WHEN OBAMA MADE THE DIRECTIVE FOR DIGITAL BROADCAST ONLY----HE WAS SETTING THE STAGE FOR A NATIONAL SMART CITY CAPTURE BY GLOBAL CORPORATIONS. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH AFFORDABILITY OR QUALITY.
PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS STABILIZE A CITY'S ECONOMY---MUNICIPALITIES HAVE BEEN PUBLIC FOR A REASON. HAVING A STRONG PUBLIC SECTOR PROVIDES PUBLIC INTEREST QUALITY OF LIFE AND IT STIMULATES PRIVATE SECTOR WORK AS WELL. BALTIMORE HAS HAD NO PUBLIC SECTOR FOR DECADES AND DELIBERATE, COMPLETE STAGNATION OF ECONOMY.
I will finish with public works and services by looking at local taxation and property taxes in particular. This after all is what pays for public works for the most part. Baltimore is one of a few localities that have a local tax and it has one of the highest property taxes in Maryland. Meanwhile, all that is public has been dismantled or left to decay----and communities are crumbling, so where has that revenue gone for decades? Same place as all the Federal social services and Constitutional equal protection funds have----in the billions----Wall Street Baltimore Development and Johns Hopkins global expansion and fraud.
The amount of fraud attached to just the Baltimore Board of Estimates bidding process is grounds to stop outsourcing so much municipal work. It entire system is used for pay-to-play, crony political patronage, and kills real job growth for the city. The small government mantra of Republicans/Clinton neo-liberals, and neo-conservative Johns Hopkins is the source of decades of looting of Federal, state, and local funding that would have fueled the local economy and kept communities stable and people employed. SMALL GOVERNMENT IS ALWAYS USED TO MOVE MONEY TO THE RICH.
Any candidate running for mayor that does not make restructuring the government back to one of a strong public municipality is working for global corporations and wealth---not for the citizens of that city or state. If you are a small business minority contractor benefiting from it now---you will lose in no time as Baltimore's business people are learning. All of the outsourced consultants that should simply be Baltimore City employees receiving a steady salary----all of the equipment the city, state, and Federal government pays a private corporation to buy for a city project COULD BE BOUGHT AS CITY PUBLIC WORKS EQUIPMENT.
BRING GOVERNMENT BACK AT THE LOCAL AND STATE LEVEL AND YOU WILL MOVE THE AMERICAN ECONOMY FROM GLOBAL CORPORATE CONTROL----TO SMALL AND REGIONAL CORPORATION AND DOMESTIC CONTROL.
It is not just Rawlings-Blake----she simply does what Wall Street Baltimore Development and Johns Hopkins tells her to do----as does all Baltimore pols.
Below you see what is one of tons of lawsuits for corruption and it is not only minority contractors involved in bad awards----they know they too were on the other end a few decades ago of this systemic fraud and corruption that comes with outsourcing.
$30M lawsuit claims Baltimore awarded more than 40 no-bid contracts
Minority Contractors Association suit claims contracts worth $250M UPDATED 6:35 PM EDT Aug 01, 2012
BALTIMORE --The mayor of Baltimore and key city officials face a $30 million lawsuit that alleges the city awarded more than 40 no-bid contracts totaling some $250 million.
The Maryland Minority Contractors Association filed the lawsuit against Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her appointees on the city Board of Estimates.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday morning calls on the Baltimore City Circuit Court to appoint an administrator to oversee contracts awarded by the Board of Estimates, to bar the city from using its Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise ordinance and for the mayor and her appointees to make full restitution to the city treasury.
"The suit alleges a pattern and practice of corruption, fraud, favoritism and extravagance," said Arnold Jolivet, managing director of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association. "The mayor doesn't seem to want to work with the minority contractors, particularly the African-American community."
Jolivet is a lawyer who is a fixture at the city Board of Estimates meetings. When asked what his organization is seeking, Jolivet said, "That the court appoint a receiver to administer the city's whole entire contracting program."
