4/18/08 from Marc

Random Thoughts..

First, where is everybody? It seems that very few of you have questions or comments for Mayor Sheila Dixon. So, is that disinterest in city politics, or more who could care what she says, or this kind of stuff is just ho hum? Well, we will be in her office at 4:30 on Monday. Hope to have it up on our site when we get back from City Hall.

Next, we will be focusing some of our work on school violence, talking to the CEO, teachers and students. So, if you have thoughts on it, send them in. If you are a schoolteacher or student maybe you can be part of the interview. Comment here or email justinlevy2@gmail.com.

Your responses to WYPR Board

Someone asked if Martin O’Malley ever voiced his support. I heard he did from a third party. I also received calls from many elected officials outraged by what happened, including Senator Ben Cardin, Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, Congressmen John Sarbanes, Wayne Gilchrest and Elijah Cummings, Delegate Jon Cardin, State Senator Jamie Raskin and many others. I heard there was a lot of outrage from many within the Baltimore Metropolitan delegation.

I wake angry and frustrated many days thinking about what happened. Usually, once I say good morning to my little one, walk my dog Charley, and have coffee with Valerie, I am over it.

We keep up the good fight with them where it needs keeping up, but we are moving on. We have so many stories we want to do, interviews we are waiting to produce, town meetings to organize, and a new public media we’re working to create to worry about their board and management too much. They are a distraction.

Presidential Election

I have been thinking a lot about Obama’s comments and the continuing ad nauseum conversation about what he said. How much can we talk about it, over and over and over. The other day when I was in Hagerstown for our Maryland Humanities Council performance of Martin, Malcolm and Marc, we were in a hotel bar. Fox was on. It is amazing to me that all the discredited political professionals, like Dick Morris and angry caustic commentators of new like Geraldine Ferraro kept going on and on saying so little of any substance. Is there no other news to be covered by our major media than what Obama said at his fundraiser? Their choice of commentators tells us everything about what they are attempting to make important in this election. Their base of thought is so limited, yet has the broad power to define the discussion. We can end that with new media and new conversations.

American elections have always been contentious. I have been reading the book 1800 about the election that swirled around Adams and Jefferson and others. If you just look at that election along with the elections of 1860, 1912, 1928 and 1960, you can see that the venal and the vicious has always been at the forefront. It is bare knuckled. Part of the bare knuckles of 1800 and 1860 and 1912, besides the vicious personal attacks, was actual deep policy differences. Candidates were unafraid of speaking to their visions of America, and they had them.

So, I could put up with all viscera, silliness, nastiness and meanness if candidates would just declare their visions honestly and with the passion of conviction.

I believe what Obama said about what motivates people’s distrust is true, and what McCain said to Michigan workers about their jobs not returning was real and true. They were both eviscerated and trashed for being straight.

Instead of backpedaling, candidates, tell us the reality as you see it and what you think we as a nation need to do.

That would be refreshing.


I gotta go, my 10 (almost 11 year old) only has a few more days till she is gone and back to school, so we got some Daddy/Daughter time that is calling.

Have a wonderful weekend.


10 Responses

  1. Okay, a question for Mayor Dixon. I didn’t really have one, because I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised at the quality of the job her administration has been doing – as compared to her predecessor in his new job.

    But one topic has come up recently in conversations, and that’s the dismal state of public transportation in Baltimore and the surrounding areas. And I guess this is one of my big disappointments with O’Malley so far, because, like it or not, public transportation is a state issue not a local one. Nevertheless, the largest number of people affected by it are probably in and immediately around the city. So I’d like to ask the mayor what her view of, and commitment to, workable (emphasis on that) public transportation is, and how the city can pressure the governor to rework the mess that the Ehrlich administration made of the bus lines in particular.

  2. It is a pleasant time to be out of doors. Spring weather and spring flowers. Can never regret spending too much time with kids. Enjoy the exuberance and wonder of the young. Peace.

