Alan Walden and Armand Girard weigh in on cops and kids

Alan Walden, a former WBAL news anchor, cited education, employment, and law enforcement as the top three issues he would focus on if mayor.

When it comes to education, he insisted in the City Paper questionnaire that "we don't teach enough of our children how to work," and went on to write that "we must have better vocational education."

He also encouraged greater understanding on both sides of the community-cop divide. "Now more than ever in the recent past the police department is under a microscope and that is having an unsettling impact on the men and women in the ranks," he wrote. "And while it's true that some police officers may have acted improperly (human beings have human frailties) they must not be regarded as the enemy by those they are sworn to serve and protect…Most of all, we must abandon the myth that there is a racial divide between the police and general population."

Addressing the audience at a March 1 mayoral forum sponsored by the Baltimore City Medical Political Action Committee, he also weighed in on health. "The myth is that Americans do not receive health care when they need it," he said. "In point of fact, most Americans do." He said there were many reasons for Americans being unhealthy, focusing specifically on "our young people who park themselves in front of the television set, who don't exercise, who spend all their time with their little thumb-control devices." He also blamed greedy lawyers for high health costs, for their frivolous medical malpractice suits.

The whole thing, and all these studies, and all these politicians who cite these studies are a mess, he railed. It wasn't clear exactly what he was railing against, exactly, but he was down on numbers. "Most of the world's problems are caused by statistics—because people don't understand them and they don't mean anything."

Armand Girard, a former Poly and Boys' Latin teacher writes, "If you do not resolve the crime problem….then all other problems are mute," in response to a City Paper questionnaire sent to candidates. Pointing out that Baltimore had more homicides per capita than New York City last year, he insists: "Something is very rong."

At a candidate's forum sponsored by City Paper, Open Society Institute-Baltimore, and Associated Black Charities on Feb. 24 at Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, Girard invoked former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as a model he'd like to follow, speaking glowingly of Giuliani's crime-fighting efforts. (Giuliani espoused a "broken windows" model, insisting that arresting and fining residents for all the little things—jay-walking, possession, tagging—would have a trickle-up effect and reduce crime over all.) Girard says this would do Baltimore good.

In his written statement to the paper, he said Baltimore's mayor should, "back your police. Never call retreat…as she did…and have 160 injured…and have the country see the police humiliated."

He also touted his own experience in quelling unrest at a March 1 mayoral forum sponsored by the Baltimore City Medical Political Action Committee. "What I would do with crime is what happened in 1963 when we were called off because Cambridge was being burned down with riots," he said, referencing his time in the National Guard. It was not an "aggressive presence," he said, "but every corner had a national guardsman with a rifle like me." Girard said that the National Guard was in Cambridge for 18 months and "not one person got hurt on either side." He could see calling in the National Guard to patrol East Baltimore and West Baltimore, he told the audience. "The criminals don't want to have any problems, they disappear when the National Guardsman's around," he said. "When things calm down, you pull them out."

As a former teacher, Girard also had some plans to over-haul education in the city. "We have to have two have a two-track system for all young people," he told the 60 people gathered for the above forum. "Either you're going to City or Poly or some good high school and you're working your tail off, and you don't have the idle time to go around killing people. You're going to go to college and be successful [or] the other alternative is that you don't go to college." He advocated for "a good apprentice program."

"You're 14 years old, you're not going to go to high school but you're going to go to work every day. You're going to have a small salary but you're going to learn a skill. You're going to work your tail off and then after three years or four years, you get a nice certificate from the state saying you're a qualified mechanic or electrician or whatever is it but you've got a job."

Girard neatly ties it in a bow, his crime and education plan: "Everybody's working, none of this hanging around doing nothing but hanging around and thinking about killing somebody who's riding on a bicycle."

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