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Campaign Beat

The Questionnaire

The Candidates' Answers, Unabridged and Unedited

Posted 9/5/2007

We asked all the candidates for mayor, city council president and district council seats to fill out a short questionnaire on their positions across a variety of issues we consider crucial.

Their submissions were not edited for grammar, spelling or sentence structure.

Mayor
Sheila Dixon
A. Robert Kaufman
Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr.
Mike Schaefer
City Council President
Kenneth N. Harris Sr.
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Michael Sarbanes
Charles Ulysses Smith
1st District
Donald Dewar
James Kraft
Marc Warren
2nd District
Nick D'Adamo

3rd District
Robert Curran
Norman Hall
4th District
Scherod Barnes
Ryan M. Coleman
Bill Henry
Christopher Jack
William "Bill" Goodin

5th District
Rochelle "Rikki" Spector

6th District
Ramona Moore Baker
Sharon Green Middleton
Elizabeth Smith
7th District
Tony Asa
Belinda Conaway
8th District
Helen Holton
9th District
Michael Eugene Johnson
10th District
Donnie Fair
Terry F. Hickey
Hunter Pruette
Edward Reisinger
11th District
William Cole
Fred D. Mason III
Adam Meister
Nick Mosby
12th District
Ertha Harris
Bernard C. "Jack" Young
14th District
Mary Pat Clarke

Mayor

*Sheila Dixon

Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

Every department needs to be delivering services to the taxpayers of Baltimore City efficiently and effectively. I am committed to increasing the budget for public safety and education. I have made significant investments in Recreation and Parks because I believe we must expand opportunities for Baltimore's youth during after-school, summer and weekend hours. The additional $28 million, an increase of 9.4 percent includes finding to hire 23 new recreation center leaders, extend center hours, and beef up the recreation programming.

Should the Board of Estimates be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted? If not, why not?

I believe the current structure of the Board of Estimates is effective because each person has an important expertise. There are numerous legal issues that the city solicitor should assist with, while the director of Public Works has knowledge of procurement and public works project matters. The elected members of the board rely on the city solicitor and the director of Public Works for their expertise.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

While I have a broad vision for this city, the details are also very important to me. I set high expectations for the people of Baltimore, demand solutions from our city government and our communities, and hold people accountable--but I also do the same for myself and my staff.

Whether it's for the city, a campaign, or a household, budgets are a reflection of our priorities. I am proud of the first budget of my mayoral tenure because it's the first children and families budget with 22 percent of spending going toward strengthening our families.

As I've advised my two children, if your "house" isn't in order, you can't excel outside of the home. I believe in doing the small things right--and paying attention to detail.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

As a Baltimore City taxpayer, it upsets me that there are those in city government who are not committed to effective, efficient government. It is imperative that we return city government to the practice of helping strengthen families and neighborhoods. I am assessing performance of our city government during this transition period and I can guarantee that there will be changes made.

I will hire agency heads who share my philosophy of getting out into the neighborhoods, assessing their strengths and weaknesses and being proactive to prevent problems. I don't want a city government that just responds--I want city government to be proactive. City employees need to know that less than outstanding customer service is unacceptable.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

I support an effort by Councilwoman Sharon Middleton to "ban the box" which means questions pertaining to arrest records for city job applicants will be removed from the application. I am committed to creating more opportunity for individuals with criminal records to find gainful employment with the city of Baltimore.

Over the past several years, the Baltimore Police Department leadership has experienced a lot of turnover. How do you propose to stabilize the department and its leadership?

During my search for a new police commissioner, I have focused on finding candidates who have served successfully as commissioners in other jurisdictions. I believe the department will be stabilized by someone who has held that highest level of leadership in a city comparable in size with Baltimore, with the experience, judgment, and confidence of a seasoned commissioner.

My plan for tackling the chronic staffing problems at the police department is as follows:

-- Increase Recruitment Goal from 240 to 300 new Police Officers

This year, the BPD's goal is to recruit a total of 240 new officers and to enroll 40 in each academy class. In order to keep up with attrition and fill existing vacancies, the BPD should increase its goal to recruit 300 new officers and enlarge each academy class from 40 to 50 trainees.

-- Study and Rejuvenate Recruitment and Training Process

An in-depth and longer term analysis of BPD's recruiting and training process. Over the past several years, the BPD has taken steps to make the process more efficient; however, more can be done. An in-depth study should be undertaken to determine ways to streamline the recruitment process, maximize the use of marketing funds, improve the percentage of recruits who qualify for the academy and create performance measures for the recruitment and training division.

-- Analyze Impact of Marketing

Preliminary data shows that BPD could be getting a stronger return on its marketing investment. BPD obtains the majority of its recruits from targeted recruiting trips, friend/officer referral and the internet. BPD should develop and implement performance measures to evaluate marketing success.

-- Provide Tutoring and Training Courses to Candidates who Fail the CST

Based on BPD statistics, 1187 of 2218 (40.1 percent) of police officer candidates failed the CST in 2006. This represents the largest number and proportion of police officer candidates excluded from advancing into BPD for any reason (i.e. failing the agility, physical, background, or psychological tests). Tutoring and training classes would enhance the skills of candidates on concepts tested in the CST with the goal of preparing candidates to pass the CST. Physical fitness classes could also be provided to help prepare candidates for the agility test. Both NYPD and LAPD provide free candidate assistance programs of this nature. Baltimore County has an online CST preparation manual with sample questions.

-- Expansion of Cadet Program by 40 Cadets

To date, the program has an 84 percent cadet retention rate. Since 2005, 40 cadets have reached the age of police academy eligibility and 39 have entered--98 percent success rate. Therefore, the cadet program has and will likely continue to provide a steady flow of police officer trainees. Additionally, the program targets Baltimore City high school graduates and provides career opportunity for Baltimore youth.

-- The "LEAP AHEAD CAMPAIGN" (Law Enforcement Assistance Program--Attracting Highly Educated Applicant Designees)

LEAP is a first step, a joint venture, an extension of the mayor's partnership for progress philosophy. It is designed to inspire and challenge our best and brightest to make a difference in our city by serving in law enforcement. The Leap Ahead Campaign would be launched as pilot project and $1 million would be set aside to support the initiative.

The plan will be funded by the city and with available federal grant money.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore other than naming a new police commissioner. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

My crime plan has three main components.

Through targeted enforcement, we must go after our city's most violent offenders. The most violent crimes are being committed by the same small group of people with illegal guns.

Community engagement is crucial--we must have more communication between community groups and our police. When neighbors stay vigilant--and police are out of their cars walking through neighborhoods--together we can prevent crime. Adopt-A-Block programs and increased partnerships are critical to preventing violent crime.

Finally, federal and state law enforcement are working together with our city police to share information and collaborate to stop illegal guns and disperse gang activity.

Comstat is an important tool for measuring performance in fighting crime. There are other ways to measure the success of the crime plan--including hearing directly from officers about their progress with crime prevention. Finally, I will hold the commissioner accountable and expect him or her to do the same with the police force.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

Ultimately, I believe the city's schools should be under city control. I am studying the impact of returning the school system back to Mayoral control, but I strongly believe any changes to the current structure must be done in coordination with the state so the financial resources the schools depend on from the state are not put in jeopardy. Certainly, the state should continue to contribute significant funding toward the city's school system, but I do believe the current system gives responsibility to the many, but holds the few accountable.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? What can be done to implement those suggestions?

The Baltimore City School System hasn't had consistent leadership in many years. Dr. Alonso brings a strong background in classroom instruction to his position as CEO--and we all have a responsibility to help him implement his vision for public schools in Baltimore. I implore us all to be invested in the success of city schools.

We do recognize that most schools that excel, do so because of many factors, including an exceptionally organized parent groups and strong community partners. I will also continue to fund and add more community schools which coordinate services for the students, families and community.

The school system has had problems recruiting and retaining the best and brightest, most highly qualified teachers, especially in the content areas of science and math. We must start recruiting from our local universities and colleges, offering bonuses and incentives for students who choose to teach in Baltimore City Public Schools, even paying their tuition if they agree to work for the system for and established number of years. As mayor, I will assist in recruiting the teachers that are best able to offer our students a quality education.

Through the mayor's newly developed Office of Education under the leadership of the deputy mayor for education, we will endeavor to unite teachers, students, families, foundations and provide more after school programs in schools to help enhance academic achievement for all students which is the ultimate goal in improving our system.

As mayor, I will continue to support new charter schools, more innovative high schools that offer career tracks such as hospitality, computer technology, medical arts, and performing arts, alternative schools in middle school and high school for students who can not make it in conventional school systems, and look to expand vocational programs for students interested in masonry, building trades, steel workers, and construction. All of these possibilities will enable our young people to be ready for college, the workforce and life.

What current development project underway in the city has the most potential to bring positive change to Baltimore? In what way?

There are many large scale development projects underway that have potential to bring positive change. Neighborhood transformation projects are underway in East Baltimore (north of Johns Hopkins Medical campus), Poppleton, Uplands, Park Heights, Barclay, Middle Branch/Westport and Uplands. One that stands out as a model is the redevelopment of the neighborhood north of Hopkins hospital. When completed, Baltimore's new East Side will be a thriving mixed-use and mixed-income neighborhood with 2 million square feet of biotech space, 1,200 new or renovate homes, a brand new pre-kindergarten to eighth grade public school, park space, public transportation, and the highest level of human support services.

Building on the economic engine fueled by the expansion of Johns Hopkins Medicine, the project will create up to 6,000 new jobs for skill levels ranging from high school to those with advanced college degrees. By bringing together leadership from the community, business, government, and foundations, this project will change people lives by providing high paying jobs, access to quality public education and safe, decent and affordable housing. My plan is to apply those characteristics to all large scale revitalization projects.

Please list three specific things Baltimore can do to attract new investment and/or new residents. Please be sure to include how the mayor's office can implement or encourage these ideas.

The principal goal of my economic development growth strategy is to improve livability and quality of life in the city. A more livable city--one that is cleaner, greener, healthier and safer--attracts and retains businesses and residents. I believe that the strength-based strategies and investments articulated in the Comprehensive Master Plan, adopted by the City Council in 2006, and begun under the previous administration should be accelerated and expanded.

Reduce Taxes. As reported in the January 27, 2007 Transition Report, Baltimore City has the highest per capita tax effort (the extent to which the local tax base is actually taxed) in the State coupled with the second lowest tax capacity (potential base). The fiscal stress resulting from a highly taxed population that has a relatively low tax capacity has led city leaders at times to turn to piecemeal efforts at using tax expenditures such as tax credits and exemptions to provide targeted relief or to spur investment. Baltimore City's high real property tax rate, relative to the surrounding counties, creates a competitive disadvantage at a time when the city is striving to build back a revenue base that has significantly diminished over recent decades.

In February 2007, I appointed a blue ribbon committee to study and recommend ways to reform the local tax and fee structure for Baltimore City. With representatives from private and non-profit sectors, government and elected officials, the committee is charged with taking a long term, comprehensive approach to lowering the property tax burden on Baltimore City residents. Having met every two weeks since beginning its work in mid-March, the committee has set a preliminary target of reducing property taxes by 25 percent. It's scope includes:

  • Analyze and report on the factors contributing to the city's high property tax rate relative to surrounding Maryland counties.
  • Research and report on the legal framework for and practice of financing local government in Maryland.
  • Examine the recommendations to improve measurement, monitoring, and
  • management of the assessable tax base and equitably enhance the tax revenues to be derived from non-residential real property.
  • Review the city's existing tax and fee structure, including the various tax credits and exemptions currently in place, and report on the impact the existing measures have on the goals for a model tax and fee structure.
  • Recommend changes to the current tax and fee structure that maximize attainment of the stated goals.

In addition, Baltimore City can lower property taxes by growing its tax base. Growing the tax base requires individuals and businesses to feel confident that an investment in Baltimore will produce a return. The city must continue to invest in making Baltimore City more livable--safer and cleaner streets, high performing public schools, accessible transit, well maintained parks, and thriving commercial districts.

Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). BRAC is expected to result in substantial real estate development near the Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade bases and a potential for Baltimore City redevelopment if the city targets redevelopment efforts and if transit services for suburb-to-city and reverse commutes are of high quality. We have completed a BRAC action plan. The plan, dubbed "BRACtion," focuses on four areas: population growth, work force development, contracting opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses, and attracting new businesses. The full plan is posted on the city's website and can be provided upon request. To read the action plan, visit www.baltimorecity.gov and click on "BRACtion Plan."

Population Growth. As stated in the BRACtion Plan, the projected household impact for Baltimore City is as many as 2,552 new households from now to 2018. Baltimore City's preparation for BRAC related population growth will require strategic improvements to its transportation and infrastructure. The city will capture its share of BRAC-related growth and maximize the opportunity that BRAC presents through an effective marketing campaign lead by Live Baltimore, in which the City is investing an additional $280,000. Additionally, land use and zoning policies must be pursued as directed by the Comprehensive Master Plan.

Jobs for City Residents. Not all employees surrounding the closing bases will want to relocate. Instead, there will be some combination of new households and new jobs. Current estimates indicate that Baltimore City will receive as many as 3,145 new jobs, many of which will come to the city vacant. It is crucial that we prepare our existing and future workforce for these jobs. The city, lead by the Mayor's Office of Employment Development and the Baltimore City Public School System, will need to not only ensure the development of training programs and curricula in science, technology, engineering and math, but will need to partner with the BRAC employer community and the region to effectively address the issue of obtaining security clearances for prospective area job seekers.

M/WBE Contracting Opportunities. In addition to new households and new jobs, BRAC will bring a multitude of direct and indirect business and contracting opportunities to the city of Baltimore. The department responsible for the coordination of these opportunities is the Mayor's Office of Minority & Women-Owned Business Development. Ms. Carla A. Nelson, the director of the department, will work directly with city agencies and our regional partners to lead the city's effort in maximizing business and contract opportunities for small, local, minority and women-owned businesses here in our city.

Business Development. There will be some businesses looking to relocate and some new businesses choosing to locate in the region as a result of BRAC. Although the impact is more difficult to quantify, the city should continue to pursue local and regional efforts to bring businesses to Baltimore.

Land Bank. For many years, Baltimore has been plagued by problems associated with its large stock of vacant property. Periodically and repeatedly over the past decade, various government officials, housing experts and citizens have analyzed and discussed the benefits of creating a land bank to help address Baltimore's vacant property problem. Perhaps overwhelmed by the enormity of the vacant property problem, or mired in the day-to-day task of managing the effects of the problem with limited resources, those discussions have never resulted in the creation of a land bank.

At my request, the Department of Housing and Community Development has developed a plan to create a land bank that can be implemented this calendar year. The goal is to create a land bank entity with the responsibility and capability to efficiently acquire, manage and sell abandoned property for productive use. The goals and objectives will be linked to specific and measurable outcomes, including those listed below:

  • Reduce the amount of privately owned abandoned and blighted property in Baltimore City to less than 7.5 percent of the overall total of properties in the city by 2012.
  • Eliminate the speculative and predatory private tax sale market for abandoned property by 2010.
  • Increase the number of newly constructed or rehabbed units of housing in blighted neighborhoods by 25 percent in three years beginning July 1, 2007.

What one specific thing do you promise Baltimoreans you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I will make city government more responsive. My mission is to connect the dots between what families and neighborhoods need--and what city government and our allies in the private sector and foundations can provide. City employees should be working to prevent problems for communities--keeping our streets cleaner will make for healthier neighborhoods and families. We need to get out of the city office buildings, do assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of neighborhoods and then devise efforts to help neighborhoods. I promise to continue to bring the private sector, foundations, churches and city government together to make neighborhoods stronger and more stable.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I do not support a parking ticket amnesty at this time. The bulk of the parking ticket revenue actually comes from people who live outside of Baltimore City. I believe if you get a parking ticket, you should pay it on time.

 

*A. Robert Kaufman

Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

Well, there is certainly a good deal of waste and corruption in any ruling class government. So long as there are private entrepreneurs--particularly large enterprises to bribe officials, there will be bribery. A popular socialist society will create more democratic institutions--workers councils--which could look out for society's interests.

See #8 of my political points.

Should the Board of Estimates be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted? If not, why not?

A parliamentary system is far more efficient and democratic.

See #6 of my political points.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

What is far more important is what side of the class struggle he or she is committed to. Anyone is capable of hiring a good bookkeeper.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

Cops who enjoy causing physical pain to presumed petty criminals, civil rights and civil liberties activists like myself. I'd fire them.

But in a larger sense, the entire capitalist system as it enters its 3rd stage--Fascism.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an application for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

Depends on the position. Don't hire pyromaniacs to be firemen, pedophiles to run nursery schools, sadists to be cops, or thieves to be bookkeepers or treasurers! But, everyone should have the inalienable right to socially responsible employment at a living wage and benefits. All sorts of felons could hold down all sorts of responsible jobs and society has a responsibility to school them and offer them a better way of living. Particularly since most street criminals result from early societal neglect.

Over the past several years, the Baltimore Police Department leadership has experienced a lot of turnover. How do you propose to stabilize the department and its leadership?

The historical role of police have always been to maintain existing property relations. The greater unjust division of wealth and poverty--the more efforts by the increasing number of impoverished to gain economic security by any means possible

Decriminalize addicts and prostitution. See #s 1 and 9 of my political points.

Furthermore, the police firemen, teachers, city clerks should democratically elect their own leaders. Who else knows best who is most competent?

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore , other than naming a new police commissioner. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

The root cause of most street crime is poverty, in the richest country in the history of the world, and the fraudulent, so-called "War on Drugs." See #s 1 3, 23, 25, and 26 of my political points.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

Neither! See #5 of my political points.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? What can be done to implement those suggestions?

See #5, 7-c, 28 of my political points.

What current development project underway in the city has the most potential to bring positive change to Baltimore? In what way?

You gotta be kidding!

Please list three specific things Baltimore can do to attract new investment and/or new residents. Please be sure to include how the mayor's office can implement or encourage these ideas.

Of my political points, see #s 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30.

What one specific thing do you promise Baltimoreans you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

There are only two ways to get elected to relatively high office in this country. You either kiss up to the Fat Cats--they finance your campaign--and they own you; or you begin to build a democratic, grass roots movement to unite the 95 percent of Americans who collectively own less wealth [and consequently have less political

power] than the top 1 percent - our ruling class, in order to take back our country, and for the first time, run America , of, by, and for the American people--not the international corporations.

"Too long have working people looked for some Moses to lead them into the promised land. I wouldn't lead you there if I could. Because someone else could lead you out just as easily." --Eugene Victor Debs, perennial candidate of the American Socialist Party.

No need of a crystal ball to predict that regardless of which one of the ruling oligarchy's candidates gets elected--none of our primary social problems will improve--they will all get worse.

See if you can call me on this "prediction" four years from now.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

Every time I get a parking ticket, I claim "amnesia".

 

*Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr.

Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

I do not believe that we should prioritize by department who should be first or last in line for cuts. We need to address our budgetary problems prior to them becoming crises. We can do this by aggressively eliminating waste in all departments. As mayor, I will subject all city agencies to periodic efficiency audits by management specialists. These audits will aim to trim administrative excess, eliminate inefficiencies, and get rid of redundancies. Through more fiscal oversight, we can avoid crisis in a way that is equitable to all departments within the Baltimore City government.

Should the Board of Estimates be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted? If not, why not?

Earlier this summer, I introduced a charter amendment restructuring the Board of Estimates. My amendment would remove the two mayoral appointees to the board and reduce the Board of Estimates to three members. This legislation is designed to more fairly distribute control over city contracts among the mayor, the comptroller, and the president of City Council because effective government comes only from the trust of the governed. The current set up of our Board of Estimates undermines that trust."

At present, the mayor appoints two of the five BOE members. In addition, the mayor also is a member. In effect, the mayor alone decides who gets a city contract and who does not. It is my belief that no one person should hold all the cards in contract decisions.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

When I ask taxpayers to put their trust in me, to spend their money wisely, they can, should, and will look at my business and personal financial situation. I consider the public trust sacred, which is why I have always, even under the most difficult of personal circumstances, acted openly and decisively when it comes to managing the money of both taxpayers and campaign contributors; and I will continue to do so. It is because I consider the public trust so sacred that I have called for increased transparency with regard to campaign contributions and pledged that as mayor I will not take contributions from businesses that are seeking business from the city. I also will place checks on my own power by reducing the current stronghold the mayor has over the Board of Estimates and Board of Ethics--a stronghold that gives the mayor absolute say over who gets city contracts and absolute say over the body that is there to check on the mayor's actions as an elected official. I will be a mayor for the people of Baltimore, not the powerbrokers.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

There are too many loopholes by which individuals can game the city contract system. As mayor, I will reform the contracting process and put a stop to these unethical practices. To eliminate the practice of using small, recurring payments to avoid the $5,000 Board of Estimates approval process, I will require any vendor who receives two no-bid contracts of $5,000 or less within a 120-day period to go through the formal bid process for any additional work sought with the city in that fiscal year.

Additionally, I will institute a rule eliminating the consent approval process for contracts over $5,000. Currently, when contracts come before the Board of Estimates, if no board member expresses concern, the contracts are passed by consent--no debate, no open review. Clean government cannot work this way. Any contract over $5,000 will be heard, discussed, and voted upon in an open meeting and on the record.

I also will work to develop stricter penalties for elected officials who violate the procurement process.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take a city employee to be fired from their job?

I do not believe there is a magic number for the amount of criminal convictions that it would take to preclude city employment or to terminate employment. Obviously when we are talking about felonies, I believe that one conviction of a felony would be enough to be terminated from city employment. However, I do not believe that a felony conviction would necessarily preclude someone from city employment, especially if that person has proven him or herself as a valuable workforce commodity since being released.

Over the past several years, the Baltimore Police Department leadership has experienced a lot of turnover. How do you propose to stabilize the department and its leadership?

We are averaging almost a murder a day. We have the second highest homicide rate in the nation. During this time of crisis, it is imperative that our department operate at full strength. We cannot expect our officers to do their best work when they are understaffed, underfunded, overworked, and without a clear mission. Recruiting and retaining the officers we need requires only that we make it a priority.