"It (the lawsuit) seeks to have the court to order the mayor and city solicitor and the director of public works to make restitution," Jolivet said.
City law requires contracts totaling $50,000 or more to be advertised and competitively bid.
The lawsuit claims seven companies have benefited from no-bid contracts, including Johnson Controls, Wheelabrator, Constellation New Energy, National Economic Research Associates, Motorola, Baltimore City Foundation and Digicon Corp.
The civil action cites the city overpaying by as much as $316,000 on a no-bid contract to conduct a minority disparity study.
"The suit points out they could have funded three fire stations for a whole fiscal year," Jolivet said.
Other projects include a multimillion-dollar contract to repair underground pipes; millions awarded for services regarding the city's 800 megahertz radio system; and millions spent for energy conservation for several city-owned buildings.
The action takes issue with contract extensions and pricy change orders outside the competitive bidding process. The lawsuit claims the city's MWBE ordinance is unconstitutional; that it actually excludes African-Americans from bidding; that the program doesn't track who's getting contracts and it's unenforceable because it lacks a certification process.
As an example, the lawsuit cites a business at 10 N. Calvert St. Suite 708 has no phone, fax or other office support. The civil action contends the Washington, D.C.-based company established a virtual office to qualify as an operating agent in the Baltimore market.
"We are putting our foot down. We are not going to tolerate this anymore. We are fired up," Jolivet said.
The mayor's press office responded, saying the lawsuit has no merit and the city will vigorously defend against it. Just last week, the mayor created an advisory council to recommend improvements to the city's MWBE program.
Everyone in the city who is a homeowner has been soaked and received very little in city services in return.
The first thing I noticed in moving to Baltimore is homeowners have to repair their own sidewalks----- the city sewage and water pipes have not been upgraded placing more stress on pipes going to people's homes. The alley roads are crumbling as are the streets----some neighborhoods are having their street lamps turned off----no school ground maintenance or playground maintenance----and the latest policies have moved to privatizing and charging homeowners for trash pick-up. We pay for ambulance, school closures mean a community may not have a school---any need for public paperwork comes with high copy charges.
IT IS AMAZING AT HOW A CITY CAN HAVE SUCH A REGRESSIVE REVENUE STRUCTURE AS BALTIMORE CITY AND IT IS NOT BECAUSE CITIZENS MOVED OUT OF THE CITY IN THE 1960s. The city collects and receives plenty of revenue to support all communities---it simply allows all revenue to be lost to fraud, misappropriation, and government corruption---pay-to-play business.
FOLKS---THIS IS ALL PUBLIC WORKS----THERE SHOULD BE CITY EMPLOYEES WHOSE JOB IT IS TO DO THIS ALL DAY EVERY DAY AND IT IS PAID FOR BY THESE CITY TAXES AND PROPERTY TAXES. BALTIMORE SAYS----PAY HIGH TAXES AND VOLUNTEER TO BE PUBLIC WORKS EMPLOYEES.
Below you see where when individuals hire their own company to do one small piece of sidewalk---you have a mess.
Baltimore Neighborhood Issued Controversy Sidewalk Repair Citations March 6, 2012 6:32 PM
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Residents in a Baltimore neighborhood are at war with City Hall. They’re angry over thousands of dollars in sidewalk repair citations.
Adam May discovers homeowners aren’t the biggest offenders. It’s actually the city.
Ronald Munk is furious with City Hall after inspectors said he needs to pay $650 to replace his section of sidewalk.
“If you’re gonna trip over it, you need to pick up your feet,” Munk said. “There’s a lot worse sidewalks.”
More than a dozen residents in the Lakeland neighborhood got citations.
Jim Breakwell says his wife, who uses a walker, has no problem with the slight bump on their sidewalk. He says the sidewalk is raised roughly half an inch.
