Wandering Eye: Poll finds counties hate city, corrupt coal CEO on trial, and more

Remember the 29 coal miners who were blown up when the Upper Big Branch mine exploded and collapsed in 2010? Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy, the company that owned that mine and allegedly deliberately skirted safety laws, has been on trial in Charleston, West Virginia. The jury has deliberated for more than a week, prompting The Guardian to ask, "When can you jail a CEO?" "The prosecutors seem to have laid out a damning pattern of facts. Blankenship clearly raked in millions in compensation – $18m in 2009, and $12m in 2010, the year of the mine disaster. He was a micromanager, with a staff of individuals whom prosecutors derided as 'yes men,' who seems – based on some documents and tape recordings he himself made of his own phone calls – to have been concerned about the costs of safety regulations and their impact on production levels. Orders reached the miners to cover up safety violations, and it seemed clear to many from who they had originated, according to testimony." Blankenship thought paying fines would be cheaper than following safety regulations. And yet the jury could not immediately agree that he is criminally liable. The paper compares the coal baron's case to recent cases against Swiss bankers, oil executives, and other bankers who evaded responsibility for their crimes. "It would be much easier if all prosecutors had to do was prove good old-fashioned stupidity, greed, and incompetence. Or even unethical or amoral conduct," the paper concludes. "Tragically, none of these are illegal, much less criminal." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

Artists and writers and other creative people ought to be generally on the same page when it comes to social issues and social justice—when you consider yourself part of "the counterculture" you also, presumably, want to educate yourself and others on the variety of structural issues that oppress the public. A.M. Glittlitz's review of Erick Lyle's "Streetopia" in the New Inquiry begins with a question that I often find myself chewing over in this city's context: "Can art, so often used by developers to mask the violence of displacement, instead be used to resist gentrification?" "Streetopia" is a hand-bound artist book that also acts as a document of a 2012 art show of the same name in the very-gentrified San Francisco. This project was "anti-Art Basel," Glittlitz writes, "combining lectures, skill shares, a free café, and radical walking tours with exhibitions of photography and radical ephemera in a rejection of the mobilization of art against the poor." That the show took place in an already gentrified area is helpful because it shows opposites right next to each other: this artistic utopia next to all of this tech-y development and impossibly pricey real estate. The project and the book sound hopeful, if idealistic, about the potential for art to change things—but that's kind of what you need to gain momentum. "It is not enough, radicals argue, to merely protest the injustices of heteronormative violence, bad court rulings, and shady landlords," Glittlitz writes. "We need to reorganize ourselves socially and theoretically, producing art and revolution simultaneously, never content with just one or the other." (Rebekah Kirkman)

 

The Sun crunched the numbers and produced a poll showing what most of us already know: The counties think little of the city. People in Baltimore see joblessness and racism as the causes of the Baltimore Uprising. "Those living outside the city are more likely to blame 'a lack of personal responsibility among residents' for the city's ills," writes Luke Broadwater. The same divide is shown when voters are asked about Marilyn Mosby, the state's attorney who brought charges against the officers involved with the death of Freddie Gray: "About 63 percent of Baltimore voters support the way Mosby, a Democrat, has handled the case, but only 38 percent of voters statewide do." (Brandon Weigel)

Copyright © 2018, Baltimore City Paper, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Privacy Policy
46°