With the $37 million we have spent on overtime to make up for the shortage of officers, we can hire the 300 officers we need, compensate our officers for normal overtime, and even have the money needed to offer a pay raise to all our officers--a step that would help us recruit and retain the officers we need.

As mayor, I will aggressively step up our recruitment efforts to ensure that there are enough police to keep our streets safe. I will do what is necessary to ensure that our Police Department has a presence at every major job fair and college campus on the East Coast. I will follow the paths of other major cities and work with the department to create a Junior Academy, which would utilize our recently retired officers to mentor and assist our adolescent youth and encourage them to consider a career in law enforcement. I will set up a Baltimore "Helmets to Hardhats" program designed to assist returning service men and women in their efforts to return to the civilian workforce after their time abroad. As part of this program, we will connect our returning soldiers with recruiters at the police department. Finally, as mayor, I will re-constitute our Police Foundation and work with our business community to fully fund it, not only to better equip our officers, but also to offer signing bonuses to entice new recruits to serve on our police department.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore other than naming a new police commissioner. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

First, as mayor, I will re-establish the I-95 Taskforce, made up of the Maryland State Police, Baltimore County Police, Harford County Police, FBI, DEA, and ATF to interdict drugs and guns before they enter our city and into our communities. I also will identify other major sources of entry and set up similar task forces to control them. I will work with our state leadership to remove loopholes in our State gun laws that allow criminals to get their hands on weapons. My efforts will focus on regulating gun shows and secondary gun sales, and requiring fingerprinting for anyone who wants to purchase a weapon in the state of Maryland.

Second, under a Mitchell administration, the police department will establish a Victim-Witness Unit to support victims and witnesses through the investigation process until they get to trial where they will be handled by the already functioning State's Attorney's Office victim-witness unit. By staffing this unit with qualified civilians specially trained to assist with the trauma of being involved in a crime, our police department can reestablish the fundamental link between police and victims. Without our full support of victims and witnesses, criminal investigations will continue to flounder and criminals will be set free because of lack of evidence. Thus by shepherding victims and witnesses through the process effectively, we can ensure that Baltimore is a model for cities across the state and nation for how to protect victims' rights within a fair and responsible justice process.

Last, as mayor, each police district will have its own gang enforcement unit so we can effectively combat Baltimore's burgeoning gang problem from the ground. Currently, the only district that has such a unit is the Eastern District. There a three-person unit must contend with a district with 1,100 known gang members. These units are needed throughout the city as gang coordination and gang recruitment has stepped up over the years. We need an effective answer and that begins with getting officers on the ground to aggressively tackle this crisis.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

The city-state partnership has been a failure. I would like to see a restoration of accountability from the top down. This begins with ending the city-state partnership and putting the mayor in charge of Baltimore schools. We see mayoral control taking place all across the country: New York, Chicago, and Boston. Each city speaks to the effectiveness of mayoral control. They show that through accountability and innovation urban schools are not lost causes.

Baltimore has the third worst graduation rate in the nation and we continue to lower our expectations. Just weeks ago, the school board voted to send 1,400 sophomores onto their junior year when they had not even taken the required geometry course. We have seen many great plans come and go. We have seen numerous qualified CEOs come and go. We have increased spending exponentially. Still we lag behind. This battle is about accountability and political will. I want mayoral control because I have the political will to make this happen. If I do not make real progress in a reasonable amount of time, I would ask the voters to vote me out.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? What can be done to implement those suggestions?

First, we must end the city-state partnership and bring accountability for our school system back to Baltimore. Once Baltimore is back in control of its school system then, and only then, can we begin to implement the changes necessary to improve our school system.

I recognize that a great school begins with a great principal. Thus, I will as mayor, I will reorganize our schools so principals and their teams have the opportunity to design the programs that their particular students need to succeed. We will attract top-notch principals to our schools by offering them an opportunity to truly lead their schools toward success, by giving them control over what matters most, staffing, instructional strategies, and budget.

In addition, I will work with communities to foster the growth and development of more charter schools. Charter schools are a critical component in our education toolbox. I have been and will continue to be a strong advocate for charter schools. As a founding member of the Midtown Academy Board, I am keenly aware of the value of charter schools. As a father, I will be sending my five-year-old son to a charter school. As mayor, I will continue to support charter school development in Baltimore and I will look for innovative ways to promote and foster their success.

What current development project underway in the city has the most potential to bring positive change to Baltimore? In what way?

I am encouraged by the dueling biotechnology parks on Baltimore's East and Westside. Situated in areas where ten years ago investors would have not stepped foot, both University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins Hospital decided otherwise. They recognized Baltimore as a place with two incredible assets at its fingertips--the brainpower and initiative at its myriad universities and the space to build office parks within city boundaries. The future of the area's high-tech industry rests our new biotech parks and few cities in the world have the opportunity to leverage Baltimore's base of colleges and universities. This is an important determining factor in Baltimore's future since universities often form the basis of high-tech clusters. In the Boston area, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and other schools form the foundation of a high-tech cluster that has created huge growth. Silicon Valley, anchored by Stanford and Cal-Berkeley speaks for itself.

Please list three specific things that Baltimore can do to attract new investment and/or new residents. Please be sure to include how the mayor's office can implement or encourage these ideas.

First, any discussion about Baltimore's economy must begin with a truth: you cannot have solid economic development when crime is out of control. We are facing a murder crisis, with the city on pace to top 300 murders. We have the second highest murder rate in America. That is not an environment in which businesses can thrive nor is it an environment in which people feel it is worth the risk to start new businesses. Therefore, my number one economic development tool will be to focus on reducing crime and murders in our city, to make businesses owners and residents alike feel safe.

Secondly, we must take a good hard look at our tax and fee structure in Baltimore City. We can lower property taxes in the city of Baltimore and we should. To do that, we must first eliminate waste within government. As mayor, I will subject all city agencies to periodic efficiency audits by management specialists. These audits will aim to trim administrative excess, eliminate inefficiencies, and get rid of redundancies. Through aggressive auditing and better fiscal management, we will find the money needed to lower our tax rates. We also need to do a much better job of educating people about existing tax breaks and incentives. At present, people simply do not take advantage of a number of tax credits already on the books, such as the historic tax credit and the newly constructed dwellings tax credit that the City Council should reauthorize this year. These credits will help many people take the bite out of high property taxes, but people cannot utilize them if they don't know about them. Additionally, as mayor, I will explore the possibility of providing property tax relief and other incentives for those city employees who provide essential safety services to the city. It is my belief that a city benefits by having these individuals as city residents, by having those so dedicated to the well being of our residents living within the city.

Lastly, Baltimore needs to be a vocal advocate for itself in the BRAC process. We are competing with neighboring jurisdictions for these new jobs and new residents. As mayor, I will work collaboratively with the Baltimore Development Corporation, the Department of Planning, and the Department of Transportation to make Baltimore a viable option for new families. Representatives from these agencies will meet regularly to coordinate their efforts and ensure that Baltimore has the infrastructure ready to welcome these new residents and new jobs. Additionally, in order to make this city attractive to these new families it is essential that they know they have a mayor who will address the problems within our school system and in our streets. Further, I will advocate for Baltimore on the state and federal level to make sure that Baltimore gets the funding it deserves to streamline this process.

What one specific thing do you promise Baltimoreans you will accomplish for them for the next four years if elected?

I believe the mayor should have full responsibility for our schools. In order to break through the bloated bureaucracy of North Avenue and build better schools, we need one person with the legislated power, to come in, take responsibility for the success of the schools, and stake his/her own personal future on their success. We need a system in which one person is responsible for the success of our schools, has the authority to work toward that success, and will be held accountable by the public.

As mayor, I will be that person. No more city-state partnership. No more blame shifting. No more finger pointing. I will assume responsibility for our schools and demand accountability from all those involved in the system, including myself. And if I do not achieve real progress in a reasonable amount of time, I say vote me out.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

For City Paper employees only (ha, ha).

 

*Mike Schaefer

Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

First in line for cuts would be Cable and Communications, budgeted at $1.2 million, an increase of l87.7 percent. This is the city's TV channels 25 and 75 which appear to be focused on the mayor, her face and city information always on 25 and 75 is full of re-runs of her campaign announcement and other rallys. And 75 nightime often features Muslim leader Rev. Farrakhan who is famous for hating whites and jews, has called Hitler "a very nice man". First amendment rights are one thing, but the mayor has failed to use discretion to focus more on Baltimore's history and less religion, and less hip-hop and rap-music performance tapes submitted by locals, primarily of interest to participants. We are not getting any bang for our buck and we are getting a lot of hatred and diverson instead of education and enlightenment. Our city channels do not have to compete with Radio One.

Last in line for cuts is our Police Department, budgeted at $297.6 million, an increase of 4 percent.. This will be an expanding budget .

Should the Board of Estimates be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted? If not, why not?

There are presently five members. Would replace Public Works director with chief of police, to give emphasis to the department that affects our lives and our image and needs a kickstart, more prestige, more financial support.

As a strong-mayor form of government, as opposed to city manager form, both of which I have served, our government needs the five to consist of three elected officials (mayor, council president, comptroller), and two appointees(city solicitor, city police commissioner), to give mayor necessary clout regardless of who is mayor.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

This is just one factor. May good servants of the people have been in a bankruptcy proceeding, business reorganization, and even debt write-off, and this should not disqualify. However, lack of personal funds leaves a candidate susceptible to undue influence by special interests (i.e. large contributors) and this is bad for the public interest. We must have candidates who can say NO to both contributors and non-contributors. We must scrutinize credit card expenditures by the 100s of city employees who have ability to charge expenses to the city of Baltimore. Responsible use of such perks-of-office is more relevant that one's past financial history.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

We must limit the influence of special interests in city campaigns. San Francisco has had a $250 limit, Arizona has limited public funding to candidates who collect large numbers of $5.00 contributions. Political donations have a corrupting influence on the public interest. We should prohibit donations from individuals or firms not having a city address, should limit donations to $250.00 per business, union, individual, association. And should have the State's Attorney after each election report to the mayor (and the media) all complaints observed, or received from any course, as to candidate financial practices, and what action is or will be taken.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

This issue cannot be quantified by number, but requires evaluation, hopefully by office of the mayor. Only absolute would be bar of sex-offenders from contact with groups(opposite sex, children, etc) involved in the convictions. I favor restoration of voting rights, city supported jobs for at-risk youth, and would be slow to have a bar

to anyone's future. I remember, as a councilman [ed.--in San Diego], working to reinstate a fired 20 year old lifeguard accused of lying on a job application, he answering "no" to question "have you ever been convicted of a crime as a juvenile or as an adult". This was 1970, legal age of adults was 21, juveniles were under age 18, and I argued with department head that "no", he being 20, was only factual answer he could give.

He was reinstated, and sent on to professional school, something he might have been denied with a false-application charge. We must go slow about disqualifying or firing anyone based on convictions in his or her past. We seek rehabilitation and live in the future.

Over the past several years, the Baltimore Police Department leadership has experienced a lot of turnover. How do you propose to stabilize the department and its leadership?

Adding the commissioner to the Board of Estimates would give more prestige to the position. Encourage our comissioner to be active in regional and national police organizatons would strengthen his or her fidelity to our city. Assuring ample funds for personnel, perks for field officers, limited overtime pay, better pay for the beat-cops and lesser pay for the administrators (other than the commissioner) would restore pride throughout the department. I have read former Mayor O'Malley's extensive study on police operations and am aware of the dissention among the troops, and as mayor would take a cop to lunch every week to bring myself up to speed. I do have the ear and the $1.00 a year services of former Mayor Schaefer for continued input and evaluation of police services.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore other than naming a new police commissioner. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

1st: Baltimore must double the five equestrian (horse mounted police) units, and send them into selected neighborhoods, and have a $50,000 starting pay for officers (now $39,000). This is consistent with police pay in major west coast departments, and would bring us some of Detroit's best officers (their starting pay is but $29,000). We must expand recruiting to the military, to Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit, Miami, Washington, DC, plus our good pay and perks, plus quality environment, history,

will give us an officer-per-1,000 residents consistent with low-murder-rate cities.

2nd. Maryland has a state-subsizied seniors-job-program, Baltimore must create city-subsidized jobs program for our at-risk youths, age 16-25, and tie it to increased vocational-training; the program subsidizes 100 percent first 90 days of employer costs, then 50 percent for 90 days, hopefully by that time employee will have proved his/her worth, built a resume, have self-esteem and limited idle time. Many of our murder victims are at-rish youth in this age range.

3rd. Create a Foster Dad's program, in cooperation with churches, where men in 30s and above, with city-funded admissions/excursions/outing-meals/camping costs, can Mentor at-risk ages 6 to 16, dad or son felony would not disqualify, to develop role-models for those who otherwise may have no alternative but gang affiliation, and early death. One on one, Adult to Youth, is necessary, and half our at-risk families lack this.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

I come to the mayor's office with no preconceived opinions here, and it is a wise and honest candidate who will admit this rather than pontificate. We must have ongoing focus group with church leadership, and educational leaders, present and retired, plus consultation with national education associations, to design what will work best for Baltimore.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? What can be done to implement those suggestions?

It takes money. We have the Schaefer Commuter Tax that promises tens of millions in revenue from non-city residents for privilege of driving in central city during business hours, plus federal funding available for such programs that reduce congestion and pollution. We have potential slot-machine revenue from city-located machines. We must get the state to kick-back to us at least 50 percent of fines from moving-violations, all of which goes to Annapolis while we pay police costs.

As Mayor I will go to Oprah Winfrey, the Annenberg Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Malinda Gates Foundation--anyone with billions for charity, to encourage their participation, 50-50, in city-programs for scholarships for costs and supplies for vocational schools, remedial programs, better teacher pay, and

a mayor's teacher of the month award upon nomination from the public, and a $1,000 thank-you prize. With more money, better paid teachers, ample scholarship funds not just for college but for any betterment a youth dreams about pursuing, even mortuary science, bartending, air conditioning school, city schools will be there for children of any city resident. Our at-risk youth need our help and love.

What current development project underway in the city has the most potential to bring positive change to Baltimore? In what way?

The new Hilton Hotel on East Pratt will create jobs, bring tourists who will ring cash registers all over town. 20 years ago, as a Mount Vernon hotel owner-operator, I went to JW Marriott Jr. and urged him to supplement his Hunt Valley hotel with an Inner-Harbor facility. Marriott now has two! I am excited about growth of tourism. We must all promote our city to all of America and to the World.

Please list three specific things that Baltimore can do to attract new investment and/or new residents. Please be sure to include how the mayor's office can implement or encourage these ideas.

1st. The mayor must work with Downtown Partnership and other groups, making personal appearances at national conventions (as incumbent did, Las Vegas) to plug what we have to offer, must have new ideas, including exploring a "Worlds Fair" in a decade. (Having attended these in Oslo, Monteal, Osaka, I know this spotlights the city and state hosting it.) We are close to Washington, DC, easy access to US leadership to support our quest to have America (and Baltimore) host it.

2nd. Incentives to downtown and adjacent housing developers, not unlike incentives given major league team owners in connection with construction of sports facilities. Baltimore can borrow money cheaply, and make this subsidized financial available to those who will invest substantial millions, which brings jobs, and new residents.

3rd. Mayor must host the Base Relocation Facility new employees, a dinner/lunch, "welcome" perks like 2-1 dinners at 50 cooperating restaurants, abatement of property tax for first year for BR homebuyers, getting landlord security-deposit waiver (with guarantee) for such employees who will rent here, free admission to our transit, our zoo, or other attractions, 50 percent moving van costs to city address---anything to thank them for moving to our city with three year commitment. (And they'd save the Schaefer Commuter Tax!).

What one specific thing do you promise Baltimoreans you will accomplish for them for the next four years if elected?

Restore pride, integrity, citizen-is-king, way of life, reversing the "gotcha" attitude we have lived with for so long. This involves primarily our relationship to our automobile. Our new motto will be Courtesy. The Schaefer Dozen:

Other cities offer 50 percent discount for parking tickets if paid within 10 days.

We must offer this to City residents. It brings in the money faster, at a savings.

Other cities consider a broken parking meter a motorists good-fortune, the Dixon Administration will ticket any car found using a "FAIL" meter.

Other cities admit that parking citations for meters, no-standing, are not enforced on holidays. Baltimore advises media that "meters must be fed" while never is a ticket written(metermaids have day off too). This boogey-man attitude must stop.

Other cities let motorist "win" if meeting-up at the car when enforcer-is-there, it is a defense that "it just expired", or "I'm leaving now". No so in Balmer.

We must turn this ill-will, security-risk confrontation into a happy and safe ending. This applies to tow-truck meet-ups too.

As mayor, I will use my "Scooty Libby" commutation power to dismiss any parking citation issued on a resident's birthday. And if born February 29th, up to four that day will be processed. Let the City recognize you are special once-a- year.

Limit all signs to necessary days/hours; how silly it is at 10 pm at night to wait at deserted intersection for a two minute light instead of turning, just because the sign does not say "7am-7pm weekdays" but only NO TURN ON RED.

Move the "no stopping/standing" signs closer to alleys/corners, creating a 100 new street spaces in central Balmor. I created two spaces outside my Mount Vernon home this way (city moved the signs), for whole neighborhood to enjoy.

Will do the same in everyone's neighborhood upon request to the mayor.

If ? of a vehicle is inside the safe-area of a No Stopping/Standing sign, that's enough. Majority rules. No more technical tickets for a car a foot over the line.

Any out-of-state vehicle gets a "warning", once. The mayor thanking them for visiting, requesting they honor our parking laws, their license no. in our computer, we wish them a happy visit and hope to see them again.

Parking tickets must be dischargeable in bankrupty, like they are in other states, who treat them as "civil disputes"; Baltimore law nor forbids this.

Any car "booted" when less than three unpaid/unanswered tickets exist, will get

an immediate 100 percent bonus on whatever was required-to-be-paid for release, and city must give accurate release information (not say 24 hours, do it in two), and must not ever keep a citizen waiting on-the-line for information more than five min. My car was booted for five citations when only one was outstanding.

Review Mayor Dixon's recent actions in a) hiring more metermaids, b)giving them state-of-the-art faster-issuance ticket machines, c) supporting higher parking rates. The streets belong to the citizens, and hopefully the Schaefer Commuter Tax will lessen the congestion we suffer, or provide money to pay for our increased policing costs without any raise in property taxes, or both.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

First we must change Art. 31, sec. 36-23(b), which prohibits any amnest period for 10 years from our last two-day amnesty(2003). Thus no mayor can offer amnesty until mid-term in his/her 2nd term. This is artificial and wrong. I favor amnesty by libraries, by the Internal Revenue Service (Offer In Compromise program), national governments,and of course in this special citizen-to-city relationship, The Parking Ticket; my firstproposal will be to modify the above law to say "no further amnesties may be offered except at the direction of the mayor".

 

City Council President

*Kenneth N. Harris Sr.

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

My current record (almost 8 years) as a councilman shows that I am an independent voice that works on behalf of the citizens of Baltimore and not a mayor. Whether it's my no vote on the privatizing of city services, a no vote in the police department's supplemental budget for overtime spending (exceeding it's budget every year with no logical explanation) to calling for an audit of Baltimore City Public Schools, I have been consistent in representing the citizens of Baltimore. I have a proven track record of not being a rubber stamp for the mayor.

The City Council can only cut, but not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

The Mayor and City should be first in line for city cuts because we lead by example while education should be last department to be cut.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Do you believe that is the case? Why or why not? Should the board be reformed, and if so, how should its membership be constituted?

The current and past 7-years Board of Estimates has been a rubber stamp. There has been little public debate between the executive branch of the city government (mayor) and the legislative branch of city government (council/council president) on contracts and dollars allocated for development and activity within our city. That will change under my leadership as council president. I will leave no stone unturned in my ability to maximize opportunities for all Baltimoreans, and in doing so, some disagreements will occur between the mayor and I. Also, I am open to any ideas to reforming the board of estimates.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

It says a lot, and one should be able to take care of home first before taking on the business of other entities or responsibilities.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

The pension payment to Deputy Police Commissioner Marcus Brown is one example. I fix such a mess by not voting for such nonsense and wasting the taxpayer's hard working dollars.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job.

I am open to suggestions as it relates to this matter. Ultimately, we want everyone to be accountable for his or her actions. If an individual has committed a criminal offense and served his or her time, I am open to discuss employment opportunities as in the case of ex-felons who have served their debt to society and now have the right to vote.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

Please refere to the attached report I produced in 2002 named the Stateholder's Solution Summit Report. We can't just have a crime plan; we need an economic plan too. My report references this.

Do you think the city's school should be under city or state control? Why?

I support city schools under the control of the city with the addition of a majority elected school board. This will ensure accountability on all levels and less finger pointing between the city and state.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The city council should have more of an oversight role as it relates to spending, reduction in the number of schools and appointments of school board members.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system?

My first suggestion is to have a majority elected school board. In doing so, a school board commissioner would be more concerned in doing his or her job; therefore being re-elected by the people of Baltimore rather an appointment via the mayor or governor where many school board members are more concerned in pleasing the mayor/governor.

What one specific thing do you promise Baltimoreans you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

The specific thing I promise to Baltimoreans is a transparent and open government; unlike you see today.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I am open to such discussion if it's a benefit to the citizens of Baltimore in our ability to maximize revenue and fairness to all.

 

*Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I am proud to have received the endorsement of Mayor Dixon for my candidacy as City Council President. But she and I both understand that supporting each other does not necessarily mean agreeing with each other 100 percent of the time. Instead, it means sharing a vision for Baltimore's future.

Leadership is not simply having a platform to stand up to the administration. It also involves having the integrity and ability to sit down with the administration when disagreements arise. In the seven months since becoming City Council President, the Mayor and I have disagreed on a number of issues. But each time, we have both demonstrated the maturity it takes to be a leader of this City. We do not settle disputes by having press conferences or rallies. Instead, we find a third way-a compromise-that benefits the people of Baltimore.

