Wandering Eye: Hogan squares off with columnist, NYT looks at probation in Baltimore, and more

The New York Times took a heartbreaking look at an outrageous Baltimore criminal case Monday. Donyelle Hall landed on 18 months probation, and eventually went to jail, for impaired driving after one too many glasses of wine. She's lost many thousands of dollars, her job, and her faith in the criminal justice system. The piece says it's about probation being a harsher penalty than most think, but really it's about a District Court judge, Joan Bossman Gordon, who repeatedly insists that Hall is "an alcoholic" despite no apparent evidence of this. Gordon was once victimized by a drunk driver. She trains probation officers on the evils of drunk driving—which everyone knows are substantial. But, as depicted in this story, Gordon skipped a crucial assessment to determine how much of a problem the defendant has. And she has shown impatience and imperiousness before. District Court judges in Maryland are notoriously light workers. Many leave for the day shortly after noon. Several have been caught breaking the law, with little or no ill effect on their careers. And Gordon, too, will probably sail on unscathed after her star turn in the New York Times, which misfocused its article on the probation system instead of the judge, and the District Court system she's embedded in. After all, who would sanction Gordon? She sits on the Judicial Ethics Committee. (Edward Ericson Jr.)


Parody songs are usually cringe-worthy for a number of reasons, but this one by the Indian rapper/singer Sofia Ashraf has a really important political message. Riffing off of the beat in Nicki Minaj's 'Anaconda,' Ashraf tells us about how Unilever dumped toxic mercury from its thermometer factory in the southern city of Kodaikanal, which has allegedly caused a ton of health problems and 45 deaths. But, naturally, Unilever denies it, as Dazed reports. The video has gone viral (and the YouTube video has a link to a petition asking Unilever to clean up the mess), and certainly the decision to use a song with such widespread appeal to bring attention to an important issue helped it gain popularity and shareability. Globalization isn't all bad, right? It brought out a great activist . . . oh, wait, but globalization is the reason Unilever was there in the first place. (Rebekah Kirkman)


Former Sun political columnist Barry Rascovar has taken big swings at Gov. Larry Hogan lately, calling him "nasty" and likening the governor to nut-job presidential candidate Donald Trump. Citing a long list of the ways Hogan has alienated Democratic leadership, a group the governor said he'd work closely with, Rascovar writes of Hogan's term in office, "It's his party and he'll do what he wants." Looking for an explanation, Rascover points to Hogan's recently diagnosed cancer, writing, "Perhaps his new Kojack look, as well as his grueling chemotherapy sessions, help explain what's going on." The governor took exception to this. In a Facebook post, he writes that he alerted Democratic leadership ahead of his decision to close the Baltimore City Detention Center. He had to wait until the day of, he says, so as not to tip off the "gang leaders and criminals running the jail." "In spite of 10 days of 24 hour chemo I haven't become mean and nasty," he wrote, "I'm still the same nice guy I have always been, and we are still accomplishing great things for Maryland." (Brandon Weigel)

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