What's Up, Doc?
More and More Baltimoreans Know that Walbrook High School Principal Andrey Bundley is Running For Mayor. But for Many the Question Remains, who is Andrey Bundley?
While most high school principals this summer are on vacation, the 42-year-old Bundley has given up whatever relaxation plans he may have had and is instead trying to convince voters to choose him as the Democratic party's nominee for mayor in the Sept. 9 primary. Bundley says he feels "compelled, almost forced," to run when describing his transformation from principal to mayoral candidate, as if he were guided by alchemy rather than political ambition. Bundley says he is running not because he's interested in power or fame. He says he sees a lack of leadership at City Hall and is running because no one, including the current mayor, is really interested in solving the city's problems. Bundley is also confident that he'll win the primary next month, although many people tied to city politics don't believe he stands a chance against Mayor Martin O'Malley, who has the support of the city's so-called Democratic machine, a résumé packed with substantial political experience, and millions socked away in his campaign cache.
If O'Malley, in the eyes of his detractors, is the Goliath in this race--powerful, unwieldy, and seemingly unbeatable--then Bundley, to his supporters, is David--brave and energetic, a fresh young candidate who can win this race with faith, people power, and the careful use of very limited campaign resources.
"Lord, we know that you will be with Brother Bundley, as he's been called for an awesome task," the Rev. Kenneth Colvin Sr. prays during Bundley's stop at the New Psalmist Baptist Church's 2003 Kingdom Conference at the Baltimore Convention Center on July 12. "We know that he can lead this city as long as you're in the forefront."
"Yes!" "Bless him!" "Keep him, Lord!" conference attendees reply.
Bundley has his work cut out for him. First, he's got to get himself into the political mix and raise people's awareness about who he is and what he stands for. People who haven't been paying close attention to the media this summer may know him simply as the principal of West Baltimore's Walbrook High School, not as the principal who wants to be mayor. Next, he has to inform voters about his plan for improving the quality of life in Baltimore, which stresses education as the chief tool he would use to stabilize communities and reduce crime. And although he claims not to be daunted by O'Malley's enormous fund-raising ability and says he's not worried about money, Bundley absolutely has to raise dough to propel his candidacy. Campaign consultants, posters, and platform cards aren't free, after all.
Although City Paper was unable by press time to obtain campaign-finance reports for Bundley--which were due to be filed by Aug. 12 at midnight--it has been revealed that one major donor to the campaign is the Rev. Jamal Bryant, pastor of the Empowerment Zone Temple Church, a congregation that is holding its services at Walbrook High while it looks for a permanent home.
Bundley also has to convince voters that, despite his lack of political experience (he has never held or ran for elected office), he has the ability to run the nation's 18th-largest city and its budget of more than $2.1 billion dollars, dozens of city agencies, and staggering homicide rate. And he must deal with critics and skeptics who question whether or not his education-centric agenda is concrete enough, realistic enough, and comprehensive enough to tackle the problems city residents want somebody--anybody at this point, it seems--to do something about.
Bundley only has about three weeks left to get his name out and convince voters that he can pull it off. But Bundley exudes confidence and says his campaign is building momentum.
"We started out with the word . . . got some power, got some juice," Bundley says after the Kingdom Conference prayer meeting ends, then quickly changes the subject. "But now we've got to get some food." He heads off for a late breakfast at Porters Coffee House, a black-owned restaurant in Washington Village, which he will follow up with a walk through the neighborhood to pass out campaign literature and talk to people on the street.
Despite their differing opinions about the best way to run the city, Bundley and O'Malley are a lot alike: Both are handsome, young, well-educated, polished, professionally accomplished, a bit self-aggrandizing, and, most of all, energetic. Bundley is always moving, and sometimes can't even sit still in his seat, constantly tapping his foot or leafing through campaign material. He moves through crowds easily, stopping often to speak with people, providing advice or listening to stories. Bundley's manner of speaking can be didactic, not in an irritating, preachy sort of way, but in a manner that harks back to his extensive background as a teacher.
