Kojo speaks with "Speak No Evil" novelist and D.C. native Uzodinma Iweala about his second novel and how his local upbringing affects his storytelling.
Virginia’s governor breaks out the veto pen. D.C.’s mayor busts out a big speech, amidst the growing controversy about his hiring policies. And Maryland lawmakers duke it out over an alcohol tax proposal. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
- Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
- Jamie Radtke Republican Candidate, U.S. Senate (2012-VA) ; Former Chairwoman, Virginia Tea Party Patriots
- Kristopher Baumann Chairman, Fraternal Order of Police Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee
Politics Hour Extra
Kristopher Baumann, Chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee, talks about D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s relationship with the city’s police personnel. “He made promises, he didn’t fulfill them,” Baumann said of Gray. Baumann also said that it was probably too late for Mayor Gray to make amends with his committee after breaking his word that he would converse with members about his choice for police chief:
Jamie Radtke, Republican Candidate for the U.S. Senate (2012-VA) and former chairwoman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots, explains her pro-life stance:
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. So when I asked Tom Sherwood to invite me to the Radio and TV Correspondents Dinner as a guest of NBC 4, he responded, there is no Radio and TV Correspondents Dinner this year. Literalist that he is, Tom was correct. There was technically no Radio and TV Correspondents Dinner this year. Why not? Because the name of the event has been changed to the Congressional Correspondents Dinner. But it took place on Wednesday night, and who was Tom's guest? Vincent Gray, the mayor of the District of Columbia.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIOh, the pain of betrayal. Okay, so I didn't ask Tom to invite me. Who wants to go to a stupid dinner anyway? Not that I'm complaining. But how was it, Tom? How was the mayor received? Didn't go too well at the Nationals' game yesterday for the mayor.
MR. TOM SHERWOODYou know, the mayor got booed at the Nats' opening day, and it's too bad. You know, Mayor Tony Williams was praised there and cheered. And I think even Adrian Fenty, who opposed the stadium, got some cheers. But, you know, it's been three months of bad news for Gray, so I'm not surprised he was booed. And, yes, he was my guest at the radio-TV Congressional Correspondents Dinner.
NNAMDIHow was he received there?
SHERWOODAnd he's -- huh?
NNAMDIHow was he received there? I know it's a...
SHERWOODYou know, he was very -- people came up to him all over. There was -- all the journalists, they don't tend to boo or clap or anything, so he was very well received.
NNAMDIThey want newsmakers around at those dinners.
SHERWOODWe had newsmakers. We had Rushern Baker from Prince George's County at the same table. Ms. Alsobrooks, the county attorney general. What do they call her? The...
NNAMDIShe is the state's...
NNAMDI...attorney for Prince George's County.
SHERWOODRight. She was there. We had Mr. Sarles, the head of Metro. We had a good table.
NNAMDISeems like it, and...
SHERWOODAnd that's why you weren't invited.
NNAMDISo it would appear...
SHERWOODThere were powerful people.
NNAMDIVincent Gray started off this week with his State of the City speech, which seemed not to produce a great deal of news, except people commenting on the length of it.
SHERWOODYes. We think the speech is still going on. And I read it before he gave it, and I ended up not going.
SHERWOODI took a risk that he wouldn't ad-lib any news, and he didn't ad-lib any news.
NNAMDII saw your report on it in the Current Newspaper. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. It's budget time for Mr. Gray, and it looks as if, in part, because of the scandals that have surrounded the beginning of this new administration and City Council Chairman Kwame Brown that a potential increase in taxes would not be well-received by residents of the District of Columbia. But we are going to look at some significant budget cuts.
SHERWOODWell, actually, the mayor just put out the budget this morning, and...
NNAMDIThere you go.
SHERWOOD...some of the initial reports are -- it's several hundred million dollars in kinds of cuts. It's a hold your place for the fire and police department, although there will be more police officers. He is proposing an income tax increase for those who make over $200,000 a year...
NNAMDIOh, that is happening?
SHERWOOD...and we go up from 8.5 to 8.9 percent, less than -- just right at half a percent increase. That could raise about $37 million. There will be higher parking taxes at the garages in town, which means that will be passed on immediately to the people who park there. There will be an increase...
NNAMDIAny change in the meter parking at all?
SHERWOODNo. You know, when he ran for mayor, he was talking about people are really mad about the parking meters.
NNAMDIEspecially one person in this room who shall remain nameless.
SHERWOODYes, that's correct.
SHERWOODAnd, of course, as he got elected, he said, well, you know, we've got budget problems. We can't cut back on the hours. We can't cut back on the price. So that's not going to change.
NNAMDIHow is the tax on people making $250,000 a year or more likely to sit with the city council?
SHERWOODWell, you know, Council Chairman Kwame Brown has been fairly vocal. He's trying to overcome his own missteps, and so he has been fairly vocal that he wants no income tax increases.
NNAMDIAnd I know finance committee Jack Evans is not going to… (unintelligible).
SHERWOODJack Evans doesn't. I would say the council -- at least three or four of the council members are willing to support a tax increase. This is the opening day of -- for the budget, like opening day of baseball. We've got a little season here of a couple of 60 to 90 days where they're going to fight this out. And I suspect there will be a combination of budget cuts. I mean, there's some serious budget cuts on services for poor people.
SHERWOODMartin Luther King Library downtown would close on Sundays, and I just can't imagine the library closing on Sunday. That's when you need to have them open. And rent control -- I mean, the rent supplement program would be frozen, and there's about $100 million, $113 million in human service cuts. And those will be heavily fought over in the coming weeks.
NNAMDIThis past week, during the course of it, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh had hearings on the saga of hirings by the Gray administration, featuring, of course, the saga of the hiring of former mayoral candidate, now fired employee, Sulaimon Brown. The questioning that I saw, especially the questioning coming from at-large Councilmember David Catania on this issue is pretty rigid, Tom Sherwood.