As City Council President, mine will be a reliable vote for the continued progress of this City.

The City Council can only cut, but not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

It is my firm belief that each City agency serves a valuable purpose in the administration of City services throughout Baltimore. The premise of this question assumes that the first option during a budget crisis would automatically be to sever agency budgets, which are directly connected to the services enjoyed by the residents of Baltimore City. Baltimore has built a "rainy day fund" of more than $80 million which can be (and has been) used in such budget crises.

In the extremely unlikely event that City spending would exhaust budgeted resources as well as reserve funds, public safety dollars would be the last to be considered by the Council to be cut.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Do you believe that is the case? Why or why not? Should the board be reformed, and if so, how should its membership be constituted?

As Chair of the Board of Estimates, the process for City expenditures is open, transparent, and anything but a "mayoral rubber stamp." Each member of the Board has an equally-valued vote on expenditures. In addition, each member has the ability to inquire further about certain items, should concerns arise. This entire process is conducted publicly every Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m. In addition, the mini-meeting immediately before the Board meetings is also open to the public. And the Board of Estimates agenda is available online prior to the meeting. All public protests are considered at the Board meetings, and public testimony is heard when applicable.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

Voters are welcome to use whatever criteria they would like to judge a person's ability to manage the City's affairs. I would hope that beyond a candidate's personal financial status, residents of Baltimore would consider professional experience, constituent relations, and the candidate's ability to deliver on the promise of a brighter future for Baltimore.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

During my twelve years on the City Council, I have not been party to, nor witness to any corrupt practices in City government. The suggestion that such practices are inevitable demonstrates a dark cynicism that is neither beneficial nor complimentary of the people of Baltimore and the intelligence with which they elect their public officials.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job.

"Criminal convictions" refers to a collection of crimes that can not necessarily be addressed collectively. When considering application for City employment, a person's criminal history should be considered to the extent that such history applies to the performance of the job for which he or she is applying.

The City must play their own part in the reentry process, and allow those with convictions, who have served their time and are interested in becoming a productive member of society, to be gainfully employed and contribute to the progress we are experiencing City-wide. However, the Department of Human Resources should have wide-ranging discretion in determining the potential risk of any applicant-with or without a criminal history-to dutifully perform the job for which they are applying. Like any professional establishment, City government seeks the best and most qualified applicants for positions of great esteem. The people of Baltimore deserve nothing less.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

Attacking crime must be done from multiple angles. First, enforcement must be targeted, so resources can be focused on neighborhoods in crisis. State resources should be allocated to assist in the apprehension of the nearly 40,000 open warrants in Baltimore City, and the expansion of the Warrant Apprehension Task Force. I called for this allocation in May and am working diligently with State officials to make it happen. Warrant apprehension should focus on the most violent criminals, removing them from the streets before they commit another violent act.

Second, during the most vulnerable years of a young person's development, the City must make a priority to deter them from crime by providing adequate alternatives. To that end, the Baltimore City Public School System, the Police Department, the Department of Recreation and Parks, the corporate community and other community groups all play vital roles. The City must commit to the agenda proposed by BUILD, which includes the establishment of new recreation centers, and the rehabilitation of existing centers, to give youth an alternative direction during their most vulnerable development years. Through corporate partnerships and City investment, Baltimore can dramatically expand the reach of its recreation centers to more youth than ever before. The number of summer jobs available to City youth should be dramatically increased, which can be accomplished through major corporate partnerships and engagement with local businesses.

Thirdly, nearly every social ill and societal challenge facing our City can be linked to the drug trade and drug addiction.

As a public defender in Baltimore for nearly eight years, nearly all of my cases had a direct connection to drugs. I saw children whose most prominent memories of their parents include shackles and handcuffs when they appeared, defeated by drugs, for their court appearances. Drug addiction should be treated like the public health problem that it is, and should be the highest priority of our City's Health Department, medical institutions, and faith communities. Heroin, by far the number one drug of choice among chronic users in Baltimore City, can be treated using buprenorphine, an alternative to methadone that requires the participation of local medical providers. Through a one-day course, doctors can become certified to administer and prescribe buprenorphine treatments. The City should offer greater incentives to expand the availability of this treatment, which frees up valuable bed space in drug treatment facilities.

Do you think the city's school should be under city or state control? Why?

One of the first decisions I made when determining Council Committee structure and assignments was to restore the Council Committee on Education. I asked a former teacher, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, to serve as Chair of that Committee and in doing so, reassured every parent of a Baltimore City Public School student that the City Council, under my leadership, would always consider education-related issues with the utmost respect for educators, students, and parents alike. A Committee dedicated solely to education issues allows the Council to consider education-related legislation with the attention and expediency it deserves.

When the Council's Education Committee was formed, I made clear that one purpose for it would be to reexamine the effectiveness of the current City/State partnership that governs the school system. While I strongly believe that the system was the right one to implement at the time, we as City leaders are obligated to reevaluate such structures periodically based on changing trends and social patterns within our community.

The current shared fiscal accountability for BCPSS, between the state and the City, is one that recognizes the collective responsibility for urban education and the increased costs such a system inherently requires. Any attempt to dismantle the City/State partnership must also recognize the significant fiscal impact such a change would have on the current system.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The City Council, as with all other City agencies, has a responsibility to exercise its oversight and accountability role with the Baltimore City Public School System. I spearheaded the successful effort to have biannual Council review of the school system's budget, to ensure that system dollars are focused on the classroom and not on administrative costs at North Avenue. The Education of our youth should be done by professional educators, however. It is clear that students achieve when autonomy is given to talented, dedicated principals. It has been proven at schools across Baltimore, like George Washington Elementary, where test scores rank among the highest in the state notwithstanding the low income level and high minority population in the school. With the proper oversight and accountability standards, dedicated, professional educators should be given the autonomy necessary to allow our students to achieve even greater heights.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system?

See answer above.

What one specific thing do you promise Baltimoreans you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

My commitment to the people of this City goes far beyond any "one specific thing." I do not make promises that I can not keep, and will not make commitments that I don't intend to fully and completely follow through on. My commitment to the people of Baltimore includes a continued effort to expand the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, refocus City resources on the revitalization of our neighborhoods, a continued investment in communities most in need such as Park Heights, a continued dedication to the youth of this city, including the establishment of more recreation centers, an increase in summer jobs available to youth, and the expansion of after-school programs.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

In 2003, I authored the City's parking ticket amnesty period, and allowed for a provision restricting any further amnesty period for five years. Upon the expiration of that 5-year period, I will review the status of unpaid traffic violations to determine if another amnesty period is necessary.

 

*Michael Sarbanes

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support in the mayor's agenda before the city council?

I believe the job of the city council president is to be an independent voice to the mayor. The Council President should not be a rubber stamp nor an automatic opposition. Rather, the Council President should support the Mayor when the agenda is best for the city but offer a counterbalance on issues that will not be best for the citizens of Baltimore.

The city council can only cut, not add to, the Mayors annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

Responses to budget crises should depend on the specific situation, so a hypothetical answer is difficult. In general, I think public safety agencies cannot be compromised without disastrous consequences so must remain a budget priority. At the same time, other city services have a critical impact on the daily quality of life. I believe strongly that we should work to restructure the way services are provided so that we can get more out of the resources that we have available. We have a city government that is largely complaint-driven. Most city services respond to problems as opposed to trying to prevent them from occurring. In addition, often city services are compliance-driven; workers are encouraged to meet minimum standards rather than to creatively figure out how services can be performed on in a new, creative and better ways.

The five member board of estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Do you believe this is the case? Why or Why not? Should the board be reformed and if so how should its membership be constituted?

The Board of Estimates is the key gatekeeper for public expenditures. It must not be a rubber stamp. The City Council President sets the agenda for the Board of Estimates and determines what items get public attention and what questions must be asked before an item gets approved. I was the first candidate to oppose the recent proposal to reform the charter to reduce the oversight provided by the Board of Estimates. The people of the city must have confidence that resources are being expended in the public's interest and the Council President provides a key balance to make sure that the public's interest is kept front and center.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage city affairs?

I think that a candidates personal, business and campaign finances is a relevant question for voters to ask. I think a candidate should always be honest and open about their own finances and campaign finances. Transparency is essential to the public's trust in our government. In the past several weeks, a number of citizens have commented to me on the problems in the campaign reports of my opponents in this race, including the "$64,000 question" of monies missing from the interim Council President's campaign accounts. This kind of lack of transparency undermines the voters' confidence in our city government.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

The building permit inspection system has a significant impact on the built environment of the city, as it largely determines the safety and durability of buildings that are being constructed now. While I would not say that this is a "corrupt practice", I do think that a level of independent oversight of the quality of the inspections would help make sure that the playing field is level and the quality of work is excellent.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

Criminal convictions are clearly a relevant factor in considering someone for a city job. However, the weight of this factor should depend on what kind of position is in question. There are many people in this city who are rebuilding their lives after making bad choices at an earlier stage of their lives. They should not be completely blocked from certain city jobs. At the same time, city employment should have the highest standards in terms of behavior of employees and criminal convictions are relevant to decisions about firing as well.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented?

I would bring to this office over 15 years of working in neighborhoods to make communities safe. As an attorney for the Community Law Center I worked to shut down drug houses utilizing nuisance laws and neighborhood associations. As the Director of the Maryland Office of Crime Prevention and Control I targeted high crime areas throughout Maryland and brought crime rates down. The Sarbanes Reclaim Neighborhoods Save Lives strategy will :

Prioritize neighborhood patrol

Transform high crime areas,

Stop the cycles that produce crime, particularly drug addiction and shootings and

Compete for our kids against violence, gangs and drugs by providing greater opportunity for recreation and education.

There is a great deal of detail on this strategy at www.sarbanesforbatlimore.com. I also believe in order to reduce and eliminate crime we must also provide opportunity for our citizens in the areas of education, jobs and adequate affordable housing. We must work with our schools, churches, neighborhood associations and community leaders to successfully combat crime on all levels.

Do you believe the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

I believe that the school board composition should reflect two principles: 1. it should be responsive to the concerns of parents and community of Baltimore City; 2. it should be accountable with the accompanying authority and capacity to make needed changes. Therefore I favor a school board partially elected by the citizens to ensure responsiveness and urgency, partially appointed by the city which has a critical role to play in education success, and partially appointed by the state which provides about ? of the funding for our schools. While any structure depends on the individuals within it to make it work, this would bring more of a community voice to the school board while maintaining accountability for political leaders who must provide the resources for our children to succeed.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

Our children have shown us that they can learn in any part of this city. It takes a school where the principal is focused on educational excellence not building maintenance, where teachers can use their gifts to impart knowledge rather than fill out paperwork, and where parents and community are deeply involved in supporting our children's excellence. I believe the City Council has an important role to play. As president I will:

Work with the school system to identify and promote clear and identifiable annual goals each year for what we are trying to achieve for our children (e.g. reading on grade level by 4th grade, or passing the high school assessment exam, or physical improvements to schools, or entering school ready to learn).

Hold the system accountable for clear progress on each of these goals.

Work to rally communities, faith institutions, and businesses to help our schools achieve these goals.

The success of our schools depends on factors beyond the school day and building as well. I will work with our businesses, colleges and universities as well as the City's budget to provide or sponsor after school programming, recreation centers and early childhood development. I will ask any business that comes to talk with me about their interests in the city what they are doing to support our schools and children.

Finally, I would make sure that the contractors we pay to perform maintenance on our schools actually do the work and not continue to award contracts to those that do not.

What specific suggestions do toy have for improving the city's school system?

I am passionate about helping to make sure that routes to school are safe. A teenager who lives around the corner from me was expelled from school for having a box-cutter in school. He is a gentle soul and not prone to any sort of violence. When I asked him what happened, he explained that he was afraid to leave school without some protection each day for fear that he would get jumped. I would work with our police, neighborhood and block associations to monitor safe routes to school, so that no child has to be afraid to go to and from school. Each day he was choosing between expulsions and feeling completely vulnerable. This is an unacceptable choice to force upon a 15 year old.

What one specific thing do you promise Baltimoreans you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I will transform the office of the City Council President to be an independent champion for higher expectations, creativity and energy in city government to match the enormous potential of our people.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

Parking ticket amnesty should not be a standard way of doing business. It may make sense on an occasional basis to actually collect money from people who may be so far behind in late fines that they are overwhelmed.

 

*Charles Ulysses Smith

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I believe president of City Council should be a rubber stamp for the mayor and should do what is right for the public.

The City Council can only cut, but not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

Through carful study this should decided.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Do you believe that is the case? Why or why not? Should the board be reformed, and if so, how should its membership be constituted?

I believe the board will work fine, intregity needs a come back.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

Says a lot if the business is making a profit or not.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

Affordable housing inclusion won/t work community organization should be 501 ( c ) 3 rated and handle housing development and contractor should work for them.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job.

Only feloney conviction that go back eight years, and for second part of Guestion felony if convicted.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

tracting volience criminal letting them know they are being tract by police or justice system use project exile (federal system to prosecute) drug treatment programs and better job opportunities.

Do you think the city's school should be under city or state control? Why?

In one word accountability which not present now in the Baltimore City School System.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

Make changes to make the system more accountable..

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system?

All of the above mention.

What one specific thing do you promise Baltimoreans you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

Change for the better in the city.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

Only when needed. For the good of the public.

 

1st District

*Donald Dewar

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I am not running to become part of a political machine. If the Mayor's agenda is compatible with my agenda and my constitutents' needs, I will support it. If it is not, I will oppose it. I have no fear of being outvoted. I would rather be a leader of the opposition than a member the team, if I think the team is pointed in the wrong direction.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

Police and fire budgets cannot be cut. We can suggest better ways to spend within those budgets, but there is no room for cutting. In general, I support putting the city's checkbook on line, so that every citizen can have the opportunity to watch the city's money being spent in real time. I think there is a lot of waste that can be cut, if the public is allowed scrutiny of the budget. The school system's budget process is an outrage.

As for a specific department that should be cut, it probably would be the Baltimore Development Corporation. I wouldn't cut their operating budget, but I strongly oppose the freebies and tax breaks that they hand out to big developers. John Paterakis is a friend of my wife's family. I like him personally. But if John can't develop prime waterfront property without a tax break, he should stick to making rolls.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

I would favor removing the City Solicitor and Director of Public Works from the Board of Estimates, thereby making it a body of officials who are accountable to the electorate.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

I don't know whether one can make hard and fast judgments on how a person's financial and personal situation will affect his or her job performance. I have done well in business and would like to use my business skills to improve the city's performance.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

One timely corrupt practice was the giveaway of the Clarence "Du" Burns Arena to Ed Hale. Mr. Hale has been trying to obtain control of that arena since before it was built. The Department of Recreation and Parks managed to keep control of it until last year. The facility actually made money during the 2004 fiscal year, according to reports in The Baltimore Sun. Now, this community recreation center has been turned over to Mr. Hale, who gets a $250,000 a year management fee. Mr. Hale has been very generous with campaign contributions to my incumbent opponent. He practically served as Mr. Hale's spokesman when I raised objection to using the arena for a rap concert that ended at 2 a.m.

[Please note that my objection to the rap concert was not based on the race of its fans. I don't think 2 a.m. is a proper closing time for any concert in a residential area, next to a nursing home and a senior housing center. I also have difficulty with the city's providing a stage for a member of the Bloods, whose lyrics include "Kill `em if he blink wrong, kill `em if he think wrong."]

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

I don't think criminal convictions should disqualify a person from city employment if time has passed since the conviction and if the person has kept out of trouble. It's not the number and type of convictions that count as much as the applicant's recent history. Also, I think people who have offended against children should be kept away from children. People who have stolen should not be given access to funds.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

There are no three magic steps to solving the homicide problem. If you really want to eliminate homicide, you have to start with schools, family services, drug treatment, and quality of poor communities. You also have to be willing to accept incremental change. Complicated problems don't lend themselves to quick fixes.

Having said that, I will try to comply with your format, however.

(a) Suggestion #1. Fully fund and staff the police department with well-paid personnel. The department is 10% under its allotted personnel levels. The existing levels probably are too low. Baltimore has a chronic heroin problem, much more so than other cities. Heroin addicts are more labor-intensive than other offenders and we need more labor to deal with the problems that they create. At current staffing levels, the police department is in a mode of responding to calls instead of patrolling and preventing crime.

(b) Suggestion #2. Reinstate the merit system in middle management. When I was a police officer, many years ago, a Captain ran each district. He was protected by civil service. He was the equivalent of a non-commissioned officer in the military. Captains stayed in position for a long period of time and became mini-commissioners of their districts. Now, the rank of Captain has been abolished--through the city's budget process--and replaced by Deputy Majors. The districts are run by Majors and Deputy Majors. These appointments are much more subject to internal politicking than the Captains' appointments. The incessant shuffling of management, including the revenge firings every time we have a new Commissioner, has had a very damaging impact on the effectiveness of the police department. It's hard to buy into your supervisor's program when your supervisor's tenure in office is in constant jeopardy.

(c) Suggestion #3. Get the politicians out of the police department. If the Commissioner knows what he is doing, he shouldn't be interacting with the Mayor's staff each day, looking over his shoulder and responding to demands that he serve up the flavor of the month. The City Council should provide him with budgetary direction and with funding and staffing needed to do the job, as the Commissioner defines it.

Recently, the acting-Commissioner told a group in my district that he was pulling officers from the Warrant Apprehension Task Force to walk foot posts one day a week. This is clearly a response to pressure from the Mayor's office to increase visibility. This is a call that should have been made by the Commissioner and his command staff.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

The city and state have both failed at running the city school system. The courts have put themselves in the mix and botched the job as well. With the recent appellate decision requiring the system to fund charter schools at the same level as schools run by the system, I intend to aggressively promote the conversion of schools in my district to charter schools, thereby making the city and state irrelevant. The communities in my district could do a better job of running schools themselves. There is a lot of expertise in the First District. I would have the state and city's role limited to funding, establishing standards, and reviewing results.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The City Council's role should mostly be fiscal. The City Council should run an aggressive budget process that makes sure that there are no phantom positions and that the line items in the budget matches reality. The City Council lacks expertise and authority to micro-manage the education process. This is especially true in a city where there are special education issues.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

My specific suggestion for the school system also applies to the city as a whole. I want to put the city's checkbook registers on line so that the public can watch its money being spent in real time. This would make it much easier to examine the system's finances. I also want all LLCs and non-publicly traded companies to be required to file an affidavit each year stating the nature of their ownership. If this was done with the school system, we would at least have an idea where all the lost money went.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans citywide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I promise the people in my district that I will not play political games. I won't give tax breaks to anyone in exchange for campaign contributions. If I disagree with Ms. Jessamy, I won't walk out on her while she is speaking. I will restore adult leadership to the 1st district.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I don't believe in amnesty, but I believe that the city's late fees are excessive and probably should be waived. If someone sued, the courts should strike them down as being usurious.

 

*James Kraft

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I will continue to be a reliable vote for my constituents. When their interests and those of the Mayor are the same, then I will vote in support of the particular bill/resolution. If not, then I will not. The best example of this was my refusal to support the legislation authorizing the construction of the Convention Center Hotel. I have also voted against the school budget on a couple of occasions and the overall budget at least once.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

I cannot say which department would be first or last in any given year. Budget priorities change and what might be the first department to cut in one particular year may not be the first in another. Each fiscal year must be judged on its own merits and each department must be held accountable for the management of its funds.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

The Board of Estimates does, in most cases, support the Mayor. If we were to reduce the size and membership of the Board, then we should do a comprehensive review of the Charter prior to doing so because such a change may necessitate changes in other provisions of the Charter. That being said, I am not necessarily adverse to a Board that consists of the Mayor, Council President and Comptroller.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

A candidate's ability to manage their own affairs should certainly be a factor that voters consider when they decide which candidate they want to support.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

In my term on the council I cannot say that I have seen a "corrupt" practice. I have seen many examples of incompetence and general indifference. There are a few easy things that could be done that would make a world of difference to the people of Baltimore: (a) require all city employees to display a positive, friendly attitude to all of those with whom they come into contact. These employees are the face of the city for those people who have to deal with them. In many cases, it may be the only dealing that the person has with the city. It should always be a positive experience. (b) instruct all employees to acknowledge people who enter their departments with a welcome demeanor. Our attitude should always be "how can I help you?" and not "That's not my job". We have too many instances where a person is greeted by a city employee who gives the perception that the person is interrupting the employee's day. This has to stop.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

This is a hard question to answer in absolute terms. There are so many factors to be taken into account, for example: (a) what is the crime?, (b) how long ago was the conviction?, (c) was there a victim or was it victimless crime?, (d) was the crime one of "moral turpitude"?, (e) for what type of job is the person applying? While standards must be high for all of our employees, different departments have more flexibility in those they can hire. Police and fire officers should have the strictest requirements in this area. Regular laborers may have fewer. To adopt a blanket policy may be the most objective way to address this question, but the fairer way is to develop some sort of measurement and look at it in a more subjective one.

Please list three specific suggestions that you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

Any plans to address crime will require a significant expenditure of funds. While I have advocated for pay raises for police and other recruitment incentives, unless the mayor decides to support a council member's plans, they will be in vain. That said, the long term solution to crime is to change the environment in which our children grow up. We must get to children when they are of pre-school age, make certain that they are fed, have good health care, safe places to live, work with them in kindergarten and the formative grades (1-3) so that they acquire basic societal survival skills, i.e. they learn how to read, write, add and subtract. Most studies show that if we can provide this type of growth environment and so educate our children, their chances of completing school and having productive lives increase geometrically. The costs of doing this is very high, but the costs that we are paying on the other end are so much higher.

Citizens must accept their role in creating a safer city. They must report crime, be willing to testify as witnesses and serve jury duty. When witnesses fail to show up out of fear and when juries fail to convict for reasons other than a lack of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, then we are contributing to the growth of violence in our city. Criminals may be stupid, but they are not dumb. If they know that the likelihood of their conviction is very slim, they are more likely to continue in their way of life.