"We need blacks to be effective for Baltimore to be effective," Bundley says at one point, contending that if the majority of the city's residents who are black aren't productive, then the city doesn't work. "That's not racial," he explains. "That's just numbers."
Bundley and O'Malley's similarities don't eclipse their vastly different pasts, however. While O'Malley grew up in affluent Montgomery County and enjoyed many of the creature comforts of a relatively privileged life that included private schooling, Bundley is a product of the city's public-school system, and he was shuffled around various foster homes from a very early age. Bundley was born in Philadelphia, but his mother brought him and his three siblings to Baltimore when he was 2 years old, in an attempt to escape an abusive husband; she died when he was 13 after a long bout with cancer. After her death, Bundley lived in foster homes and with various relatives.
He says he grew up in close proximity to Baltimore's drug and crime problems, but he managed to stay out of trouble. He wasn't an impeccable student (he failed the eighth grade), but he graduated Southwestern High School with good enough grades to enroll in historically black Coppin State College. He received an undergradute degree in special education at Coppin, then went on to get master's and doctoral degrees in education from Penn State.
Despite the difficulties of his childhood, Bundley doesn't see himself as a victim. He credits the adults in the Reservoir Hill community where he grew up, and where he lives today, for leading him toward a more positive path. He says education, which he views as an "equalizer," helped him overcome many of the problems he experienced in his life.
"To live in inner-city Baltimore, having lived in different kinship-care experiences, is just an experience that we all had to adjust to," he says, describing the experience he shared with his siblings. "But in that process of adjusting, the same thing that was afforded to children who were affluent,were afforded to us. We had teachers who educated us. We had recreation centers with adults who cared."
Except for his time in graduate school and an eight-year period in which he lived in the western Baltimore County suburb of Windsor Mill, Bundley has spent most of his personal and professional life in Baltimore. Despite his hiatus from living within city limits, he says he has always worked in city schools and remained active in various community groups. During his campaign, he plans to appeal to his hometown roots and knowledge of the city to help him win.
When one follows him on his campaign trek around different neighborhoods, it's clear that Bundley's Baltimore roots run deep. At a campaign stop at Northwestern High School, for example, where a basketball tournament is taking place, Bundley is greeted with a friendly call of "What's up, Doc B?"
"What's up, soldier," he replies and then lapses into a friendly tête-à-tête with a young man dressed in a long white T-shirt about who has better hoop abilities.
"Y'all did not win," Bundley spars with the man . "We won at that tournament, man."
"That's my godson," Bundley says, pointing to another young man, 21-year-old Melvin Scott. Once one of Bundley's troubled students, Scott is now a guard on the basketball team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Melvin adopted me, and I adopted him back," Bundley says. "That's how we roll."
Bundley's way with folks can be frustrating to campaign workers like Derrick Compton and Kevin Brisbon, who are charged with keeping the candidate on schedule. The two seem just a touch exasperated with Bundley, who they also refer to as "Doc," as they try to usher him onto his next activity. After a while this becomes a bit wearisome, especially when he stops to shake yet another hand or tell another anecdote about remembering so and so from such and such from back in the day.
"Mr. O'Malley will not win this election," Bundley says to a woman he says he has known since childhood. "He's talking about all this money. But he doesn't have 40 years [of living and working in Baltimore]."
But it's money, not roots, says longtime local political strategist Arthur Murphy, that raises a candidate's public stature and credibility. One chief challenge facing Bundley and his ability to win this election, Murphy says, is his lack of dollars to increase his name recognition. Bundley hasn't raised "critical mass funding," Murphy contends, estimating that Bundley's campaign has raised no more than $300,000. Without a profusion of funds to help Bundley get his name and his message out--notably through media ads--Murphy believes the September primary will be a "walk" for O'Malley.
"O'Malley's approval ratings are sky high, even among the black community," Murphy argues. "Bundley has not been able to communicate . . . what his platform is. I know his platform because I've gone out of my way to hear it. The number of people who know his platform is at the minimum. People are looking for him to raise critical mass funding to establish credibility so that he can get his message across.
