Rascovar responds to backlash over ‘nasty’ Hogan column

Rascovar responds to backlash over ‘nasty’ Hogan column

Gov. Larry Hogan, right, gets a souvenir jail key from Public Safety Secretary Stephen Moyer.

Photo above: Gov. Larry Hogan, right, gets a souvenir jail key from Public Safety Secretary Stephen Moyer. Photo by Rick Lippenholz, Governor’s Office

Here is columnist Barry Rascovar’s response to the backlash over Monday’s column about “the new, nasty Larry Hogan.” It already was posted in his blog PoliticalMaryland.com. Below it are some thoughts from MarylandReporter.com editor Len Lazarick

By Barry Rascovar

Complaints and harsh words have poured in about my Aug. 3 column, for daring to raise the possibility that Gov. Larry Hogan’s health may have played a role in his turn toward nastiness.

Let’s be clear: The governor’s treatment for late Stage 3 non-Hodgkins lymphoma cannot be ignored.

Everyone wishes Hogan a speedy return to good health. Doctors I’ve spoken to have been optimistic about his recovery chances given today’s advancements in chemotherapy.

But the situation — and its ramifications for governing Maryland — cannot be swept under the rug.

Could the governor’s unseemly swipes at Democratic leaders be partly related to how he’s feeling during and after his intense medical treatments?

It is a possibility. You don’t have to agree, but it’s a thought worth considering — which is why it was raised ever so briefly (17 words) in my previous column.

Governor’s response

Hogan’s spinmeisters used my column to reject the notion he has turned from Mr. Nice to Mr. Nasty. In a Facebook posting, Hogan asserted:

“In spite of 10 days of 24 hour chemo I haven’t become mean and nasty, I’m still the same nice guy I have always been, and we are still accomplishing great things for Maryland.”

He also defended his failure to notify Democratic legislators before announcing the closing of the Baltimore City Detention Center. Why? Because he didn’t want to tip off the gangs about what was about to happen.

Fair enough.

Gangs and the city jail

For the record, here’s what Mr. Nice Guy had to say in blaming the disgraceful gang problems of the city jail on former Gov. Martin O’Malley:

“When the first indictments came down the previous governor called the case ‘a positive achievement in the fight against gangs.’ It was just phony political spin on a prison culture created by an utter failure of leadership.”

The facts tell a slightly different story that Hogan conveniently ignored in his spiteful comments.

It was O’Malley’s corrections secretary, Gary Maynard, who uncovered the deplorable Black Guerilla gang control of the city jail and called in the FBI. Maynard wanted to act immediately to end the gang’s stranglehold on the detention center and prosecute the guards involved, but the FBI insisted on months and months of further investigation.

This long delay was a huge, inexcusable mistake, but that failure of leadership should not be blamed on O’Malley. Hogan needed to point an accusing figure at the FBI.

Attacking the opposition

It was easier and more useful politically to demonize the opposition party leadership.

Thus, Hogan politicized the jail-closing announcement in terms that pilloried both O’Malley and the Democratic legislature.

Such “smack-down” rhetoric doesn’t further cooperative governance.

Two of the most level-headed Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Ed De Grange of Anne Arundel County and Sen. Guy Guzzone of Howard County, co-chaired a commission that studied the city jail situation and developed a long-term, bi-partisan solution.

Hogan not only disregarded their work, he bragged about the fact he had “never even looked at” this plan.

Legislative response

Is it any wonder the co-chairs accused Hogan of having “circumvented the Legislature” and of “making decisions behind closed doors”?

That last accusation has surfaced on other Hogan decisions, too. He doesn’t seem to believe in listening to a wide-range of divergent views before making up his mind. That approach is not always helpful.

Closing the Baltimore jail was absolutely the right decision. Hooray for Hogan.

He is correct it should have happened long ago — perhaps even under the governorship of the last Republican chief executive, Bob Ehrlich.

But there was no reason to turn the announcement into a political tongue-lashing.

It only exacerbates the growing gulf between the governor and Democratic lawmakers, the very people he needs if he hopes to make headway in achieving his large-scale goals for Maryland.


Editor’s Note

MarylandReporter.com already published my own observations about Hogan’s closing of the city jail on Friday.