SHERWOODYes. You know, David Catania, the at-large councilmember, thinks that Mary Cheh, the Ward 3 member, has basically whitewashed this investigation. She, of course, bristles at that, and she's looking to the hearing next week -- April the 7th, I think it is -- when Sulaimon Brown will testify. Lorraine Green, who was chairman of the mayor's campaign committee, chairman of the transition, and others involved will be talking about who got jobs in the administration, and did anyone pay Sulaimon Brown any money to attack Adrian Fenty on the campaign trail.
SHERWOODI hope to get some really clear answers. The mayor says he did nothing wrong. He's told us again, yesterday in the story that's going to air on News 4 Sunday morning -- he denied knowing of any payments to Sulaimon Brown, denied of authorizing any. So he didn't make any himself. So some of his aides think he should just be a little more outraged that people in his campaign -- if they paid this guy money, they've undermined the mayor himself, and he ought to be pushing to get the story out, not holding it back.
NNAMDIIn the next hearings, it's my understanding that all of the people who have lawyered up, Lorraine Green, the former chair of the mayor's campaign, and Howard Brooks, the mystery man who allegedly is the one who was the conduit for payments to Sulaimon Brown...
SHERWOODRight. The bagman.
NNAMDI...it's my understanding that they're supposed to be showing up and testifying in these hearings. But now that they've lawyered up, how much can we expect them to say?
SHERWOODWell, they've had lawyers for several weeks now. You know, the question is, does Gray want the -- if I were the mayor, I would tell these people, look, if something was done wrong, this was a campaign violation, not some criminal thing. Let's clear it up. Let's pay any fines we owe. Let's clear this up. Let's change our reporting records. Let's get this over with. Now, lawyers are going to be very careful what their clients say and do. You know, it will just be more bad news if they all show up on April the 7th and take the Fifth.
NNAMDIIn addition to which The Washington Post is now investigating, what happens to the funds the mayor got for his transition, even though none of that money was public funds and therefore the mayor does not have to declare? There doesn't have to be transparency about how those funds were used. How do you think that one will turn out?
SHERWOODWell, the mayor said he would be transparent. The mayor said that he would make a full accounting. The mayor said he would give regular reports on it. And now, three months after the inauguration from January the 2nd, the reports on how the money -- how much was raised, who got the money and how it was spent is not available. It's a significant signature failing on the part of the Gray administration that he promised one thing in December, and someone should -- he should have held someone's feet to the fire to make sure the report is done. There may be nothing wrong in the report. It's just that he promised a report, and, now, he can't deliver it.
NNAMDIReporters who have never heard of what I call lead-pencil politics, anything that I say can be erased. Apparently, you erased nothing that was said.
SHERWOODNo. That would only be D.C. test scores.
NNAMDITom Sherwood is out resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Speaking of D.C. test scores, we'll be having former schools chancellor Michele Rhee as our guest on this broadcast next week. She can talk a little bit about the latest scandal in USA Today involving test score on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show."
SHERWOODWell, we don't know if it's a scandal yet. There's some indication that test scores were changed in some of the schools. There's a report the USA Today did, and then a firm that was hired by the city school system to review it, suggests that maybe it's not that bad. But then the firm itself didn't appear to do that much of a report, so Kaya Henderson, the chancellor, has released the scoring...
SHERWOOD...for all the schools. And, now, people need to take a look at it, and she's asked the inspector general to review it. And that's a good thing.
NNAMDIRules are changing. It used to be a scandal if I said it was a scandal (unintelligible).
SHERWOODWell, you know, I'm talking in a (unintelligible). The word is devalued now, there are so many scandals.
SHERWOODI'm trying to save it for the best things.
NNAMDI...standard for what a scandal is. You're listening to "The Politics Hour" where we have spent a lot of time making bets about who's going to run on the Democratic side of the ballot next year in the race for the U.S. Senate in the Commonwealth of Virginia. But at least one individual has made up her mind already. She joins us in studio. Jamie Radtke is a Republican candidate for the United States Senate. She's running for the seat currently occupied by James Webb. She's the former chair of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots. Jamie Radtke, thank you so much for joining us.
MS. JAMIE RADTKEWell, thank you for having me on your show.
NNAMDIYou've made up your mind. You're in this race as a Republican candidate, and you want to win the seat back for your party. Why are you running? Why do you feel you're the best candidate that the party has to offer?
RADTKEWell, I'm running because, two years ago, when I gave my first, you know, Tea Party tax day speech, the debt was $11 trillion. In less than two years -- because it hasn't even been two years yet -- we're at $14 trillion, and we have a Congress that seems to be out of control and can't control the spending, doesn't want to talk about the tough decisions, at least not yet -- the tough decisions about what need to be done to rein in the spending because you can't just look at discretionary spending.
RADTKEYou've got to be looking -- you know, be willing to look at the other parts of the budget. And I have a serious concern, and I think most Americans do, that you cannot continue on this current trajectory of spending. And, I mean, even the bond rating agencies continue to tell us that if we do not stop, that they will pull the AAA bond rating. You can't keep trillion-and-a-half dollar -- billion -- trillion-and-a-half deficit -- see, you can't even say it, it's such a big number.
SHERWOODToo many zeros.
NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call if you'd to join the conversation with Jamie Radtke. You can also go to our website, kojoshow.org. Join the conversation there. Tom?
SHERWOODIf you were in the Senate right now, you would be facing the decision about whether to lift the debt ceiling on whether the federal government will shut down on April the 8th -- I think is the day -- Friday. Do you have any view at this moment that the Congress has been trying to work out an agreement on how much to cut for the rest of this fiscal year? But it seems likely now that maybe some of the Tea Party, more conservative members of the House and the Senate don't want to do this unless more is cut and are willing to shut the government down. Are you -- would you be, if you were in office, willing to shut the government down to make the point about not spending so much?
RADTKEWell, I think this is where the debate gets turned around because it's always those that actually want to cut spending are getting blamed for shutting the government down.