"How do you take the war to a popular incumbent? How do you engage him?" Murphy says, summing up Bundley's challenge. "O'Malley is Atilla the Hun. How are you going to beat Atilla?"
Bundley counters that his is a grass-roots campaign that will include door-to-door canvassing, extensive dissemination of literature, visiting churches, and going to the city's most disaffected communities.
"Who needs money when you're raising people?," Bundley asks. "Every time they raise a dollar, we're gonna raise 10 people. Every time they raise $2, we're gonna raise 20 people. In the end, they'll have a whole lot of money and we'll have a whole lot of people."
Despite bundley's sudden visibility city-wide, people still have difficulty grasping what he stands for, says former mayoral candidate Carl Stokes. "That's the biggest issue," Stokes says. "They don't know him, the person. They don't know him--the credibility issue. That's what folks are saying, that he's such an unknown.
"No one's saying anything bad or negative about him," Stokes hastens to add. "I want to be supportive of him, quite frankly. I don't think the city's headed is in the right direction, and we need change."
An April poll on potential mayoral candidates conducted by Gonzales/Arscott Research and Communications, an Annapolis-based polling and market research firm, showed that 63 percent of registered voters didn't recognize Bundley's name. Of those that did know him, only 11 percent viewed him favorably. Topping the list were former U.S. Rep. and current NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and O'Malley, holding, respectively, favorable ratings of 86 percent and 67 percent.
Although Bundley acknowledges he hasn't conducted any political polling of his own yet--he says he'll do some strategic polling later this summer--he says his appeal among voters is growing. Campaign worker Derrick Compton says he's seen Bundley's popularity and reputation change. "Before it was, 'You're the principal of Walbrook,'" Compton says. " Now it's, 'Hey, you're the guy who's running for mayor.'"
Even as he works to win over the electorate, Bundley is also facing his first challenges as a politician even before the ballots are cast. Though Bundley is a political outsider, running for mayor inevitably makes one something of an insider, or at least makes one's relationship with insiders more important. Bundley faced both Stokes and O'Malley in the Democratic mayoral primary until Stokes dropped out of the race on the day of the filing deadline and refiled to run for City Council president against O'Malley ally and incumbent President Sheila Dixon. Bundley and Stokes are now vying for the two most powerful positions in city government; if both are elected, they will be working closely to tackle the city's troubles.
Stokes says he has provided Bundley with advice since he dropped out of the mayor's race. "I don't want to talk about anything specific," Stokes says. "It's his campaign. I'm offering counsel in terms of strategy."
Initially, Bundley seems reticent to discuss the role Stokes is playing in the campaign. One reason he may not be eager to talk about their relationship could be a poll conducted by Stokes in mid-June that said that Bundley was not recognized by some 58 percent of respondents. Bundley, displeased with the results, dismissed the poll. Although he does seem as if he's warming up to Stokes, especially as the primary draws near, Bundley's feelings on the veteran politician's friendship--and his bid for City Council President--are not clear.
"He and I have spoken," Bundley says, turning to look out the car window. "We'll talk soon."
Inside a shiny black Lincoln Town Car sits Julius Henson, a political strategist for Bundley's campaign. In this role, Henson says his duties include coordinating campaign appearances, designing literature, and developing fund-raising strategies. Henson, dressed for the 90-degree day, wears white high tops, khaki shorts, a knit pique shirt, and a black hat turned backward. He drives and makes calls on his hands-free cell phone.
"Where the fu . . . ," he says, sighs, catches himself, and then carefully rephrases. "Where've you been?" he asks an unidentified person on the other end of the line. Henson says he's trying to control his habit of cursing because members of his church criticize his use of profanity, especially when it's reported in the media.
If Henson is working on a campaign, then it has to be a Henson Campaign, which in the past has meant that a variety of fierce in-your-face strategies and political tactics will likely be put into play to push the candidate into the spotlight. Henson campaigns are notorious for posting illegal campaign signs around the city. He once called Gov. Robert Ehrlich a "Nazi," and when Henson was working for former City Council President and mayoral hopeful Lawrence Bell during the 1999 mayoral race, he showed up with 50 of his campaign operatives to disrupt an O'Malley press conference.
