A (wo)man, a plan, a canal: Panama!

Baltimore's mayor takes to Twitter to promote – and defend – her trip

Touring Miraflores Locks at #PanamaCanal. Ships arriving. #BidenPanama

Baltimore’s mayor tweeted yesterday this picture of herself at Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal.

Photo by: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Twitter

Sorry for the palindromic headline, but Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s tweets and selfies and phone calls from her Panama trip with Vice President Joe Biden have us feeling giddy with the vicarious thrill.

She is not only checking out one of the engineering marvels of the world (which is being expanded in a way that helps the Maryland port), she’s hanging with President Obama’s right-hand guy.

And she even enlisted the vice president in a local political battle against southwest’s Morrell Park neighborhood, which has been resisting a proposed 30 -to-40-truck-an-hour railyard needed to unload freight for the expanded port.

The $90 million facility has already been turned away by the wealthier Maryland jurisdictions – Howard, P.G. and Anne Arundel counties – whose residents said they didn’t want to hear the racket of shifting rail cars or sniff the diesel fumes. Those folks in the suburbs say they really like the mayor’s idea of putting the terminal inside Baltimore, a strategy the veep and Rawlings-Blake were touting this week.

“Well, this caught me off guard: @JoeBiden and @MayorSRB called me from Panama to talk about Baltimore’s port,” the Baltimore Sun’s Luke Broadwater tweeted yesterday, subsequently writing a story. (Morrell Park residents told The Brew today they remain staunchly opposed to the project and have a petition with nearly 1,000 signatures and the support of 20 community associations.)

On top of all that, the mayor has been defending herself, via Twitter, against hometown suggestions that the federal-government-sponsored trip might be something of a boondoggle.

@MayorSRB defends #BidenPanama

WBFF-Fox 45 has been particularly aggressive:

“@MayorSRB what specifically will your role be #BidenPanama” they asked her on Twitter Monday, also posing to viewers and followers a “QUESTION OF THE DAY: Should MayorSRB be on this trip to Panama?”

"With President Martinelli at the Presidential Palace Glad he's am advocate of Baltimore and @portofbaltimore"

“With President Martinelli at the Presidential Palace Glad he’s am advocate of Baltimore and @portofbaltimore”

Her Honor fired back four replies to @FOXBaltimore in quick succession:

Going to #BidenPanama bc the Panama Canal expansion will have significant impact on US ports, including Port of Baltimore.

Capacity of #PanamaCanal will increase 3x, will allow larger ships to call on U.S. ports, & spark job creation.

The opp to advocate for the Port of Baltimore is a huge accomplishment. Canal expansion is huge for the US economy and Balto

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at the presidential palace. (@MayorSRB Twitter)

Mayor Rawlings-Blake at Panama’s Presidential Palace. (@MayorSRB Twitter)

Port of Balto is 1 of 2 ports on the East Coast capable of handling super-sized container vessels. #PanamaCanal expansion will impact POB

In short,#PanamaCanal expasion will bring JOBS to the Port of Baltimore. Major economic development for Baltimore!

It’s not exactly the Gettysburg address, but public policy seems to come in 140-character-or-less snippets these days, as do the salvos fired by her defenders.

“MayorSRB god forbid you try to expand the Port without the local FOX station up your ass,” the Baltimore Media Blog chimed in.

President Martinelli is a Terp!

The next day, Mayor Rawlings-Blake noted that Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli “complimented @portofbalt for being aggressive with dredging to 50′. Says it’s necessary.”

As we have pointed out, neither the mayor nor the city runs the Port of Baltimore. That’s the job of the Maryland Port Administration, whose executive director, James J. White, may have been a more qualified participant in the mission. Which may explain why the mayor’s comments were more travelogue and a novice’s enthusiasm than policy paper:

“GM Bmore! Just arrived @ Panama’s Presidential Palace. President Martinelli’s delegation welcomes us.”

“President Martinelli says he loves #portofbalt! His father worked in Baltimore and brought him to the port as a child.”

“Did you know? President Martinelli is a Terp! He went to University of MD-College Park. Says he loves Baltimore.”