Prosecution must be swift and effective. It must also be, when warranted, severe. Quality of life crimes have to be prosecuted and not deemed resolved on an "abated by arrest" basis. We must invest in technologies that allow us to know the status of prisoners, probationers and parolees to avoid their inadvertent release. We must reduce the number of trial postponements and, while protecting constitutional guarantees, require strict application of the 180 day rule. When criminals qualify for penalties as subsequent offenders, a policy must be adopted requiring the appropriate notice of enhanced penalties be given.

Certain parts of our city suffer much more than others from crime. In these areas out police department must intensify its efforts to build good, positive relations with the community, churches, businesses, etc., particularly with their leadership. The department must know the community and those who live and work there. Once that rapport is established and with the full support of and in partnership with the community, churches, businesses, etc. a zero tolerance policy should be implemented. With trust and confidence, this policy can be implemented and everyone will win. Without that trust and confidence, while many criminals may be taken out of circulation for a short time, the longer term goal of increased citizen participation in both their communities and the criminal justice system will be set back severely.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control?

It doesn't matter to me. Our educational focus should be on our children and we waste entirely too much time, energy and money engaged in the politics of education and not enough on its purpose. Our goal--to have children perform at grade level, in grade level--must be achieved. If that can be done by the city running the show, then that's fine. If not, it doesn't matter to me--the state, an appointed school board, an elected school board, a partially elected-appointed school board, Mrs. Johnson down the street. It's very plain and very simple--give me a teacher, give me a classroom, give me the students--stop getting hung up in all the rest of it. Let teachers teach; let children learn.

What role do you think that the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the city's school system?

We should give the teachers and the students the tools they need to get the job done. Other than that, we should stay out of the way.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

As with crime, any plans to address the school system will require a significant expenditure of funds. Unless both the mayor and the School Board decide to support a council member's plans, they will be in vain. I am encouraged by recent changes in school administration, particularly Dr. Alonso's hands-on approach and direct communication with the community. In the past, our students have been hurt significantly by a lack of stability in administration, curriculum, and staff. To address this issue, there are certain key steps we must take, such as expanding efforts to recruit teachers; offering benefits and administrative support that will allow us to keep our best teachers and performing necessary repairs, maintenance, and construction to maintain safe and positive learning environments.

I also believe that the issue of education in our city has to be dealt with on a school-by-school basis. I have met with many teachers and principals who have eloquently described the individual challenges their students are facing. For so many of them, teachers know exactly what obstacles are standing in the way of higher achievement by their students, but feel powerless to solve the problems. I have worked to form partnerships with each school in my district, and respond to their specific needs.

One initiative I am very encouraged by is the Community Schools program, which treats the school building as a hub for family services and community dialogue. From offering English and Spanish classes for parents and neighbors to after-school programs and community meeting spaces, this program is making our schools the center of the neighborhood's life and helping to create a positive view of the system. I have worked closely with the Wolfe Street Academy to foster partnerships with the community and the City.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans citywide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I try to avoid making promises. Given the pressures of development, traffic, lack of parking, etc. that we face in southeast, a continuation of my efforts to facilitate discussions with the community and the developers that allow us to meet the need for economic development while preserving those things that make our historic neighborhoods truly unique would seem to be the logical issue. But, unless we address the crime issue, the development pressures may relieve themselves. I pledge to do everything that I can to see that crimes committed in southeast, particularly the quality of life crimes that plague us day in and day out, are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

The idea--a certain percent of nothing is better than 100% of nothing--is certainly appealing. Subject to the specific parameters of such a plan, I would more than likely support it.

 

*Marc Warren

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

If elected, I will never become a rubber stamp for any Mayor, no matter what his or her agenda. As a member of the Baltimore City Council, I would have to scrutinize any bill put before me. I have to ask myself the question, will this bill, ordinance or proposal benefit the citizens of Baltimore? Will it result in a cost to taxpayers? Will it improve the quality of life for the citizens of Baltimore? Will it build the City's tax base? Or is it just a move to build someone's political image? It would be extremely unethical for any elected official to side with a particular Mayor. It's not about friendship or having political allies. It's about improving the quality of life for the citizens of Baltimore City.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

Every department in Baltimore City needs to be scrutinized for waste and fat. The first department or entity that is most deserving of cuts is at City Hall, the offices of Deputy Mayor. Baltimore was much better off without these overpaid, useless positions that were created by former Mayor Martin O'Malley to improve city services. Have these positions improved the management of Baltimore City? NO! These positions have made the City of Baltimore poorer and the Deputy Mayors wealthier.

Second in line for cuts is the Baltimore City Housing Department. This city agency has become a joke during the Dixon administration. This department has been known for ignoring citizen's complaints involving housing code violations. While citizens complain about absentee landlords and neglected properties, neighborhoods in Baltimore are decaying at a faster pace. The Department of Housing has a bad track record with the deplorable, ever-growing number of vacant housing in Baltimore. This department is partly responsible for the hundreds of Baltimore residents fleeing the city and seeking housing in the various Maryland counties. If this department isn't doing its job well, it should be the second in line to be faced with tremendous cuts.

While we look for a cleaner Baltimore, the Department of Sanitation contributes to the trash and rodent problem. Have you ever noticed how Sanitation trucks and workers litter the streets and alleys whenever they are collecting trash and create more of a problem? Baltimore would be better off financially if they would farm these responsibilities out to private contractors that would be more efficient, effective and most importantly, accountable for their services. Baltimore County has a private contractor to handle its trash collection, why can't Baltimore?

Another bureaucratic waste of taxpayer dollars is the Parking Authority, which was created to oversee city parking garages, parking meters and restricted parking.

Baltimore was better off financially without this unnecessary department, which could be reabsorbed in the Department of Transportation.

The Baltimore City Police Department needs to be scrutinized in terms of its operations. There have been numerous complaints about the Police Department's Investigation Units, where officers spent most of their desk time surfing the Internet rather than solving crimes. These officers would be better off being placed on the street to help relieve the personnel shortage and to combat and prevent crime.

Three departments that should be exempt from any budget cuts are the Baltimore City Fire Department, the Department of Health and the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

The Baltimore City Fire Department's budget has been cut to the bone over the years. We have seen more closings of fire houses in Baltimore City over the years, and the constant loss of EMT and firefighters. As a result of theses losses, more lives have lost by fires in Baltimore than in past decades when there were larger number of fire stations and personnel. We can not jeopardize the lives and safety of families and citizens of Baltimore.

Secondly, Baltimore is known for its ever-growing high rate of HIV, STDs, cancer and tuberculosis. There are a lot of citizens and families in Baltimore City who do not have the financial means to seek and obtain adequate medical care and assistance. Not only does this take money to combat these deadly diseases, but resources to education citizens to practice safe-sex and maintain their diets to fight diseases such as cancer. Cutting this department's budget would be devastating to the entire population of Baltimore City

Lastly, not only has Baltimore and the State of Maryland done a disservice to the Baltimore City School System, it has nearly destroyed one of the greatest educational institutions in the region, the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Baltimore was once known as "The City That Reads." The same individual who promoted that memorable slogan slashed the budget of the Enoch Pratt Free Library and closed many branches. The Pratt is more than just books. It is a life-long learning institution that touches the lives of individuals from ages three to 100. It is an empowering resource where citizens of Baltimore can expand their knowledge and skills with the latest computer technology. The Pratt provides assessable technology to citizens who may not be financially able to purchase a home computer. At the Pratt, a citizen can learn how to create a resume, obtain a job, purchase a home and help contribute to Baltimore's tax base. The city needs develop mini Pratt branches in every neighborhood of Baltimore City to give each citizen, regardless of their socio-economic status, an equal chance of success and learning.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

The Board of Estimates, like the City Council should be an elected board, elected by the citizens of Baltimore. It should not be a rubber stamp for the Mayor of Baltimore. It should be an elected entity that scrutinizes every contract, invoice or financial dealing that involves City tax dollars.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

No one should judge someone on their personal life and personal financial woes. I believe that every elected official takes his or her job seriously when it comes to regulating city tax dollars. What one does in their own home should have no effect on what they do in the workplace.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

What I consider to be corrupt in city government today are the numerous city employees that are not doing their jobs and their supervisors who are not holding their subordinates accountable. Baltimore City is in a severe crises where city employees from police officers to housing inspectors are not responding to citizen's concerns. These individuals either use the lack of raises or personnel as an excuse for not doing their job efficiently as possible. As a member of the Baltimore City Council, I would hold every city department, agency accountable. I would also ask the citizens of Baltimore, especially the neighborhood community associations to present the City Council with a monthly report card of city agencies. The real corruption is wasting valuable taxpayer dollars with excuses.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

Every job applicant should be scrutinized with a criminal background check. Some crimes that should deny an individual a position within Baltimore City government are murder, embezzlement, robbery, larceny and sex crimes. These crimes should also be cause for dismissal from city employment because these acts jeopardize the safety of city employees.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

Baltimore is a city of excuses, especially when it comes to public safety. What we've seen over and over during the past few months are politicians in office with a solution, but a solution to a persistent and deadly problem that will only come after an election.

What we need to do in Baltimore have a zero tolerance for crime. We can not do that without an adequate number of law enforcement officers on the streets of Baltimore to establish a zero tolerance presence in our community. Our present City Council has opposed giving Mayor Dixon the power to call in the National Guard and/or the Maryland State Police. The incumbent Jim Kraft viewed the bill as Martial Law. We can establish police presence in our communities without establishing martial law by denying the National Guard and Maryland State Police arrest powers. In order to prevent crime, we have to create an environment that deters crimes. In order to do that, we must first declare Baltimore in a state of emergency. If elected, I would create a bill that states, if staffing of the Baltimore City Police Department drops below an acceptable level of enforcement, the City Council of Baltimore will be given the power to obtain the assistance of the Maryland State Police and the National Guard to restore order and establish a presence in the neighborhood of Baltimore. This is the only way to restore civility to Baltimore City.

Secondly, I would work with the Mayor and the current Police Commissioner to develop a zero tolerance against crime in Baltimore. At the present time, the Baltimore City Police Force ignores certain crimes based on criticism of Baltimore City States Attorney Patricia Jessamy. Should we ignore crime in Baltimore just because the courts are overrun with cases? No! By not addressing nuisance crimes, the Baltimore City Police are condoning crime in Baltimore, therefore creating law-breaking citizens, not law-abiding citizens. Frustrating citizens who have sought assistance from the police turn into criminals as a result of the lack of a zero tolerance in the police department.

If there is no civility in Baltimore, everyone suffers and our lives are jeopardized.

Thirdly, we have to eliminate that horrendous institution that breeds crime in Baltimore--the Baltimore City Jail. We have to adopt new methods of reform like prison military camps that have been shown to reform criminals into law abiding citizens with hope for a better future than breeding new criminals. Most men and women who enter the institution either leave the facility committing more crimes and returning or end up getting killed because of their involvement in drugs and crimes. We need to offer hope with new alternatives of reform than breeding new criminals by housing them in that deplorable, antiquated facility.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

No matter who controls the Baltimore City School System, no one will ever be happy. This issue of control is blind-sighting the citizens of Baltimore of the real problem, the quality of education that the Baltimore City School System is now offering. Baltimore City is not financially able to control the Baltimore City School System. The City does not have the tax revenue to carry the financial burden of controlling the schools. If Baltimore City took over the school system, it would be doing the children of Baltimore a disservice.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The key to improving Baltimore is to address the curriculum of the Baltimore City Public School System. The Baltimore City Council's role in the Baltimore City School System should be one of a watch dog and quality assurance. The Baltimore School Board should be an elected entity, one that is decided upon by the citizens of Baltimore and reports directly to the Baltimore City Council and Mayor of Baltimore. Members of the Baltimore City Council and the Mayor of Baltimore should be primarily focused on the quality of the curriculum that the Baltimore City School System is currently offering and actively and annual seek means to improve or revise the current curriculum or adopt new alternatives. This can work if the Baltimore City School Board becomes a board elected by the citizens of Baltimore and jointly answers to the Mayor of Baltimore and the City Council.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

Improving the quality of education is the responsibility of both the Mayor and the City Council. In order to bring jobs to Baltimore, increase the tax base, eliminate our supply of vacant and deteriorating properties, education has to be improved. The City's focus should be on not who is controlling the schools, but are our children receiving a quality education. That is something that we should take charges of. I would work with the Mayor to establish a plan to improve the current school curriculum or adopt a new curriculum that addresses the needs of today's student.

First we need either a private entity or consultant to review our present means of educating our children. I would direct the Mayor and the City Council to divert monies to obtain an educational expect to reevaluate our current educational system and curriculum on an annual basis. We also have to look back to our past for ideas to improve learning. One idea that seems antiquated, but addresses the issue of teen pregnancy and sexually active youth is reverting back to same sex schools. In the past, it has been shown that by separating males from females, attention spans improve, thus creating a more productive learning experience with less disciplinary problems in the classroom. Another idea is expanding the school days with shorter class period, but more educational trade options. Regardless of socio-economic status, today's youth have a lower attention span than generations before them. It is far difficult for a student to concentrate in class that is more than an hour long, than one that is only 30 minutes in length. We have to adopt a curriculum that addresses this issue. Lastly, we need to prepare our youth for the workforce. Schools need to develop courses that will give children a brief introduction to careers in medical, legal, education, computer technology and other professions. By extending the school day to five o'clock, children can receive on-hands experience in these promising fields.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans citywide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

The most important and pressing issue in the First District of Baltimore City is the lack of police protection. The Southeast District is the most understaffed district in Baltimore City. It is also one of the most racially and economically diverse district in the city. At the present time, drug trafficking is at an all time high in the First District. Prostitution and nuisance crimes are flooding the Patterson Park neighborhood. Violent crime and robberies are occurring in Fell's Point and Canton. Calls to 911 operators are going unanswered. Police officers are finding excuses not to take reports, make arrests or report crimes. My promise to the voters in the First District is to improve police patrols and presence to prevent crime. While citizens in the First District are doing their best to improve their neighborhoods, the Baltimore City Police is working against the citizens making our neighborhoods unsafe and hospitable to the criminal element. Therefore, addressing the issue of police patrols and presence in the First District is my first priority.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I firmly believe that there should be a yearly parking ticket amnesty for the citizens of Baltimore. The City of Baltimore takes advantage of its citizens with its ruthless methods of preying on people. I've watched meter maids sit by cars eagerly waiting for their meters to expire just to meet their weekly quotas. I've seen people rush to put money in the meters while the meter maids refuse to put down their pens. How can you expect taxpayers to patronize businesses in Baltimore, work and live in Baltimore, while the City does everything in its power to swindle more revenue out of the lean pockets of its citizens? Yes, there should be an annual no-questions-asked parking ticket amnesty in Baltimore and more. No only would I suggest a yearly parking amnesty, I would suggest free parking in Baltimore City every weekend to make Baltimore more a friendlier commuter town.

 

2nd District

*Nick D'Adamo

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the city council?

I vote on each bill based on its merit and what I believe the citizens in my district feel. If the mayor has a good bill I'll vote for it. If it's a bad bill I'll vote against it.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

I think that public safety and education are priority issues. I would cut a percentage from all the other agencies.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and, if so, how should its membership be constituted?

Although they don't always do what I would want, the Board of Estimates works. It was created to make government more streamline, more like a business. Tough issues need the input of advisors but in the end one person has to make a decision You can't have people pulling in different directions. We elect a mayor to lead.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

I'm not sure about painting everyone with the same brush. Anyone can suffer setback, financial or otherwise. People who take risks tend to fail more often but on the other hand, they also tend to succeed more often. Its probably best look to at each case individually.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

That's a question that assumes knowledge of corruption. I'd rather assume that most people are trying to do the right thing.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

It depends on the type of crime and the distance between criminal behavior and present circumstances. Generally, if a convicted person has served their time and demonstrated a change of character they should be treated like everyone else.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and method you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

The homicide rate is tied directly to the use and abuse of drugs. WE have greatly expanded our drug rehabilitation programs in the city. We need to do more. Even when we feel that we have done enough, we have to do a little more.

Competition for a shrinking illegal drug market makes for violent times. I would suggest that we borrow the successful gun prosecution programs like the one in Richmond, Virginia - Project Exile. Gun users (in Baltimore) are sent to federal prisons far away from where the crime is committed--somewhere like Idaho.

While the City Council has no direct control over the police department, it is a state entity, we can pressure them by using public hearings to get our points across.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

City control. We can do a better job of serving our children than the State can.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

We can monitor the budgets and fight to get services for our school districts.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

I like the charter school model where each school is responsible for its own budget and operation. Neighborhoods should have some independence in running the schools. More involvement means more ownership, more community ownership means better schools.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I will continue toe provide top flight constituent service and I will be available to carry the desires of the people of the district to the City Council and to the mayor.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I am against ticket amnesty--you get the ticket you pay for it.

 

3rd District

*Robert Curran

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

Since February of 2007 I have served as the Vice-President of the Baltimore City Council, where my specific duties have been to be the Mayor's Legislative Floor Leader. If I was continue in my present role of Vice-President, I would continue to support the Mayor's Agenda. However, if I were no longer Council Vice-President, I would judge the Mayor's Legislation on a case by case basis.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

The first-in-line for Budget Cuts should be the offices of the City Council including staffing for the City Council; the last in-line should be the Baltimore City Public School System.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

To reform the board and provide increased scrutiny of the city's expenditures, the two non-elected members of the board should be removed, so that the board should consist of the Mayor, the Comptroller, and the City Council President.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

I believe a candidate should be evaluated based on the perception of how well he or she could perform the duties of the office the person is seeking. If we strictly use a candidate's business and personal financial situation as a criteria for the ability to serve in elected, we would not have had such distinguished persons serving on the City Council such as Bea Gaddy and others.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

I currently believe the way the city deals with Express Scripts, its Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM), is a harmful practice that is costing the city potentially tens of millions of dollars. PBM's are companies whom city's contract with in, and whom negotiate with drug companies in order to provide prescription drugs at a wholesale cost to those on the city's healthcare plan. Express Scripts, as well as other Pharmacy Benefits Managers, have been known to take kick-back like rebates from drug companies, and to sell municipalities drugs at more than wholesale cost, even when such PBM's have promised to sell only at wholesale prices. I therefore would suggest that the City end its contract with Express Scripts and form a contract with a Pharmacy Benefits Assistant (PBA), a company whose job is to slowly help a city withdraw from its dependency on a PBM and eventually negotiate directly with drug companies, and make sure the city benefits, and is not swindled, in such negotiations.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

Rejecting anyone from city employment, and firing a city employee from a job, is serious business, and such proceedings should be evaluated on a case by case basis. A person's overall criminal record should be taken into account, as well as his or her performance in non-correctional settings, when being considered for a city job or for being terminated from a city job. In short, there should be no rigid standard for these circumstances, with each case being decided not only on the severity of the conviction, but the person's work history and general performance both in and outside correctional settings.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

A) The Police Department must first have a sufficient amount of officers in order to implement any proposed crime-fighting strategy. According to Paul Blair, President of the Police Union within Baltimore City, the Baltimore Police Department has recruited and trained 461 officers in the past two fiscal years, yet during the same time 532 officers have left the force for better paying positions in other counties. Therefore there is a chronic staffing problem at the city police department, one which exists in a large part due to low average salaries for City Police Officers when compared to those Police Officers of surrounding counties. To solve the staffing problems facing the Department, more funds should be used to increase the average salaries of Baltimore Police Officers, so that parity exists between these salaries and those of Police Departments in nearby municipalities. It is my hope that such a salary increase will prevent the loss of officers to other jobs or early retirement, and thus such a salary increase would also prevent the chronic staffing problem at the city police department.

Once there is a sufficient amount of Police Officers on the force, morale must be raised within the ranks of the Police Department, so that Baltimore Police Officers feel energized to enforce the law and work with, and not against communities, while doing so. This can be done by finding and promoting command staff for the Department whom are energetic, not afraid to create/promote innovative crime-fighting strategies, and whom travel outside of Police Headquarters to work and encourage fellow officers in executing such strategies. This can also be done by deciding on overall police strategy and a Police Commissioner to enforce such strategy, one who is not afraid to work within the nine individual districts to do so, and to not change overall strategy for at least two years.

Public Safety Zone Designations should be promoted, zones where police can saturate certain neighborhoods with officers, put up check points, and temporarily enact temporary regulations in order to get guns off the street. I sponsored legislation earlier this year to enact such zones; while I had to withdraw the legislation, it is my hope that future efforts in passing such legislation will be more successful.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

The current method for managing and overseeing the city school system does not best serve the students of Baltimore. The current City-State partnership that administers the schools does not promote accountability within the system; it simply promotes finger-pointing within the system, with city officials blaming state officials for the system's failings, and state officials doing the same to city officials. Oversight and management of the school system therefore must be restored to rest solely in City hands, so that officials administering the system, and teachers and principals within it, ultimately hold themselves accountable, as then they would only be able to point fingers at themselves for any of the system's failings.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

As the members of the City Council also serve as elected representatives of the people of the Baltimore and as those who vote to fund various school programs, the School's CEO should regularly go in front of the Council, as to inform its members as to the state of the City Schools and answer any questions the Council members may have.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

To further promote accountability to the City of Baltimore, there should be an elected school board whose members regularly advise the Schools CEO, persons who can represent the direct will of the people on school-related issues to the Schools CEO. Also, with the City benefiting from increased economic prosperity over the last several years, funds from the surplus budget and from the rainy day fund should be used for the city schools, and local business should be solicited for increased funds for the city schools. Six months after these and any other school reform is implemented, the elected school board should perform an audit to determine whether the reform is succeeding in meeting its goals and should be continued.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans citywide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I will promise to continue to push for full-staffing of the Northeastern District of the Baltimore Police Department, specifically by dividing Sector 2 of the Northeastern Police District into two separate sections. Also, I will work to bring more economic development funds to the Harford Road corridor.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I was the only city council person that did not vote for the last parking ticket amnesty ordinance. While I also did not vote against it, I just feel such a measure leads persons into a false sense of reality by not paying tickets until the amnesty comes around. By that time the penalties and interest sky-rocket to thousands of dollars for a handful of tickets, and persons find themselves in a situation where they cannot renew their registration tags until all penalties are paid, and where they cannot pay such penalties.

