNOCENT people? Personally, that is my line.”

Please join the discussion and let us know where you stand on publishing classified information particularly and freedom of the press generally.


Free Press- ‘Bulwark Against Tyranny’

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Journalists let us know how what goes on here reflects democratic values (source:Greg Cundiff)

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Article One enshrines the citizen’s toolkit for responsive government as the supreme law of the land. In a speech before the National Bar Association, Hon. Herbert Brownell, Jr. (Then Attorney General of the United Statesunder President Dwight Eisenhower) said, “…when the press is free from censorship and suppression, it tends to assure the telling of the truth – an eternal bulwark against tyranny and dictatorship.”

A Question of Access

A journalist’s hands are tied without access to information about what the government is doing on behalf of its citizens. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press finds that in the United States this access is grounded in the First Amendment’s free press provisions, Common Law, Federal Freedom of Information Act, and state open meeting laws.

Maryland Attorney General, Douglas F. Gansler writes that, “The public’s right to information about government activities lies at the heart of a democratic government.”

Maryland’s Public Information Act is comprehensive, allowing any person access to any public record. The Maryland Public Information Act Manual holds that “a person need not justify or explain a request to inspect records.” As in many areas of life, there are exceptions to the rule. Chapter 3 of the manual in addition to listing the exceptions provides that “these exceptions should be construed narrowly.”

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Local decisions made here (source: Greg Cundiff

The Maryland Open Meetings Act Manual establishes that the general rule is that if a public body is meeting and the subject matter is covered by the Open Meetings Act, the body must meet in open session.”

Local Controversy

The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) is the development arm of city government. It provides contract “economic development services” to Baltimore City. The organization’s close relationship with the city is highlighted by its rank in returned search results for the term, “development” on the city’s website. It is number one.

The need for an outside development arm is subject to disagreement among reasonable people. A more pertinent question for citizens, journalists, and legislators to consider is one of open access.

In an email interview 11th District Baltimore City Councilman William Cole noted the importance of transparency by saying, “Any agency that is using public dollars should be subject to open meetings act requirements.” He has a court ruling to back him up. In a case involving condemnation under eminent domain The Washington Examiner reported that the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled, “papers and meetings of the Baltimore Development Corp. must be open to the public.”

Are Bloggers Journalists

Where do bloggers fit in this picture? Are they journalists or private citizens commenting on the affairs of the day? It depends on whom you ask.

The question commonly arises around shield laws. According to Bloggers Beware, a Harvard blog, “more than 30 states currently have shield laws that provide some protection to ‘journalists’.” Of concern to bloggers, however, is the definition of journalist. The article also says, “Many of these laws, however, are in need of updating as they limit their application only to individuals who have a professional affiliation with an established media entity or require “regular” employment as a journalist. Some even expressly exclude broadcast and electronic media.”

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To many, these are “real” journalists (source:Greg Cundiff)

Maryland’s shield law is a case in point. According to a report at the Student Press Law Center, the state reformed its law to include supervised journalism students, but did not include bloggers in its definition. The report noted that Delegate Sandy Rosenberg(D) “said that he had tried in the past to introduce legislation that would protect bloggers with no success, but that pending Congress’ decision on a federal shield bill, he would consider making another attempt.”

Closer to home Councilman Cole responded when asked if he considered bloggers journalists, “No. Most of the “news” blogs are pure opinion pieces with little to no fact checking or research. That’s not to say that the bloggers aren’t well-intentioned or that traditional media doesn’t get it wrong sometimes, too. It’s just not fair to call the medium journalism. I’d say the exception might be places like baltimorebrew or the patch which does have some editorial control.”

Bloggers, what do you think, are you a journalist? What steps do bloggers need to take to increase our credibility in the media marketplace? Blog readers, what do you expect out of blog? Share your views.

What is so great about heritage tourism?

Old St Paul's Rectory, home of Preservation Maryland (source:Greg Cundiff)

What is so great about heritage tourism? The way you talk about it makes it seem like you think it is better than other kinds of tourism. This came up the other day in a casual conversation about my current writing project.
This raises a question about the difference between enthusiasm for a topic or pastime and a subjective judgment about its place in one particular constructed hierarchy or another.
In the following podcast, I will talk with a new traveler about tourism in general then address how heritage tourism fits in with other forms or tourism and leisure activities.


In short, heritage tourism is not better than other types of tourism. It is one type of tourism; each traveler makes a judgment about its value.

In light of recent news in the Baltimore Sun that Baltimore City has contracted with a consultant to value a number of city landmarks with the possibility of selling or leasing them, it is important to explore Baltimore’s heritage and culture through the eyes of heritage travelers.

What are your thoughts on tourism in Baltimore? Please tell us about your favorite overlooked attraction.

Cultural & Heritage Tourism: an outline

Baltimore, named for the first Proprietary Governor of the Province of Maryland, has been around since July 30, 1729. In the intervening 280 or so years the city has developed a particular heritage, history, and culture. How the city preserves and promotes its heritage and culture could go a long way in setting its place in the future. This video report lays out the framework for looking at cultural and heritage tourism in Baltimore City.

exploring sustainability in all its glory and confusion…