To be fair, the other members of the delegation were tweeting about the trip, sending snapshots and promoting the economic benefits to their local audience of voters. They included Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; Kasim Reed, mayor of landlocked Atlanta; and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz of Florida

“Highlighted @PortMiami & @PortEverglades in productive bilateral mtg w/ President @rmartinelli & @VP,” Wasserman Schulz tweeted.


“There was discussion about direct airline service from Panama to Phila, will follow up upon my return, and there is interest in PHL Airport!” Philadelphia’s Nutter tweeted.

As for Rawlings-Blake, those who missed the tweets and want to find out more about her trip – the dignitaries, the sightseeing, the economic benefits – may have another opportunity.

The Mayor also tweeted that she will be “sharing some of my moments on #BidenPanama with @essencemag.”

The mayor with Vice President Biden and U.S. Transportation Sec. Anthony Fox. (@MayorSRB Twitter)

The mayor in Panama discussing jobs and port expansion with Vice President Biden and U.S. Transportation Sec. Anthony Fox. (@MayorSRB Twitter)

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  • Dave Troy

    This is an appropriate place for the Mayor to put her energy, and we need this multimodal rail facility. This will bring real, long-term competitive advantage to the city and it will have a tremendous impact. I’d rather see the Mayor working on this than the ineffectual hometown cronyism and infighting which so often occupies her time. She should do more international travel and find even more ways to amplify Baltimore’s strategic position globally.

    • lanas

      and how, pray tell, does fine dining and hob-knobing after the heavy lifting is all done, accomplish a competitive advantage for the city?

      This is a DNC perk/victory lap.

      You want competitive advantage…fix the schools, lower the homicide rate, lower the crime rate. The competitive advantages already exist.

      • Dave Troy

        It’s facile to criticize travel expenses but in the scheme of things it costs next to nothing when compared to the bloated, graft-laden contracts that flow through this city every day. The schools, homicide rate, and crime rate will all respond to one thing and one thing only: jobs.

        • ushanellore

          But Dave the community objecting to this says there will be no more than a redistribution of existing obs –no new jobs. Just like the schools, homicide rate and other crimes, promises of new jobs coming from perks given to corporations big and small have not panned out. Expansions are done and automation for efficiency and frugality follows with no new jobs except those given to folks who can tend to the automation. We live and die by automation, productivity, efficiency and cost cutting. Humans figure little in all this except as incidental pawns and the promise of jobs is for votes. Baltimore’s history has been systematically destroyed by the politicians–this includes architecture and storied buildings. Do you really think this port project has anything to do with Baltimore’s seafaring tradition? It is more in keeping with you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

    • Lizzie 58

      Dave: why doesn’t CSX this intermodal facility through a county location? Why does it have to be through Morrell Park? Oh, yes. Several counties already vetoed the plan. So, affluent whites in the counties get to veto; and working class whites in the City get taken advantaged of. We get the politics, loud and clear.

      • Dave Troy

        Yes, there are clearly NIMBY problems with this that need to be resolved. Personally I’d be interested to see what other options exist in terms of using a new tunnel to alleviate some of the pressure. But having this facility in Baltimore means jobs and a contribution to the tax base. It’s a worthy endeavor that is in step with Baltimore’s history and needs going forward.

  • George Lopez

    The big question is why was Kasim Reed there? The last time I checked Atlanta is landlocked.

    • ushanellore

      Say what? Did I hear you say Kaseem Reed has no port Lopez? Does that matter? He has “photogenicity”, he has natty dressing capacity, he has his star rising in the Democratic Party, he is nifty, buffy, biffy and he’ll dig himself a canal across the Ogallala Aquifer, if he must, to keep his star rising.

  • ecogordo

    We all have to get out of the Baltimore bubble once in a while. If you’re not learning you’re dying.

    • ushanellore

      Keep these politicians in the Baltimore Bubble. They belong there. It’s their native vessel, their love boat. Take them out, they’ll learn nothing, eat and drink much, waste a lot of digital space in photos and return home promising the moon and delivering a Red Dwarf, that glows but delivers no light, heat or life. By the way these politicos are supreme examples of learning nothing and yet not dying, but living on and on, somehow able to find one more elected spot to nab, through their best friends, the lobbyists.