    Yes there are people interested in local community life. Remarks/questions for the mayor =under the thread of Miss Dixon.

  3. Marc,

    I have lots of questions I’d like to ask Mayor Dixon, but I generally don’t bother asking because I’ve rarely heard her answer with anything but platitudes or deliberate vagueness. I suppose my main question would be to ask her to justify all the money the city is spending beautifying Charles street while classrooms are so overcrowded that teachers are too busy trying to keep order to actually teach and while we still don’t have on demand detox/drug treatment programs.

    But, because I am a fair-minded woman, I am also compelled to say I really like single stream recycling, so kudos for that.

  4. The single-stream/single day pickup and the expansion of the types of plastic that can be accepted are great, but the whole thing doesn’t go far enough. I recently read in a community newsletter that the only plastics being accepted were specifically jars and bottles which means that it excludes things like margarine tubs, frozen dinner trays, carry out boxes, “blister” type packaging material, etc. – even if they are labeled with the 1-7 number that the program supposedly accepts. This cuts out a lot of plastics and makes the program seem more like a feel-good move than a truly robust recycling program. Are there any plans to work on expanding what plastics the program can accept? Also, I’ve never understood why in neighborhoods where trash is collected from back alleys, recyclables are collected from the front? This is not a major pain, but a pain nonetheless. It also ends up junking up the front porches of a lot of houses.

  5. A question for the Mayor:

    Are you ever going to help families move (back) to the city? After living and growing our family in the city for more than 10 years (Mt. Vernon and Bolton Hill…), we had to move out to the county because our real estate tax bill grew to almost 10K a year.

    We simply could not afford it anymore (and we make decent money). The equation HIGH TAXES + PRIVATE SCHOOLS just doesn’t work for us…I understand that everybody needs to help, but the bill is just way too high.

  6. I’ve got a question for the Mayor. What is her plan for more parent involvement in the school system? no child survives without help from his/her parents..so, since she isn’t doing much for the school side of the equation…what are her plans for the home side? I’m teaching jr. sr. and graduate students and I know the holes I find in their education stem from the K-12 education they have received…and I’d like to see better.

  7. Hey, folks, the new CEM website is live. I haven’t poked and prodded it yet, but it looks good.

  8. Sorry, Marc, I’ve been meaning to post! Here’s just 2 of at least 20 questions for our mayor: Why is BGE involved in the creation of the streetcar line from JHU Homewood to the Inner Harbor? This should NOT involve BGE or any other for-profit entity. This should be a city government project. Additionally, is there a larger plan for renewed streetcar lines in Baltimore? If so, where is the public involvement?

    My second question is what are you doing to bring new jobs to Baltimore that will provide the most important underpinning to revitalizing the people in our city – not just the buildings?

  9. Woops – have one more question. Why did you award the study for a public takeover of BGE to South River Consulting, a firm staffed with former BGE execs and industry insiders – and then to study only aggregation, not a takeover? Aggregation does not lower rates in the significant manner that a public takeover would – why, when the City Council allocated the $150,000 for a takeover study, did you take those funds and use them for an aggregation study instead? What is the status of that study?

  10. Hey Marc, yes please – definitely ask about the property taxes!!! We are about to be reassessed and I am pretty sure the amount will double as the area has appreciated and I have done a lot of renovation work here. i did the renovation for us as a family to live in (my wife is a BCPSS spec ed teacher and we have 2 kids) as the property had major structural issues that weren’t apparent in the home inspection prior to purchase (cracked roof beams, would have collapsed in the Feb 2003 snowstorm if I hadn’t beefed up the framing). So I did this house to live in and now we’re going to be penalized with higher taxes. It just doesn’t seem reasonable or affordable to double my property taxes when I took the initiative and made this house a nice palce to live – at no risk, loss to or help from the city. The city needs people like us, stable working families paying taxes – just don’t kill the golden goose!

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