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Councilmania

Keeping tabs on the City Council's activities so you don't have to

By Kate Leventhal | Posted 10/25/2006

On the Council Agenda Oct. 1

Resolution 05-0220 Zoning--Health Care Clinic--Substance Abuse Treatment Centers

Public Interest Grade: B- Broadens the classification of health-care clinics by removing a separate classification for substance-abuse treatment centers--and how this complies with zoning laws.

Lord knows with the drug problems this city has, no one should have to bus it all over town to find drug-rehabilitation services. Mayor Martin O'Malley recently increased funding for treatment centers in Baltimore, and now the City Council is backing this measure to make it so that zoning laws cannot prohibit outpatient drug-treatment facilities from opening wherever they see fit. This would bring the city into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, which is a good thing--however, the measure would make it possible for the facilities to open even in neighborhoods zoned strictly residential, and that could be troublesome. It will be interesting to watch how this one plays out.

Resolution 06-0222R Informational Hearing--Baltimore City Public School System

Public Interest Grade: B Contracts a "fact-finding mission" to define what, exactly, constitutes an emergency contract in the city school system and whether the school system is abusing these contracts by using them to conduct routine business matters.

Oy vey, Round 7,325 of the city vs. state vs. school board. What's that sound? Our heads, repeatedly beating against our desks over the catastrophe that is public schooling in our city. This one gets a "B" because we're glad the City Council is actually paying attention.

Resolution 0224R Police Department--Deployment of Supplemental Force

Public Interest Grade: B- The Baltimore police commissioner plans to deploy "extra-duty" officers to neighborhoods with high crime rates for limited periods of time.

The police department wants to pull about 70 officers out of desk jobs and place them temporarily into areas with high violent crime rates, such as Park Heights and Southwest Baltimore. While every police district is understaffed, more than 1,000 of the city's police officers are working in special units, such as set teams and flex squads. If the antics of a recent Southwest Baltimore flex squad are any indication how these squads operate, maybe the whole concept of "special units" should be re-evaluated, thus freeing up more officers for regular old police work.

City Council Quote Of The Week

"[The police force] should create visibility and presence in the neighborhoods," --Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. (D-4th District), in reference to pulling undercover police out of special-forces squads and putting more uniformed officers out on the streets.

City Council Fact of the Week

On Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 5 p.m., the City Council is holding a hearing about a possible ban on indoor smoking in Baltimore City. For anyone who thinks meetings are dull, this one promises to be a battle of strong opinions.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. To view the City Council's meeting schedule visit www.baltimorecitycouncil.com.

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