SHERWOODAs opposed to those who want to keep spending?
RADTKEAs opposed to those who want to keep spending.
SHERWOODWhoever is at fault.
RADTKERight. So it becomes the blame game in Congress. You know, look, you have over a $3.5 trillion budget. And the proposal, the grand idea was to cut $100 billion. And most people, I think, would agree that that was a drop in the bucket. And we went from a $100 billion to $61 billion to, you know, $6 billion to $4.7 billion. Now, we're back up to -- from what I guess -- $33 billion. And the concern is, is that if you're not willing to make the cuts when you have the pressure -- when you have that pressure there of needing to make the changes, when are you going to be willing to make the cuts? And the excuse that both parties always give is, well, just let me get past the C.R., let me get past this debt ceiling vote.
SHERWOODA continuing resolution.
RADTKEYou're right. And then, I promise you, I promise you I'll make the cuts. And then we go a whole year until the next debt ceiling vote. And somebody has to stop the insanity and say, you have to the stop the spending because you either make the tough choices now or we could be looking at, you know, a permanent fiscal crisis.
NNAMDIOne of the tough choices, some of the cuts put forward by the House would have a pretty dramatic impact on Virginians. They take out funding for Metro, for example, which a lot of your would-be constituents in Northern Virginia depend on. What concerns would you have about the impact of those cuts?
RADTKEWell, I mean, those are the things where you look at what are the core functions of government, what are the things that government is supposed to be doing? And I think that most people agree that transportation is a core function of government. And this is where the politicking comes in, when you throw in the things that are controversial and you'll say, you know, that people want to cut and that makes the news. But nobody wants to talk about what you have to look at for defense spending or what you have to look at for entitlement spending and have those real discussions. They want to pick the one or two controversial things and allow those to hang up the discussions.
NNAMDIWhat military spending, if any, do you think should be on the table? The Defense secretary has called for cuts in some places...
NNAMDI...and members of Congress don't want to budge.
RADTKEYeah, I mean, you know, the defense spending is the second largest part of the budget right now. And my approach, when it comes to defense spending is, as someone who comes from a military family -- my dad was a pilot in the air force, and I traveled around the country -- is that the priority should be the military personnel and our veterans, that that should be the two priorities. But to say that there isn't waste, fraud and abuse in defense spending is just being -- is being naive.
SHERWOODWeapon systems and other (unintelligible).
RADTKEWeapons -- exactly. I mean, you know, you had the vote on the -- the engine vote that -- you have a number of things that Secretary Gates has said that the Pentagon doesn't need. And yet you even -- you have the Republicans saying, well, we know you're saying you don't need it, but we'll give it to you anyway.
NNAMDIWe're talking with Jamie Radtke. She is a Republican candidate for the United States Senate. She's running for the seat currently occupied by Democrat James Webb. She's the former chair of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots. 800-433-8850 is the number to call if you'd like to join this conversation. Here is Jonathan in Washington, D.C. Jonathan, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JONATHANHi, Kojo. Hi. Thanks for taking the call. Yes. I wonder what your guest has to say about the other side of the problem, which is taxes. I have no problem with the Tea Party Patriots talking about cutting spending. We got to do that. But Bill Maher the other night, on his show, had a great comment. He said that since 1980, 80 percent of the wealth created in this country -- the new wealth -- has gone to the top 1 percent of the population. So it's like you ordered a 100-slice pizza, and, when it arrives, the first guy takes 80 slices. So, the fact is, we got to talk about taxes, too. And I just wonder what she has to say about increasing taxes as well.
RADTKEWell, I appreciate the question and, you know, you get asked this all the time. And I would just disagree with the caller that we have a revenue problem. I really truly believe we have a spending problem. And my concern is that, you know, you put drugs in front of a drug addict, and you tell the drug addict don't use the drugs. You put a pile of money in front of a legislator or a politician, and you say don't spend the money. They don't take the money and say, you know what I'll do with this money? I'll pay down the debt. They don't. They take the money, and they grow the programs. They expand current programs by huge percentages, most of the time by double digits. And we don't ever get the -- our hands around actually cutting the spending and cutting the debt.
NNAMDIThere is some sense of outrage over reports this week that General Electric, despite making billions of dollars in 2010, paid no taxes whatsoever. What is your own feeling about that?
RADTKEWell, it's interesting. GE has all sorts of favors in their relationship with the president. You know, I mean, there's been a habit of exceptions, not only in this, but if you look at all the exceptions that have been granted so far under the health care bill and that you can get exceptions, there's been a lot of corporate welfare that's going on in this country by both Republicans and Democrats with subsidies and such. And our entire tax code is basically loophole after loophole of special interest.
SHERWOODWhat do -- let me go back to the income -- I think the caller was asking about income tax and the income disparity about people who are making more money but not paying any more taxes. Is it possible that you could fix income disparity in terms of taxes so that wealthier people are paying them in a more appropriate share of the burden, but then not spend that money but help pay down debt? So it's not just to collect more taxes, spend it, but collect more taxes to help pay off debt.
RADTKEWell, I guess there's the fundamental question of whether a politician would use the money that came in to pay down the debt. But to get to your question of whether someone who is more wealthy should pay more taxes -- you know, I'm actually a proponent of a flat tax or a fair tax, one or the other. I mean, you make more money, you automatically pay more taxes. That's the way it works. And, you know, you look at -- over history, when you raised taxes that -- really, the revenue that comes into the federal government tends to be pretty constant because people react to how they're taxed. And so I think going to a flat tax, where you have everyone that's having -- paying a contribution. And if you make $1 million, you're paying more into the federal government.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. Here, now, is Neil in College Park, Md. Hi, Neil.
NEILHi, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call.
NNAMDIGo right ahead. You're welcome.