 

*Norman Hall

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I will support any agenda that benefits the City of Baltimore and its citizens.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

The City Council should be first in line. To whom much is given much is expected. It is a privilege to serve on the City Council not a right. In times of crisis we should be the first to sacrifice not the people who trusted us to manage our city. The School system should be the last in line. Our children should not have to suffer it's our responsibility first.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

No comment.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

Personal life reflects professional life and vice versa.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

According to the U.S. Census bureau Baltimore County has more residents than Baltimore City yet they only have 7 Council members while we have 14(plus their assistants). Wasted money. I will fight to reduce the City County to 7 member districts.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

2 felonies as an adult-3 for non-financial and positions not requiring entry of private homes. 2 felonies after appointment.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

*Hire more City residents as officers/if you live where you work greater will be the commitment to keeping it safe/aggressive recruitment-High Schools Universities etc. *Encourage officers to live in the City after hired/possible take home car in strategic neighborhoods/possible faster maturation of salary with 7 year city resident agreement. *More aggressive investigation and prosecution of Kingpins not just pawns to pad numbers

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

The State; this way the State would directly be held accountable for performance standards, budgeting, supplies and safety.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The Council should take advantage of any opportunity to present to the Mayor ideas, initiatives, or concerns about the school system, and assist in every way in the dialogue and relationship between the Mayor and the School Board.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

If we cut the City Council down to 7 members like Baltimore County (which has more residents) we save the city more than 1/2 a million dollars per year. I will work to ear mark first priority of these funds for teacher salary increases, school supplies and equipment.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans citywide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

As a former business owner in the 3rd district I promise to make the 3rd district a safer prettier, and more exciting place to live, shop, work and play.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

12) I support parking ticket amnesty. There are many reasons why people default on parking tickets.

 

4th District

*Scherod Barnes

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

No, I will not be a rubber stamp, but will work in partnership with the administration were feasible and possible for the betterment of Baltimore City. Also the City Council's agenda should be set largely by the council.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

I don't know all the departments of the city, when elected I would want to review all departments to see were the fat is. Public Safety and Education should be the last departments to be cut.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how its membership should be constituted?

Yes, the Board of Estimates should be made up of three members, the mayor, president of the council and the comptroller.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

A candidate's business and personal financial situation say little or should have little impact on their ability to manage the city's affairs.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

Nepotism, we need to review the laws we currently have on the books and make sure that they are being enforced. We should also make the penalty for knowingly breaking the law severe.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

The first time someone is convicted of a capital crime they should be rejected from city employment. The first time an employee is charged or convicted of a capital crime, drug or substance abuse and a white collar crime they should be fired from their job.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

1. School days I would push for and enact a curfew for school age students.

2. Demand that the judicial system be harder on repeat criminals and make sure

that the time fits the crime with no parole

3. Work hard to assist in finding the funds to put more officers on foot in high crime neighborhoods

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

City Control, this would stop the buck passing that currently takes place between city and states. All accountability would then be at the feet of city government.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The council should play a major role to assure that all students have a great opportunity for a quality education.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system?

We need first to have a major overhaul of the system. Review staffing at North Ave, more male teachers, demand more parental involvement, accountability and transparency. Also we need to give more of the day to day control of the school to the principals.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I would promise them a much better district to live in.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I feel parking ticket amnesty should be reviewed on ticket by ticket bases.

 

*Ryan M. Coleman

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I will partner with the mayor but my votes and ideology, will be for the betterment of the citizens of the fourth and Baltimore.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

The office of the Inspector General would be the first office to cut due to a budget deficit. The last department to be cut is the Baltimore Police Department.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

Since the Director of Public Works is appointed by the mayor this could be a conflict of interest. This position should be replaced by the Baltimore City Council Vice President.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

It is only one small part of a person's character and life experiences.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

There should be a top to bottom internal and external audit of all departments.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

The city government's hiring procedures so as not to discourage people with conviction records from even applying for government jobs and to consider them fairly for government employment. The new procedures should remove the inquiry about criminal conviction history from the city government's initial employment application form. The new procedures consider conviction history only after they identify an applicant as a serious employment prospect. The new procedures apply only to city government employment.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully enacted?

There are a myriad of causes for crime that could be explored. I will focus on a few strategies:

Ex-Offenders-Over 700,000 individuals will be released from penal institutions each year in the United States. The average recidivism rate for those released is approx. 67 percent The community must recognize and address the needs of this population if we want to prevent crime.

Recommendations:

-Expand Comprehensive re-entry preparation programs

-Expand workforce development offerings for ex-offenders

Families-The prevention of child abuse and neglect must be a number one priority

Recommendations:

-Expand services for abused and neglected children

-Establish programs to service children coming out of Foster care.

-Support the creation of three Pal centers for each police district

-Support coordination of Mentioning programs

Education- A young person's relationship to school can significantly impact involvement of crime. Research shows early academic failure, weak attachment to school, poor attendance, and a poor school environment are risk factors to crime.

Recommendations:

-Insure that schools are safe places for youth

Have one school police officer at ever school. The school system already has 108 (authorized strength is 150) school police officers for 194 schools, so this suggestion would require little increase to the budget. I am sure that this request can be honored in a school budget that is 1.2 billion dollars

Install cameras at all our schools to safe guard our children, staff, and materials.

Encourage schools to teach peaceful conflict resolution, violence prevention and life skills.

Police-The Baltimore Police Department is in a crisis situation. We must stand behind our officers, and support them.

Recommendations:

-Increase the pay for our officers.

-Increase the number of officers in the recruitment unit

-Increase the incentives to live in Baltimore- tax credits, take home car, banking incentives, discount on homes bought in Baltimore.

-Start to push for candidates that have some college and/or an AA degree

-Have more in service training, involve federal agencies, and universities to ensure a highly trained police force.

-Double the amount of officers in the Warrant Task force to 80. Partner with the Maryland State Police, MTA Police, MDTA Police, Baltimore County Police, Anne Arundel Police to loan 20 officers to increase the total strength to 100 officers.

-Fully staff the Homicide unit while increasing it by 10 detectives.

-Increase the gang unit to 50 officers

-Fully staff all districts

-Push for 200 more officers on the street

-Change the police schedule to working four days on three days off.

-Focus on stopping all open drug markets.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

In 1918 Baltimore obtained home rule to enact all local laws. A quality public education system is the cornerstone of a world-class city. As the next generation of leaders, today's youth need an educational foundation built on knowledge and experience that will allow them to succeed in the future. It is up to us as a community to help provide our young people with the educational opportunities to acquire the life-skills necessary to succeed. Baltimore must have control of its school system! This arraignment that the BCPSS is a separate entity is problematic. Baltimore taking control of the school system will foster better coordination, communication, and support from city departments to the school system

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

Baltimore must make our children a priority! The city of Baltimore must increase its funding of the school system. The state of Maryland must continue to contribute what is owed to the people of Baltimore. Finally, the BCPSS must operate efficiently and effectively.

As a Councilman in City Hall it is imperative that I safe guard the tax payer's monies. To ensure that the city funding is reaching the classroom/ libraries that is directly attributing the learning of our children. We must insure that per pupil allocation is going toward the betterment of our children. I will be a strong advocate to strengthen the PTA's and partnerships with fraternities, sororities, community groups, business and other groups for our schools in the district.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

Become a Teacher Friendly city One of the biggest challenges facing the Baltimore City Schools is the need for qualified teachers tomorrow. Create the "Teacher Housing Program" to provide up to $65,000 in loans to teachers.

-Invest in Preschool and Child Readiness- Research shows that one of the most effective ways to address the "Achievement Gap" is high quality preschool. To create new high quality preschool/child care spaces in Baltimore.

-Keep Schools Safe- Public safety is one of the top priorities of any big city because children can't learn when they don't feel safe.

1. Have one school police officer in every Baltimore City Public School

2. To install cameras in all Baltimore City Public Schools

3. To create the Baltimore City School Police's Gang Prevention Task Force

- Extend the School Day- Quality after school programs help raise student achievement and help keep kids out of trouble.

-Create a rigorous curriculum in our schools- Make sure students are taking Algebra and Biology in the 7th grade

What one thing do you promise the constituents in your district -- not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent -- you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

Providing Quality Constituent Service Is a Top Priority! As your Councilman, one of my highest priorities is helping you with any questions or difficulties you may have with the local government. Connecting the constituent to the appropriate agency, department, or non profit. There is no question too small or issue too large that my staff and I will not work to address. Secondly, I will fight for a quality education for all children in Baltimore. Quality education begins with ensuring that our children have qualified teachers, smaller classes in a safe environment. I will fight for cameras and school police in all the schools in Baltimore. To fight for a discipline policy that protects the students and staff. I will fight to make Leith Walk Elementary a K-8 with new facilities, to create new facilities at Yorkwood Elem to alleviate overcrowding, to continue the gains at Guilford Elem/Middle, ensure Walter P. Carter facilities are upgrading and it becomes a rigorous K-8 and to ensure appropriate staffing at Govans Elem and to increase partnerships at Chinquapin and Winston Middle Schools.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

Baltimore is one of the highest taxed cities in the United States. I have no problem for parking amnesty for city residents only.

 

*Bill Henry

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

If elected, I will be a reliable vote for balancing the needs of the 4th District with the needs of the city as a whole. My hope is that the mayor's agenda will respect this balance, but should they conflict, I will vote as I see necessary to protect my constituents.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

It's not that cut-and-dried, pun intended. No department should be invulnerable from cuts, since there may be wasteful spending anywhere; likewise, no department is completely worthless and deserves to be gutted without careful thought. After I see the budget and have the opportunity to question the department heads about details during budget hearings, I will be very open and public as to my feelings in this matter.

That being disclaimed, you can see from my platform that I will start with certain biases. I think city police officers should be paid better, so unless there is a lot of waste to be trimmed, I'm unlikely to try to cut the police department's overall budget. I believe we need to be spending more on after-school activities, both inside BCPSS' purview and in terms of libraries, recreation centers, and PAL centers--so these are other areas I'm unlikely to cut.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

I think that removing the city solicitor and the director of Public Works would lessen the power inequity between the mayor and the council. While I support this in principle, I am also aware that this would not accomplish what some observers see as creating a parallel with the state's Board of Public Works; the General Assembly elects the state treasurer and has some measure of sway over that position, while the council president is not responsible in any way to the council itself. So in effect, while this would reduce the mayor's power, it would not increase the council's power as much as it would increase either the comptroller's or the Ppresident's, depending on who cuts a deal with the mayor first to be the mayor's other vote.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

Well, speaking for myself, I know that I tend to take aspects of my professional life more seriously than corresponding aspects of my personal life; my office at work is far better organized than my home "office," for example, and I'm more likely to be on time for a work meeting or event than for a social or personal one. As someone who has been involved with public service and public servants for much of my life, it is easy for me to believe that someone would work harder to manage the city's affairs properly than their personal ones. In fact, I have known elected officials who willing let their personal lives suffer specifically because they were giving their undivided attention to their public service. So, I would be hesitant to comment too surely on how someone's personal situation is related to their ability to manage public trusts.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

I'm not sure if it counts as corrupt, but I do think that it is a shame that the City Council is considered a part-time job. With so few people in city government responsible for helping citizens circumnavigate potential problems, with such a clear need for greater involvement between the city and its neighborhoods and commercial corridors, to allow the 14 district representatives on the Council to consider themselves part-time is very disappointing.

I would attempt to reform this practice first in leading by example and being a full-time councilman; hopefully, other districts will see that the 4th District is getting a better deal and demand more from their representatives as well. If that doesn't work, I would also be willing to introduce a resolution or a rule change, putting my colleagues on the record in terms of how they feel about the fairness of taking a $57,000 annual councilmanic salary on top of some additional full-time salary elsewhere.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

I prefer not to set arbitrary and mandatory thresholds in such situations; frankly, if the people doing the hiring can't be trusted to show reasonable judgment in such matters, we've got bigger problems.

I can say that the patterns of criminal behavior would mean more to be than the number of instances - if someone had one or more criminal convictions, but with no real employment between them, served their time, and then came to me looking for a job, I would give them the benefit of the doubt that they were trying to turn their life around. If, on the other hand, someone had tended to slip back and forth between mainstream employment and criminal activity, then I would consider them a poor prospect for another chance.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

The long-term solution to reducing violent crime has little to do with law enforcement and much more to do with education, housing, job training, and drug treatment. Criminals are not born - they are made. We should be suspicious of anyone who thinks we can police our way out of our current situation; if we want to create a sustainable society with less violent crime, we will need to provide everyone with affordable housing of better quality, a decent public education and the opportunity for a job that can support them. This will be challenging and will require a great deal of political will, to re-invest not just in the waterfront, but in the human capital that will be Baltimore's future.

In the short-term, we must have more officers on patrol, we must increase community involvement in fighting crime, and we must give our children something productive to do rather than getting involved with a criminal element.

We must have more officers on patrol. My understanding is that only a little over 50 percent of the total officer base in the force is assigned to patrol; the national average for comparable forces is closer to 60 percent. I suspect we have an above average amount of specialized units draining our patrol resources for a couple reasons, in part because of the PR value specialized units provide and because more specialized units means more unit commanders making higher-than-patrol salaries.

Patrol is seen as the most dangerous job, while simultaneously the least well-compensated. We must make the commitment to improve police officers wages. There is no reason why a police officer in Baltimore County or Howard County should make more than an officer in the city, where the job is statistically harder and more dangerous. We must be prepared to phase this additional cost in over the next few years, or our retention rate will continue to worsen.

We must also increase our patrol fleet to the point where officers can take their cars home when they go off-duty. Maybe we can't afford to give every officer a car, but we should commit to phasing in an increased fleet, assigning cars to officers on the basis of seniority in patrol and residency in the city. This is a "three-fer" in that we would improve morale and increase retention by giving some officers a perk, add the deterrence factor of having a police car parked in a city neighborhood, and increase the desirability of both working patrol and living in the city. I suspect that one or more broad-minded foundations would even be willing to assist the city with the additional capital cost of such a program.

Also, our officers work a "6 days on, 2 days off" schedule, every week, all year long. While this may make some scheduler's job easier, it means that each of our patrol officers is effectively working an extra day a week each week, before they get their weekend off. Shifting them to a more mainstream "5 days on, 2 days off" schedule, staggered to match the higher-crime days of the week, would be an easy and (hopefully!) a comparatively inexpensive way to make the day-to-day life of a city police officer a little more pleasant.

For neighborhood residents, patrol is the most important job. We need to make the "average" officer in patrol not just proud to be doing that job, but eager to keep doing it. Specialized units should be so comparatively rare that only the absolute cream of the crop is assigned to them - the expectation must be that you join the Baltimore City Police because you want to patrol the streets of Baltimore City. If you do that, Baltimore will take care of you also - if that's not what you want to do, maybe you should be in somebody else's police academy.

We must increase community involvement in fighting crime. Several years ago, the Police Department offered federal grant money to neighborhoods to hire off-duty police officers; at the Patterson Park CDC, I used that money to create the Patterson Park Safety Partnership. Off-duty officers from all over the city walked evening shifts in the blocks around Patterson Park, and neighbors took turns orienting each patrol group - walking with the officers, pointing out trouble spots, identifying problem houses or stores, and generally introducing them to the neighborhood. This made subsequent patrols more productive for the officers, created a connection between the officers and the community, and made the community feel like they were part of the solution. We should be able to come up with a pot of money to allow community groups in any area of high crime the opportunity to start their own Safety Partnerships. By emphasizing that we're all in it together, we can make crime reduction something that "we" are doing and not something that "they" need to do.

We must give our children something productive to do. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Every dollar we spend on properly raising our children today is thousands of tax dollars saved later. One of my personal priorities is to implement a "4th District Blue Chip-In" program, helping corner stores and other small businesses to hire local students to clean the streets and alleys around their establishments, using incentive packages with some combination of matching funds, tax credits, and façade improvement grants.

I would also work to get kids off the corners by linking needed increases in the budget of the police department to equally-needed increases in the budget of the city's libraries and recreation centers - if our children have more safe places to play and fun things to do, it will help keep them from doing things that lead to involving the police in the first place.

Finally, I support the Safe & Sound Campaign's effort to use the Baltimore City annual operating budget to fund basic opportunity, leveraging millions of ready state and private dollars to make our city strong and our people safe, healthy and productive participants of our communities.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

The city of Baltimore should have full responsibility for the schools. The mayor should be responsible for nominating school board members, who should then go through a public confirmation process before the City Council.

The management structure instituted by the existing city-state partnership provides only a portion of the state aid that our system requires, while allowing all of the involved parties to avoid responsibility and oversight.

What role do you think the city Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

If the Board of School Commissioners was not doing a sufficient job of managing the CEO and holding the BCPSS administration accountable, it would be the responsibility of the mayor and City Council to bring that to light, and if necessary, replace the board members. As the duly elected representatives of the system's customers, the council should also be working in partnership with the school system to develop more parent-friendly initiatives and increase positive interaction between schools and their surrounding communities.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system?

Well, I think it's foolish that if a teacher is good and successful at what they are doing, the only way to keep rewarding them past a certain point is to take them out of the classroom and make them an administrator. We should have a master teacher program that leaves such educators in their classes and brings other teachers in to learn from their example.

I also think that the system has too much of its resources concentrated in central administration. Mary Pat Clarke always told me that schools systems don't educate children - schools do. The recent charter school debate was very instructive, in terms of making it clear what a large percentage of the "per pupil" funding we spend on educating our children is being spent on services administered out of North Avenue. Perhaps by decentralizing more of those features, we can encourage greater efficiencies and empower our individual schools at the same time.

One last, finicky note. I have had several parents share with me how awful they think the lunch service is at their children's school. I have not had a chance to delve into this yet, but even though we may be trying hard to save money in many areas of public spending, maybe picking the low-bidder is not the best way to choose who is responsible for feeding our children.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

The main promise I have made to my constituents is to be a fulltime councilman - making the betterment of the 4th District my primary occupation for the next 4 years.

Also as I mentioned above, one of my personal priorities is to implement a "4th District Blue Chip-In" program, helping corner stores and other small businesses to hire local students to clean the streets and alleys around their establishments, using incentive packages with some combination of matching funds, tax credits, and façade improvement grants.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

Philosophically, I'm ambivalent. If the Finance Department thinks that we can raise more money with an amnesty on late fees than by simply slowly collecting everything we're due when people re-register their cars, then I'm fine with it...no pun intended this time.

 

*Christopher Jack

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

No, I do not envision being a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before that of the City Council's. In a democratic form of government, representatives make decisions collectively. Legislation is presented, examined and reviewed, prior to the voting. Therefore a representative that forms allies and opinions prior to the legislation in turn neglects the democratic process and the voters he/she represents.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

Unfortunately the City Council has to make hard decisions in regards to funding and budgets. All city services are equally important. I would seek alternative funding through grants and other initiatives to generate additional financial resources in this situation. If those efforts were unsuccessful, I would be in favor of small portioned financial restructuring of all city departments, excluding education and emergency services.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

The Board of Estimates should be a reflection of the citizens of Baltimore. It should be comprised the comptroller and a professional from each of the following sectors: education, local and state civil service and private business. The board should also reflect Baltimore demographically and geographically.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

A candidate's personal experience influences his or her decisions, but is not necessarily a reflection of his or her individual abilities to manage city affairs. A position as a city council representative is not only a professional responsibility, but it is a personal investment in the community you share with friends and loved ones. The emotional ties to a community promote decision-making that is moral and just. In some cases huge profit gains are what is best for the community, but quality of life for the members of the community should be the over arching factor in decision making, and not a reflection of the candidates' personal background.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

The statistics associated with criminal activity and the success of the Baltimore City Police Department should be restructured to better inform the average citizen. The citizens of Baltimore need to be fully educated about how the current statistics are measures and quantified. I will support the format of measurement that accurately depicts criminal activity and the successes (or lack thereof) of the Baltimore City Police Department.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

I think those decisions should not be a set of blanket bureaucratic mandates handed down by the Baltimore City Council. Rather, the talented executives that head these individual departments should make these types of decisions. They would be better able to weigh their necessities for qualified candidates.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

My first suggestions are to focus on details within on going inventions and arrests to insure convictions of our most dangerous and violent criminals. The second is to focus on loitering and smaller crimes that impact citizens several times daily. The third is to strengthen the relationships between the Baltimore City Police Department, community agencies and the average citizen. Together these suggestions can adversely impact the homicide rate in Baltimore City.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

No I do not believe the schools should be under state control. The state does not have vested interest in the growth and development of Baltimore City's children. The Baltimore City Council and the Maryland state Department of Education should work together to establish a Baltimore City School Board that is more reflective of the citizens and parents of Baltimore City public school children. Although the state provides invaluable recourses to the Baltimore City student, central authority in regards should reside with the mayor and the Baltimore City Council.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

As previously stated the Baltimore City Council and the Maryland state Department of Education should work together to establish a Baltimore City School Board that is more reflective of the citizens and parents of Baltimore City public school children. The Baltimore City Council should not only participate in a majority of the school board meetings, but also increase their efforts allies of the school board and parents to insure the success of Baltimore City Public School students.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school System?

I think the efforts toward smaller learning communities have been great. I also believe that some charter school efforts have been great investments toward our students' future. My suggestions would be to continue to build small learning communities and infuse the resources we have recognized in our successful charter programs with our current school system structure. I would like the students of the Baltimore City Public School System to be able to receive the best education without allowing the financial resources to be disproportionately distributed into the private sector. The Baltimore City Council should develop strategies to foster the innovation of charter school initiatives within the broader umbrella of the Baltimore City Public School System.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I promise the citizens of my district a safer and cleaner 4th District.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I am in support parking ticket amnesty. I know that parking ticket fines result in high revenues for the city, but we are experiencing hard economic times. As desperate as the city is for funding, equally are the citizens. Citizens welcome the opportunity to settle their debts without being forced to choose between feeding their families and paying parking fines. I think amnesty opportunities should be offered one week annually.

