This post was received from Fletcher R. Hall, a community member participating in Monday’s Divided Baltimore Community Forum:
By Fletcher R. Hall
It should be most evident to all Baltimore City voters that the need for generational change, new faces, and new ideas are of paramount importance in the Baltimore City Primary election for Mayor on April 27, 2016. New leadership is essential.
Following the unrest on April of this year and the ongoing violence and business disruption the city can no longer expect the status quo, tired, stale and regulations, all ideas of past generations of elected officials.
The long-term survival and viability of Baltimore City, as a major urban center, is at stake. Regardless of race, the, city m must elect new leadership. Any serious conversations more must embrace honesty, sincerity and reality.
No longer can empty promises, pie in the sky programs and dependency on solely massive infusions of federal funds undergird the future economic viability of the city. For generations these methods have been relied upon, and to and to a significant degree, have failed.
It will necessitate new leadership, with new vision to obtain the results and outcomes Baltimore must realize. The federal government does not create jobs. The federal government does not provide adequate public safety nor create first class, effective public schools. The federal government does not ensure clean, modern public housing, in good repair. These governmental functions are primarily the charges of local government, well planned and successfully executed, with adequate oversight, and visionary leadership, producing adequate revenues and forward momentum. This type of government will create a vehicle for change and stimulate a private sector, which will grow and flourish.
For too long Baltimore City government has created layers of overlapping regulations, a mishmash of local taxes, and overstaffed bureaucracies which have hurt city homeowners and businesses alike. A city that continues under these conditions cannot, and will not, grow and thrive. It is in the best interests of all city citizens to understand these realizations if the city is to successfully navigate the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. The April 2016 municipal election cannot be politics as usual. It simply cannot be so.
Leadership, is, as Henry Ford stated, “not finding fault, but in finding remedies”. There enough challenges, in Baltimore City, for which remedies must be found. The fact that the homicide rate, now at 314, the highest in twenty tears, certainly elevates public safety to priority status in next year’s mayor’s race.
Public safety affects all other facets of the life and economy of Baltimore. How can an economy, jobs, education and an increase in the city population happen without adequate public safety? It will indeed require exceptional new leadership to deal with all of the issues facing Baltimore City.
In the history of most nations, states, cities and organizations, there comes a time for change. That time in the city of Baltimore has come. The city must experience new directions new visons, and new ideas – new ideas in assuring adequate public safety, adequate and safe public housing, adequate and effective education and the creation and availability of quality jobs.
The upcoming election for mayor provides all citizens of Baltimore City an excellent opportunity to select agents of change. Discerning who these agents are, and which one should lead the city, is job one for the voters of Baltimore City.
NOT ALL BAD
BY FLETCHER R.HALL
In Baltimore, all is not gloom and doom. Sure, there are concerns and challenges, as there are in any American cities. Will Baltimore City recover? Will it remain the economic engine of the State? Will people continue to move to Baltimore? Will people continue to move from Baltimore? Will companies still locate in Baltimore City ? Will tourists still visit Charm City? Will educational and medical institutions continue to thrive and grow?
The answer to all of these questions is yes.
However, it will demand time, leadership, vision, commitment and capital. All are the key ingredients in improving and growing most urban cities in America, in 2015. This is certainly true in Baltimore. The recent announcement by Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System initiating the new HopkinsLocal program which will leverage Hopkins purchasing power among vendors and contractors. Although Hopkins currently is a major employer in the city this initiative will increase Hopkins presence in challenged Baltimore neighborhoods. In the port, Maresk Lines have reestablished its business, bringing additional jobs and visibility to Baltimore City.
The expansion and upgrading of the Amazon distribution center has added some 3000 jobs in a developing section of the city. The technology industry is burgeoning and becoming more visible each day. It is rapidly becoming a pillar of Baltimore’s economy. Even the Orioles and the Ravens, though having problems on their respective fields of play, are boosting the city and especially civic pride. Development is thriving and active in many sections of the city. Of particular notice are the Port Covington projects, including the Grand Garage, which will be housed in a former city bus garage. As this sector grows, jobs and payrolls will increase and bring new revenue to the city. There are a myriad of other positive development projects currently under way within Baltimore City.
Yet, with the many positive things occurring in Baltimore City, there lingers the question of how to best bring the city together. The many systemic challenges and structural racism remain divisive factors, in Baltimore City. Employment and educational opportunities need significant attention. Transportation needs within Baltimore City, which affects the regional economy, languish. Let us hope the recent commitments by Governor Hogan will become reality.
The political face and terrain of the city will change with the upcoming city election. The real challenge in this election will be finding candidates with vision and new ideas. Candidates will find a vibrant city with existing potential. Yet the ominous threat of racial discord will be an ongoing issue, which must be addressed. Real conversations must be held. Real opportunities must create and an aura of hopefulness instilled in all the citizens of Baltimore City. All candidates must understand that vision and patience are vital qualities for the next Mayor. This is indeed a tall order. Progress will only be made when citizens, and governmental officials alike, reach consensus, find common ground, and understand that time really heals many wounds. Time, is needed to investigate, seek new solutions, implement new programs and find new directions.With the many assets Baltimore City enjoys, solutions can be found to ensure a bright and productive future, for all its citizens.