NEILThe candidate was just speaking about her being a proponent of flat tax. I'd actually like her to expound on that a little more if she'd like to because, frankly, I feel that the tax division is really one of the big causes of the debt drivers in our current system. Everyone is always talking about cutting taxes and cutting taxes, but, really, I feel that raising taxes is pretty much the only thing that's going to get us out of this spending loophole. And to be fair, I don't think that making small cuts here, small cuts there -- and, like you said before, $100 billion is really a drop in the bucket with (unintelligible) spending we're talking about.
SHERWOODWould a flat tax raise more money?
NNAMDIGo to Wikipedia and look up Jesse Helms. That's one of the earlier proponents of the flat tax who, I believe, Jamie Radtke, you worked for at one point.
RADTKEI did. Well, I agree with the caller on the issue that you can't make little -- you know, what I like to say, eating around at the margins and to get at the -- to try to get at the spending issue. But you cannot, you know -- there comes a point where you have a curve downward. You can't just continue to tax people and think that you're going to continue to get the same percentage of revenue in. And with a flat tax -- you can structure a flat tax in a way that basically acts like a consumption tax.
RADTKEThere's been a lot of talk about a fair tax as well, which is a tax on consumption as well. And I think that that's the better approach to go. And you also have, you know -- we basically have a majority of society paying taxes and a significant majority of people not paying taxes. And if you get to a consumption tax or something that reflects that, everybody is paying taxes. But they're paying it on consumption rather than on their income.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Neil. Tom Sherwood?
SHERWOODLet's talk a little bit about hardcore politics.
SHERWOODYou've got George Allen, who has made it clear the last three or four years that he was preparing to run for the seat that he lost to Jim Webb in 2006. He's been methodically and systematically going around the state preparing for that campaign. He was considered a moderate conservative, I think, at most, by people. Some people thought he was a conservative. The Tea Party groups, and including you, think he was some kind of a fallen-away conservative. Why is George Allen, who everyone thought would have won that election in 2006, had he not said the word macaca, why is he not a good candidate for this seat?
NNAMDIWe notice that your website features a regular this week in George Allen history feature, where you pick apart his record as the former senator and as governor of Virginia.
RADTKEWell, that was because he has this week in history where he was highlighting his record, and, you know, I actually worked for George Allen when he was governor.
SHERWOODAnd you supported him in 2006.
RADTKEAnd I -- yes. Well, no. Actually, I thought you were going to say 2000.
RADTKESorry. But the -- you know, he was a good governor, and he did some -- he had some good initiatives. But the Senate record, most people aren't familiar with. And when you look at, you know, adding $3 trillion to the debt, 40,000 earmarks, you know, voting for No Child Left Behind, voting for Medicare Part D, voting for subsidies, ethanol corn subsidies and farm subsidies and the list goes on, people look at that and they say that's what we want to get away from, you know, that we need to limit the size and scope of government.
RADTKEAnd, I think, more important than that is that, you know, people are looking for a new generation of leadership. They're tired of politicians that have been politicians for decades and that are beholden to special interests. And they're really looking for people who represent their communities, their churches, their neighborhoods.
SHERWOODIn this campaign, as I understand it -- I was talking to Julie Carey, who covers Virginia politics more than I do in Virginia -- that the Republican Party is going to hold a primary, not a convention, but the date of the primary has not yet been set. Is that correct? Or is it even settled that there will be a primary, not a convention?
RADTKENo. They did decide it would be a primary. It will be in June. So, you know, we'll have our presidential primary in March, and then we'll have the Senate primary in June.
SHERWOODIt was thought that a convention would be more conservative. Activists come to conventions, and it's a lot cheaper and less troublesome than a primary. Do you -- I guess you can't change it, so it doesn't matter to you now.
RADTKEYeah, I mean, I can't change it. I mean, one of the nice things about a convention is that the party picks up the tab, rather than the taxpayer, which is why I was a supporter of a convention rather than sort of economic times wherein giving that burden to the taxpayer.
SHERWOODIs any other person going to get in the race that you know of?
RADTKEWell, you know, it's interesting. I think that there are a couple of people that are interested in getting in the race and that -- I think that really speaks to the issue that people think that the senator is vulnerable and that they're not happy. I mean, you've heard -- I've heard two or three names. I don't know who ultimately will get in. But the fact that so many people are throwing their name around for someone who's been a governor, congressman and senator, I think, says quite a bit.
NNAMDIWe have had -- go ahead.
SHERWOODThere's some suggestion that Tim Kaine is not going to run, that Tim Kaine on the Democratic side is not, despite the appeals from the president, despite the appeals from the state party -- he may not run.
RADTKEAnd that, I have no idea about. You know, it will be really interesting to see who runs on that side and if they have more than one and they have to have their own sort of primary set. Who knows?
NNAMDIWe have had an open invitation for George Allen to appear on the Politics Hour for several months. He's welcome to join the show when his schedule makes it possible. He has not found it possible so far, but back to the telephone. Here is Mike in Alexandria, Va. Mike, your turn.
MIKEYes. I'd like to ask the candidate important question. I heard this morning -- I believe it was Sen. Ben Cardin mentioning that we take in $1 trillion, give or take, in federal income taxes, but we have up to $1.2 trillion in federal income tax credit. As a member of the Tea Party, would you remove a number of those credits, which would effectively raise taxes on some people, but do what needs to be done to start putting us towards this core responsibility?
RADTKEWell, if you go with the approach that I've been out there talking about, which is, again, something like a flat tax or fair tax, you get rid of a lot of those credits with those loopholes or those exceptions because it's basically a flat tax. You fill out your tax returns on a postcard, so, you know, it would eliminate significant amount of that.
NNAMDIDid I interpret your statement correctly about George Allen being a professional politician and people hanging around for too long as an indication that you support term limits?
NNAMDIBecause I'm thinking that in the 1994 Congress when a number of freshmen came in and the contract with America supported term limits, that seemed somehow, at some point, to disappear.
RADTKEWell, I think they took a vote on all of it. I don't remember. Do you...