 

*William "Bill" Goodin

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I will never be a reliable vote until I know the issue and what I am voting on. I will not blindly support something because it comes from the "mayor". I am a people's person and my interest has and will always be for the benefit of the people.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line.

Education without doubt should be last as to what should be first, I would have to have an opportunity to view budgets and see what is being spent where and make my determination at that point.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and, if so, how should its membership be constituted?

Yes, it should be reformed and as far as I am concerned, they too like judges should be elected. The more people elected to positions the better it becomes for the citizens to participate in the process and the check and balances of government.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

Personally, I say nothing, it is truth to the old adage,"don't judge a book by the cover" what looks good sometimes on the outside is not what is happening on the inside and vice versa.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

I think it is a corrupt practice for elected representatives to vote themselves pay raises. I will introduce legislation stating that the citizens should vote for such pay raises.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employees to be fired?

I am not sure, I think we have to look at the time it occurred and I think that every circumstance could be different. I will pass on this.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully enacted?

We have to establish a small citizens group to witness the incineration process of drugs and weapons confiscated by the police. This is a billion dollar industry and to not have no oversight of the police department is crazy. I promise, we will see a reduction in drugs and murder if this ever happen. I say that a portion of confiscated drug money have to be ear marked to go directly back into the community it was confiscated from. Lastly, I suggest that we have to establish community courts for non violent offenders and the court have to have backing from the law and we will have the power to sentence offenders without giving them criminal records to maybe a 3 month or a 6 month period of cleaning the alleys and the streets. Cleanliness will instill pride and pride will create dignity. We could win if we truly desire to win.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

I think it should be under city Control because I think the closer one is to something, the more attention it could get. Of course there is a lot desired of the present leadership but yes, I think it should be controlled by the city.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

I am not sure but as elected representatives, they certainly should have a voice that carry some manner of authority and urgency for action

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

There are many but first we have to be able to compete with the global realities. We have trades in school, we have to be able to teach a 2nd language by the time a student reaches 5th grade. We have to have schools that are state of the arts since that we are this rich and powerful country and trust me, it can be done if our will is to do it.

What one thing do you promise the constituents in your district -- not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent -- you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I will bring fractions together to work for the benefit of the district and that is not just a promise but reality.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

First, I position is that a ceiling price should be put on what a ticket could go up to. I support amnesty I just have to decide as to how often it should be.

 

5th District

*Rochelle "Rikki" Spector

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

In my years in the Baltimore City Council, I have seen more success through collaboration than confrontation. Of course everyone does not share the same opinion on every matter that comes before the Council. But, generally, I find that by sharing views, we can develop a consensus.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line.

Each and every budget needs to be measured on its own. There is no fiscally prudent way to decide which budgets should be cut without looking at the specific budget.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and, if so, how should its membership be constituted?

I do believe that the Board of Estimates should be comprised of the three city-wide elected officials only-the Mayor, the City Council President and the Comptroller. Of course, changing the current Board of Estimates make-up would require a Baltimore City Charter amendment, which would have to be passed by the voters.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

A person should be reliable and dependable in order to be seriously considered for any type of position-in either the public or private sector.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

I am not aware of any corrupt practices.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employees to be fired?

These situations must be considered on a case-by-case basis and should be thoroughly evaluated by professionals in the Human Resources area by the employee's or potential employee's superiors.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully enacted?

We must do a better job of incarcerating criminals-by being cautious about allowing them back out into society, either through bail or parole. We must work closely with State's Attorney's office and the judges to better coordinate with the Police Department.

We must work in our neighborhoods to identify known "troublemakers." I find that our citizens are an excellent resource for knowing what goes on in their communities.

We have to improve the education and job skills of our young people. That's the best way to break cycles of criminal activity. We must make sure our City agencies have the resources to accomplish this.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

I believe Baltimore City schools should be under Baltimore City control. We've had a bad experience in our partnership with the state.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

If the Baltimore City schools were under Baltimore City control, then the Baltimore City Council's executive appointments process would apply to School Board members. In addition, the City Council must require accountability during the budget process.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

The community-based school efforts I have seen over the past several years appear to be quite promising. My communities wanted, worked for and achieved neighborhood schools that are grades pre-K through 8, and 9 through 12, with additional magnet schools for specific curricula. Councilmembers can work closely with the communities they represent to be good advocates for making sure the right things go on in and around our schools. We can also be good facilitators for communication between the community and the school system.

What one thing do you promise the constituents in your district -- not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent -- you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I will continue to be accessible, resourceful and attentive to the needs and concerns of my constituents and will continue to partner with them and act as their bridge to City government in our mutual attempt to ensure their quality of life is the best it can be.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

We had parking ticket amnesty several years ago, and it was stated at the time that there would not be another one for 10 years. We must be fiscally responsible and hold to that plan.

 

6th District

*Ramona Moore Baker

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

As an elected official in Baltimore City by the people, I would certainly line myself with the support of the elected Mayor and the agenda as long as it is in line with the needs of Baltimore City.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

As an educator, I would choose transportation first and recreation/education last.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditure, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformatted, and if so, how should its membership be constituted?

I do believe that the Mayor should have the authority on the board of estimates to rubber stamp many concerns that face Baltimore. However, I would like to see representatives from all the communities (community board members) that may change the focal concerns within those perspective communities. A Board of Estimates review board.

What does a candidate's business and personal finance situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

A candidates business and personal financial situation is duly important to the development of the community. The candidates should live and demonstrate by example to the families in and around the communities that the candidates will be representing.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

The closing of eyes of our present elected officials with the issues of finding the dollars that is necessary to go into the poorer neighborhoods of Baltimore, ex. Park Heights. Presently, I have collaborated with companies/organizations that have agreed to collaborate with me and other leaders to change the overall focus of Park Heights housing.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

Our convicted felons will continue the life of crime, if we continue to close the door to felons and job opportunities. Once a felon has committed a crime and before release, a new form of rehabilitation needs to be put in place, such as job readiness before the inmate is released or housing sought prior to re-entering into our society. Better preparing our inmates for re-entry will reduce repeat offenders. The type of crime, however, does have some concerns. Although some portion of the debt of crimes are completed in the criminal system, I believe that there some crimes should allow the criminal to create his or her own employment.

1. Theft

2. Murder

3. Molestaion of a child, senior, or handicapped person.

Are just a few examples of crimes that should be allowed to create their own employment opportunities if the criminals released cannot find employments?

This will force the criminal to devise his or her own employment with out the need for support or rejection from any employee.

A city employee when convicted should be treated the same way as any other criminal and my advise is the same.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

As a student of criminal law, I have devised new technology that will combine with the cameras--it is a proto type called--Lyjay s and h. At this time, I will not release the details but I am positive that it will work.

Combine all of the police departments--FBI, DEA, CIA, housing police, MDot police, college police and security each learning their intelligence secrets to decrease homicides. Increase security tactics, stick with what works, and improve on it.

Rotation of police officers on the beat and their patterns will confuse those that may commit a homicide.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

As a fully certified teacher in the State of Maryland in the area of Career and Technology, I know that the city should remain in control of the city schools.

If the state were to take over and allow a fair selection process of teachers, a balance curriculum for students and a fair wage, I would not have any concern. However, the State may eliminate a large number of great teachers in Baltimore City and the selection process of new teachers outside of the language barrier has been a concern for the past few years. Will the students learn more under the states control? Will the scores improve? Does the state have the students at heart or the budget at heart?

It is not the city that is the problem (meaning the teachers) but the "watch house." -School Board. It is necessary to have a curriculum, training, and support that families, teachers and students need to be successful. Change the way the system in Baltimore City operates and Baltimore City Schools, teachers, students will thrive.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The City Council should over see the district schools by visiting principals and keeping in touch with the PTA meetings. This will keep the city council members in each district abreast of all of the school issues in their district and assist the Principals, teachers, parents with solutions while reducing the close of schools before schools are in danger of closing.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

There are three basic tiers to a Child's education. Those three educational tiers are from Primary to middle, Middle to high and high to college.

The problems for most children that fall between the cracks begin in the 6th grade. It is in the 6th grade most children begin to discover their first true sense of independent changes. Children begin to rebel and react negatively to authority. It is at this tier that a new approach to discipline is needed to maintain the excellence in the students.

Suggestion on changing the numerous issues for students in the first tier--6th grade.

First Change--bring back social workers in each school

Make homes visits of the students that appear to be fading in math, science, and reading before students moved into the next tier of the education. Investigate family concerns earlier rather than later.

Second change--students need to remain in the first tier from ages 5-12

Junior high 12-15 High school 15-graduation

Restructure the school system back to the old system. We are moving our children to fast in some areas and to slow in others.

Third change--Create tests for graduation that apply to the curriculum, psat,sat.

Students can feel a sense of accomplishment with their education when real work issues are applied.

Allow the teachers to be more creative in the classroom

The students perform science experiences in the lab

Apply the science lab experience in the real world issue

Ex: How to read a blood test.

Ex. When I taught my students Anatomy and Physiology, we applied the parts of the body to that of a car for three male students and applied nursing for the female students. Each students using and expanding their imagination to create the reality of what is happening in the real world. As a result, the students were able to excel.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

Using my in Criminal Law, construction experience, business negotiation, transportation skills and health education background, I promise my constituents in the sixth district that Ramona Moore Baker will ensure total dedication to the rebuilding of housing, schools, and businesses.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

Ticket amnesty is a win, win, and win for the city. The judge may offer the ticket holder total suspension of their ticket. Alternatively, a person may ignore the boot on their car or may take another form of mass transit.

Amnesty allows the ticket holder to pay the basic fees that they may not have paid.

This reducing court time and brings money into the city on a larger scale to solve financial needs for the city.

A win for transportation, continued jobs, paid tickets equals financial flow to the city.

Thank you for allowing me to continue to express my concerns with the public.

 

*Sharon Green Middleton

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I believe that the Mayor's agenda should be followed unless I personally disagree with a specific agenda item that deals with the constituents of the 6th district. As a councilperson, we have independent ideas because we are representing jurisdictions that are vastly different but must also consider the city as a whole.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

There are many, many alternatives before cuts are made. As a councilperson, I believe that these alternatives and the budget should be fully explored before cuts are made. In the current system education and public safety should be last in line which includes fire, police, emergency water and waste water crew.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditure, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformatted, and if so, how should its membership be constituted?

There needs to be a study on the exact number of members. I believe it should include the mayor, comptroller and president of City Council. The board members must work as a "team" to get things done efficiently.

What does a candidate's business and personal finance situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

A candicate's business and personal financial situation can be an example of how responsible the person is in handling city affairs. Each case should be viewed independently, and leave the final decision in the hands of the voters.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

Perhaps establishing a "hot line" to report corruption would be helpful. Responses should occur within 24/48 hours during business work days.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

Many civil service jobs must undergo a background check. Needless to say, an employee convicted of child molestation should never be exposed to children. However, if, as youth, a person makes mistakes, serves their time and becomes a productive citzen of society, those individuals should not be punished their entire lives. For current employees, I believe that's depending upon the infraction and the severity should determine the outcome.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

More police on the streets--recruitment and retention campaign with better wages working with neighborhoods that do provide crime watches.

Make sure that offenders are brought to trial, convicted, with repeat offenders not being able to be released until their term is served. More career/economic development oriented programs need to be developed and/or build partnerships with community/faithbased programs, gang intervention, and other city agencies that already exist to help those and their families that are transitioning back into society so that they can become productive citizens.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

Schools should be under city control, but we must be able to continue getting state and federal funding as other surrounding areas. Unfortunately, our children have become political footballs. The state/city partnership has not worked. We have been through too many superintendents and their short-terms have also affected the school system and our children.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The City Council should be involved both in their districts and the overall system.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

One suggestion would be to better monitor absenteeism. When students miss school, they fall behind other students. It would be fairly easy and not very costly to set up a robo-call system to contact parents via the phone each time a child misses school, is late, or skips a class. These phone numbers could be the parents cell numbers, or phone numbers at work, to assure that students don't delete messages at home. Also, I believe that we should re-institute truancy officers or hire more, to hold students to task if they are not in school.

Another suggestion, offering other career options, like pre-apprenticeship programs to prepare students for the "world of work" that are not attending college right after graduating from high school. A high school program can partner with the "pilot housing apprenticeship program" I introduce in conjunction with the Baltimore City joint apprenticeship program, housing authority and others. A community school is specificly needed in the 6th district for at risk youth with family situations to help them in getting their GED or diploma, partnerships with the faithbased community and organizations like Baltimore's opportunity summit program other after school, mentoring, life skills programs are important. Most schools should have after school programs every weekday evening until 8:00 p.m. for study and recreation. Communication and teamwork with the CEO of the school system is important for success.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I have stated and will continue to attend/have representation at community meetings, merchant meetings, helping them to form partnerships with city agencies and respond to their phone calls, and have a open door policy in order to work for their concerns.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

If it has proven to bring revenue back into the city, then I agree with it. It's an opportunity to help residence to take care of their responsibility.

 

*Elizabeth Smith

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

First in line would be Cable and Communications, budgeted at $1.2 million, an increase of 187.7 percent. This is the city's t.v. channels 25 and 75 which appear to be focused on the Mayor, her face and city information always on 25 and 75 is full of re-runs of her Campaign announcement and other rallys. And 75 nightime often features Muslim leader Rev. Farrakhan who is famous for hating whites and jews, has called Hitler "a very nice man." First amendment rights are one thing, but the Mayor has failed to use discretion to focus more on Baltimore's history and less religion, and less hip-hop and rap-music performance tapes submitted by locals primarily of interest to participants. We are not getting nay bang for our buck and we are getting a lot of hatred and diversion instead of education and enlightenment. Our city channels do not have to compete with Radio One.

Last in line for cuts is our Police Department, budgeted at $297.6 million, an increase of 4 percent. This will be an expanding budget

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditure, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformatted, and if so, how should its membership be constituted?

There are presently five members. Would replace Public Works Director with Chief of Police, to give emphasis to the Department that affects our lives and our image needs a kickstart, more prestige, more financial support.

As a strong-mayor form of government, as opposed to the city manager form, both of which I have served, our government needs the five to consist of three elected officals (Mayor, Council President, Comptroller), and two appointees (City Solicitor, City Police Commissioner), to give Mayor necessary clout regardless of who is Mayor.

What does a candidate's business and personal finance situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

This is just one factor. May good servants of the people have been in a bankruptcy proceeding, business reorganization, and even debt write off, and this should not disqualify. However, lack of personal funds leaves a candidate susceptible to undue influence by special interests (i.e. large contributors) and this is bad for the public interest. We must have candidates who can say NO to both contributors and non-contributors. We must scrutinize credit card expenditures by the 100s of city employees who have ability to charge expenses to the City of Baltimore. Responsible use of such perks-of-office is more relevant that one's past financial history.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

We must limit the influence of special interests in city campaigns. San Francisco has had a $250 limit, Arizona had limited public funding to candidates who collect large numbers of $5 contributions. Political donations have a corrupting influence on the public interest. We should prohibit donations from individuals or firms not having a City addresses, should limit donations to $250 per business, union, individual, association. And should have the State's Attorney after each election report to the Mayor (and the media) all complaints observed , or received from any course, as to candidate financial practices, and what action is or will be taken.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

This issue cannot be quantified by number, but requires evaluation, hopefully by the office of the Mayor. Only absolute would be bar of sex-offenders from contact with groups (opposite sex, children, ect) involved in the convictions. I favor restoration of voting rights, city supported jobs for at-risk youth, and would be slow to have a bar to anyone's future. I remember as a Councilmen, working to reinstate a fired 20 year old lifeguard accused of lying on a job application, he answering "no" to question "have you ever been convicted of a crime as a juvenile or adult." This was 1970, legal age of adults was 21, juveniles were under age 18, and I argued with Department head that "no", he was being 20, was only a factual answer he could give. He was reinstated, and sent on to professorial school, something he might not have been denied with a false-application charge. We must go slow about disqualifying or firing anyone based on convictions in his or her past. We seek rehabilitation and live in the future.

Over the past several years, the Baltimore Police Department leadership has experienced a lot of turnover. How do your propose to stabilize the department and its leadership?

Adding the commissioner to the board of estimates would give more prestige to the position. Encourage out commissioner to be active in regional and national police organizations would strengthen his or her fidelity to our City. Assuring ample funds for personnel, perks for field officers, limited overtime pay, better pay for the beat-cops and lesser pay for the Administrators(other than the commissioner) would restore pride throughout the Department. I have read former Mayor O'Malley's extensive study on police operations and am aware of the dissention among the troops, and as Mayor would take a cop to lunch every week to bring myself up to speed. I do have the ear and the $1 a year services of former Mayor Schaefer for continued input and evaluation of police services.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

1st: Baltimore must double the five equestrian (horse mounted police) units and send them into selected neighborhoods and have a $50,000 starting pay for officers (now $39,000). This is consistent with police pay in major west coast departments, and would bring us some of Detroit's best officers (their starting pay is but $29,000). We must expend recruiting to the military, to Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit, Miami, Washington, DC, plus our good pay and perks, plus quality environment, history, will give us an officer-per-1,000 residents consistent with low-murder-rate cities.

2nd Maryland has a state-subsidized seniors-jobs-program, Baltimore must create city-subsidized jobs program for our at-risk youths, age 16-25, and tie it to increased vocational-training; the program subsidizes 100 percent first 90 days of employer costs, then 50 percent for 90 days, hopefully by that time the employee will have proved his/her worth, built a resume, have self-esteem and limited idle time. Many of our murder victims are at-risk youth in this age range.

3rd Create a Foster Dad's program, in cooperation with churches, where men in 30s and above, with city-funded admissions/excursions/outing-meals/camping costs, can Mentor at-risk ages 6 to 16, dad or son felony would disqualify, to develop role-models for those who otherwise may have no alternative but gang affiliation, and early death. One on one, Adult to Youth, is necessary, and half our at-risk families lack this.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

I come to the Mayor's office with no preconceived opinions here, and it is a wise and honest candidate who will admit this rather than pontificate. We must have ongoing focus group with church leadership, and educational leaders, present and retired, plus consultation with national education associations, to design what will work best for Baltimore.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

It takes money. We have the Schaefer Commuter Tax that promises tens of millions in revenue from non-City residents for privilege of driving in central city during business hours, plus federal funding available for such programs that reduce congestion and pollution. We have political slot-machine revenue from City-located machines. We must get the State to kick-back to us at 50 percent of fines from moving-violations, all of which goes to Annapolis while we pay police costs.

As Mayor I will go to Oprah Winfrey, the Annenberg Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation--anyone with billions for charity, to encourage their participation, 50-50, in city-programs for Scholarships for costs and supplies for Vocational Schools, Remedial programs, better teacher pay, and a Mayor's Teacher of the Month Award upon nomination from the public, and a $1,000 thank-you prize. With more money, better paid teacher, ample scholarship funds not just for college but for any betterment a youth dreams about pursuing, even mortuary science, bartending, air conditioning school, City schools will be there for children of any resident. Our at-risk youth need our help and love.

What current development project underway in the city has the most potential to bring positive change to Baltimore? In what way?

The New Hilton Hotel on East Pratt will create jobs, bring tourists who will ring cash registers all over town. 20 years ago, as a Mt. Vernon hotel owner-operator, I went to JW Marriott Jr. and urged him to supplement his Hunt Valley hotel with an Inner-Harbor facility. Marriott now has two! I am excited about growth of tourism. We must promote our city to all of America and to the World.

Please list three specific things Baltimore can do to attract new investment and/or new residents. Please b sure to include how the mayor's office can implement or encourage these ideas.

1st The Mayor must work with Downtown Partnership and other groups, making personal appearances at national conventions (as incumbent did, Las Vegas) to plug what we have to offer, must have new ideas, including exploring a "Worlds Fair" in a decade. (Having those attended in Olso, Monteal, Osaka, I know this spotlights the City and State hosting it.) We are close to Washington, DC, easy access to US leadership to support our quest to have America (and Baltimore) host it.

2nd Incentives to downtown and adjacent housing developers, not unlike incentives given major league team owners in connection with construction of sports facilities. Baltimore can borrow money cheaply, and make this subsidized financial available to those will invest substantial millions, which brings jobs, and new residents.

3rd Mayor must host the Base Relocation Facility new employees, a dinner/lunch `welcome' perks like 2-1 dinners at 50 cooperating restaurants, abatement of property tax for first year for BR homebuyers, getting landlord security-deposit waiver(with guarantee) for such employees who will rent there, free admission to our transit, our Zoo, or other attractions, 50 percent moving van costs to City address-anything to thank them for moving to Our City with three year commitment. (And they'd save the Schaefer Commuter Tax!)

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

Restore pride, integrity, citizen-is-king, way of life, reversing the "gotcha" attitude we have lived with for so long. This involves primarily our relationship to our automobile. Our new motto will be Courtesy. The Schaefer Dozen:

Other cities offer 50 percent discount for parking tickets if paid within ten days. We must offer this to City residents. It brings in the money faster, at a savings.

Other cities consider a broken parking meter a motorists good-fortune, the Dixon Administration will ticket any car found using a "FAIL" meter.

Other cities admit that parking citations for meters, no-standing, are not enforced on holidays. Baltimore advises media that "meters must be fed" while never is a ticket written (metermaids have day off too). This boogey-man attitude must stop.

Other cities let motorists "win" if meeting-up at the car when enforcer-is-there, it is a defense that "it just expired," or "I'm leaving now." No so in Balmer. We must turn this ill-will, security risk confrontation into a happy safe ending. This applies to tow-truck meet-ups too.

As Mayor, I will use my "Scooty Libby" commutation power to dismiss any parking citation issued on a resident's birthday. And if born February 29th, up to four that day will be processed. Let the City recognize you are special once-year.