Plus, the citations are based on square footage. Breakwell is a cabinet maker, who uses a ruler daily, and he says inspectors want to fine him too much money.
He says the city even measured it wrong in his citation.
And what really has neighbors crying foul is a city-owned sidewalk across the street. It is broken up so badly that grass is growing up between the cracks.
WJZ showed pictures of the difference between the cited sidewalks and the crumbling city sidewalks to officials with the transportation department.
When asked if the comparison seems right, Adrienne Barnes of the Department of Transportation said “No it doesn’t. It doesn’t. You’re right.”
WJZ’s questions are now prompting a review of the citations while city officials stand by their goal.
“We want people to be able to travel safely, and we don’t want children hurt on damaged or cracked sidewalks,” Barnes said.
“We’re poor, hard working people, disabled people. Just leave us alone. We don’t have the money,” Munk said.
Baltimore residents can expect an increase in sidewalk citations as we head into the summer construction season.
Have you noticed pols never talk about the coming fees for trash pickup tied to Smart Trash Cans---only that they have chips. These chips can track not only cans----but people. Fined for not recycling---as an environmentalist---this can go too far. Remember when you could get the money for recycling? Trash pickup has always been part of property tax revenue with no charge----smart trash cans will privatize waste and charges will start despite their not talking about this.
'In charging for the weight of garbage, which The Register calls a “scheme [that] drives recycling,” it speculates it could also lead to customers demanding manufacturers reduce the amount of packaging they use'.
Smart Trash Carts Tell If You Haven't Been Recycling
622 Posted by samzenpus on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:53PM from the clean-up-or-pay-up dept. Starting next year Cleveland residents face paying a $100 fine if they don't recycle, and the city's new high-tech trash cans will keep track if they don't. The new cans are embedded with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes which keep track of how often residents take them to the curb. If the chip shows you haven't brought your recycle can out in a while, a lucky trash supervisor will go through your can looking for recyclables. From the article: "Trash carts containing more than 10 percent recyclable material could lead to a $100 fine, according to Waste Collection Commissioner Ronnie Owens. Recyclables include glass, metal cans, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard."
Now, the malfeasance goes on and on in Baltimore as the city failed to use decades of water bill payments made by residents to actually upgrade the city's water and sewer system which is what our bills include each month. Instead of reinvesting these water bill payments into infrastructure maintenance----the revenue was sent to Enterprise Zone development and corporate subsidy or simply misappropriated.
Baltimore now has a water system crisis as other cities do for the same reason. A major water main break occurs all over the city and the flooding and pressure of stopping and starting the flow implodes city resident's water and sewer lines which, without this stress may not have failed. You can make this relation because these failures at homes are often tied to city work on pipelines near these homes.
What the city does in cases clearly the city's fault---flooding of basements or failure of homeowner pipes----GO TO A PRIVATE INSURER AND MAKE A CLAIM. Below you even see the city promoting one insurer as citizens face higher insurance rates and denials of claim for city-caused pipe failures.
IT IS INCREDIBLE. THE CITY COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THESE HOMEOWNERS----THEY ARE BUILDING AN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ZONE FOR NEW WORLD CITIZENS AND DON'T NEED BALTIMORE'S HOMEOWNERS THEY SAY.
These cases happen all over Baltimore but they do more harm in the surrounding communities because the downtown district has taxpayers paying for all new water and sewer right to the high-rise building's door.
Concern and confusion as city promotes water pipe warranties from one company
Residents have been getting letters from Public Works encouraging them to buy water and sewer line protection from HomeServe. Part 1 of a two-part series.
Danielle Sweeney September 17, 2014 at 8:36 am Story Link 29
The city wants residents to buy water and sewer line coverage from this Connecticut company.
By now, if you live in Baltimore City, you’ve likely received in the mail an official-looking letter signed by Rudolph S. Chow with the city’s black-and-yellow municipal seal in the upper left hand corner.
Chow, director of the Department of Public Works (DPW), invites you, the homeowner, to enroll in a service plan to protect your pocketbook from the cost of potential pipe repairs. Specifically, on the water and sewer pipes between the street and your house that you – and not the city – are responsible for repairing.
A utility line break can cost property owners thousands of dollars.
Not only does Chow urge you to get coverage, he recommends a particular company with whom the city has signed a two-year contract – HomeServe USA, a leading provider of home emergency service plans that serves 1.6 million active policies in the U.S. and Canada.
The solicitation has set off a ripple of anxiety in households and online discussion forums across town, in part because one company has been endorsed by city government.
“I, too, got the letter from the city with the recommendation, but am I the only one who thinks the city endorsing one company is a serious conflict – and reminiscent of Sheila Dixon and those illegal back scratching issues. . .?” a Patterson Park area writer posted to Facebook.
Another writer said he would check to make sure his homeowners insurance doesn’t already cover it,” but was suspicious of the timing of the insurance push.
“Along with the major water infrastructure upgrades,” he wrote, “[it] really smells like ‘we know we’re going to break some stuff, and we are going to do our level best not to fix it, so here, buy some insurance, and it’ll be somebody else’s problem.’”
A Marketing Partnership
DPW has yet to respond to these concerns, but said in an earlier release that HomeServe “offered the lowest single premium cost to consumers and other quality services that will benefit city homeowners.”
Rudy Chow’s letter encourages city residents to get water and sewer line protection from HomeServe.
The marketing partnership allows HomeServe “exclusive rights” to establish and provide a residential water and sewer service line protection program for Baltimore residents.
The letter from Chow says that for $5.99 a month for the first year (and a to-be-determined renewal price thereafter), Baltimore homeowners will get exterior water and sewer line coverage with no deductible.
The sewer service line’s annual benefit limit is $10,000; the water service line has no annual benefit limit. Customers can also purchase either water or sewer line coverage separately.
As part of its agreement approved last May by the Board of Estimates, the city would provide HomeServe a list of water and sewer customers for direct marketing purposes, and allow them to use city and DPW logos for “co-branding” products and services. Hence, the city seal on the solicitation from Chow.
Like Another Tax?
Why, though, is the city promoting pipe insurance?
The insurance idea was first publicly revealed last November after the Board of Estimates approved an $83.5 million contract to start the process of installing “smart,” or wireless, water meters across the city.
Timothy Krus, city purchasing agent, said the meter upgrades and related construction by the city could have an impact on aging pipes on private property. As a service to homeowners, he said, his office and DPW were preparing an RFP (Request For Proposals) to solicit private companies to offer warranty protection for residential water and sewer breaks.
At the time, City Comptroller Joan Pratt said purchasing the warranty was “like another tax.”
DPW now says that its partnership with HomeServe is separate and distinct from the city’s upcoming water meter replacement program.
“The replacement of a meter is very unlikely to impact water service to a home,” the department said in a statement. “If a city contractor’s negligent actions are the cause of damage to a citizen’s pipes, the contractor will be held responsible for the city’s costs.”
“We’re Not Making Any Money on This”
DPW spokesman Jeff Raymond also states that the city is not making money on this HomeServe contract.
In fact, “HomeServe will provide a pool of money for a hardship fund that will be used to offset the cost of repairs on properties owned by indigent residents. But even this money [$150,000 per year] does not go to city coffers, as it is held by and administered by HomeServe,” Raymond said in an email to The Brew. “Baltimore City is not making any money off of its agreement with HomeServe.”
But an “administrative compensation fee” to the city was originally on the table – it was a requirement in the RFP to bid on the contract.
The RFP stated that “For exclusive rights to establish and provide a Residential Water and Sewer Service Line Protection program for City customers, Proposer shall pay the city a monthly Administrative Compensation Fee based on the number of active customers. . . during that monthly period.”
According to Raymond, “The RFP did mention it [the administrative fee], but by the time we got done, there was no administrative fee.”
A document on file at the Comptrollers Office confirms that the city will “forego the acceptance of any administration commission fee in favor of maximizing the available fund to city residents.”
Why the city first required an administrative compensation fee, but then chose not to accept it, is not clear.
Chow’s solicitation letter to city residents is a little confusing as well.
The missive clearly states that “HomeServe is an independent company separate from the city of Baltimore.” But it is the city’s – and not HomeServe’s – logo on the letter. (HomeServe’s logo does not have to be present, because the city is in a partnership with the company, said the Better Business Bureau of Connecticut, which reviews member advertising on an ongoing basis.)
Chow’s letter does state that the sewer and water line service is optional. It also tells customers that their “choice to participate in the service plan will not affect the price, availability, or terms of service from the City of Baltimore.”
Additionally, it notes that HomeServe is headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., and that homeowners should make their checks payable to HomeServe USA – not to the City of Baltimore.
And yet, Chow writes: “if you are interested in purchasing coverage for only one of your service lines [instead of the bundle] call us at the above number.” The “above number” is HomeServe’s.
Warranty, not Insurance
Whatever the city’s rationale for the partnership, an insurance policy for old pipes in Baltimore City, at least in principle, might make sense for some Baltimoreans.
But HomeServe’s policy is not insurance. It’s a warranty.
The Chow letter includes an Acceptance Form for residents to fill out and return to HomeServe.
“HomeServe USA Repair Management Corporation. . . offers this optional service as an authorized representative of AMT Warranty Corp., the contract issuer.”
The difference between an insurance company and a warranty company likely has little to do with the quality of repair service a subscriber receives (The Better Business Bureau of Connecticut gives HomeServe an A- rating), but it’s an important distinction in terms of oversight.
No State Oversight
“We have no standing to regulate them.” Joe Sviatko, spokesman for the Maryland Insurance Administration, which enforces insurance laws and protects consumers, said. “They are not an insurance company.”
Who would help consumers with problems with a warranty company?
“We would refer any concerns to the Maryland Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division,” Sviatko said.
The Attorney General’s office has not reviewed HomeServe’s warranty.
“The OAG doesn’t ordinarily review warranties unless there is a complaint or complaints and a reason to do so,” said AG spokesman David Paulson.
Having property taxes tied to school funding has never been the best of ideas-----but they should be part of public school support as they are a vital part of a community. I have never seen such decay allowed in areas for children as in Baltimore and the new school privatization policy has schools funded so low these schools are now pushing public playgrounds to private hands----yet another step to privatizing the entire school system. It appears that the City of Baltimore pays private contractors to come and service public school playgrounds and community parks but it never gets done. One would think a corporation is getting lots of revenue for work it does not do! SURPRISE!!!
When you have a public works department fully staffed to care for public grounds none of this happens. The people hired as public employees come right from your community so if you have a problem you know where they live. You cannot do that with a huge landscaping corporation coming from Montgomery County with different people each time they come.
The amount of Federal funding for public schools that are underserved over decades was huge for Baltimore City Schools. Every kind of social program for students----every kind of structural maintenance for underserved schools----THE AMOUNT OF REVENUE WAS HUGE AND NEVER MADE IT TO THESE SCHOOLS.
This is what pays for public works people charged with maintaining public school buildings and grounds. It is a big employer for the city.
PUBLIC EMPLOYEES ARE VITAL FOR A DOMESTIC ECONOMY AND HAVING THESE EMPLOYEES ONLY GROWS THE NEED FOR PRIVATE CONTRACTORS AS WELL---IT IS NOT AN EITHER/OR.
Hopkins allowed all this decay as a platform for installing its Master Plan designed in the 1980s---decades of children exposed to the worst of conditions because property taxes and city taxes did not reach our schools....not to mention state and Federal funds. This article from 1999 has had two decades to get worse.
Empty school playgrounds send discouraging message
The Education Beat
Neglect: Playgrounds' safety and maintenance are so inadequate in the city that some schools offer no outside breaks during the day, making the areas appear abandoned.
March 03, 1999|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF
DRIVING AROUND THE city, you notice that many school playgrounds are empty during the day.
Empty of children, that is. They're full enough of broken glass, swing sets without seats, basketball backboards without hoops and ancient slides coated with rust.
At Barclay Elementary-Middle, children at recess encounter exposed nails and bolts, rusted equipment and splintered wood.
"They can use the playground, but they can't use the equipment," says Principal David Clapp. "At the beginning of the week there's always broken glass, the leavings from the weekend parties. It's so discouraging."
Nearby, at Margaret Brent Elementary, a survey last fall found an exposed electrical transformer -- this a few blocks from North Avenue school headquarters. And a pedestrian walkway at Tench Tilghman Elementary in East Baltimore takes kids over Patterson Park Avenue to a playground where discarded needles are commonplace.
Some schools have no playgrounds. And half of the city's playgrounds have surfaces of concrete or asphalt, considered unsafe by modern standards.
"A playground of concrete is not a good place to fall down," says Carol Gilbert, executive director of the Neighborhood Design Center, a nonprofit organization of design professionals that is working to beautify the city.
So bleak is the situation that some schools offer no outside breaks for the kids during the school day. That's why so many playgrounds appear abandoned, even on splendid days like yesterday: "Sweet childish days," the poet Wordsworth called them, "that were as long as 20 days are now."
The urban schools -- and not a few suburban schools, too -- have to lock their doors to keep intruders out. A byproduct of that is keeping children in. "When you have to operate in an environment in which the school doors are locked, you're sending a powerful message to the children," says William P. Miller, executive director of Greater Homewood Community Corp.
The state of the playgrounds on which we expect children to play sends them other messages: We don't care much about the value of your play. We certainly don't care that you attend school in aesthetically pleasing surroundings.
What has happened to the playgrounds has happened also to the libraries and gyms and auditoriums and restrooms -- all of those things neglected over many years to keep the three R's in operation.
However, numerous signs of hope exist. On the same day Clapp was decrying the broken glass in his playground, his pupils were completing a colorful mural on one wall of the Barclay cafeteria. This is one of a series of murals -- inside and outside -- planned by Greater Homewood to beautify playgrounds and neighborhoods.
Greater Homewood is joining forces with the city, the Neighborhood Design Center, the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy and the city's Safe and Sound Campaign to focus attention and money on playground rehabilitation.
To do it right would cost millions of dollars. Half of the playground surfaces -- paved over years ago in a frenzy of activity that ignored everything known about the safety of children at play -- would have to be replaced by wood chips, sand or synthetic material. That's before the replacement of rusted, unsafe equipment.
"It's expensive, but if it's done right, you can create a safe playground," says Susan DeFrancesco of the Hopkins center. "A lot of them in the city and county just haven't been maintained or updated."
Adds Hathaway C. Ferebee, executive director of the Safe and Sound Campaign: "Then once you get the playgrounds wonderful, you have to keep them wonderful. You do that by making them places where whole families want to go and spend time -- and take care of because they have a sense of ownership."
AME bishop sees education as next civil rights frontier
Leaders of nearly 400 African Methodist Episcopal churches met in Baltimore during the weekend, and one of the questions put to them was this:
What if the church on the corner paid as much attention to the education of neighborhood kids as it does to Sunday services and potluck suppers?
"The new civil rights frontier is public education," said Bishop Vinton R. Anderson, who heads the AME district that includes North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Vinton and other church officials acknowledged that most churches stand as empty as those playgrounds on weekdays.
"There's an entrenched mentality that has to be overcome," Vinton said. "We have to become involved and stay involved, and I'm not just talking about praying."
Pub Date: 3/03/99