SHERWOODNot in term of term limits. In terms of -- but they do have a term limit -- they did have a term limit, I believe, on the number of times you could be a chairman of a committee, and that forced some change over within the Congress.
RADTKERight. I mean, you know, I think...
NNAMDISo you're saying that if you run and you win, you will serve for how long?
RADTKEI would recommend and be a proponent of a constitution amendment for term limits. And so, you know, there's some debate on how many terms the House gets versus the Senate gets. And I think it should be equal because some people recommend more for the House and less for the Senate.
SHERWOODThe total number of years...
SHERWOOD...so maybe three or four terms...
SHERWOOD...for House, about two for Senate.
RADTKEAnd here's why. Our Founding Fathers didn't see term limits. But, I mean, the Senate wasn't set up the way it is now, and they weren't -- I don't think they were anticipating people making careers out of it and people being -- having millions and millions of dollars from special interests. And politics has changed since back then, and it's very hard for someone who wants to run as a season legislature to have a serious challenge.
SHERWOODThe Republican leadership, national Republican leadership has cautioned some candidates last year in the coming years to go softer on social issues to appeal when the economic issues that are troubling the country...
NNAMDIThat's not going to stop Sherwood.
SHERWOODWell, I don't think it will stop her either. I think she's very outspoken with these issues. I want people to hear it.
NNAMDIIt's not going to stop Sherwood.
SHERWOODSo social issues, abortion. You agreed that abortion should be outlawed. But what is your position? Let me rephrase that. I don't want to be a leading person. What is your position?
NNAMDIIt's not going to stop Sherwood.
RADTKELeading the witness.
SHERWOODWhat is your position on abortion?
RADTKEI have always been pro-life. I believe that life begins at conception. And I believe that life is valuable, whether it's in the womb or even at the other end where we've had, you know, discussions in the past about euthanasia, and that the primary responsibility of the government is to protect life. And I believe that, you know, it should be something that the states are involved in, which obviously they're not with (unintelligible) at this point, or they have very limited scope, I should say, with...
SHERWOODI -- just so to be clear, I'm personally against abortion myself, but, you know, politically, I'd say that I'm more of a pro-choice person.
SHERWOODPeople will make that choice. What happens to people who have abortions or doctors who give -- who do abortions? Are they criminally charged? What happens to them if you outlaw abortion or if abortion is...
NNAMDIWhat should happen to them if you outlaw it?
SHERWOODYeah, what should happen to a person, to a woman who gets an abortion, even though there's a law that she should not be allowed to have an abortion? Does she get imprisoned? Or does a doctor get -- lose his or her license? How tough do you have to be trying to protect life from inception?
RADTKEWell, I think that we need to do everything to protect and advance life. And, you know, I think in the same way where you had the doctor who was committing inappropriate abortions that went to court recently, it's the same thing. And if it means pulling the -- if, you know -- assuming that it was outlawed, if it meant pulling the doctor's license, I think that's the way it should be. You know, I think that...
SHERWOODWhat about the mother?
RADTKEYou know, I've -- and this is just a truly honest answer -- I haven't actually given that thought. So...
RADTKE...you know, I just want to be honest on it. You know, to me, what we've had is we haven't had a culture of life. And, unfortunately, you see a lot of these abortion clinics are in urban communities and in minority communities and, which -- and I think that that's a shame as well. The important thing is that life should be considered precious in the time that we are advocating taking life versus keeping life.
RADTKEAnd this is the thing that I've never understood about Democrats, whether it was President Obama or whoever, is they'll say, well, I'm personally pro-life, but I think that it's okay politically. And that makes no sense. Or they'll say, I think we should reduce the number of abortions. Why should you reduce the number of abortions if you don't think it's life? And if you do think it's life, then why are you trying to terminate it?
NNAMDIThe president gave a speech at Georgetown University this week about the country's energy policies. By the way, do you think that President Obama is an American, that he was born in the United States?
RADTKEI have no reason to believe he isn't. We'll let Donald Trump have that debate.
NNAMDIYou've had tough words for him about energy, particularly about offshore drilling, which you want to see...
NNAMDI...move forward off the Virginia Coast. After everything that happened last year in the Gulf of Mexico and the massive BP spill, how do you make the case to Virginians about why it's a good idea to drill offshore here?
RADTKEWell, how do you not? I just drove by your gas station here, and it was $3.99 a gallon. You know, we have rising energy prices, and, you know, the situation that happened at the Gulf, as catastrophic as it was, you will never eliminate risk. You can never have zero risk, which is something that we're always trying to achieve, and we should always, you know, continue to move in that direction. But you can't eliminate risk.
RADTKEBut we have tons of opportunities to drill offshore up in Alaska. We have access to coal. We have access to natural gas. There's plenty of places to access energy if we have the political will to do so. And what's been lacking is the political will. And we have -- he has a number of permits that had been approved that he pulled and that he's still sitting on. A court judge has ordered them to be released, and they continue to sit on those permits.
SHERWOODWhat about, given what happened in Japan, the nervousness about nuclear energy? Do you have any particular position on nuclear energy?
RADTKEYeah, I think that nuclear energy is still a very -- a positive and viable option. Obviously, we have places, even here in Virginia, that are, you know -- the nuclear plants are built on lakes, which would -- like at Lake Anna. And, you know, the fear of a tsunami is not going to be -- is not going to be an issue there. So it has always been a clean energy option. And, you know, what's going on there is absolutely horrible, but there are things that can be done. And, you know, I think that France has sort of led the way on that.
NNAMDIAnd I'm afraid we're just about out of time in this segment. Jamie Radtke is a Republican candidate for the United States Senate. She's running for the seat currently occupied by Democrat James Webb. She's the former chair of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots. Jamie Radtke, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck to you.
SHERWOODOh, just warming up...
NNAMDIOh, yeah, yeah.
SHERWOOD...which is good. I expected a Tea Party person coming to you, yelling and screaming, the way they described in the media, that they're going to be all yelling and screaming. You're all nice and polite.