Limit all signs to necessary days/hours; how silly it is at 10 p.m. at night to wait at deserted intersection for a 2 minute light instead of turning, just because the sign does not say "7am-7pm weekdays" but only NO TURN ON RED.

Move the "no stopping/standing" signs closer to alleys/corners, creating a 100 new street spaces in central Balmor. I created two spaces outside my Mount Vernon home this way (city moved the signs), for whole neighborhood to enjoy. Will do the same in everyone's neighborhood upon request to the Mayor.

If three-fourths of a vehicle is inside the safe-area of a No Stopping/Standing sign, that's enough. Majority rules. No more technical tickets for a car a foot over the line.

Any out-of-state vehicle gets a "warning", once. The Mayor thanking them for visiting, requesting they honor our parking laws, their license no. in our computer, we wish them a happy visit and hopt to see them again.

Parking tickets must be dischargeable in bankrupty, like they are in other states, who treat them as "civil disputes"; Baltimore law nor forbids this.

Any car "booted" when less than 3 unpaid/unanswered tickets exists, will get an immediate 100 percent bonus in whatever was required-to-be-paid for release, and City must give accurate release information (not say 24 hours, do it in 2), and must not keep a citizen waiting on-the-line for information more than 5 min. My car was booted for five citations when only one was outstanding.

Review Mayor Dixon's recent actions in (a) hiring more metermaids,(b)giving them state-of-the-art faster-issuance ticket machines, (c) supporting higher parking rates. The streets belong to the citizens, and hopefully the Schaefer Commuter Tax will lessen the congestion we suffer, or provide money to pay for our increased policing costs without any raise in property taxes, or both."

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

First we must change Art. 31, sec. 36-23(b), which prohibits any amnest period for ten (10) years from our last 2-day amnesty (2003). Thus no Mayor can offer amnesty until mid-term in his/her 2nd term. This is artificial and wrong. I favor amnesty by libraries, by the Internal Revenue Service (offer In Compromise program), national government, and of course in this special citizen-to-city relationship, The Parking Ticket; my first proposal will be to modify the above law to say "no further amnesties may be offered except at the direction of the Mayor."

 

7th District

*Tony Asa

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I do intend to not only be a viable support to the mayor with a full understanding of the policies but a vital portion of the think tank, which will be responsible for progressive legislation in Baltimore City. I realize most policies are not working either because they have been over looked or have never come to the forefront as a need of the general population. I will attend the many meetings of the constituencies electing me to ensure that the voices and concerns of those I represent are heard, and that our Mayor will have the opportunity to make applause able decisions that will earn the gratitude of the citizens of this city.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

I do not for see the need to cut any departments, as all are important to city operations. If the need however should arise, I would prefer to see perhaps a few hours difference rather than the abolishment of a position, there are many sections that work Saturdays, and would rather be off that day. This could be an answer rather than costing job loss.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditure, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformatted, and if so, how should its membership be constituted?

I worked for the city as a supervisor in Transportation Division, I budgeted a 7 million dollar account for that division. I am also Public Policy/Administrations Major, so I understand the need for checks and balances just as the comptroller, I would like to see a system of checks and balance added to our city estimate board, such as a citizen panel This might help eliminate government waste and overspending, which in these times everyone is having to tighten our belts.

What does a candidate's business and personal finance situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

We have looked for answers and still have them to find, where this is concerned. Those who we assume are trusted worthy have failed us in the past. We can only hope that proper management of funds will be a priority as much as it is a necessity. There are those who keep a very messy office space however their homes are spotless, so the management of one's personal overspending might not be a gage worthy of use in all cases. Again checks and balances could eliminate this problem.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

City work crews standing around. Many sites have supervisors who do not give account of time well. Such as arrival time, time doing the task, time finished. Instead I have seen workers in supermarkets, standing around talking to girls, drinking beers in back alleyways, and yes even hanging in drug areas. Closer supervision can eliminate this problem. I would like to see supervisor reports enforced, and an accountability trail implemented. We are going into a new era with workable plans to improve our function and reliability. That is my reason and my hope for running.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

I feel three strikes then you are out. Also the interview is important, how long ago, what has that individual done to make strides to improve since then, what were the circumstances associated to that offense. Crimes of dishonesty should be of concern, embezzlers, theft, larceny, are crimes that do not support belonging in a payroll division, cashier position. Some people have families to support and need a break to do that; I would like to see training programs for new career skills available to these persons. Rape and sexual offenses are hideous felonies and should be treated as such.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

Foot patrols will help. Community awareness also helps, communities need to be able recognize the early warning signs of gang activity, Keeping communities clean and well lighted helps to deter some crime. Vacant board housing needs to appear lived in, which means communities should band together to see to it that lawns are cut and side walks, and alleys are cleaned. Police need to work with the community people for watch patrols and quick response. I have experience in this, as I was a community chairman for six years and helped decrease crime by teaching strategies. Also, cans need to place back on the corners. Communities that show interest and are neat generally don't have high murder rates. Lastly, we need better witness protection programs, which the state's attorney's office should do a better job of not disclosing information about any witness.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

I feel the schools should remain under city jurisdiction, however monitoring of our schools is a must. We all know teachers are not like those of yester years. Teacher evaluation should be a criterion for raises or increment steps in salary. Teacher who show better performance levels deserve better pay. However the Baltimore City schools are still struggling. With a mere 35% high school graduation rate in Baltimore City, If elected I will work toward Making progress for all young persons to have a high school diploma in our city, High school dropouts do not have the knowledge and skills required to be successful in today's work force, and unfortunately many of them show up in welfare budgets, public health costs and prison rolls. Low student motivation and lack of parental support play an important role in students' decisions to drop out. Many of these students hit a brick wall in the ninth grade because they enter high school unprepared for more challenging work. Focus attention on the ninth grade. Reform high schools, particularly those that are low performing, to make them more relevant to and effective for all students. Communicate strong stay-in-school messages to students in danger of dropping out and to their families. Students who express a lack of interest need a business curriculum or vocational field-training program. This would be contingent upon a good grade average, a program of this type will enhance the students self worth while granting a system of accountability and disciplined infrastructure to the educational system and community, by providing the ability to learn and earn legally. However this should be made known at the 8th grade level, that reading and math are a must. In addition I propose a no shame in the game program, where students can learn without ridicule for failure of comprehension. Lastly I encourage G.E.D training classes for students who apply them selves to a particular learning track, but suffer hardships (early parent hood). In addition I have been privileged to sit in on a few of the CityStat meetings of then Mayor O'Malley. These meetings are an excellent way of keeping accountability in place. Yes the mayor can do that. We the citizens have always bore the burden of our schools as tax payers, until we devise a better system which I am working on, things will likely remain status quo.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System? What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

If elected I will work toward making progress for all young persons to have a high school diploma in our city, because this is critical not just for the well-being of individuals, but for the well-being of our communities and our city. High school dropouts do not have the knowledge and skills required to be successful in today's work force, and unfortunately many of them show up in welfare budgets, public health costs and prison rolls. Because low student motivation and lack of parental support play an important role in students' decisions to drop out I will attend schools in my district to address assemblies as to why to stay in school. I know that our youth are visual, so I have a visual model. called "This is your life." It shows paths which represent choices. With statements from people who ended up in prison, welfare, college and military. I look forward to sharing this with students.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

Decrease slum housing and vacant properties, meet with business owners to explore grants to expand their business, decrease in gang violence. I will develop community center programs for youth talent and tutoring. Again, here is where the police can help. We need regulated recreation centers. Our youth need something to do. If I put a child in a room with a crayon and no paper; it is almost a sure thing that child will mark the walls and floors. What, I am saying is we need an outlet for our children. I will start a drama team, where kids can be in plays; they can be who ever and then leave the bad character on that stage without taking him out side. In addition hold small children group sessions at the facility, teach who we are, where we came from, what we endured, where we are now, and ask how can we get back on track. This causes them to seek solutions of responsibility at there level. In addition parents may attend, as counselors will be there on certain days to help families work through the anger problems that are plaguing our youth. I have a plan for this I started developing it two years ago. When I am elected I will implement it with in 3 months.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I like parking ticket amnesty, because it gives citizen's a break, I'd like to see water bill amnesty, and property fine amnesty to grant reductions for outstanding escalated citation fines as well. Citizens appreciate such reliefs, and a few more relief's helps with smoother flow of revenue as well as stops the desire of citizens to move out of Baltimore. This is my third attempt to help the citizens of this great city, we are in need of the better.

 

*Belinda Conaway

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I intend to continue voting in the best interests of the residents of the Seventh District whether that coincides with the mayor's agenda or not.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

Cutting departmental budgets is a complicated process because looking at some figures on a sheet of paper does not indicate the impact on the citizens or the city workers who might lose jobs or have their workload increased beyond the point of efficiency. The public safety departments should not be cut for the sake of balancing a budget but they should be fiscally responsible.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditure, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformatted, and if so, how should its membership be constituted?

The Board of Estimates is a rubber stamp for the mayor because it was set up that way in the charter. The mayor has a guaranteed majority. The board should be reformed and its membership should resemble the state Board of Public Works with two independently elected officials, possibly with the mayor, comptroller and the president of the city council.

What does a candidate's business and personal finance situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

A candidate's business and personal finances do not necessarily indicate how he or she would manage the city's affairs. There are many factors that can affect a person's business and personal finances. Management of city affairs is primarily the function of the executive branch of government, the mayor's office. There are built in fiscal controls that affect the city's affairs although there is a great deal of latitude when it comes to economic development which causes Baltimore development Corporation and the mayor's office to often make development deals that shortchange the taxpayers.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

I have not personally witnessed any corruption in city government. I have seen practices that were questionable in terms of providing subsidies to wealthy corporations and individual developers. I have seen misguided policies and misplaced priorities. I think the $300 million convention hotel project was a mistake but it does not rise to the level of corruption.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

A person who is a career criminal or repeat violent offender should finish his parole before he is considered for city employment. Persons with non-violent felony records who exhibit reformed behavior and no new convictions should be considered for employment. A city employee convicted of a felony, but not sentenced to prison should not be terminated unless he or she is deemed a threat to fellow workers or holds a position where theft, fraud or embezzlement is likely to be committed.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

To reduce the murder rate I believe the city must do several things. First, there must be more resources committed to prevention including greater supervision of youth and adult offenders who are on parole and probation. There must be more resources invested in youth and adult employment. There must be more effort in the area of witness protection and support. Many of the repeat violent offenders who commit many of the murders are not discreet and there are witnesses, but they are intimidated and feel isolated. The services mentioned above are already in place though not at the level they need to be. The city council can advocate for increased resources but parole and probation are under state jurisdiction. The city council does not make up the city budget so increased youth employment is something I can advocate for, but I can not guarantee it as one vote out of 15.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

City schools should be under the direct control of the city. The parents should have input into the way the schools are run and the current city-state arrangement is inefficient and unresponsive to the citizens who are most affected by the schools.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The city council should have the same oversight of the city schools that it had before 1997. The council can review the budget and monitor the schools through public hearing but the council does not have the resources to do extensive scrutiny of the school system. The council can act as an advocate for the parents and students because budget reviews of all city departments make the council a force to be reckoned with in education matters.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

One way to improve the school system is to improve the method of instruction utilizing technology. Many children are oriented to computer games and other fast paces technologies and the traditional chalkboard method of teaching does not hold their attention. The schools would be improved if family support services were increased so that they would be more readily available. Of course better funding would help close the digital divide between city schools and systems around the region. Unfortunately, the current arrangement limits the input that the city council can have over school policy and allocation of resources.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I only promise my constituents that I will be responsive and accessible and that I will submit legislation and address issues that benefit the community. There is a usually majority voting bloc controlled by the mayor and legislation that this bloc opposes does not often get passed.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I think that the parking ticket amnesty should be offered on a regular basis. The increasing fines and penalties for parking tickets are counter-productive for the city driving away businesses and people who would patronize them because of tickets penalties on unpaid parking tickets.

 

8th District

*Helen Holton

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I have never been a reliable vote for any mayor I've served with in City Hall. Every vote I cast I give independent consideration. I am always willing to discuss differences and work towards compromise that results in a continued effort to move our city forward.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

The city department that should be first in line for cuts during budget crises is not a single department or agency but I would begin with the layers of middle management below agency and department heads and above first level management. Quite a few agencies and departments have multiple levels of management that in budget crises I would see as more expendable because these positions tend to be held by persons with college degrees and professional work experience that would make them more marketable in the employment market and easier to rebound from down-sizing than lower level hourly workers. The department that should be last in line is the police department and the school system.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

The Board of Estimates should be reformed. It's membership could remain the same although voting authority should rest with the three individuals elected by the people--the mayor, the president of the city council, and the comptroller.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

As a council person managing the financial situation of the city's affairs is pretty much outside the authority of the city council. Over the years we have attempted to add increased visibility and oversight of how agencies and departments are managing their budgets through holdbacks of budgeted funds and quarterly fiscal reviews. Having one's business and personal financial situation in order is always an asset and strengthens one's ability to understand and appreciate the need for the city's financial situation to be in good order, sound and solvent.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

I don't believe there are overarching intentional corrupt practices in city government. There may occasionally be isolated instances of corruption that are often unable to be detected until after the fact. I believe there are practices that should be improved upon and/or reformed that have more to do with accountability and responsibility for getting things done in an efficient, professional and courteous manner. There should be more operational and compliance internal auditing performed throughout all agencies and departments to support adequate checks and balances of the practices in place as documented. This will assist the city in determining those practices that are outdated and/or no longer provide as useful a function as may be needed.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

When an individual has completed their time for criminal convictions, including probation, they should not be precluded from employment. In this country we must stop stigmatizing individuals that have completed their time and work to allow them to be re-integrated into society. As a supporter and advocate for the restoration of voting rights for former felons I believe that unless an individual has a current conviction under which they are still completing time i.e. probation it should not be an issue for employment that they should be called out and set apart from any other individual applying for employment. Active criminal convictions should be considered on a case by case basis for current employees and those seeking employment.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

We cannot arrest our way out of our current situation. There are many problems with just locking up everyone we see regardless of the infraction when for too long minor violations of law have not been enforced. We have experienced in the past the backlash of attempting to put our city under an apparent level of "marshall law." We need to focus on addressing underlying issues that have caused our crime situation to get out of hand such as the following:

1--Crime can be curbed by increasing the availability of drug treatment on demand and more than out-patient treatment but long-term in-patient treatment with counseling. We must continue to lobby at the state and federal level for additional funding for drug treatment.

2--Strengthening our education system at all grade levels. We need to make the curriculum more relevant for children in an urban city. We must include before school and after school structured activities as well as summer enrichment programs and recreational opportunities.

3--Employment and job training enhancement. We need to provide more opportunities for unemployed and underemployed individuals that may include literacy and GED preparation.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

I think the city's schools should be under the city's control. Joint control can at times create voids of accountability and responsibility as well as finger-pointing and delays in action. Even with our system under our sole authority we should find ways to work more closely in conjunction with our state and federal counterparts for the good of our children that represent our future to which we should all be focused.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

We should have a larger role than we currently do. We should have the ability to require the BCPSS leadership to not just come before the City Council and give report as to what they are doing but to be held accountable with the ability to influence leadership at the top of the system.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

(no comments)

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I promise to continue to work hard with the residents and business owners to raise the quality of life in the district.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I do not support parking ticket amnesty. It is not a fiscally responsible action for our city at this point in time and its needs for additional revenue which provide for the services our citizens need and deserve.

 

9th District

*Michael Eugene Johnson

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I cannot perceive to relentlessly be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda. If my community voices that it disapproves in any appointments, a program or a law introduced by the mayor, I cannot and would not support the administration issue. I will and would agree when it benefits and improve the district that I represent the city and it's citizens I would support the mayors agenda.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

First in line department of planning

Last in line is the Baltimore Police Department

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

Yes the Board of Estimates should be reformed to include the 3 elected members (mayor, city council president and comptroller) and by city charter create a new elected positions called the "PUBLIC ADVOCATE" who would represent (we hope) the peoples interest

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

None,,,,,a persons personal financial situation has many many dynamics that the city affairs do not would not and should not, because of the checks and balances of the process when it comes to the affairs of the city, Also we all know that sometime stuff happens

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it?

Construction flipping, (procurement practices) where a company is awarded a contract because of low bidding or by minority status and the contract balloons or is sold off to another company to complete

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

If a person has completed their sentence and paid there dept to society that person has a right to apply for a job that he or she is qualified for. If an employee has been convicted of a criminal charge, that has connections to his or her currant city job, or could place others at risk because of the crime a review of his/her employment must be enacted

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

1. Making it a priory to recruit Police Office from Baltimore City by providing young people beginning in the 9th grade, a real Police Academy High School, partnership with agencies for curriculum assistance like the FBI, State Police

2. Pull the Police Department funding and personnel from all Recreation Programs and place them in the crime fighting programs, replacing all desk jobs being held by police offices with civilians so that we may swell the ranks of the street police

3. Homicide is a larger issue than a few quotes, a large amount of funding and energy needs to be directed to communities that has sizeable homicide and crime statistic to create massive employment training programs, adults and young people educational programs and programs to assist the reentry of people who are coming back to the neighborhood from the criminal justice system

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

I do think that a fiscal partnership is necessary for the overall success of the system. The overall management should be in the hands of the city, with a Baltimore city majority elected board

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

Evaluating the budget of the Baltimore City Public School System and insisting on a year to year benchmark, to see if the benchmarks has been made to place a assessment on the on-coming budget process

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system?

We need a independent professional review of every department in the Baltimore Public School System.., School by School,,,,,,,, Incorporating business, non-profit, higher education institutions employment, Then bring in a team of educators to asset in the running of the system

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

Create a 9th District Community Council made up of communities organizations and business organizations to guide the districts agenda

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

On December 30 and December 31 of 2007 Residents of Baltimore City Only should be provided 2 days of Ticket Amnesty and after that each and every 4 years after. The penitently should increase for tickets to cover the cost of the "Resident Only Ticket Amnesty"

 

10th District

*Donnie Fair

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I will be a reliable vote in support of my constituents' needs and in support of the city's needs. It is the responsibility of the City Council to represent the best interest of the people it serves, and not necessarily the mayor's agenda.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

In the event of a budget crisis, the first city department I would cut is the mayoral Offices. The last city department to be cut would be the police department.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditure, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so, how should its membership be constituted?

The Board of Estimates needs to be reformed because the majority of the board is comprised of either the mayor's office itself or offices politically appointed by the mayor's office--making the board, in fact, a mayoral rubber stamp.

The members of the Board of Estimates should be exclusive of both the mayor's office and any appointees of the mayor's office. It should be chaired by the city comptroller. The comptroller should appoint five voting members, each of whom would be approved by a majority vote of the City Council. Appointments to the Board of Estimates should last for one year at which point the appointment would expire and re-appointment would be necessary.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

It is essential for candidates to have a financial history of responsibility and accountability. Evictions, foreclosures, repossessions, and bad debt are clear indicators of a person unable to manage his/her business and finances--much less the business and finances of other people.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

One of the roots of corruption we have in Baltimore City is the culture of entrenched, career politicians who end up, and have ended up catering more to their career and their cronies than they have to their job and their constituents. Much of the malfeasance and impropriety of our legislature is a direct result of an incestuous pool of political patronage and campaign contribution. The best way to break the strangleholds of these career politicians is to force them out with term limits.

I will work to see that a two-consecutive term limit is imposed on every elected position within the city government. This term limit will take effect retroactively such that if an elected official has already served for two (or more) consecutive terms in the same office, he or she is ineligible to run for that same office again. This is the quickest way to bring new ideas and a refreshed vigor into our municipal government.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

The criteria for employment and termination for a city job should be decided by the city agency doing the employing or terminating. Each agency and each job within that agency is unique. Therefore, a blanket policy from the City Council in this regard is inappropriate and, moreover, it micromanages otherwise independent city agencies.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

Get the mayor and City Council out of the Police Department. Our police department is not as effective as it could be because we have too many politicians meddling and interfering with the day-to-day operations of our police department. In order to make our police department more effective, I will fight at every opportunity to keep our politicians and their agendas out of our police department.

Provide more and better drug treatment to drug addicts. Drug addiction is a disease, not a crime. In order to break the cycles of crime and violence that surround drug addiction, I will vote in support of more funding for treatment for drug addicts.

Make parents accountable for their children. I will vote in support of any measure that would hold parents more accountable for their children. The city should specifically target truancy, curfews and nuisance crimes like loitering, fighting and vandalism.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

The city school system should be under the control of the city. Very simply, the city is funding the school system so the school system should be under the control of the city.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The City Council should have a very passive role in the improvement and oversight of the public school system. Our politicians should get involved with education only to the extent that they are asked to by the Board of Education and that the city requires legislative or social policy to reinforce the work of the Board of Education.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

The school system is broken from the top down. The Board of Education is ineffective and cannot govern itself. Therefore, the Board of Education needs to be phased out and replaced with a newly created Education Department that would be under the purview of the mayor's Office. This new department would have a Commissioner that would be appointed by the mayor and approved by a majority vote of the City Council. The Commissioner of the Education Department would then have full responsibility and accountability for the public school system.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I will fund an annual, dollar-for-dollar match of up to $10,000 for non-profit business and neighborhood associations within my district to reinvest back into the community the best way that they see fit. The money will come from my work with the state comptroller to capture the otherwise lost revenue of entertainment devices such as video poker machines.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I do not support parking ticket amnesty. Amnesty from law--any law--sets the horrible precedent that rules are not really rules, but merely suggestions--suggestions that are not uniformly applied or equitably enforced. Moreover, parking ticket amnesty programs cost municipalities more money than they generate: In most cases, parking ticket amnesty programs return less than 5 percent of the otherwise total outstanding debt and cause dramatic irregularities within parking fines as a source of revenue.

I support proper parking control within the law, under a system that is impartial, and that provides efficient recourse through the courts. It is the responsibility of the Parking Enforcement Authority to be more diligent and proactive in enforcing the rules and in collecting its debt.