"My job is to do whatever I can within the limits of the law to get my candidate elected," Henson says.
Despite Henson's reputation for using what people call "bareknuckled politics," Bundley says he turned to the political operative because Henson "could help us run the campaign that we wanted to run." Bundley adds, "I think he's a master at running a people's campaign."
Henson is equally complimentary. "Here's the big selling point on Dr. Andrey L. Bundley," Henson says. "I spoke to four or five of those in his inner circle. Not only was I impressed with Dr. Bundley, I was also impressed by the people around him. They did have certain level of political naiveté, but that's to be expected. [However], they were honest, intelligent, and had a sense of commitment to the word. They weren't connected to the usual political nonsense and rhetoric."
Henson doesn't stray too far from rhetoric himself when discussing his candidate's primary opponent. "O'Malley's just smoke and mirrors," he says, offering criticism but no hard figures. "He says crime is down, is crime down? For goodness sake, we don't feel any safer. Ask [Baltimore City State's Attorney] Patricia Jessamy. Crime is not down. O'Malley has given out trash cans, T-shirts, and hats and expects us to look the other way."
Henson says city residents are tired of hearing O'Malley's opinions about crime and are looking for fresh perspectives, which he says Bundley has. Henson acknowledges Bundley's lack of a political résumé, especially when compared to O'Malley, but he says that's where Bundley's experience as an accomplished educator comes in.
"Here's the deal," Henson explains, laying out Bundley's central platform plank. "What Dr. Andrey Bundley believes is that everything in this city comes back to how well our education system works. Good schools stabilize neighborhoods . . . and promote people and businesses to stay in the city.
"There's a correlation between crime, education, and safety," he continues. "Everything revolves around education. O'Malley hasn't said three words about this Third World education system we got. Not three words. Crime ain't it. It's education."
When pressed to explain how he thinks Bundley can use education to improve an entire city, Henson says, "my job is campaigning, not governing," referring all questions to Bundley.
Despite Henson's claim that O'Malley hasn't addressed the city school system, the mayor has at least paid lip service to the topic and takes credit for several accomplishments made in the city's school system. In his Dec. 7, 1999, inauguration speech, O'Malley envisioned "a public school system where every child in every grade of every public school reaches his or her full potential." In his last State of the City Address, given on Feb. 3 of this year to a packed City Council chamber, he touted improvements in the city's education system, noting that "the state of our city is improving because for the past three years, our elementary school students have posted higher scores in reading, language arts, and mathematics at every grade level."
On his roster of three-year accomplishments for the city, O'Malley lists obtaining an additional $18 million in funding for the city's school district, increasing the number of computers in classrooms, and doubling the city's full-day kindergarten program.
"We have to make our schools not just a priority, but the priority," O'Malley said at a June 24 press conference as he announced his second bid for mayor in front of East Baltimore's City Springs Elementary School. "It has been our biggest funding priority every single year in Annapolis. And we have made historic gains. We've moved from being the 16th-worst-funded school system in the state on a per capita basis to now being the second-best-funded school system in the state."
Henson's comparison of the city's public school system to those found in developing nations may be political hyperbole, but his statement does hold some truth. The majority African-American city school system, which serves some 94,000 students in 182 schools, is in serious trouble. The schools are facing a $40 million budget deficit, forced layoffs, and a soaring high-school dropout rate. And if city spending is any indication of how the mayor prioritizes city needs, schools are not as high on the list as the Bundley campaign thinks they should be: According to a report in The Sun, O'Malley provided a 2 percent increase in city funds for schools between 2000 and this year, while he provided a "24 percent increase to the Police Department."