RADTKEWell, we almost covered all the topics. We just didn't get to trade agreements and a few other.
SHERWOODWell, maybe another time.
NNAMDIWe've got a lot more stuff that we'll get to on a future occasion. Once again, thank you so much for joining us. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's usually the one doing the yelling and screaming. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Tom, around this time last year, the people who do PR for the Preakness got a lot of attention for their new marketing campaign to bring the party crowd back to the infield at that race. Attendance dipped when Pamela Cole ended the track's long time bring-your-own-beer policy, so the Preakness tried to lure fans back in 2010 by offering endless beer mugs for an affordable price, and they promoted the deal with a now infamous ad campaign calling for people to get their preak on.
NNAMDIWell, if you thought the idea of getting your preak on was a little crude, you may not be prepared for this year's Preakness PR blitz, which stars the races' new mascot, the half-man, half-horse party animal Kegasus. And at least one politician in Maryland is worried that Kegasus will bring the state a bad name. Here is how the race is promoting the new mascot on the radio.
SHERWOODYou know, this is -- you know, I don't want to insult juveniles by saying that is so juvenile, but the point is they want young people to come and drink themselves silly in the middle of the racetrack. You know, they could just leave the horses at home.
NNAMDITasteless, vulgar. Maryland delegate Pat McDonough believes it is tasteless and vulgar.
SHERWOODYou know, I feel sorry for the Maryland racing industry. It was -- it is -- it has been, until recently, a proud something from which the state took great pleasure and pride and even some money from. And now...
NNAMDIAnd now it's been reduced to this.
SHERWOOD…it's just a question of how best can we get the people in the infield drunk who wouldn't even know a horse if it ran by them.
NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. He is not, however, a teetotaler, even though you might get that impression. Joining us now in studio is Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee. Kris Baumann, thank you for joining us.
MR. KRISTOPHER BAUMANNKojo, thank you for having me.
NNAMDII'd like to start--
SHERWOODWhat do you -- what do you think about that Kegasus...
NNAMDIYeah, good idea. What do you think about Kegasus?
SHERWOOD...the Preakness thing? Have you seen that commercial?
BAUMANNI have not seen the commercial.
BAUMANNThis is the first time I heard it.
NNAMDIYou don't have an opinion on that?
BAUMANNI don't think I'm going to be going.
NNAMDIWell, let's start with an area in which both of you and police Chief Cathy Lanier seem to be on the same side. The number of sworn officers is shrinking. The chief says the department's attrition rate is outpacing the money it has to go out and hire new officers. What concerns do you have when you look at the numbers?
BAUMANNWell, I think we're in a lot of trouble. A couple of the issues. We're supposed to have 4,200 officers. Right now, we have about 3,800, and there is some dispute between the department and our side on the numbers. But we -- I think we can agree we're around 3,800. And as we're moving forward using the department's numbers and being very conservative, and then, historically, the department has had lower numbers estimates than we've had, and we've proven to be right. But just assuming their numbers -- right now, they're saying they're losing 14 a month. And if we take that out over the next 18 months, we're going to be down to 252 officers. That's going to put us in the 3,500 officer range. And the last time we were that low, Congress had to step in, and that was back in 1988.
SHERWOODThe mayor's budget released today says the public safety, the fire and police department were basically held even, except that there will be monies to hire 120 officers. That would be basically status quo at best, is that right?
BAUMANNIt's not going to be anywhere near status quo. I think it shows, you know, there have been some serious missteps by this administration that have been large public missteps. But when you look behind the scenes, that's where my real concerns are. We saw what happened with the 911 call center on the furlough day and later that week where there were hundreds of calls that there was no one to take, and we were not able to get to those people. And you look at this, again, assuming the department's conservative projections by October of 2013 -- or 2012 -- excuse me -- we're going to be down in the -- by 252 officers. And if we get 120 that we're going to put in -- it takes about a year to get them out on the street -- we're putting the citizens in serious problems.
BAUMANNOvershadowing this entire problem is the fact by 2015, we're going to have 1,000 officers that will be eligible to retire. And they're going to leave. The -- one of the reasons we have these attrition problems is our officers leave in droves for other agencies. Every other agency in the area, with the exception of Montgomery County, is hiring right now. They have better benefits than we do. We're going to lose officers to that. And then once our officers start retiring, we're going to be in real trouble.
NNAMDIIf you have questions or comments for Kris Baumann, you can call us at 800-433-8850. He is chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee. That number again, 800-433-8850. You told The Washington Post -- well, speaking of The Washington Post, we saw that you were quoted in The Washington Post ombudsman piece this past weekend about the newspaper's new website and that -- in Harry Jaffe's piece, I'm sorry -- and that you're not a fan of the new website. What do you think is wrong with the new washingtonpost.com?
BAUMANNWell, I think it's a maze. I -- you know, it used to be the starting point. I would go in there, Mike DeBonis, I'm a big fan of Nikita Stewart, Tim Craig, I couldn't even find those folks the first week. So I instead switched over and started with The City Paper, who also went through a redesign, which I think is great, and then work my way through The Examiner. The Washington Times, which I think is terrific, is back -- is a little clunky, but you can get through it. But The Post, to try and find what you're looking for, you better have some time to invest.
NNAMDIKris Baumann, keeping everything in the city under surveillance. You told The Washington Post that the department's recruiting and retention problems -- the police department -- are systemic. How did things get this way and how do you fix it?
BAUMANNWell, I think the reason they got this way is in under the past mayor, Mayor Fenty, there -- they would not admit that there were problems. If Mayor was still in office, Chief Lanier would not have come out last week and said, hey, we have a real problem, and it's getting worse. There was no admission of the problems. We -- if you look at our record over the last four, five years, we've gone repeatedly in front of the councilmen and the media and said, we have a serious problem of keeping officers. We have a serious problem hiring officers. We were supposed to have 4,200 officers. We have 11 percent unemployment, and we couldn't do it. That is a red flag.