  • ushanellore

    We need a multimodal rail facility like we need a toothache. The mayor is great at photo ops. 30 to 40 trucks an hour? What may they be bringing to folks who cannot afford to buy? America is already overflowing with junk and kitsch like nobody’s business. Of course Walmart awaiteth around the corner to corner these trucks. Did you hear that some Walmart is in hot water for setting up a collection plate for food for its employees, for the holidays? Yes, I kid you not. Keep going in this direction, we’ll all have to take flying saucers into outer space for want of space–taken over by multitiered trucks (carrying stuff no one wants or can actually buy) waiting at the mouth of silted harbors. Isn’t the Baltimore harbor already a place where fish kills abound, sea life withers and bracken waters slosh at the bottoms of mega ships asking to be filled with rubbish?

    • Walter

      You greenies and tree-huggers like to shop as much as the rest of us do. Then you complain about all of the folks on welfare. When Sparrows Point was up and running we all had nice jobs and health benefits. Then you Save the Bay radicals made it too costly to make steel in Baltimore and now 3,000 acres of prime heavy industrial land is being leveled flat. No smokestacks, no jobs, only seagulls!!!

      With the Rain Tax you greenies passed it is going to be impossible for heavy industrial jobs to return to Baltimore. So you better welcome all of those super-sized Chinese ships going through the canal and up to Baltimore so that at least our longshoreman can make the high wages we steelworkers will never see again!!! Walter

      • ushanellore

        My dear Walter,
        The greenies had little to do with the decline of Sparrows Point. It had to do with globalization and free trade pacts. It had to do with global competition with cheap steel from everywhere being dumped on American soil. It had to do with a weak and corrupt steel workers’ union that sold out the steel workers and threw them under the bus. It had to do with Sparrows Point changing hands so many times, going from one manager to the next. It had to do with the city of Baltimore and the State of Maryland not caring about the fate of the steel workers. It had to do with Mittal being driven out as too much of a behemoth when he ran not too bad a company. It had to do with predator Cerberus Capital that lent money with an eye on dismantling and selling out old Beth Steel from day one. It had to do with the judge who ruled in favor of the owners and not the steel workers. It had to do with the union that accepted such a verdict and capitulated. Who are you kidding Walter. You don’t sound like you know any greenies personally and you don’t know that they shop till they drop or where they shop or where they invest. Go read the chapter on the community protesting the arrival of a bigger port in Baltimore. There will be no new jobs. Only a redistribution from Seagirt. Call me when you apply and they hire you Walter. Until then chow.

  • bmorepanic

    Are we deducting this from her salary and retirement fund?

    Could she, for once, decide to do something good for the long haul? Build new rail tunnels and refurbish existing rail yards like the one that already serves the port.

    I wish she would travel through a switching system for moral values.

  • Walter

    I am so proud that Baltimore is going to be nation’s largest seaport! The tree-huggers and radical greenies killed the Sparrows Point Steel Mill, and now the world’s largest steel mill is being turned into a big parking lot for another super-sized marine terminal or Cheesecake Yuppy Starbucks Factory and now another round of crybabies is trying to put a fly in the ointment over at Morrell park!

    We need jobs even if they cause traffic jams, air and water pollution – just ask the folks down in Dundalk and Turners Station what matters more – jobs or a little air pollution? They are begging to go back to the days of North Point Road backed all the way up to Erdman Ave when all of our highly paid steel workers were flush with big fat pay checks. Smokestacks, traffic, and a little pollution puts bread and butter in our children’s bellies – so it’s time we support our lovely mayor and welcome the trains, trucks, light and noise pollution back to Baltimore or Norfolk or some other port will take our high paying port terminal jobs.

    As the Sparrows Point steel workers will tell you – “No pollution means no paychecks”. What would you rather have – clean air, water, and no traffic, or good paying jobs?

    Walter – former steelworker displaced by crybaby tree-huggers and the NIMBY gang down in 21219 – 21222.

    • ushanellore

      Apparently you don’t still have asbestosis Walter or if you do, perhaps you got compensation through Angelo and you have forgiven old Beth Steel or should I say Sevastipol Steel or Mittal Steel or what ever.