Add to that the fact that O'Malley has failed to address in any meaningful way the 75 percent high-school dropout rate for African-American males, the Bundley camp argues, and it's clear that the mayor fails to see the connection between a better education system and crime reduction. Many young, black men who drop out of school wind up involved in crime and often behind bars, Bundley says. This has been a hot topic on a number of local radio talk shows since Bundley announced his candidacy, including on WOLB (1010 AM)'s The Larry Young Show and the same station's State of Emergency, hosted by Bundley campaign worker and O'Malley critic Benita Paschall. "If that [statistic] doesn't move you, nothing will," notes Richard Rowe, host of WEAA (88.9 FM)'s Dialogue With the African American Male, referring to the high dropout rate for black boys.
The Bundley campaign may benefit from the fact that African-American Baltimoreans are concerned that an inordinate proportion of their young men are becoming engaged in drugs and criminal activity and landing in jail as a result. Many feel that the O'Malley administration has helped fuel the trend of locking up young black men rather than treating the roots of their problems. And despite the O'Malley administration's dedicated efforts to crack down on crime and an across-the-board drop in crime and murder rates since 1999, the city's murder rate is climbing again, and Bundley says crime in the city is getting worse.
"We can't just arrest our way out of the problem," Bundley says. "The police can't stop murder?"
Adding to the African-American community's concerns is an O'Malley-backed ordinance pending before the City Council that would crack down on "quality of life" crimes, like loitering and disorderly drinking, by giving police the discretion to issue civil citations to offenders. The idea is that targeting the smaller crimes will help deter offenders from engaging in more serious criminal activity. But critics of the plan, which include State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy and the American Civil Liberties Union, are concerned that, if passed, the ordinance will give police officers too much discretionary power in issuing citations and act as a tool to harass African-American communities.
Bundley believes that the city's current approach to civic needs actually ripens situations for loitering and truancy. "Certain conditions will create certain scenarios and situations," he explains. "You can't close recreation centers, send people to the corner, and then decide to give them a civil citation."
City police officers gave Bundley a prime opportunity to make a very public point about crime and harassment of African-American men when, on July 27, he and a campaign worker were cuffed by police outside the downtown nightclub Hammerjacks for putting campaign literature on the windshields of cars parked on the street.
Although a city ordinance declares it illegal to "affix an advertising circular, notice, or other printed item on any motor vehicle in the City of Baltimore without permission of the motor vehicle owner or operator," some in Bundley's camp and in city government believe the law is inconsequential and practically impossible to enforce when anyone bothers.
The usually conservative Sun columnist Gregory Kane captured all this irony in a July 30 send-up titled "Police should follow crooks--not Bundley's paper trail." As Kane quipped: "So, do you feel safer yet? Or, with an out-of-control homicide rate that New York-style policing has yet to hold in check, do you find yourself wishing Baltimore police would find better things to do with their time than detain mayoral candidates who happen to be high school principals for violating a law that's been enforced sporadically at best?"
Bundley's critics say he quickly turned the situation into a campaign opportunity, criticizing the city for encouraging "aggressive policing." Bundley says he wasn't grandstanding but trying to make a citizen's redress.
"Have you ever heard or could you imagine a candidate for mayor, a high school principal, being arrested and placed in handcuffs for distributing campaign literature in a public parking lot?" Bundley asked a group of reporters and protesters who gathered outside police headquarters for an Aug. 5 press announcement on the arrest. "And have you ever heard a police commissioner or a mayor so ready, willing, and well-scripted as you did yesterday? . . . In a New York minute and on prime news time they released official statements labeling their putting me in handcuffs my campaign 'stunt.'"
The entire episode underscored the concern of the city's African-American community about policing in their neighborhoods and highlighted a key issue for Bundley: Does targeting small, quality-of-life crimes really preclude more serious offenses?
Jessamy used her "elected authority" to drop the charges against Bundley on July 31, calling the arrest "frivolous."
"Why can't you get that through your fuckin' head?" Henson told a City Paper reporter over the telephone the morning after the incident. "It's not illegal. The police need to be out arresting people for murder and drugs, not the guy who's running for mayor. How can a citizen get arrested for putting literature on cars? The police department locked up a guy for nothing, as they've been doing with many of the citizens across this city. Andrey Bundley is just a symbol."