BAUMANNIf we cannot hire enough people in that -- in those sort of economic times, something is wrong. How we fix it, well, we have some serious monetary problems right now. We know that. But we go out there and do some of the benefits that the other agencies that have lured our folks away have. You have flexible shift, four 10-hour shifts, take-home vehicles, educational incentive programs, better concentration on the health and the welfare of the police officer. We don't have any of those things. And other agencies out there have been nimble, and they understand that there is a big cost advantage to them by taking experienced officers from other agencies, bringing them in and making them loyal and keeping them. And we haven't done that.
SHERWOODWhat is the -- if I become a police recruiter and I go to recruit and become an officer, is there any limit? Or do I commit to having to serve for an X number of years before I can be recruited by Fairfax or Arlington or anywhere else?
BAUMANNWell, about four years ago, there was a legislation passed that said if you come in and you don't stay more than -- I think it's two years and leave for another police agency, you have to pay back an amount up to $5,000, which, you know, at the time they passed that, it's -- you know, if you're having trouble getting a date, you don't decide that you're going to be more picky, and that, you know, we were having problems then, and it just made it that much worse. We shouldn't have to go through gimmicks to keep people. We should have people that want to be here and want to spend their entire careers with this agency, that love this city, that love this agency and are committed. And we don't have that right now. We don't (unintelligible).
SHERWOODAnd the two years -- actually, that just gives the rookie time to kind of get used to being a police officer, so he or she is even more valuable to someone else. And the retirement thing was moved from 20 years to 25, is that correct, for all officers?
BAUMANNThat's correct right now. And you're correct. I mean, we -- a lot -- what you hear us refer to quite a bit out there is that we're the training academy for the East Coast. We train the officers. They go to other agencies. You know, and going back to the numbers real quick, it amazes me that the mayor, and I know -- I understand the times are tough, but 120 officers -- his public safety transition team, their recommendation was you have to get back to 4,200. The recommendation -- or his public safety plan before he was elected talked about we have to get back to 4,200. Everybody seems to recognize that that's the number we have to at least be at to keep people safe, and yet, you know, without telling the public, we're just heading down this road where we don't have those police officers. And, you know, Phil Mendelson, I think, surprised everybody...
SHERWOODChairman of the judiciary committee on the council.
BAUMANN...who has had oversight for the last six years on this issue and has heard me speak on this probably on a monthly basis, went to Chief Lanier when she started testifying about it and said, how did this happen? And that should be an alarm bell to everybody in the city that if the head of the judiciary committee didn't understand that we were losing police officers at this rate and is now worried about it, that we have a serious problem.
NNAMDIBut where does the money come from in order to do that? Allow me to quote from the Harry Jaffe column -- again, quoting you, "We have a choice," you say. "We can use taxpayer money to keep residents safe or we can continue to fund giant bureaucracies and agencies that produce little, if any, widespread public benefit." Which agencies would you point the finger at?
BAUMANNWell, the first one I'd point at is DCPS. And then I would -- I think there's a ton of agencies. We can go to -- keep this in mind. Last year, last...
NNAMDIYou think we're wasting money on D.C. public schools?
BAUMANNWell, I think -- are there dollars being wasted there? Absolutely. Look at last year. We overspent. The District allowed overspending of over $70 million last year.
SHERWOODJack Evans, the council finance chairman, said, you know, the school budget has gone up 65 or 70 percent. I don't think the police budget has gone up that much.
BAUMANNThe police budget has shrunk considerably over the last couple of years. It's -- I mean, it's -- I think on March 23, Mike DeBonis had an article, where the CFO for the city, Natwar Gandhi, warned everyone that we already had overspending this fiscal year of $44 million. You know, the council is not keeping the money under control. The executive is not keeping the money under control. And we're going to have to go tell our citizens, you're going to need to be less safe. You're probably not going to be able to go to the grocery store at night because we just can't stop spending money on social programs and these programs that overlap each other.
SHERWOODLet me -- when you took office as a -- most people would say, a pretty effective union leader back in 2006, you complained about it -- you didn't complain. You worried about a thousand disturbing stories, careers ruined, officers that deserved better, citizens that deserved better, and you said that the rank and file officers are not happy with the way things are going. Fast forward five years, I think the quotes still apply.
BAUMANNYeah, they actually say things are worse now. The feeling was that, under Chief Ramsey, there were still enough officials left that understood why certain things had to be and why they had -- and why things worked, how we got all these individuals out and say that there was a protest or a demonstration, the structure, the real nuts and bolts of policing. Those individuals have now left or retired.
SHERWOODWhy is Chief Lanier so popular?
BAUMANNWell, Chief Lanier has had --
SHERWOODThe media, not...
NNAMDIHow about the other numbers, violent crime down in the District of Columbia?
BAUMANNOnly homicide's down.
NNAMDIWhat do you say about that?
BAUMANNWell, homicides are down nationwide. What I say about that is the danger -- and I've said this repeatedly. For us taking credit for driving down homicides means we're responsible for them. So how do we, as the police, go out to my old District, the 7th District, and say, listen, we've driven down homicides everywhere else in the city, but you've consistently had 50 homicides a year for the last 10 years? What is it about the people in the 7th District that they don't deserve the same type of service and action from us that have handled it?
BAUMANNThe answer is we didn't drive those homicides down. There are a thousand factors that factor into that. And if you look at the other crime factors, they're up by our numbers -- or they're up by the numbers we give the FBI, which are the official numbers. But the numbers we give on the website, where we've decided to take certain crimes out of the equation, make it look as though crime is down.
NNAMDIWell, here's who's getting the credit for it. Mayor Gray's approval ratings aren't exactly shining right now, but it seems he lost your support before he was even sworn in, when he announced that he was going to keep Cathy Lanier as police chief. Cathy Lanier's approval ratings, meanwhile, are the highest of any city official. You don't buy those numbers.
