With the recent resignation, in disgrace, of Mayor Catherine Pugh, Baltimore finds itself at a crucial inflection point in its history.
The last three elected leaders of the city have left office either as a result of criminal corruption or ineffectual incompetence. During the same period, the leadership of the police department has become a revolving door for the same reasons: one of our recent police chiefs is currently in jail for income tax evasion. The resulting rise in the city’s murder rate can only be seen as a direct result of the poor choices made by those selected to make them.
Well-publicized brawls and recent unprovoked brutal attacks have given Baltimore numerous public-relations black eyes since an international audience witnessed the fires and riots resulting from the Freddie Gray affair, and the city’s public prosecutor has been completely ineffectual at holding anyone accountable for that incident.
Now city government has been paralyzed by digital pirates, shutting down computer systems in critical revenue-generating departments, affecting payments and tax collections, as well as the orderly and timely transfer of real estate.
As a result of these years of chaos, Baltimore’s population decline – which had been slowing significantly – has picked up speed again, according to census estimates. Nearly 20 years of progress has been erased.
The new mayor, the former president of City Council, has made a public show of promising not to run for his own term in the next election, and given his own history of financial irregularities it would seem that is a very wise decision.
However, we can’t wait for the next election. The mayoral race in 2020 certainly is going to be one of the most important in the city’s history. As residents, taxpayers, and citizens of Maryland’s largest city, we must take our government more in hand now and hold it more accountable for solving the growing problems we face. Property owners in particular must get more involved to safeguard our investment. All city residents need to make sure city council knows we are watching, and our patience is at an end. We need solutions, now, not in the next mayoral administration.