Hogan Is Rising–And Lifting Baltimore, Too

Is it possible that a major city, hampered by liberal politicians and their failed policies for decades, could be lifted, united, and put on the path to improvement by a conservative Governor in just his first year on the job?


The answer to that question is yes.  Just ask the residents of Baltimore.


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With Larry Hogan’s announcement today of a $135 million plan to dramatically improve transit service in Baltimore, the Governor has added upon his sincere and genuine commitment to help Baltimore and to lift it to new heights of prosperity.


It will be remembered that just a short time ago, Governor Hogan turned down the Red Line, a proposed light rail line that would have run thru Baltimore, referring to the proposal as “not the best way to bring opportunity and jobs to the city”.


After rejecting the Red Line, Governor Hogan could have left Baltimore’s transportation problems alone.  But he didn’t.  His introduction today of the plan to spend millions to improve Baltimore’s transportation is a sign that Governor Hogan and his administration have no plans to sit back and allow Charm City to fall prey to failed policies.


But transportation improvement is not the first effort that Governor Hogan has tackled in his mission to improve Baltimore.  This Governor, only the second republican to be elected to the office in The Free State in sixty years, has been personally involved in lifting, unifying, and improving the  City for much of his first year in office.


This past July, Governor Hogan announced the closure of Baltimore City Jail, calling it a “black eye” on Maryland.  Over a period of decades, the jail had become notorious for corruption, and Maryland taxpayers were funding it.  Despite the fact that Larry Hogan’s predecessor, Martin O’Malley, served as Mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007 and as Governor for two terms, he did not close the deeply flawed prison.


Larry Hogan managed to do something in less than one year’s time that Martin O’Malley didn’t do in 16 years’ time, when he could have done so.


Yet O’Malley managed to tax the rain!  And Hogan’s gotten rid of that, too.


Though shutting down the corrupt Baltimore City Jail showed true leadership and interest in improving Baltimore, Governor Hogan’s dedication to the City was evident to Maryland residents—and to the entire United States—months before, during the Baltimore Riots and the aftermath  that followed, providing clear leadership in a difficult situation when City Government failed to step up.


All of us will remember how Governor Hogan essentially moved his office to Baltimore, met constantly with his team, visited wounded police officers and fire fighters in a hospital, successfully deployed the Maryland National Guard to restore peace, and, most importantly, met with residents of Baltimore City.


But even when the Baltimore Riots ended, Governor Hogan proved to be a constant leader for a city that so desperately needed one.


Because of the riots, Governor Hogan worked with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to form the Maryland Business Recovery Loan Program, designed to help businesses affected by the riots.  Sadly, however, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, a career Baltimore politician, failed to provide similar leadership for those same business owners.


According to an article by the Baltimore Sun, Rawlings-Blake opposed providing City funds to 23 liquor stores that were affected by the riots, because she felt that such stores were negative for the Community.  The article also mentioned that, prior to the riots, those same stores had already been on the City’s radar for closure through a proposed rezoning plan.


It is beyond troubling that Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s message to these small business owners, who chose to open their businesses in her City, essentially seemed to be that the rioters did the City a favor by getting rid of their businesses so the City did not have to do so itself.


Governor Hogan’s dedication, productivity, and ability to lead in just his first year of governance have stretched far beyond Baltimore.  With the Governor’s successful efforts in repealing the Rain Tax, lowering tolls, providing funding for road improvements, focusing on bringing jobs to Maryland, and a number of other efforts, it is no wonder that he has an approval rating of 58% in a state in which democrats outnumber republicans by more than 2 to 1.


In addition to Mr. Hogan’s successful first year of governance, he and the First Lady, along with their entire family, have managed to provide an abundance of inspiration to countless individuals with cancer, as the Governor himself has faced his own battle with cancer.  We have all heard accounts and seen photos of the Governor, the First Lady, and their family members visiting and befriending sick babies, children, and other adults, and also raising cancer awareness in many different ways, even meeting with Pope Francis and asking the Holy Father for a blessing not only for himself, but for all those afflicted with cancer.


It truly brings emotions close to the surface to think that we are lucky enough to have a Governor who is just as comfortable meeting with sick children in a hospital as he is meeting with legislators and other leaders.  Even though he is the Governor, he’s still just “Larry”.


Isn’t there a lesson that we can learn from Governor Hogan, away from the status quo partisan politics and bitterness that had so often sickened Annapolis and Baltimore before his inauguration last January?  What can other leaders around the Nation—especially those leaders who deal with large cities that may be afflicted with problems—learn from Governor Hogan as he continues to unite and rally others to face challenges head on?


As I have thought about this, a specific quote from the movie The American President comes to mind.  A.J. MacInerney, President Andrew Shepherd’s Chief of Staff played by Martin Sheen, said, “Oh, you only fight the fights you can win? You fight the fights that need fighting!”


Governor Hogan fights the fights that need fighting.  If he and his administration have done this much in less than one year, I can’t wait to see what lies ahead!

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