Bundley needs to be more than a symbol if he wants to win this race, however. He needs to prove to voters that he is a performer and a leader. And by several accounts, it is Bundley's leadership and performance as a principal that is credited with raising academic standards at two city schools, Northwest Baltimore's Greenspring Middle School and Walbrook High. At the latter, Bundley claims to have raised the high school graduation rate from 40 percent to 85 percent. A Sun report, however, showed that these figures had been misinterpreted by Bundley. State statistics actually revealed that the graduation rate rose from 49.8 percent in September 1998 to 70.8 percent last year, the paper reported on July 24. Bundley told Sun reporter Doug Donovan that his literature should actually have read "retention" rate.
"Kids started caring," says Debora Quickley, who works as Bundley's executive assistant at Walbrook. "He turned the whole school around. He means what he says and he says what he means."
Bundley is modest about his work in the schools: "I have been blessed to go into difficult situations to facilitate," he says. "I didn't change Greenspring by myself. I didn't change Walbrook by myself."
In 1999 Walbrook won U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-7th, "U-TURN" award "for the unique techniques they have used to restore non-violence and a community in which all can learn safety," Cummings wrote in a June 1999 op-ed piece in the Afro American newspaper. After Tyrone Carroll, a Walbrook High scholar-athlete, was gunned down in the streets in 1996, a larger discussion of school violence took place at Walbrook, and Bundley was credited by Cummings for his unique approach to curbing the problem. This approach, the congressman noted, included smaller classes and a greater intervention from adults in the community.
But come September, the question on voters' minds is going to be whether or not Bundley, a political novice, can translate his experience and success in the schools to politics--and whether or not his single-minded focus on education as the answer for all ills can translate into sound public policy that addresses city issues such as economic disenfranchisement of city residents, crime, and development.
Bundley has faced questions like this all summer long. During a June 10 appearance on WYPR (88.1 FM)'s The Marc Steiner Show, Bundley was pushed by Steiner on his plans to address numerous city concerns through educational improvements. "How do you do that in concrete ways?" Steiner asked him regarding improving public safety. On reducing crime, Steiner pressed, "What is the Bundley model?"
Bundley was unable to cite any specific model or study during the show. He did say he'd work to get more city residents involved "in the process"--a catchphrase Bundley has used in several instances as a way to describe how he plans to get Baltimore City's most disaffected residents more engaged in economic and political life. Although he lays out no written blueprint for doing so, Bundley says he can do this by using his familiarity with the city's communities and what he believes is his success in coalition building.
Despite Bundley's assurances, not everyone is convinced that he will be able to navigate the frequently troubled political waters in City Hall and Annapolis. A caller to Marc Steiner identified only as Jackie asked,"How close are your political affiliations in the City Council and also in Annapolis?" and "I just wanted to know your connections and how comfortable you were with going into such a broad task and having your base in education." Bundley tried to assuage the caller's doubts by citing what he believes to be his strong record as a leader.
"I have more skills as a leader than [city officials do] because they don't have any parents who are disgruntled," Bundley said later when asked by City Paper to readdress the caller's question. " They don't look at the realities of children to try and pull resources together. They don't do that. They deal with policy. That's what politicians do. I deal with actualities."
Though Bundley is running a platform based largely on education and on community-based approaches to reducing crime, those are not the only problems facing the city. While drugs, crime, and education ranked as the top three issues for voters in the April Gonzales/Arscott poll, the fourth most commonly cited issue was economic development. Bundley says his solution for addressing the problem is through the creation of what he calls a social-investment portfolio for businesses to follow. As mayor, Bundley says, he would require all companies doing business with the city to come up with one and present it to City Hall. In this portfolio, Bundley explains, businesses would have to come up with ways they will interact with local communities to further economic development.
Bundley also talks about an idea for a work-force development plan for the city. The premise behind this plan, he says simply, is using job creation as a way to deter crime and promote more economically stable communities.
"We're saying that we will clean up open-air [drug] markets, but I'm not taking police officers with me," he says. "I'm taking job specialists, addictions counselors, and taking mentors for young people. Those are the individuals I'm taking with me to clean up open-air drug markets."
