Mark Uncapher, is serving President of the Montgomery County Republican Club. Mark is a long-time party activist who previously served as the Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee.
“Trees Stop Crime” Claims Wannabe Comptroller Brooke Lierman
“There are numerous studies done in Maryland showing a direct correlation between decreased crime and increased trees.” – Del. Brooke Lierman, Democratic Comptroller nominee
Being Maryland’s Comptroller is a serious job.
And yet, Democratic nominee Del. Brooke Lierman’s infamous “Trees Stop Crime” speech still ranks as one of the General Assembly’s least serious moments of recent years. While some may wonder if she really could be that clueless or question whether her words must have been taken out of context, this is her complete statement:
“We are going to plant five million trees in this state under this legislation. That is going to have immediate public health benefits. That is going to reduce public health costs for our citizens. That is going to have a remarkable impact on our homes and the value of our homes, and even on crime. There are numerous studies done in Maryland showing a direct correlation between decreased crime and increased trees. So, I am thrilled to go home to tell my children that we are going to plant five million trees over the next ten years in Maryland.”
Lierman’s entire speech is available on YouTube –https://youtu.be/JvLHtUNKJpY
How should the media cover such silliness?
Perhaps, the Baltimore Sun might ask about the estimated number of trees required to reduce that city’s murder rate.
The science-minded Washington Post could delve into the details of the “specific studies in Maryland” showing a “direct correlation” between decreased crime and increased trees. Lierman’s claims apparently stem from a study funded with a $6 million grant from – hold for it now – the Centers for Disease Control. [i] (Thank you, Dr. Fauci?) The Capital Gazette might quote an expert to comment on the science behind Lierman’s “immediate public health benefits” claim.
At the Washington Times or Examiner, a reporter who passed a statistic course could explain that “correlation does not imply causation.”[ii]
The Hagerstown Herald-Mail or the Cecil Whig might encourage Lierman to spend more time outside urban Maryland to see the state’s trees. Forests comprise nearly 4,000 square miles (40%) of Maryland’s land surface. The Maryland Code defines a forest as” Areas that have at least 100 trees per acre with at least 50% of those trees having a 2 inch or greater diameter at 4.5 feet above the ground and larger ” [iii] Use the broader “Tree Canopy” category and woods cover over half of Maryland landmass.
The forest industry is the fifth-largest in the state. An estimated 18,000 people depend on the forest products industry for their livelihood. In Garrett and Allegany Counties, it is the single largest employer, and on the Eastern Shore, it is the second largest. [iv] Today more acres are producing wood fiber than 100 years ago.[v] Production of lumber and building materials in Fiscal Year 2019 generated $418 million, supplying 8.52% of Maryland’s overall tax receipts.[vi]
Other media outlets might want to question Lierman’s math about adding half a million trees a year. According to the National Forest Service, Maryland has 1.3 billion trees. Consequently, for the next ten years, Lierman’s half a million more trees will add just one new tree yearly for every 2,600 trees we currently have.[vii]
In contrast, as the Duckpin has previously noted in its endorsement, no candidate to run for Comptroller has ever had the breadth of experience as Barry Glassman.[viii] He has over thirty years of experience at the state and county levels. He served two terms on the Harford County Council, nine years as a Delegate, six years as a State Senator, and is finishing his second term as Harford County Executive. He has been active in the Maryland Association of Counties, serving as President in 2019. Glassman has held the line on taxes, emphasized innovation, and expected fiscal efficiency.
As strong as Glassman’s background is, can Marylanders take seriously an opponent for Comptroller who claims that “Trees Stop Crime?”
[i] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-trees-could-help-stop-crime_n_56675d8fe4b080eddf5609c6; https://yvpc.sph.umich.edu/
[vii] USDA Forest Service, Forest Inventory & Analysis, “One Click Fact Sheet” https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/christopher.oswalt/viz/FIA_OneClick_V1_2/StateSelection ; previously available at https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/futures/current_conditions/states/?state=MD