“Gov. Larry Hogan’s performance in Baltimore Thursday evoked memories of William Donald Schaefer, the legendary “Do it now” mayor and governor, as Hogan announced the immediate closing of the Baltimore City Detention Center.

Hogan’s large bald head from his chemotherapy added to the impression, but it was more the tone, attitude and approach that was Schaeferesque: impatient, angry, concerned with the people affected, and denigrating those other politicians who couldn’t get the job done.”

I didn’t think this had anything to do with his cancer treatments. In fact, except for the baldness, he is looking, sounding and feeling better than anyone including himself, his doctors and me had expected or predicted. There was a funny little exchange with reporters at the end about his health that showed Larry as his jovial self.

The previous 20 minutes were Larry being pissed off about an awful jail complex that politicians had left fester for a decade with no relief in sight.

Those politicians, many of them well-meaning, thought the Baltimore City Detention Center couldn’t be fixed overnight, the way Hogan said he was going to.

If Hogan’s plan doesn’t work, they’ll say, “I told you so,” and he’ll have to eat some of his harsh criticism.

If I didn’t agree with Rascovar’s entire column, why did I publish it? Because he’s a veteran State House observer who writes fact-based commentary in an interesting if sometimes deliberately provocative way. Different observers can interpret the same facts in different ways.

And if you have a different point of view, post a comment at the bottom of this or any other article. Just don’t curse or use URLs. We let you get away with some pretty pungent comments.

–Len Lazarick

Editor and Publisher, MarylandReporter.com


  1. RossPass

    Hogans done more progress in eight months that o idiots done in eight years , meathead

  2. DLG1116

    You are giving Gary Maynard credit for “uncovering” the gang problem at this facility? Are you serious? Gary wanted to act immediately but the FBI prevented him? Are you serious? Talk about spin!!~

  3. Terrapin Love for All

    Barry, the chemo comment was a cheap shot, and it’s rightly denounced. But your broader point about consultations is an important one.

    I would argue that what was really missing from your column was the contextual basis of consulting with legislators. Interestingly, you invoked Bob Ehrlich, but seem to have forgotten (or omitted) how his attempts at legislative consultations hugely backfired on him.

    You say do it because you feel it’s principled. I think you’re right in a vacuum. But in Annapolis, I think the other side will just use that time to harangue him further. There is no evidence to demonstrate the contrary is likely. For example, could you tell me when the MSEA ran ads against O’Malley for failing to fund the GCEI? When Ehrlich’a attempts on slots (like them or not) were frigidly met by the same House that would vote for them in Special Session less than a year from electing O’Malley and eventually full casinos? The refusal to even entertain real legislative redistricting?

    I like Guy Guzzone and find he’s one of the nicest guys to get a beer with. Ed’s nice too. Yet, they don’t lift a finger for bipartisanship. And tell me one time Martin o’Malley consulted David Brinkley, just one.

  4. dwb1

    Democrats accuse Republicans of sniping. In other news, rain is wet. Film at 11.


    Democrats should put their big boy pants on. The problem with this state is that the Democrats are not used to having actual competition for ideas and just enact whatever their special interests desire. Quick reminder: the FBI also said the “Correctional Officer Bill of Rights” passed on O’Malley’s watch contributed to the culture and lack of accountability.

    Maybe Dems should turn their focus towards Baltimore and the hot mess they’ve created there. Hogan did not inform Dems because he did not want the gangs to catch wind of the change? Perhaps that has something to do with Baltimore City Council posing with gang leaders after the riots? nah, probably just a coincidence. But maybe when Hogan is done battling his own cancer, he can focus on the cancer that the Dems have allowed to metastasize in Baltimore.

  5. William H. Campbell

    Len, I commented negatively about Rascovar’s column because I believe it to be slanted by an aggressive anti-Republican bias. Willie Don would have done taken similar steps about the issues brought up it the article, and Rascovar probably would have hailed him as a “Man of the People”. Not every article can be sugar coated and flattering, but even critical ones should be spared the oil of vitriol. The columnists that you publish represent you, whether you like it or not. I don’t suggest banning Rascovar from writing, but I would like you to challenge his assertions to ensure that they are factual, and defensible.