BAUMANNWell, I -- they probably are. But if I go out and tell people crime is down, crime is down, and I get to say that all the time -- and under Mayor Fenty, anything I do that is wrong or hard to explain is handled by Peter Nichols -- it's easy to keep the popularity up. And I think that's happened. But to be clear with the mayor, the current Mayor Vince Gray, the issue was not so much with keeping Chief Lanier. We understood that that could happen.
NNAMDIIt was lack of consultation.
BAUMANNYeah, he came in on top of it. We have 20 elected officials who represent the now 3,500 detective sergeants and police officers in the District of Columbia. And he came in and said, look, I will come back and talk to you, and I will listen to what you say. But I'm not going to promise you anything. He was very clear about that, and we thought that was fair. He didn't come back. They wanted to hear from him. The same thing happened with the fire. There was no vetting process for Chief Ellerbe.
BAUMANNWe've seen what has happened now with the teachers. And the issue is, if you told us you were going to do something, follow through. And he may have been able to come to us and say, look, we're -- you know, I'm not going to come back and talk to you, but I still want your support. I'm going to be better than Fenty. He may have still gotten it, but he made promises he didn't fulfill.
NNAMDIIs it too late for him to come back?
BAUMANNI don't know. I mean, you look at today...
SHERWOODHas he talked to you since, other than pleasantries?
BAUMANNI think -- no. Other than pleasantries, no. I don't know. With us, it's probably too late. But with the city -- look at today's budget. He's going to -- you know, I mentioned that the city's overspending by $44 million six months into the fiscal year. He's going to raise taxes on people that are supposed to bring in, what, $35 million?
SHERWOODYeah, people who make over $200,000 a year...
BAUMANNSo the hardest -- some of the hardest working people in the city are going to have to pay more taxes so the council continue -- can continue to overspend tax dollars. That's a disaster.
NNAMDIThe salaries of top department officials have become an issue lately. It was reported this week that more than 80 department officials are making more than $110,000 year. What did you and your union members make of that story? Police department.
SHERWOODEighty people in the police department, yes.
NNAMDIIn the police department.
BAUMANNAnd it's a -- that's an increase by 30 percent from 2007. So you have that many more people. We've raised this problem again and again with -- again, with Phil Mendelson. And the issue here is you have -- we have -- now have more police officials making -- whether they're civilian or sworn -- than we've ever had before, and we have less police officers. So the question becomes, if I'm a resident in the District of Columbia, and I'm living on a -- in a area that has problems with crime, do I want a bureaucrat sitting downtown, making $170,000 a year behind a desk? Or do I want three police officers? And that's the question, and I think everybody knows what the answer is going to be.
SHERWOODAnd the white shirts, which are the ranking officers, they're not the ones who respond to the crimes.
BAUMANNThat's right. These are -- you know, you look at these assistant chiefs that are making $150,000-plus. And what have they done for that money? That's one of the other questions we have. We have one of the most uneducated command staffs of any major metropolitan police department. And we have, for example, Chief Groomes, who's very popular, runs from scene to scene, so she can talk to politicians, talk to the public. That's the job a sergeant should be doing. If we're going to pay somebody $160,000 a year, I want the men in office designing...
SHERWOODWhat is something Chief Groomes is not doing that she...
BAUMANNWell, here's what we need. We need long-term and mid-term plans to fight crime, to stop attrition. How are we going to -- what are we going to do when everybody comes up to retire? As late as last year, Chief Lanier was saying that wasn't a problem. She told The Washington Post that. Now, we have a new mayor. Suddenly it is a problem. Why haven't we had someone on that issue for the last two years?
NNAMDII should mention that Chief Lanier is going to be a guest on this broadcast later this month. There's been a string of tough stories this year about police officers behaving badly -- three officers arrested earlier this month on charges that they attempted to receive stolen property during a sting operation, for instance. What concerns do you have about how stories like that affect the reputation of the department and your union members?
BAUMANNOh, they're just an absolute killer. I'm not going to comment on any pending investigations.
BAUMANNBut the idea that we have officers doing this just makes me sick. We've been elected now -- my group that I run on has been elected three times, and that hasn't happened since the '80s. And one of the things that we run is we go out to the recruit classes and we tell them, if you think the union should save your job if you go out and do something terrible or you get in trouble, don't vote for us. That is not what we're about. We want to professionalize this agency. We want things to be dramatically different.
BAUMANNAnd the reason I say it is not to pat myself on the back, but to say to the public out there, we've been reelected three times. My department is only 30 percent white. I'm white, and I've been elected by my officers three times. And the message is the police officers in D.C. will not stand for corruption. They will not stand for this type of behavior, and they want things to be different and to professionalize. You know, right now, we have a lieutenant that's been convicted of assaulting a subordinate police officer -- a female police officer -- initially charged not just for the assault, but also with a sexual crime involving that, and was convicted of the assault.
BAUMANNHe's still coming to work every day. They haven't moved to do anything with him. It's -- the message is terrible. And as to some of these arrests, the question would be, why do we break up a -- if we had a sting operation going, why do we break it up after a month? If there are more bad police out there -- I'm not saying the ones that have been arrested so far are. But if they are, let's find them, and let's get them out of here.
NNAMDIAfraid we're out of time. Kristopher Baumann is the chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee. Thank you so much for joining us.
BAUMANNThank you for having me.
NNAMDITom Sherwood, we noticed you tweeted this week. Sherwood ran into Radiohead fans on the National Mall and had to be told who Radiohead is.
SHERWOODI'm an old man.
NNAMDIWe just like to point out to you, Tom, that Radiohead is an extremely popular band from England, whose most popular songs include "Karma Police," "Creep," and "Fake Plastic Trees." So there you have it. I'm aware of both Cathy Perry, who we -- Katy Perry, who we discussed with Howard Executive Ken Ulman, and Radiohead. Kojo, two. Sherwood, zero. And I'm afraid that's all the time we have. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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