01/06/11 Problems at the Port

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Last week a group picketed in front of the offices of the Baltimore City Paper.  The demonstrators didn’t like a story that ran a month earlier.  It’s a story that will shock you.

According to the City Paper the membership of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 333 has nearly 400 workers accused of crimes.  Almost 200 — about one-fifth of its membership — have been convicted of felonies such as drug dealing, car theft and armed robbery.  The City Paper story — if accurate — is must-reading.  It reads like an HBO TV show come-to-life.

I am not here to promote the City Paper.  The question I ask is: What is the state doing about this?  Local 333 members are stevedores.  They load and unload cargo at the Port of Baltimore.  Which is owned by the state of Maryland.  What is going on at the Port we don’t know about?  About 30 million tons of cargo pass through the port each year.  As do thousands of cruise ship passengers.

Crime adds to the cost of the Port’s operations.  And we all pay for it.  This is not just about the money.  Although that is reason enough for the state to investigate. 

There is something seriously wrong when people — who for all practical purposes — work for the state and have criminal records that would embarrass even Tony Soprano.