Republican candidate for Congress Kim Klacik made a statement on social media on Friday. She was walking through the area of Mosher and N. Mount in Baltimore where trash was everywhere. Her voiceover in the video said so much with few words, “I don’t know about you, but it seems like the people over at the Department of Public Works, you know, the ‘top dogs,’ are getting paid way too much.”
A gentleman across from this mess told me he’s been complaining about this for weeks @BaltimoreDPW. Mosher & N. Mount. It is safe to say you suck miserably at your job & everyone in leadership positions should step down.
— Kimberly Klacik (@kimKBaltimore) February 21, 2020
But something happened. After passing what seemed like months or even years of accumulated garbage and debris, the area looked completely different by Monday. In her followup video, Klacik said, “Never underestimate the power of my social media.”
On Friday, I posted a video of what appeared to be a war zone in a third world country, it was actually N. Mount in West Baltimore.
— Kimberly Klacik (@kimKBaltimore) February 25, 2020
It’s the type of miracle the GOP needs in order to win such a solidly blue seat. But it’s not impossible, especially when we look closer at the race itself. She’s running against Kweisi Mfume, the former Congressman who left this seat to become the President and CEO of the NAACP. He’s a political giant in the area with calls for him to run for mayor in the past. He was easily able to defeat Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the widow of MD-07’s previous Congressman, Elijah Cummings. Now, he’ll face Klacik in the special election on April 28.
In a district that is heavily Democratic, how could Klacik have a chance? For one thing, she has youth and enthusiasm to take on business-as-usual Mfume. But that type of energy alone may not be enough to flip the seat. She’ll need a major infusion of financial support to get it done, but arguably her best chances will be in highlighting Mfume’s biggest weakness. Many in the district seem to have forgiven or forgotten, but the truth is clear: Mfume has a problem with women that dates back at least to his days with the NAACP. In fact, the reason he left his exalted job was over an internal investigation into sexual misconduct, though he denies that’s the reason.
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Findings in the report – first disclosed last month by The Washington Post – raised questions about such actions as a $20,000 pay increase Mfume awarded to a woman after less than six months on the job, and the promotions and salary increases for female employees apparently lacking adequate documented experience.
Neither the 1999 memo nor the 2004 report reaches conclusions about whether any of the allegations are true.
Michele Speaks, the employee whose complaint launched the most recent investigation, was given only one $5,000 raise in 4 1/2 years, according to the report. The NAACP settled her complaint for about $100,000, paid from the organization’s treasury, according to a source familiar with the negotiations who requested anonymity because of the agreement’s confidentiality terms.
Any other time, including 16-years-ago when he was ousted, this probably wouldn’t be enough of an issue to derail his ambitions to take back his old seat. But in a time when people like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby have brought more of a spotlight to sexual misconduct by men in power, it’s time for Mfume to answer questions honestly. His special election primary opponents didn’t bring it up. The GOP should, especially considering his feeble response last month:
“The Executive Committee’s overwhelming vote was not lightly taken,” said then-NAACP Chairman Julian Bond while preparing to disclose the decision of the vote with the full board. “It came after a long period of growing dissatisfaction with high and constant staff turnovers, falling revenues, falling memberships, three consecutive negative performance appraisals, highly questionable hiring and promotion decisions, creation of new staff positions with no job descriptions, and personal behavior which placed each of us at legal and financial risk.”
Mfume and a number of other NAACP leaders have insisted that the Congress candidate parted ways with the organization amicably, the AP reports.
Nonetheless, the document detailing the decision from the secret vote is among Bond’s personal and professional paperwork at the University of Virginia, where he also taught.
The Baltimore Sun reports that there are “hundreds of pages” that pertain to Mfume’s NAACP leadership. This information includes “employment contracts and a separation agreement; performance evaluations; emails between board members and NAACP counsel.”
Residents of MD-07 need to ask themselves two questions. If Kim Klacik can accomplish so much with a single Tweet, what can she do for Baltimore with a Congressional seat? Will they embrace the old, failed policies of the past or look to a brighter future?
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