Baltimore Quality Of Life Debate
Last week Baltimore City council approved a property tax break to entice first responders, to move into the city. Later City council president Jack Young made disparaging remarks about City police officers who choose to live elsewhere. Jack Young implied these officers who live elsewhere were “raping the city”. I never knew it was such a big issue, seeing as how most people do not work in the same jurisdiction they live. After receiving backlash he retracted his statement...but bought up a few interesting topics. First that statement clearly shows Jack Young is another in a long line of politicians, who are out of touch with the current reality. We as voters have to stop voting based on name recognition and give politicians with lesser profiles, but fresh potentially successful ideas a chance. The other topic it bought is the quality of living within Baltimore City. Like other inner-cities Baltimore has big problems with crime and drugs. That issue and the perception that comes with that is what drives many residents away. There’s so many factors and layers involved in this epidemic, along with decades of decline. It’s difficult to conjure up new ways to solve the staggering crime issue. Another issue is the cost of living in Baltimore City compared to neighboring Counties. Man to be a homeowner in Baltimore City is a bitch. There are plenty of affordable homes that won’t break your budget. However the property taxes are to damn high, the water bill is ridiculous and even more expensive to cover the cost of a new sewer infrastructure. The shell-shocked I experienced when I received my first water bill was out of this world. The new speed and red light cameras, which Mayor Pugh clearly said was a “revenue generator” already appear to be rip-offs. Living in a state that already bends you over in taxes, these factors don’t help folks decisions to move in the City. Throw in families with school age children, they’ll go elsewhere with the current state of the City school system. City officials are always trying to woo potential residents. They do that by highlighting areas such as downtown, Federal Hill, and Fells Point. What about the other neighborhoods? The quiet, middle class neighborhoods where working people have raised families. Home’s that have been occupied by multiple generations of an family for 30 plus years. Residents who worked hard for their home, have retired and aren’t going anywhere. How will the city attract new residents as some of these residents downsize or sadly pass? Why isn’t the City highlighting these neighborhoods to attract people? Why after all these years is the school system still subpar with no concrete plan in sight? Blame can be placed on parents, teachers, inadequate funding, depleting schools, kids who don’t want to learn etc., but officials have to find some kind of working solution. Blame everyone for the crime, blame lack of employment opportunities, blame Suburban flight. At the end of the day Baltimore is a beautiful City with so much potential, but it can’t get out of it’s own way. There are ways to improve things and it won’t be easy, I don’t have the answers. I do think it’s time to start shifting from the old guard and start thinking forward about making Baltimore the great City it can be.