This post was received from Tom Riley, a community member participating in Divided Baltimore’s Community Forum:
FUTURIST CONTRIBUTION TO DIVIDED BALTIMORE: Essays on Why, What and How found on:
The Big Moon Dig / What & Why / Divided Baltimore
This post was received from Fletcher R. Hall, a concerned community member participating in Monday’s Divided Baltimore Community Forum:
BALTIMORE, CITY ON THE EDGE
BY FLETCHER R. HALL
There is a crime crisis in Baltimore City. After the riots and unrest, the City is experiencing a level of violence and homicides totally unacceptable to any American city. There are too many body bags on the local evening news and too much negative ongoing coverage of this City in national and international news outlets.
For elected and appointed officials in Baltimore, it is hard to see tomorrow when you cannot see today. There are too many talkers and too few actual doers. Henry Ford once said, “Don’t find fault; find a remedy.” Baltimore officials should remember and heed these wise words in the face of the current anxiety and fear among their citizens.
There are numerous factors involved in the spate of murders and violence that must now be addressed for the City to move ahead as Maryland’s urban commercial center. Baltimore must remain as the economic center of Maryland.
The increasing number of murders must be the priority issue addressed by
Baltimore’s elected officials and treated as a priority by the business community and its leadership. The actual homicides and the negative media attention they create affect current and potential residents, as well as present and future business partners. City leaders must address the crime issue now and stop the bleeding.
Not only do drug traffic, poverty and unemployment play significant roles in the existing crime surge; there is no regard or respect for human life.
Then there is the issue of public safety. Police are needed in the poorer and minority communities perhaps even more than any other areas of the City. The current fear and reticence of doing a reasonable and rational task of protecting life and property cannot thrive in an atmosphere of suspicion and fear. Police have throttled back in their efforts to maintain peace and safety. The entire city is a loser when this occurs.
Before Baltimore can successfully move ahead, the issue of public safety must be addressed. The current situation is deterring the efforts being made by citizens, religious and many other organizations to rebuild, heal and come together in a city with a future for all.
Whatever measures must lawfully be employed must be initiated now to guarantee public safety. It is the primary responsibility of Baltimore’s elected officials to seize the day, make informed decisions and act with dispatch. These actions will be immensely welcomed by all of Baltimore’s citizens.
Respect for human life, decisive action and respect for the rule of law are all factors essential in Baltimore today. Together the city can prevail. Lincoln reminded us that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Baltimore cannot afford to remain a city on the edge.
On Politics is a column written by Fletcher R. Hall, retired chairman of the board of F.R. Hall and Associates, a government relations and strategic communications firm, and a former executive vice president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors.
REFORM COALITION NEEDED IN BALTIMORE CITY
BY FLETCHER R. HALL
Due to drift and a confusing state of affairs now prevailing in Baltimore City, it is necessary that a Baltimore reform ticket be organized and implemented.
This reform ticket could focus on four critical issues facing the city: public safety, jobs, education, and housing.
The reform ticket should include a candidate for mayor who has vision and executive experience, and comes, preferably, from the private sector. The candidate for president of city council should have legislative and executive experience and be a leader and conciliator.
Each city council district must be reviewed and seek candidates who are electable and reform-minded. This group should include candidates who are Hispanics and Asians. It is time for the governing body to represent a mosaic of the city.
Baltimore City can ill afford the “same old same old” elected officials, who lack vision and advocate old and failed policies and programs.
Dependency on vast sums of federal and other government funding has not been significantly successful. For over 30 years, these programs and funding sources have made little difference in the composition of Baltimore City. One-party rule, essentially since 1950, has not been healthy for the city. Perhaps a reform ticket with bipartisan participation and support will be beneficial for all of the citizens of Baltimore City.
Reform tickets have been successfully utilized in many metropolitan American cities since the beginning of the 19th century. For years in Baltimore, the Commission on Governmental Efficiency and Economy was a municipal watchdog and citizen-based oversight organization. Perhaps an organization of this nature would be of benefit in Baltimore City. Starting with a reform coalition ticket, this year, could be a step in the right direction.
If Baltimore is to actually survive and thrive, now is the time to initiate and grow a reform movement. Launching this movement now and achieving success in the next Baltimore City election is vital to the future of the city.
The challenges existing in the city are massive, frustrating, and will not see great change without some major transformation. Even the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) has not raised enough money to assist all businesses to recover from the riots.
Detroit has experienced similar decline and, to assist with recovery, J.P Morgan-Chase recently contributed $100 million to help the city. Where will Baltimore find this infusion of capital?
Recovery, infusion of capital, and reform are essential to Baltimore’s future.
The time is now; the need is great; It can be done.
Fletcher R. Hall is a former Executive Vice President of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, a writer and currently Chairman of the Public Policy of the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce.