So far most primary election venues appear to be following 501c3 election law and inviting all candidates in races to participate. I have found a few that have not-----Johns Hopkins once again shouted to the citizens of Baltimore----THIS INSTITUTION IS UNDER NO REQUIREMENT TO ADHERE TO US CONSTITUTIONAL AND FEDERAL LAW AND WE ARE GOING TO DO ANYTHING WE WANT ANYWAY WE WANT TO.
So, Johns Hopkins had its version of a Mayor's Forum with only the select few politicians who work for them attending. The other candidates in the race will take this to Federal court. Make no mistake ------Baltimore citizens are fed up with this business as usual. Baltimore Sun had to skew it's polling procedures to make these incumbent candidates for Mayor of Baltimore even register in initial polling.
Nowhere does this financial analyst talk about hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate fraud and corruption is the STRUCTURAL DEFICIT for Baltimore. Calling for a Balanced Budget law is a very Republican policy stance for a problem that can be solved through oversight and accountability and Rule of Law. Baltimore and Maryland have used the state and city debt created by the massive Wall Street frauds as a reason to cut programs and staff across the board. Baltimore has used this debt to almost eliminate the Baltimore Public School Administration. To rebuild oversight and accountability to stop all these corporate frauds and government corruption MORE STAFF IS NEEDED----NOT LESS.
When you do not intend to enforce Rule of Law then you create a Balanced Budget law at a time the budget has been slashed from recessions like 2008. It represents government at its leanest ----with no more public justice, no more public education, no more public health, no more public transportation, no more public community centers....etc. The Balanced Budget law then keeps a new Mayor from trying to remedy these structural deficits in communities.
What this analyst does not address as well especially as regards Baltimore Property taxes is the tie with the Baltimore bond legislation at a time of bond market fraud and collapse. These are useful in protecting budget deficits.....anticipating losses from unnecessary financial instrument and leveraging. Property taxes in Baltimore could be cut across the board if fraud and corruption was ended----corporate subsidy revised----and corporations pretending to be non-profits were made to be good corporate citizens.
The final note to this assessment is the complete capture of government revenue to corporate tax breaks and subsidy
WHICH IS THE STRUCTURAL BALTIMORE BUDGET DEFICIT.
If you are affluent or upper middle-class in Baltimore----you may have thought all this co-opted control by Baltimore Development and Johns Hopkins has been a benefit. As Hopkins moves to making Baltimore an International Economic Zone operating just like a third world autocratic one-party global corporate tribunal -----those allowed wealth in Baltimore while working in all this fraud and injustice will become the next target for losing wealth.
IT IS THE PUBLIC SECTOR GOVERNMENT AND THE THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT THAT ALLOW WE THE PEOPLE TO BE THE GOVERNMENT, TO HAVE THESE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, TO BE PROTECTED FROM TYRANNY.
Baltimore has its founding history of revolution from just these conditions. That is what Fort McHenry IS-------Baltimore protecting itself from unrepresented rule by royalty overseas.
AS USUAL----THE SOLUTION TO STRUCTURAL BUDGET DEFICITS FROM CHRONIC CORPORATE FRAUD AND GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION FALLS TO THE CITIZENS AND LOST SERVICES...'Citizens balk at new fees, but will have to make a choice between reduced public service or increased fees. Cost saving strategies (e.g. reductions in salary and health care benefits) and service reduction/elimination strategies (closure or reduced hours of operation of public service facilities) will test the political will of the people and elected officials. Some of the strategies might become politically volatile'.
Does Baltimore’s Budget Suffer from a Structural Deficit?
(BALTIMORE - January 13, 2012) - Balanced Budget – A Charter Requirement
The Baltimore City Charter requires the annual operating budget to be balanced. Expenditures outlined in the annual Ordinance of Estimates must not exceed revenue sources. If the proposed budget can not be balanced, then the full rate property tax must be adjusted. The City Charter also prohibits expending funds for which there is no legal appropriation.Baltimore, however, has expended funds over projected revenue for the last nine (9 ) years (see Table 1).
Governmental Funds Deficiency
What is a Structural Deficit?
Generally, a structural deficit occurs when expenditures consistently exceed revenue (see Table 1). When overspending remains across the annual business cycles, then it creates a structural deficit. A structural deficit is not a one-time occurrence, but is long-term and persists even during good economic times.
Does Baltimore’s Budget Suffer from a Structural Deficit?
Yes, and it is growing. Baltimore is not alone as many countries, states and municipalities are experiencing the same problem. There are many factors which may have reduced City revenue or increased expenditures such as increases in mandated programs, negotiated salary increases, debt obligations, unexpected loss of state revenue or even changes in the economy. In response, the City has used temporary and seemingly permanent strategies to address the structural deficit and balance the budget. Temporary solutions include a hiring freeze, furloughs and funding cuts for services such as park maintenance. Temporary solutions, however, do not increase the flow of revenue and ultimately do not resolve the structural problems. The City has also implemented seemingly more permanent solutions such as a move from a two day per week to a one day per week trash removal and consolidation of agencies. Although the budget is balanced every year, the structural deficit persists and represents a clear sign of an ongoing structural deficit.
The Department of Finance is aware of the problem. The administration is aware of the problem. Many of the recently re-elected officials were around during the growth of the current structural deficit. The administration has yet to be directed to put forth a long-term financial plan to resolve the structural deficit and provide financial stability and organizational sustainability. It will be interesting to see how strategies are developed and used by the administration and City Council to resolve this recurring problem. Furthermore, time will tell which services and programs are supported and which fall to the wayside . It will also be interesting to see if the policy of an “other outside party” is sought as a scapegoat for what should be addressed by the current administration.
How Can a Structural Deficit be Fixed?
A structural deficit can not be cured with temporary solutions. It may take a politically volatile balancing act: revenues must be increased and/or expenditures decreased. The City, like other municipalities,will probably look to three specific strategies to address the structural deficit: cost saving strategies, revenue producing strategies and service reductions/eliminations strategies. Any strategy used to correct a structural deficit, however, will take an extended period of time to show forth results. Revenue strategies are easy to swallow because they generate new revenue and the burden is usually shared across the board. Citizens balk at new fees, but will have to make a choice between reduced public service or increased fees. Cost saving strategies (e.g. reductions in salary and health care benefits) and service reduction/elimination strategies (closure or reduced hours of operation of public service facilities) will test the political will of the people and elected officials. Some of the strategies might become politically volatile. Each elected official will seek to support the services needed by their constituency as they work to come to a consensus on how to stabilize the City’s finances and sustain much needed services. A remedy, however, is needed and soon.
Jennifer Coates isa political analyst with over 17 years of experience analyzing legislation for local and state government. Ms. Coates has a Bachelors of Political Science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a Masters of City and Regional Planning from Morgan State University. She is also a former director of the Office of Council Services for the Baltimore City Council. She has also served as Assistant to State Relations Director for Morgan State University
For those not knowing----this New Economy is not populist---coming from grassroots----it is the NEW WORLD ORDER. These policies were written decades ago to follow this Clinton/Bush/Obama looting of America. Since all of America's corporations are now global corporations through these several years of massive merger and acquisition and none of the tens of trillions of dollars in corporate and Wall Street fraud recovered------these global pols had written just what they wanted this New Economy to look like. Since all the money has been taken from our US economy we need a new system with no money for the 99%. Baltimore is ground zero for all this New Economy because of neo-conservative Johns Hopkins----NEW WORLD ORDER CENTRAL.
I attended a campaign event where a citizen asked me about the B-Note. I said as a young adult I experimented with alternative money systems---bartering et al but I said-----at a time were people in Baltimore has been made desperate for jobs and just wanting housing and food-----NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO TAKE THIS MAINSTREAM. I am for public banking and rebuilding a social capitalist system that uses FDR methods for wealth redistribution of those trillions in fraud. The citizen shouted positively because I think he knows Hopkins intends to force the 99% of us to this money-less economy.
Next is the B corporation. That is a corporate tax designation to yet again allow corporations to get out of paying taxes and to yet again get all Federal, state, and local funding sent to these 'social benefit' corporations. We just saw a few decades of all our government public works and public services outsourced----and they are now heading into the hands of global corporations----this B corporation is simply the next phase of ending all public governmental structure in the US-----it is the breakdown of all social agencies-----public health, public education, social services, and of course housing. Again, as with outsourcing public works-----they start by making citizens feel they are going to be small business owners with the goal of moving all that government funding to global corporations and/or their non-profits. So now, as citizens had no control over development-----they would now have no control over public services and programs. That is why we see Race to the Top and Affordable Care Act moving through with no discussion----it breaks apart all our public social programs and they will end in the hands of Wall Street and global corporations......paying no taxes because they are B corporations.
The last issue is this International Labor union structure coming to create what would be our local economy and the rebuilding of our small and regional manufacturing. If you haven't noticed-----this is why national labor union leaders are all behind Hillary Clinton as neo-liberals eliminate all gains of labor unions for over a century. I described in detail what International Trade Guilds will look like----and I encourage all my labor union friends to break away from International Labor unions and build domestic, locally controlled unions because these International union structures will be worldwide and these union leaders are partnered with corporations ------most national labor unions are now simply banks. Trans Pacific Trade Pact will not allow US Constitution and labor rights ------and it will not allow them to be rebuilt. Clinton and Obama are overseas shouting as Asian leaders to not allow a middle-class to develop ----THESE ARE POVERTY STRUCTURES FOR LABOR AND THE 99%
I WOULD ASK PEOPLE TO THINK WHERE CO-OPS OF ANY SIZE WILL LEAD-----A FEW WILL GARNER POWER AND THE ASSETS WILL BE TAKEN. CO-OPS WORK FINE AT A LOCAL LEVEL ----PEOPLE CAN BE DEMOCRATIC----AS THEY GROW----POWER STRUGGLES END THIS DEMOCRACY. LOOK AT NATIONAL LABOR UNION ELECTIONS-----I HEAR LOCAL UNION MEMBERS SAYING THEY CANNOT GET RID OF THESE NATIONAL LEADERS BECAUSE THE UNION ELECTIONS ARE FIXED.
The New-Economy Movement
A growing group of activists and socially responsible companies are rethinking business as usual.By Gar AlperovitzMay 25, 2011The idea that we need a “new economy”—that the entire economic system must be radically restructured if critical social and environmental goals are to be met—runs directly counter to the American creed that capitalism as we know it is the best, and only possible, option. Over the past few decades, however, a deepening sense of the profound ecological challenges facing the planet and growing despair at the inability of traditional politics to address economic failings have fueled an extraordinary amount of experimentation by activists, economists and socially minded business leaders. Most of the projects, ideas and research efforts have gained traction slowly and with little notice. But in the wake of the financial crisis, they have proliferated and earned a surprising amount of support—and not only among the usual suspects on the left. As the threat of a global climate crisis grows increasingly dire and the nation sinks deeper into an economic slump for which conventional wisdom offers no adequate remedies, more and more Americans are coming to realize that it is time to begin defining, demanding and organizing to build a new-economy movement.
Gar Alperovitz is a participant in various systemic-change efforts, including some of the new-economy projects described in this article.
That the term “new economy” has begun to explode into public use in diverse areas may be an indication that the movement has reached a critical stage of development—and a sign that the domination of traditional thinking may be starting to weaken. Although precisely what “changing the system” means is a matter of considerable debate, certain key points are clear: the movement seeks an economy that is increasingly green and socially responsible, and one that is based on rethinking the nature of ownership and the growth paradigm that guides conventional policies.
This, in turn, leads to an emphasis on institutions whose priorities are broader than those that typically flow from the corporate emphasis on the bottom line. At the cutting edge of experimentation are the growing number of egalitarian, and often green, worker-owned cooperatives. Hundreds of “social enterprises” that use profits for environmental, social or community-serving goals are also expanding rapidly. In many communities urban agricultural efforts have made common cause with groups concerned about healthy nonprocessed food. And all this is to say nothing of 1.6 million nonprofit corporations that often cross over into economic activity.
For-profits have developed alternatives as well. There are, for example, more than 11,000 companies owned entirely or in significant part by some 13.6 million employees. Most have adopted Employee Stock Ownership Plans; these so-called ESOPs democratize ownership, though only some of them involve participatory management. W.L. Gore, maker of Gore-Tex and many other products, is a leading example: the company has some 9,000 employee-owners at forty-five locations worldwide and generates annual sales of $2.5 billion. Litecontrol, which manufactures high-efficiency, high-performance architectural lighting fixtures, operates as a less typical ESOP; the Massachusetts-based company is entirely owned by roughly 200 employees and fully unionized with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
A different large-scale corporation, Seventh Generation—the nation’s leader in “green” detergents, dishwashing soap, baby wipes, tissues, paper towels and other household products—has internal policies requiring that no one be paid more than fourteen times the lowest base pay or five times higher than the average employee.
In certain states, companies that want to brandish their new-economy values can now also register as B Corporations. B Corp registration (the “B” stands for “benefit”) allows a company to subordinate profits to social and environmental goals. Without this legal authorization, a CEO could in theory be sued by stockholders if profit-making is not his sole objective. Such status ensures that specific goals are met by different companies (manufacturers have different requirements from retail stores). It also helps with social marketing and branding. Thus, King Arthur Flour, a highly successful Vermont-based, 100 percent employee-owned ESOP, can be explicit, stating that “making money in itself is not our highest priority.” Four states—Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey and Virginia—have passed legislation that permits B Corp chartering, with many others likely to follow.
Cooperatives may not be a new idea—with at least 130 million members (more than one in three Americans), co-ops have broad political and cultural support—but they are becoming increasingly important in new-economy efforts. A widely discussed strategy in Cleveland suggests a possible next stage of development: the Evergreen Cooperatives are linked through a nonprofit corporation, a revolving loan fund and the common goal of rebuilding the economically devastated Greater University Circle neighborhoods. A thoroughly green industrial-scale laundry, a solar installation company and a soon-to-be-opened large-scale commercial greenhouse (capable of producing about 5 million heads of lettuce a year) make up the first of a group of linked co-ops projected to expand in years to come. The effort is unique in that Evergreen is building on the purchasing power of the area’s large hospital, university and other anchor institutions, which buy some $3 billion of goods and services a year—virtually none of which, until recently, had come from local business. Senator Sherrod Brown is expected to introduce national legislation aimed at developing Evergreen-style models in other cities. (Full disclosure: the Democracy Collaborative of the University of Maryland, which I co-founded, has played an important role in Evergreen’s development.)
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Along with the rapid expansion of small and medium-size businesses committed to building the new economy has come a sense of community and shared mission. Staff, managers and owners at many of these companies are finding more opportunities to share ideas and pool resources with like-minded professionals. The American Sustainable Business Council, a growing alliance of 150,000 business professionals and thirty business organizations, has emerged as a leading venue for such activity. Most members are “triple bottom line” companies and social enterprises committed to the environment and social outcomes as well as profits.
In many ways the council operates like any advocacy group attempting to lobby, educate and promote legislation and strategies. Thirty-five leaders recently met with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, for instance, to make clear that the US Chamber of Commerce does not speak for all American business, to seek her help with specific projects and issues, and to fill her in on a range of environmentally and socially concerned economic efforts that definitely do not do business as usual. The names of some of the council’s constituent organizations offer a sense of what this means: Green America, Business for Shared Prosperity, Social Enterprise Alliance, Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, California Association for Microenterprise Opportunity. Although ecological concerns are at the top, the council’s agenda is highly supportive of other progressive social and economic goals. A recent blog by Jeffrey Hollender, chair of the council’s advisory board (and former CEO of Seventh Generation), attacked the US Chamber of Commerce for “fighting democracy and destroying America’s economic future.”
Get a FREE PDF copy of our 150th anniversary issue.Sign UpThe Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), made up of more than 22,000 small businesses, is another rapidly growing organization that works to strengthen new-economy networks. BALLE brings together locally owned efforts dedicated to building ecologically sustainable “living economies,” with the ambitious long-term goal of developing a global system of interconnected local communities that function in harmony with their ecosystems. The group’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Hub, the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, recognizes area businesses that “demonstrate a strong social and environmental impact while also making a profit.” A recent example is GreenLine Paper, a company that produces green products and works to preserve forests and prevent climate change. By participating in the network, GreenLine Paper gains brand recognition and promotion, as well as marketing, policy support, technical assistance and access to a like-minded coalition of businesses.
Sarah Stranahan, a longtime board member at the Needmor Fund, recalls having a sense in late 2009 that large numbers of Americans were beginning to understand that something is profoundly wrong with the economy. Bearing this in mind, with a small group of other activists she brought leaders of diverse organizations together in early September of that year to explore ways to build a larger movement. The New Economy Network (NEN), a loosely organized umbrella effort comprising roughly 200 to 250 new-economy leaders and organizations, was the low-budget product of their meeting. NEN acts primarily as a clearinghouse for information and research produced by member organizations. “However, our most important role,” says Stranahan, who serves as the network coordinator, “has been to help create a larger sense of shared common direction in a time of crisis—a sense that the new-economy movement is much greater than the sum of its diverse parts.”
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Several initiatives have begun to deal systematically with fundamental problems of vision, theory and longer-term strategy. The New Economics Institute (NEI), which is in formation, is a joint venture that brings together the former E.F. Schumacher Society and the New Economics Foundation, in Britain. Among the environmentalists and economists involved are Gus Speth, David Orr, Richard Norgaard, Bill McKibben, Neva Goodwin, John Fullerton and Peter Victor.
“For the most part, advocates for change have worked within the current system of political economy,” says Speth, a former adviser to Presidents Carter and Clinton, onetime administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and the recently retired dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, who has emerged as one of the new-economy movement’s leading figures. “But in the end,” Speth declares, “this approach will not succeed when what is needed is transformative change in the system itself.”
NEI is teaming up with other organizations, like the progressive think tank Demos, on several projects. One shared effort is attempting to develop detailed indicators of sustainable economic activity. As many scholars have demonstrated, the gross national product indicator is profoundly misleading: for instance, both work that generates pollution and work that cleans it up are registered as positive in the GNP, although the net real-world economic gain is zero, and there is a huge waste of labor on both sides of the effort. Precisely how to develop a “dashboard” of indicators that measure genuine economic gain, environmental destruction, even human happiness is one of NEI’s high priorities. Another is a detailed econometric model of how a very large economic system can move away from growth as its central objective. Related to both are earlier and ongoing Great Transition studies by the Tellus Institute, a think tank concerned with sustainability.
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A less academic effort concerned with vision and long-term institutional and policy reform is the New Economy Working Group, a joint venture of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and YES! Magazine. Among other things, the working group (which includes people, like Speth, who are concurrently involved in other initiatives) is attempting to create detailed designs for state and local banks in support of new-economy institutional development. (The longstanding Bank of North Dakota is one important precedent.) The larger goal of the Working Group is to advance a coherent vision of an economy organized around sustainable local community economies. John Cavanagh, on leave as director of IPS, and his wife, Robin Broad, a professor of international development at American University, emphasize the importance to developing nations of communities that provide economic, social and environmental “rootedness” in an “age of vulnerability.” David Korten, board chair of YES! Magazine and author of Agenda for a New Economy, stresses a radically decentralized domestic market-based vision of “self-organizing” communities that rely almost entirely on local resources. He envisions a trajectory of cultural change that could not only reduce conventionally defined economic growth but even reverse it—in part to make up for past ecological and resource destruction, and also to deal with global warming.
It is possible, even likely, that the explosion and ongoing development of institutional forms, along with new and more aggressive advocacy, will continue to gather substantial momentum as economic and ecological conditions worsen. It is by no means obvious, however, how even a very expansive vision of such trends would lead to “systemic” or “transformative” change. Moreover, different new-economy advocates are clearly divided on matters of vision and strategy. Speth, for instance, sees far-reaching change as essential if the massive threat posed by climate change is ever to be dealt with; he views the various experiments as one vector of development that may help lay groundwork for more profound systemic change that challenges fundamental corporate priorities. Others, like David Levine, executive director of the American Sustainable Business Council, emphasize more immediate reforms and stress the need for a progressive business voice in near-term policy battles. What to do about the power of large private or public corporations in the long term is an unresolved question facing all parties.
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Obviously, any movement that urges changing the system faces major challenges. Apart from the central issue of how political power might be built over time, three in particular are clearly daunting: first, many new-economy advocates concerned about global warming and resource limits hold that conventionally defined economic growth must be slowed or even reversed. In theory an economic model that redistributes employment, consumption and investment in a zero- or reduced-growth system is feasible, but it is a very hard sell in times of unemployment, and it is a direct challenge to the central operating principle of the economic system. It is also a challenge to the priorities of most elements of the progressive coalition that has long based its economic hopes on Keynesian strategies aimed at increasing growth.
A related problem concerns the labor movement. Many new-economy advocates hold progressive views on most issues of concern to labor. In a recent letter supporting progressives in Wisconsin, for instance, the American Sustainable Business Council wrote that “eliminating collective bargaining is misguided, unsustainable and the wrong approach to solving deeper, more systemic economic issues”—hardly the standard Chamber of Commerce point of view! Still, the ultimate goal of reducing growth is incompatible with the interests of most labor leaders.
Although there have been tentative off-the-record explorations of how to narrow differences among groups, no direction for agreement has emerged. That some cooperation is possible is clear, however, from common efforts in support of “green jobs,” such as the Apollo Alliance (which aims to create 5 million “high-quality, green-collar jobs” over the coming ten years) and the BlueGreen Alliance, a partnership of major labor and environmental groups dedicated to expanding the quality and availability of green jobs. IPS director Cavanagh is working with a small group of theorists and activists on a plan for green jobs that attempts to integrate new-economy concerns with those of labor and other progressive groups, and to link the expanding local efforts with traditional national strategies.
A further line of possible long-term convergence is new interest by the United Steelworkers in alternative forms of economic enterprise—and, importantly, larger-scale efforts. The Steelworkers signed an agreement with the Mondragon Corporation in 2009 to collaborate in establishing unionized cooperatives based on the Mondragon model in manufacturing here and in Canada. (Mondragon, based in the Basque region of Spain, has nearly 100,000 workers and is one of the largest and most successful cooperative enterprises in the world.)
A third and very different challenge is presented by traditional environmental organizations. Speth, a board member of the Natural Resources Defense Council, has found very little willingness among his fellow board members to discuss system-changing strategies, even if understood as long-term developmental efforts. The traditional organizations spend most of their time trying to put out fires in Washington, he notes, and have little capacity to stand back and consider deeper strategic issues—particularly if they involve movement building and challenges to the current orthodoxy.
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For all the difficulties and despite the challenges facing progressive politics, there are reasons to think that new-economy efforts have the capacity to gather momentum as time goes on. The first is obvious: as citizen uprisings from Tunisia to Madison, Wisconsin, remind us, judgments that serious change cannot take place often miss the quiet buildup of potentially explosive underlying forces of change. Nor were the eruptions of many other powerful movements—from late-nineteenth-century populism to civil rights to feminism and gay rights—predicted by those who viewed politics only through the narrow prism of the current moment.
Many years ago, I was legislative director to Senator Gaylord Nelson, known today as the founder of Earth Day. No one in the months and years leading up to Earth Day predicted the extraordinary wave of environmental activism that would follow—especially since environmental demands are largely focused on morally informed, society-wide concerns, unlike those of the labor, civil rights and feminist movements, all of which involve specific gains important to specific people.
In my judgment, new-economy efforts will ultimately pose much more radical systemic challenges than many have contemplated. Nonetheless, new-economy advocates are beginning to tap into sources of moral concern similar to those of the early environmental movement. As the economy continues to falter, the possibility that these advocates—along with many other Americans who share their broader concerns—will help define a viable path toward long-term systemic change is not to be easily dismissed. In fact, it would be in keeping with many earlier chapters of this nation’s history.
The questions, and your responses, will be published on the Housing Policy Watch website, in the order received. The deadline for answering the questions is Friday, December 11 at 5:00 PM. Thank you for your participation.
1. Baltimore City has 30,000+ vacant homes. Do you have a plan for cleaning up the blight that isn’t a rehash or continuation of previous plans? And how do you propose to pay for your plan?
2. The two fastest-growing income groups in Baltimore are those who earn $75,000 and up, and those who earn $25,000 and below. The middle class in Baltimore is stagnating, and struggling to afford rental housing. How do you propose to keep median-income renters from leaving the city without pushing them into homeownership they may not want or be able to afford?
3. Our Housing Authority has a decades-long reputation for corruption and incompetence at its top leadership tier. How do you plan to address this?
4. Is there anything else voters should know about your approach to housing in Baltimore?
Thank you so much for your responses, and please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
Housing Policy Watch
Phone: (443) 686-9617
Cindy Walsh for Mayor of Baltimore -----Democrat
Cindy Walsh has for several years been a huge activist for social issues and especially housing issues. Baltimore housing cannot be approached without looking at HUD policy and Enterprise Zone policy-----both drivers of development including housing. As one of the middle-class who see the attacks against personal wealth and assets I know how hard this is hitting the working class in Baltimore. HUD has been re-purposed by what I call global corporate 'Democrats' so that the original mission of this Federal agency from one of helping low-income citizens with housing now has Federal funding aiding Enterprise Zone development we all know to be highly corporate campuses and very controlled residential falling under the misnomer of 'affordable housing'. Any Mayor of Baltimore wants a downtown to flourish----cities always have a density of national corporations and luxury rentals in its downtown center. The problem for Baltimore over decades has been the drain of development funds to promote very targeted benefit from these funds by powerful institutions that need to be given a back seat for a while in development decision-making. To sum-----Cindy Walsh for Mayor of Baltimore will make it a top priority to see Federal funds from agencies like HUD and from funding for Enterprise Zones are used to balance what has been plenty of affluent development with focus on REAL mixed-income development in already existing development zones and movement of funds to communities surrounding city central with an emphasis on building community housing platform for the poorest in communities.
1. 30,000 vacant homes-----
My housing agenda starts with ending outsourcing of community building and bringing small business and construction to the citizens in each community. I envision identifying houses in communities needing demolition vs those to rehab building a debris recycling system in each community so citizens can not only bring houses down but save recycled construction debris to be used in rehab. Right now all those community resources are being given to outsourced development contractors and they profit from recycling.
The second vision for this rebuilding comes in creating a huge public green space by removing not only demolished houses but all of the concrete associated with these large blighted neighborhoods. Each community can easily have several acres of public green space in a central location that will serve as a community food source with public institutions like school, recreation, health clinics. My goal of having the poor as homeowners with a source for food giving housing and food security will see as many people engaged in this rebuilding as homeowners. A grand public greenhouse with small animal husbandry creates a food economy from growing, harvesting, butchery, and small food stores all operated by citizens in each community. So, this creates the platform for the poorest in small business ownership, home-ownership, and food access freedom.
Once the poorest are stable, a community has an easier time recruiting working/middle-class citizens to grow around this public green space. New home construction can be funded with everything from Enterprise Zone/subprime mortgage settlement funds/HUD grants for mixed-income communities, and a redirect of Baltimore City subsidy of downtown development to these surrounding communities. I would not want huge investment firms that buy entire blocks of communities for development control----instead I would look for smaller developers who value being awarded the opportunity to work with citizens in creating mixed-income multi-plex rentals. Believe it or not, there are plenty of regional players wanting this opportunity.
So, the 30,000 vacant homes will be either repurposed as rehabs, demolished as unsalvageable, or redirected to being part of a public green space and institution campus.
2. What about the middle-class housing?
I attended the last Baltimore Housing meeting to ask what is meant by 'affordable housing' in an area like Barclay and Harwood communities bordering Johns Hopkins Homewood for example. I live in Charles Village and see the rents rising in Mt Vernon and Charles Village from $450-800 in the days of affordable rentals----to today with rents rising to $1200 -1700. You can easily see the plan for this corridor being very affluent. Other cities gentrifying are having this city central with rents of $2,000-3,000 in a decade with prices higher soon after that. So, what is affordable when rents are this high? Of course, not the middle-class. The middle-class are being forced to commute to these large cities an hour and more from suburbs they can afford. As Mayor of Baltimore I would be glad to promote co-op and land trust zoning in these central communities----rent control is a must when rents are predicted so high.
I stated above that a stabilized underserved community makes integration of middle-class easier and that will be a large part of new housing around these green spaces. What I call surrounding communities many call SE and SW Baltimore and NE and NW Baltimore. The opportunities for co-ops and land trusts are huge with surrounding public green spaces creating a good quality of life with commutes to downtown for work easily accessible. Looking at previous development of communities wanting gentrification the plan installed citizens into vacant to values in a very piecemeal way leaving these communities struggling with the poverty and crime for decades. That will not be the case with the development plan above as demolition and creation of green space is labor intense but cost manageable. Previous development envisioned population density over public green space and I am the opposite.
3. Accountability in Baltimore HUD.
My entire campaign platform is rebuilding the Baltimore agencies into communities and with oversight and accountability. Right now, all City Hall is a skeleton crew with agencies tied to corporate boards served by appointed committees. I will reverse this structure with housing agencies filled with citizens from communities serving citizens in communities. I will have appointments to Baltimore Development Corporation that include representatives from all communities---small business owners, home-owners, community bankers, and citizen advocate groups. This will take all of the lack of transparency caused by proprietary wheeling and dealing with Wall Street banks and investment firms out of the housing picture and allow all dealings to be transparent and accountable. I have a decade with United Parcel Service and their Industrial Engineering Department---UPS is known to be the most efficient and effectively managed corporation in the world----and I have great systems operations experience as my best ability. So, we will get Baltimore City Hall running with accountability and staff connected with giving citizens quality service and keeping accurate data. This in itself will bring lots of revenue back to housing to be used in community rebuilding.
4. Baltimore for too long has allowed predatory landlords fleece our low-income renters taking all ability of citizens in need to accumulate wealth to move into better living situations. Being trapped in what many call slum building management will go under my administration. From Rent Court to Section 8----from Veteran's housing to the disabled-----all public housing and equal opportunity for the lowest income will be honored and citizens treated with dignity. It is incredible to think how much revenue that could have grown community housing was lost under this predatory system.
As an environmentalist I will be keen on eliminating lead and asbestos from housing and soil. Keeping environmental justice alive, I will work hard to make sure corporate development addresses concerns of citizens in all communities. These times are seeing dangers from fracking and natural gas lines to incinerators----and seeing not enough of solar/wind/green space as quality of life issues. I do not want global corporations bringing global factories to Baltimore with the same level of pollution as in Asian nations---I want local and regional factories manufacturing what everyone needs----there can be plenty of employment in rebuilding a local and regional economy. I am a strong public school advocate and would reverse this trend of closing schools and forcing parents to send children across town to have a good school in their neighborhood and I will support our public universities as vital to any community. America needs to take back government and citizen voice by rebuilding local structures and making communities first in fiscal budgets!
Thank you for giving me this time,
Cindy Walsh for Mayor of Baltimore