Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., didn’t grow up on the streets of San Francisco, although her district represents the west coast city.
Pelosi has a secret — she grew up in a corrupt political dynasty that helped run Baltimore into the ground.
Her father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., was mayor of the city during the height of Jim Crow racial segregation and used racial tensions in the city for his political gain.
The effects of D’Alensandro’s reign from 1947 to 1959, the time of the post-World War II economic boom, forced many African-Americans into what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called “rat-infested slums” in cities like Baltimore and Chicago.
Unfortunately, for many African-American residents, little has gotten better in Baltimore in the past 50 years.
In some ways, things have only gotten worse — and much of it can be traced directly to Pelosi’s family legacy.
D’Alesandro Jr. oversaw the dedication of Confederate monuments in the city while he was mayor — the very same monuments Pelosi called “reprehensible” in 2017.
“Today, with our nation beset by subversive groups and propaganda which seeks to destroy our national unity, we can look for inspiration to the lives of Lee and Jackson to remind us to be resolute and determined in preserving our sacred institutions. We must remain steadfast in our determination to preserve freedom, not only for ourselves but for the other liberty-loving nations who are striving to preserve their national unity as free nations,” D’Alesandro Jr. said at the dedication of a Confederate monument in 1948.
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When discussing Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson, D’Alesandro Jr. said: “In these days of uncertainty and turmoil, Americans must emulate Jackson’s example and stand like a stone wall against aggression in any form that would seek to destroy the liberty of the world.”
Baltimore remained heavily segregated until the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling forced Mayor D’Alesandro Jr. and the city to integrate their schools in 1954.
Even then, D’Alesandro Jr. worked with local businessmen to divide and displace families in predominately black parts of town from economic hubs using projects like the Jones Falls Expressway (I-83).
He also oversaw the initial planning of the controversial Martin Luther King, Jr. highway in 1957 that was intended to function “as a real, physical barrier between the mostly black residents in West Baltimore — households that are dealing with entrenched poverty, harsh policing, the effects of lead poisoning, and a spiking opioid addiction crisis — and the economic activity in the central spine of the city, located on the other side of the street,” CityLab wrote in 2015.
D’Alesandro Jr. was mayor also during the height of the infamous “Blockbusting” real estate tactic — which further segregated the city of Baltimore by race.
After his tenure was over, D’Alesandro Jr. was rumored to be in the pocket of the Italian mafia so deeply that former President John F. Kennedy ordered then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to investigate his “hoodlum” connections in Baltimore.
“D’Alesandro’s involvement with Baltimore hoodlums; with favoritism in awarding city contracts; [and] protection for political contributors and the prosecution of local cases” warrant investigation, Kennedy wrote to Hoover in 1961.
“The city’s political machine was mostly immersed in white-collar crime,” author Rochelle Schweiser wrote in his Pelosi book, “She’s The Boss.” “And while D’Alesandro may have rationalized his actions by claiming that he had the good of the community at heart, corruption was usually just one beat away.”
“Exploiting racial rivalries, giving sweet-heart deals to friends and associates through his ironclad alliance with labor unions, even turning a blind eye to a scandal involving his own wife inappropriately receiving thousands of dollars from an ally who was later found guilty of fraud, conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct justice – these were all standard operating procedures for Tommy D’Alesandro,” he wrote.
“Even by Baltimore’s swarmy political standards, Big Tommy’s brand of ethical malfeasance was eye-popping,” Schweiser wrote.
His son, Tommy D’Alesandro III, was a one-term mayor that continued much of his father’s segregation policies; he later resigned after violent riots consumed much of Baltimore in 1968 following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
That’s when Pelosi moved the family’s Democratic machine to California in 1969, staying connected within the party until she ran for office in 1977.
The Democratic Party is full of these kinds of Baltimore secrets.
Stephen Dietrich is the Associate Publisher of The Horn News