The Baltimore Jewish Council led a zoom discussion with Attorney General Brian Frosh July 13. Matt Peterson , BJC assistant director of government relations and communications, led the Q&A session.
If you would like to view the recording you may do so here: https://www.baltjc.org/virtualevents.
Peterson welcomed listeners and started up a friendly chat with the attorney general. Frosh said he and his family have been fine under quarantine, but there is a lot on his plate. “We’re not worried about paying rent or mortgage. So far, knock on wood, we’re healthy,” said Frosh. “But there are millions of Americans who are suffering.”
Frosh explained that his role right now is to continue to be the “people’s lawyer.” He said he constantly looks for ways to improve the lives of Marylanders.
Peterson asked Frosh about his thoughts on Baltimore’s crime rate. Frosh stated that his office is not involved with street crime. “We get deep into the criminal organizations with my small team of eight people, and indict and prosecute.” Frosh referenced his request of Gov. Larry Hogan last year for more staff.
Peterson then asked about racial tensions.
“This has been a focus of mine since I started in 2015,” Frosh said. “My office was the first to prohibit racial profiling and address it.” Frosh mentioned the hate crime call line he opened in November of 2016 (1-866-481-8361). Frosh focused his answer on the problem of high incarceration. He sees an issue with how often people will be incarcerated for petty crimes like trespassing, shoplifting or public urination. “There are thousands of people in the state who don’t have $100 [for bail]. They lose jobs, family, [lifestyles], even when they’re innocent.”
Peterson followed up and asked whether that rate of this has changed with the risk of COVID-19 exposure. According to Frosh, it depends on the judge and jurisdiction.
Another concern on Frosh’s mind is how common scams have become under the pandemic. “I can promise you, you did not win a lottery in Ireland,” he joked to the listeners. Scams are a serious issue, especially for seniors who are targeted.
The topic of seniors transitioned to concerns around nursing homes. Frosh said he is certain that some are throwing people out who are on Medicare. “When the dust settles, you’ll see some bad conduct and negligence at best at some of these facilities,” he said.
Peterson agreed and added that this issue has been a priority for the Baltimore Jewish Council for a while. Sarah Mersky, deputy director of the BJC, secured funding for an elder abuse safehouse last fall, according to The Daily Record.
The final, and most pressing topic, covered at the talk was evictions. Frosh said that these are just part of the larger problem of foreclosures and unemployment spurred by the current economic situation. Some small ways his office hopes to alleviate economic pains include sending “hundreds of warning letters” to stores that increased pricing [gouging] on supplies. If anyone has a complaint, you can call 410-528-866.
Frosh concluded by mentioning how both his job and society is changing to respect health recommendations, such as masks and social distancing. “It’s a cultural shift. Everyone will have to get used to it.”