  6. HANK

    {Closing the Baltimore jail was absolutely the right decision. Hooray for Hogan.
    He is correct it should have happened long ago — perhaps even under the governorship of the last Republican chief executive, Bob Ehrlich.}

    – See more at: http://marylandreporter.com/2015/08/04/rascovar-responds-to-backlash-over-nasty-hogan-column/#sthash.vwcXdGml.dpuf

  7. Caroline County

    Speculating that chemotherapy may have influenced Hogan’s tone is more befitting a publication like “Us Weekly” than the Maryland Reporter. By taking the low/lazy road, Rascovar ignores the possibility that Hogan’s attitude may be part of a deliberate strategy. More disturbing is Rascovar’s characterization of Hogan’s “base” as angry, frustrated, white, and uneducated. Hogan won the election in no small part because people were frustrated and angry, but for reasons that seem to escape the echo chamber of Annapolis. Hogan may be governing in a way that provokes Rascovar’s disapproval, but characterizing him as “nasty” is an ad hominem attack, not political commentary.

  8. lenlazarick

    Here’s another comment from a longtime reader sent to directly:

    “I am 65, a life long Marylander, and a registered Democrat. I was shocked but not

    tremendously surprised by Mr. Rascovar’s article. I feel that he is sadly the voice and

    represents the good old boy network of Maryland Politics. The change and efforts of our

    new Governor are, to me, very encouraging. The system has been broken and our taxes

    have escalated to hurt the very people that actually pay the State’s bills. Will he blunder

    on some of the hard decisions necessary to right some wrongs in our State? Certainly.

    What is wrong with giving Mr. Hogan a chance? The voters overwhelmingly made a

    huge statement during
    our last election. I have been kind of waiting for old line Democrats

    to start the
    sniping when another side of the issues have been presented.

    I feel that the comments made were unwarranted, mean spirited, and just wrong.

    I am also very disappointed with the follow-up comments. Perhaps an apology would

    have been more in order as Mr. Rascovar is coming across (in his own words) as “Mr. Nasty”.

  9. charlie hayward

    1. Corrections officials must operate under strict “need to know” principles. Jessup House of Corrections was closed abruptly in a shroud of secrecy in March 2007, 3 months after O’Malley took office. Hogan closed BCDC in substantially the same fashion.

    2. Rascovar’s position that Hogan should have blamed FBI for management failures is truly bizarre. FBI did a professional investigation and in no way did it unfairly malign Maynard. Two years was just about right for the FBI to take ownership of this investigation…. it simply threw a lot of resources into a high-profile engagement. I know they did wiretaps and hundreds of interviews; many of which elicited information from less than cooperative witnesses. Flaunting 25 indictments is part of the FBI’s culture of deterrence.

    3. Guzzone and Da Grange’s commission recommended closing and demolishing the BCDC Hogan just shuttered. Somehow I have confidence Hogan will attempt in good faith to implement the commission’s recommendations on his own timetable. Money needs to be found for a replacement city detention center, likely on the footprint of the existing grounds. I doubt Hogan would have done anything different had he read the commission’s report.

    4. I see no evidence Hogan’s cancer diagnosis or chemo treatments have anything to do with his distaste for schmoozing Democrat politicians. Hogan’s campaign showed who he is.

  10. Bruce

    I find it hard to believe that anyone would have problems with Larry Hogan after the last 8 years under OweMalley.
    Tell me, was there equal issues when it was the democrats pushing the token republicans aside? Where was your outrage and questions when the democrats gerrymandered the voting districts in their favor?
    Unless you are going to step up and point out the blatent travesty brought on by a self righteous democrat party in this state, your opinion is totally without merit.
    Maybe you should shift your attention over to the democrats in this country that are ignoring the laws and the constitution. Start with the obama administration. Or, is it ok in your mind when he circumvents congress, the will of the people to sign illegal and treasonous executive orders like the ones dealing with the illegals.
    Grow up.

  11. Toldyaso

    Isn’t this special, no comments for your disgusting reasoning for picking on a person with cancer. Maybe after you get done bashing the Governor you can start a “go fund me” request to keep your doors open. I hope your just fade or blog into the distant sunset.
    Maybe O’Malley is looking for a social media expert to further sink his admirations of being a President? Onward James…