Still, Bundley doesn't have a pragmatic, written plan through which he would implement his social-investment portfolio or work force-development plans. In fact, the closest thing to written policy Bundley can claim is his "R Plan," which was published in June 2000 as part of "The People's Plan: A Plan to Dramatically Reduce Crime in Baltimore City." The report, which focuses "mainly on males in the city between the ages of 13 and 24," was produced by a panoply of important local and national public figures, including Cummings, radio-station mogul Cathy Hughes, and Bethel A.M.E. pastor the Rev. Frank Reid. Listed as consultants to the plan are the Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Bundley's contribution to the 139-page report discusses "the link between education and violent crime."
"Confidence Character Camps (CCC) are another type of re-engagement center," Bundley writes, referencing his commitment to strong city recreation centers as one way to keep kids off the streets. "As an educator, I witness countless youth in middle and high schools that get caught up in the drug culture because their skills can translate into money. These, then, advance into criminal drug activity. Thus, I propose confidence and character building camps after school and during the summer for youth."
Bundley's theory is supported by a substantial number of research institutions. "The connection of education, employment, and crime is clear," reads a January 2003 report by the Baltimore-based Job Opportunities Task Force. "Baltimore's high dropout rate and the high rate of offender re-incarceration carry high social and economic costs. Our economy suffers from the lost productivity of these populations and the community suffers the loss of the development of their human capital. . . . We need to do more to prevent youngsters from dropping out of school."
Even if Bundley doesn't win the Democratic primary in September, he will have helped raise the city's consciousness about the symbiotic relationship between education, crime, and poverty.
"What Dr. Bundley is doing is trying to look at Baltimore's problems on a macro rather than a micro level," says Ray Winbush, director of the Institute of Urban Research at Morgan State University. "We do need more macro analysis like that. It's to Dr. Bundley's credit that he is [doing it]. I think he's the only one who has connected the dots."
And since education appears to be at the top of the voters' wish list of problems to fix, if O'Malley wins, he will likely be held to an even higher level of scrutiny on schools issues than before. Interim solutions to school district problems, like repairing crumbling buildings and providing bottled water to schools with lead-tainted drinking water--two measures O'Malley brought up during a recent forum on minority contracting with the city--don't keep kids from dropping out and pushing dope. Voters clearly want longer-lasting solutions: higher test scores, better school funding, lower dropout rates.
Though Winbush credits Bundley for being an "ideas man," creating effective public policy isn't merely a matter of understanding the problems and coming up with good ideas, he cautions. To the contrary, Winbush says, sound policy means coming up with pragmatic solutions that are tangible, easily tested, and independently verifiable, that withstand political opposition and scrutiny, and whose creators are accountable for their strengths and pitfalls--a daunting task for even experienced politicians. And if Bundley's approach relies on improving education, he may face political difficulty--as O'Malley has--because the city school system has for several years been under the auspices of state government.
Bundley doesn't like to discuss the possibility of losing the race to O'Malley. Although many refer to his underdog status, he's clearly trying to use the power of positive thinking to help him through this race. Though he won't talk about a loss to O'Malley on Sept. 9, he will discuss what he'll do the day after the race.
Choosing his words carefully, Bundley says: "This is what I'll do September 10--I will be an individual who's committed to improving the quality of life in Baltimore. I will engage any and all people who earnestly and honestly attempt to work to ensure that individuals are educated and productive in this city. That's what I'll do. That's as mayor or in any other position that I'll do."
In about three weeks, voters will decide who is to be the next Democratic candidate for mayor. Bundley is banking on his strengths, the foremost of which, he says, is strong leadership, and he remains undaunted by questions about his ability to translate his skills if elected mayor.
"We still got we what we got, so what is that? What does that really mean?" Bundley asks. "Tell me what that means. Martin O'Malley has been in there all that time, and we still have a high homicide rate and failing schools. Did [he] translate [his] power? Have things gotten better in Baltimore?"
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