      Anyway, I am sorry you think work is higher than health or God. But yet when and if you get asbestosis or mesothelioma you’ll be the first person who’ll stand in line to meet Peter Angelos for suing the company for compensation.

      You’ve gotta be healthy to work, man. Can’t work at a furnace when you’re coughing and spitting blood Walter. And don’t think I don’t like you either. I do. I’ve followed all your discussions about the steel mill in the Brew. I admire your hutzpah but I just don’t agree with your tenet “work first and nothing else”.

      Health is wealth. Without health work cannot be accomplished or work will be impossible. Environmental degradation for the sake of work is not a wise policy. This is not a zero sum game. We should be able to achieve both–full employment and good environmental conditions for the workers and the surrounding neighborhoods.

      And we should hold our politicians’ feet to the fire so that they don’t run around making expedient decisions that will get us killed and lose us jobs in the long run. You are a myopic thinker when it comes to employment and that is understandable because of the tragedies suffered by the steel workers of Baltimore.

  • MC2012

    What would be great is if the fleet of trucks that will be shuttling containers back and forth from the port to the rail yard could run on propane, or something along those lines? Seems that would be a great step toward cutting down on noise and soot? But I’m not a truck expert, have they looked at this?

  • cwals99

    Did you know that the Port of Baltimore while public brought a few billion in revenue to the state and now, as a public private partnership those billions are now profit to HighStar while they only pay the public a few hundred million to lease the Port? Do you know who is a major shareholder of HighStar? Johns Hopkins. Do you know where HighStar got its money as an investment firm? It spun off of AIG just before the crash in 2008 taking profits AIG made on fraud with it. The taxpayers later bailed out AIG.

    The point is that handing the Port to a private business was not in the public’s interest and yet, that is what O’Malley did and he did it for Hopkins’ and its profit. We need to take these contracts that O’Malley entered into all failing to be in the public interest from corporate tax breaks, to hotel partnerships, to credit bond leveraging the state and city into deep debt. Did you know that Hopkins and HighStar also own VEOLA WATER AND WASTE and intend to privatize our public water and waste system as well.


    • ushanellore

      Hopkins is an empire, not a hospital or a university. Are they about patients and students or revanchism and expansionism? My God, cwals99, thanks for bringing light to the dark corner called Hopkins.

      Ours is a totalitarian state govt. And they have been selling us out to global sovereign funds too, mostly owned by the Saudis. The Saudis have been slowly buying off our most prestigious universities. They sell us oil and then they take our petrol dollars and donate it back to JHU and other universities–get wings named after their autocrats and despots–then their rich donors, trying to be immortal, come here for treatment while their poor languish and their women get osteoporosis behind forced purdahs.

      They also export their students here in droves and all of a sudden Muslim ethos dissolved, the students set free, drink, dance and make merry–not all but many indulge and the cross pollination results in a redistribution of oil wealth to the wealthy of America. Such scholarships and chairs as they set up in our universities–mostly for their own!

      And if you donate you go Ivy League, man. Yes, Ivy League. This is not a meritocracy but a DONATOCRACY. Then these students are absorbed back into our system. If they got there in the first place by donations can we trust their competence? The argument would be they don’t get there by donations alone. They get there by donations and by merit, both.

      These are our future docs and engineers. I don’t expect they will go back to the stifling Saudi peninsula. Get ready America. We our graduating the next generation of scholars from the Middle East, specifically the proteges of the House of Saud. Do we know anything about them except that Saudi money can buy off anything in America?

  • cwals99

    Secondly, global shipping is in decline and the costs of dredging the Port will be yet another bad investment. Ships traveling all the way from the bay’s entrance will make it a harder sell and THE AMOUNT OF INVASIVE SPECIES THAT COMES WITH GLOBAL SHIPPING WILL KILL THE CHESAPEAKE BAY FOR GOODNESS SAKE!

    We have leaders right now who simply do what the 1% in Maryland tell them with no thought about public welfare….it is all about profit and wealth. Neo-liberals are not democrats and we need labor and justice to run in primaries against these global incumbents. All candidates running right now are neo-liberals who will continue these bad policies!

    • ushanellore

      They are not neo liberals–they are fascists and parasites.

  • George Lopez

    I can’t wait until we start receiving the Triple E’s at Sparrows Point.

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