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T.J. Smith announced that he will be stepping down as spokesperson for County Executive John Oszewski Jr. to pursue other opportunities.
Some media outlets have described the move as the precursor to a possible run for the mayor’s slot in Baltimore City.
Smith became Johnny O’s spokesperson shortly after resigning from his position as the spokesperson for the Baltimore City Police Department. Mr. Smith’s tenure with the Olszewski administration lasted less than year–nearly 10 months.
We want to know what would prompt a possible mayoral candidate to jump ship from a progressive Socialist Democrat who seems to be the current flavor of the day.
As publisher of the Baltimore Post, the first time I had a chance to engage Mr. Smith in a professional way occurred shortly after Johnny O took office. I was working on an article that required an answer that could only be provided by the county executive or someone higher up in his administration. I was working on the story late at night, so I sent an email to the county executive expecting an answer the following day.
Instead, I was rather shocked when I received a prompt reply from Mr. Smith that night. I was also presently surprised by the candor and honesty Mr. Smith displayed in answering my pressing question.
It was a good start to our working relationship.
Sadly, not all of our interactions with public officials have been good ones.
Over Mr. Smith’s tenure, there were several very important community issues that The Post covered. One particular story involving violence at Tiki Lee’s Dock Bar led to the Post filing an MPIA request. That request was completely ignored by the Baltimore County Police Department after repeated request for the 911 tapes and police reports.
That denial caused us to file a complaint with the state ombudsman, but we were told that it would be sometime before that office could respond due to an overwhelming number of complaints.
A more egregious lack of transparency involved the potential homicide of beloved east side community leader, Georgia Bartrum. The Post repeatedly asked for information regarding the circumstances surrounding Mrs. Bartrum’s death, but we were consistently turned away by the Baltimore County Police public information staff.
Mrs. Bartrum died back in April, and the Post is still waiting for the county or state to respond to us. We’re trying to get the true facts about how Mrs. Bartrum died after confronting two burglars who stole several dirt bikes from her garage.
The Post was able to learn through sources that this was the third burglary at the residence of the now-deceased community leader Mrs. Bartrum. Despite Johnny O’s attempt to divert attention away from the ever-increasing homicide rates in Baltimore County, this was an egregious cover-up of the serious crime.
We want to believe that Mr. Smith’s departure will be followed by his quest to become the next mayor of Baltimore. The Baltimore Post would support Mr. Smith’s efforts if he is attempting to carve his own path to leadership of the troubled city.
But there is another side to our interpretation of this departure. That side of the story involves Johnny O and his attempt to grab the spotlight and claim the glory of a political dynasty that all but destroyed this once great county.
Could it be that Mr. Smith felt it was better to leave a county embroiled in numerous controversies, such as crime, creating a sanctuary for illegals, raising taxes, corporate cronyism, and a host of other issues? Surely a potential mayoral candidate would want to distance himself from such political poison.
Only time will tell.
We end this column with one last question: Could this high-level departure mark the beginning of the end for a failed administration that chooses a socialist/progressive/Democratic policy over a more moderate approach?
Again, time will tell.
And we’ll all be watching and waiting for the answer.