 

*Terry F. Hickey

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before city council?

No. I will make sure the vote I cast supports my district, even if I disagree with the mayor--who ever that may be. One of the roles of a City Councilmember in a strong mayoral system is to hold the mayor accountable, educate our constituents on the issues, solicit feedback, and bring all parties together to make changes and solve problems creatively. Being a new candidate, the mayor has not endorsed me, nor has she offered any support, therefore I have no allegiances or debts to be paid, nor is there the perception that this is the case. I will be a vocal and independent voice on the City Council.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during a budget crisis? Which city department should be last in line?

Before I answer this question, let me say that while I know it is true that the Council can only cut and not add to the budget, I am tired of this being the shield that incumbents hide behind when they rationalize their inaction to constituents. There is nothing stopping a Councilperson from speaking out against certain budget items or building public support in an attempt to advocate for crucial additions to the budget. I have been working with the Safe & Sound Campaign to advocate for an additional half-million dollars to be added to the general budget to keep level funding for after-school programs. Many Council Members responded that they did not have the power to make this happen, and this is just not appropriate. Our Council needs to have an entirely different mindset.

If elected to the City Council, I would want to get accurate information on the spending history of all city departments, allowing me to make an educated decision as to where cuts should be made and advocate accordingly. I am sure we would not only find numerous areas in all departments where cuts could be made, but we would also find significant sources or additional revenue currently being lost through various inefficiencies. I do not support privatization of city services, but I do believe we need to begin running this city like a business and this means holding our various departments accountable.

If I had to designate cuts in one department with the information I have as a private citizen, first in line would be the Department of Public Works. We have all seen overstaffed road crews hanging around their vehicles apparently waiting on equipment / parts / other workers, or sanitation workers who reportedly leave after completing their route--as opposed to working their full shift. Proper scheduling of work should eliminate `lag time' among these employees; should `lag time' occur nonetheless, these employees should grab a readily available broom, shovel, etc. and start cleaning the surrounding area. I am not advocating for large scale layoffs, and if it were identified that positions were not needed at DPW, these employees should be moved to other needy departments, such as Recreation & Parks. In an absolute budget crisis, the city could consider eliminating twice-a-week trash pickup and possibly place dumpsters for citizens to use (protected by security cameras, of course, to prevent dumping of construction debris).

Last in line for cuts would be our Fire Department. No other department is both more responsible for public safety and least able to be supplemented by other means. Not to disparage the Police Department--equally responsible for public safety--but in a budget crisis the call could go out to citizens to augment their often greatly valued assistance with increased vigilance and frequency--through walking surveillance much like the Citizens On Patrol in the Southern District. I believe that both the Police and Fire Departments are both grossly under-funded, and dealing with this issue would be a primary concern if I am elected to the City Council.

Note: I would have considered the school system for cuts because I believe bloated salaries of school system administrators at North Avenue is a significant issue which must be addressed before the system will be able to reform. However, while the city contributes money to the school system, it does not control the school budget, and I would be worried these cuts would penalize students and teachers.

The five members Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so, how should its membership be constituted?

I fully support reformation of the Board of Estimates. With three of the five votes solidly under the mayor's control, there is no system of checks and balances inherent in this system. The presence of one current member, the Director of the Department of Public Works, has always struck me as an actual conflict of interest since his department is often involved in board discussions. A three person Board of Estimates--the mayor (or designee), the comptroller and the City Council president--would remove the undemocratic functioning of this body. Such a change would require a Charter Amendment, and I would support such an Amendment. The Board of Estimates spends the people's money, and needs to be held accountable. I thought Mayor Dixon's proposal to loosen requirements on the board was a step in the wrong direction, and I was happy it was rejected.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

I fully recognize the parallels between a candidate's personal/business financial situation and their role, if elected, in managing the public's money. In founding and building the nonprofit organization I still lead (Community Law In Action), there have been instances of lean times. Even so, my organization managed to weather these storms--all without any hint of impropriety. It is very clear to me that being responsible for something as a public servant means sacrificing one's own standing, if need be. I pledge never to allow any hint that I have placed my own situation above the trust granted me by the citizens of the 10th District and Baltimore City. If I do so, then voters should choose someone else in the next election.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

My first thought would be closed door meetings. The Court of Appeals has already spoken on this illegal practice used by the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC), among others. It is inconceivable this quasi-public body believes it can conduct ANY business in secret. BDC's defense that it handles sensitive applicant data is a smokescreen at best. Government should be in the business of exactly that - governing, not substituting for private investment that easily could afford to complete many of the projects for which BDC has bargained away the city's rights. BDC forgets: it is the guardian of the public's interest, not its own. As such, the public has the right to know. I would seek to have any closed-door meeting, held in violation of state law, banned. Even though public advocacy has forced the opening of meetings at this point, there have been other examples of this in the past, including the City Council, and I would work to make sure this practice is not repeated.

A close second to public meetings would have been the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) failing to take care of its properties and for not being cited for violations of the housing code (even though private landlords are cited for lesser offenses); all the while crying that it has no money. If this isn't criminal, it is close. I would advocate for HABC to give up all the homes it is mismanaging for a $1 to screened, reputable nonprofits to develop them, and provide money for them to do so.

To the extent there are other corrupt (or even just morally reprehensible) but as-yet-undisclosed, practices I find, I will seek to expose and end those as well.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment? How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

The American legal system is based in part on the concept of a criminal paying one's debt to society. Once that debt is discharged, the convicted criminal should be viewed as any other citizen. I tend to agree with this theory. We have seen Maryland take a major step forward with this year's enactment of restored voting rights to ex-offenders. With certain caveats, I would say any applicant with prior convictions should not be rejected for city employment on the basis of their conviction alone. The exceptions I would make to the above statement are: (1) a conviction for embezzlement, if the applicant would be handling public funds; (2) a conviction for bribery or perjury; or (3) a conviction for a sexually based crime where that applicant may be placed into contact with people similar to that applicant's prior victim(s).

In response to firing an existing city employee for criminal convictions occurring while they are employed, generally speaking: (1) if the employee is granted `probation before judgment' they should not be fired; (2) if the employee is convicted of a crime that does not include incarceration, their status should be evaluated with respect to the points listed above and discharged if they would not have been hirable originally; and (3) if the sentence includes incarceration, they should be discharged but allowed to apply for employment once their sentence is complete (again with those certain above exceptions).

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

#1--Law Enforcement: The media and my fellow candidates are full of theories about how to reduce crime and violence in our city. Obviously, part of this involves the police department. I do feel that we need more officers on the street, participating in neighborhood patrols, but we have to find a responsible way of generating the revenue to make it happen. Current and future officers must be paid commensurate with nearby jurisdictions and given the equipment they need to do their jobs. I do not think recruitment would be a problem if we supported our officers properly. The real issue here is revenue. I believe the city needs to examine its borrowing practices, because I suspect we could borrow much more against our bond rating and use this revenue to bolster city services, including public safety. Also, we need to broaden our tax base and bring in more middle class residents. This increased tax revenue could support more officers. Finally, we need to do away with loopholes in LLC transfers and disparities in tax assessments which rob the city of millions of dollars of revenue that could also be used to pay our officers a fair wage. Finally, the city also needs to pick a crime fighting strategy and stick with it--no more revolving door at the top of the department and no more flip-flopping strategies. We don't like it with our Orioles, so why do we put up with constant change at the top of arguably our most important department? The next mayor has to select a competent and respected Commissioner, agree on a comprehensive strategy, and then let it play out.

#2--Youth Strategy: While other candidates focus on the police department, there is more to the conversation. The recent upswing in murders cannot be dealt with overnight. If this city had a holistic youth strategy a decade ago, I firmly believe our murder rate would be half of what it is now. We are paying for letting our young people down, giving them a poor education, nothing positive to do, and little in the way of marketable job skills. I believe most of the fingers that end up pulling triggers once belonged to a disaffected city youth with no positive outlets. I will fight to craft a strong youth development strategy for this city with the belief it will pay off in the long run. This will include an assessment of current youth services and a full inspection of all recreation centers and parks. I will advocate for programs specifically targeting older youth, including proven anti-gang programs from other states which provide at-risk youth with job skills, entrepreneurial opportunity, and a chance to put some money in their pocket while building skills and self-esteem. However, no matter what strategy we devise, we will never solve the violence problem until people start taking responsibility for themselves and their families. As a Councilman, I can serve as a positive example to residents as well as a legislator.

#3--Courts: While much of the attention has been paid to the police department, the court system should also be the focus of reform. I will advocate for the creation of a community court system to serve the residents of my district. These small, community-based courts will have one judge who will be accountable to the neighborhoods in which they serve. Human services (drug treatment, GED, etc.) will be bundled at this building and accessible to offenders and also regular residents. Treatment and community service will be used to affect behavior while at the same time the court will administer hard-line punishment for people who do not accept treatment or paying their debt to the community. A youth court would also be built into this system. I would base this on a similar model that has been successful in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Over the last 5 years, this once violent neighborhood has witnessed a drop in nuisance crime and prostitution of over 83 percent and there has not been a homicide in almost three years. These types of pilot projects can work to dramatically affect our crime rates, but they will require renewed cooperation between our public agencies and also the leadership of council members with vision and the desire to take a chance.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

This is a tough one. I have worked with the school system for over a decade, and I have spent a great deal of time thinking about who should oversee our schools. The one conclusion I have reached is that the current situation IS NOT WORKING! Whether the city or state controls our schools, one thing is clear: someone needs to be ultimately accountable and now this simply is not the case. I have come to believe that returning the school system to the city's control is in the long-term best interest of the students. It is the Baltimore City School System, and it should be under our control. However, before this would work, a great deal of infrastructure would have to be implemented. The current City Council would have to increase its capacity and knowledge of education issues, and its leadership, This is one of the reasons I believe it is time for change in City Council. More importantly, any new mayor will have to articulate a clear vision for the schools and how the transition would work. Fiscal accountability and how the school board would interact with the mayor and City Council would be key areas to work out.

The bottom line is, under the proper circumstances, I would absolutely support legislation to return the schools to city control. We have to get there, though, and that could be a few years. A strong relationship with the current governor and General Assembly may make this a possibility. We will have to start getting the ship in order now, however, or the state will not willingly allow control to move to the city as long as they feel state dollars are supporting a bulk of the system's costs.

What role do you think the city council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City public school system?

My feelings here are the same as with the police department. Schools need to be returned to city control, but City Council still needs to let educational experts do their job. The role of City Council should be holding the system ultimately accountable, particularly in the areas of budgeting and spending. I feel that there should be a full-time, compensated school board, and that entity should be the first layer of accountability. Having school commissioners devoted solely to the system should take away some of our current problems, and the City Council would provide another check and balance. The City Council should also work to keep the public engaged in schools and providing outreach and incentive for this to happen. The City Council and mayor should also be vocally advocating for funding to repair aged and dangerous school buildings. The city currently spends an embarrassingly low amount on school buildings and relies on the state for these funds. Even though the city has not controlled the schools, there has not been anything preventing incumbents from taking a leadership role in this pursuit and in all the times I was in Annapolis with youth and community members speaking out for school funding, I did not see any Council members there with us. This must change, especially if schools are returned to city control.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

I have spent the last decade working with parents, students and others in an effort to help students succeed. In addition to opening one high school (Baltimore Freedom Academy), I have developed after school programs for hundreds of young people and created law-related social justice programs in four high schools. Students who participate in our high school programs have a 100 percent graduation rate and a 97 percent college attendance rate. As an education advocate I have worked with the ACLU, BEN, ACORN and others to fight for more certified teachers, safer school buildings, smaller class sizes, and more after school opportunities. Improving public schools (and supporting youth in general) is one of the primary areas of focus for my campaign. The troubles with the school system are one dose perception and a large dose of reality. The best way to improve this is to work on the issues that can be addressed within the system and to urge the media and other outlets to begin talking about all the positive things being done by students and teachers. I have met with dozens of young parents who are looking to stay in the city and want to take a chance on public schools, but are very wary of doing so. We need to work with these residents much like the city currently courts large corporations they are afraid will leave the city.

There are several things that can be done (and must be done) by the City Council and others to engage youth and help them find a path to graduation by making our schools more successful. One is to provide more incentives for parents and families to be involved in schools. This should start by supporting full funding and technical support for the Community Schools model. This makes schools the center of a neighborhood and not just a building where people send their children during the day. One example of how this would work would be to put adult literacy classes in public schools in the evening, having lawyers and other professionals hold public office hours in schools at night, and opening pools and athletic facilities to the community. For more information, check out http://www.baltimoreconnections.org.

I am also a committed supporter of the Opportunity Agenda, a menu of budget items developed by the Safe & Sound Campaign. City Council members have made a number of pledges to support this agenda, but have yet to adopt it in the city budget. I would make this a priority. I am tired of the city crying poor, especially when it applies to our children. We need to be responsible with our spending, but the amount of money to support after school and summer programs, along with mental health counseling for children pales in comparison with the cost to society when we neglect our children.

I am not convinced that the school system requires a large infusion of money to be more successful. Before funding is increased, I would like to see several things happen. The first would be to allow the new CEO the time to get a handle on the school system and to conduct a complete analysis of the system and what needs to be addressed. The master plan needs to be updated, and the system needs to re-visit its blueprint for high schools, which has been a relative failure to date. I believe there are a large number of administrative positions at North Avenue that could be eliminated and the money spent directly on schools. I would also support allowing more budgeting freedom and control for principals. If it were appropriate to spend additional funding on schools, I would want to see it prioritized on initiatives that ensure there is a certified teacher in each classroom, smaller class sizes, improved facilities, and more mentoring/internship programs for youth. I also support the ACLU's efforts to improve the funding mechanism for school facilities money across the state. Baltimore City must also begin to play a larger role in repairing and replacing aging city school buildings.

Our schools will never completely turn the corner until we find a way to care for their needs while they receive an education. Children are coming into the schools in various stages of need, and the attempts at addressing those needs are overwhelming teachers and administrators. It might be a long shot, but I would support an examination into the idea of splitting the system into two complimentary components: one that deals with the traditional educational responsibilities and one that covers the health and mental well-being of students. This would allow each section to focus its efforts and increase its effectiveness.

Finally, we need to craft a strategy to support private investment in our schools. I have met too many businesses that wanted to partner with individual schools but were dissuaded by a complicated and unresponsive bureaucracy. I would insist the school system increase staff in its Partnership Office and create a "concierge" of sorts for paving the way for private industry to identify and sustain long-term partnerships that would bring resources to students and teachers without further use of public money.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city wide--just the residents and the business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I pledge to work with neighborhoods throughout my district to craft a comprehensive youth strategy and this will be done before the first year of my term. The rest of my term will focus on making sure it is implemented and replicated throughout the city. Across the 10th District, there will be places for children and young adults to find positive adult role models in a safe and secure environment, both after school, weekends, and over the summer. This will include programs targeted to young adults, including GED classes, parenting workshops, financial literacy programs, etc. I will also build partnerships between schools, youth, and local small businesses to provide employment opportunities for young people. Such opportunities will be available in EVERY neighborhood within the 10th District. There has been much talk of opening more recreation centers in the city, including an alleged $2 million set aside for a center in Morrell Park. Unfortunately, bricks and mortar mean nothing to kids unless there is a real strategy for providing programming and well-trained youth workers. My district is littered with closed or limited centers that were shuttered because they lacked the funding to pay for ongoing programs. My solution will be a well thought-out strategy identifying what is already in place and what is needed. The process will include input from all stakeholders, most importantly the young people we plan to support. The plan will have full buy-in from residents and specific benchmarks to achieve. My role will be to bring in resources and network different groups to help make this possible, and it is in keeping with my lengthy experience as a community attorney. Some may feel this isn't possible, or it is a pipe dream, but I believe those opinions are the result of years of lowered expectations in this city for our children, and this is something I will put a stop to if elected to the council--at least in the 10th District. I believe the long term effects of this strategy will have a ripple effect benefiting residents, business owners, and all residents of the district.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I would support a limited amnesty on parking tickets. I recognize Baltimore is one of the few cities in the country that continues to heap monthly penalties on top of original fines, and these can quickly spiral out of control, particularly for low income residents, and result in the loss of their vehicles. However, I also want to avoid serial parking offenders taking advantage of an amnesty program. For people with a small number (3-4) or fewer tickets, there should be an amnesty of interest and penalties ONLY once every 1-2 years; offenders still would have to pay the fine. Placing a cap on the number of tickets subject to amnesty would prevent serial parking offenders from benefiting from their illegal parking.

 

*Hunter Pruette

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

No. When elected, I intend to be a reliable vote in support of the people of the 10th District. Whoever the mayor may be, I will work with them to make Baltimore better, but I will not be a pawn for their agenda. As the next City Council member from the 10th District, I will bring change to City Hall and will fight every day for my constituents. As I have been campaigning throughout the 10th District, people continue to tell me that we new ideas after years of the same promises from the leadership in City Hall.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line.

If Baltimore was faced with a budget crisis, the first line of cuts I would propose would be to the executive branch, including the offices of the mayor and the City Council. We must lead by example even if that means making sacrifices to resources in our office. As your next City Council member, I would be sure to put other departments ahead of my own office. As of today, the last departments in line for cuts would be those pertaining to public safety. We can not, for example, sacrifice our police and fire departments in the name of balancing our budget.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so, how should its membership be constituted?

The Board of Estimates is generally viewed as a mayoral rubber stamp and gives the mayor the sole power in determining city contracts. I believe the board should be reformed and believe that proper way to do so is to eliminate the two positions held by mayoral appointees. This deletion would leave only elected officials, the mayor, the City Council president, and the comptroller, and would allow the citizens of Baltimore to hold them accountable for their actions.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

I do not believe that normally a candidate's business and personal financial situation affect his/her ability to manage the city's affairs. However, once a candidate allows his/her business or personal finances to disrupt or influence his/her decision making on behalf of the city, then a problem definitely exists. We must elect leaders who make decisions based on what is best for Baltimore, not what is best for their business or personal finances.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

I believe we must stop nepotism in our offices and in the contracts awarded by the city. Family members or their businesses should not be allowed to receive contracts or work from the city of Baltimore. Simply abstaining from a vote is not sufficient enough; we must reform our system so that there are no questions that we are using city resources to benefit family members.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

I do not believe it is appropriate to set specific numbers as to how many convictions preclude one from city employment. I believe each candidate for employment and each employee should be judged on a case-by-case basis. For example, a 48 year old who had reformed their life and was a productive member of their community may have a felony conviction from when they were eighteen. If we automatically precluded those with felony convictions, then we would lose out on a qualified candidate with a 30-year-old transgression. Therefore, I believe we must evaluate each person and their history on a case-by-case basis.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented

Through my work as a public defender, I see first hand how our justice system works and the challenges that face our city. As violent crime is increasing in Baltimore, we must make changes to combat this increase. First, we must hire more police officers and assign them to troubled neighborhoods and drug hot spots. There is no excuse for the current shortage of police officers. Today's leaders have waited too long to make this a priority and are reacting too late to address the issue. We must make hiring officers a priority and we must assign them to troubled neighborhoods to reduce violent crimes.

Next, we must create a new Anti-Gang Task Force to reduce violent crime and gang proliferation. The Anti-Gang Task Force will be comprised of a broad range of leaders throughout the justice community. The Task Force will target gang violence by working in every aspect of the community to monitor gangs and will aggressively prosecute those involved in gangs.

Last, we must address the drug problem in Baltimore that increases crime in our neighborhoods. Many of my clients tell me they will steal to support their drug habits, they break into cars and houses to support their drug habit, and they will sell their body to support their drug habit. We must increase drug treatment funding to help addicts get off drugs and reduce drug-related crimes in our neighborhoods. To ignore the fact that Baltimore has tens of thousands of drug addicts is irresponsible. By providing treatment to drug addicts, we can help them beat their addictions, often times save their lives, and help make them productive members of the community.

Funding new police officers and drug treatment programs would require making additional budget allocations. I also would use my experience in other political arenas to request funding assistance from state and federal leaders. We need a City Council member who will work to successfully lobby state and federal leaders to fund these priorities. As for the Anti-Gang Task Force, we could create the program on a city-wide level by bringing together the police, the prosecutors, neighborhood leaders, teachers, and others so that we can collaborate on ways to stop the gang proliferation that is occurring in Baltimore.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

City control. I do not believe the current system of managing and overseeing the city school system best serves our students. Having two sets of leaders for one school system inherently leads to a lack of accountability and our children deserve better.

I would support legislation that would return responsibility for the school system to the mayor so that we can increase accountability. It is my belief that a school system is best run by those who have a vested interest in the success of the school system.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

I believe the City Council should take an active role in improving and overseeing our public schools. I am the proud product of public schools, having attended public schools from kindergarten through law school. Many members of my family work in public school systems, including my father who has worked as a teacher, coach, principal and administrator. Public schools created countless opportunities for me and I believe we in Baltimore must make sure our schools provide these same opportunities for our children.

While the City Council should not be involved in day-to-day operations, the Council should diligently monitor the use of resources and contracts to make sure that we are not wasting resources. The City Council should make sure the schools have resources they need and should work with the school system to create new programs and learning opportunities for our children

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

I have several ideas to improve the city's school system. First, we must increase the attention each student receives by reducing class size and we must pay our teachers a competitive salary to keep them in our school system. This will require a financial investment we can achieve through the budgeting process and through lobbying state and federal leaders.

Next, we must create a new "Teach for Baltimore" tutoring program that recruits local college and high school students to tutor our children after school. This would be a city-wide program that would be organized through a collaboration of local colleges, universities, and high schools to provide tutors to our younger children after school. Older students can get credit and grow with the responsibility of tutoring a younger student. Younger students will get the extra one-on-one attention they can not always get from a teacher in order to better understand difficult subjects and get better grades.

Last, we must invest in improving and updating our school buildings. If we expect our children to learn, we must provide adequate buildings and infrastructure so that they have an environment in which to learn.

What specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

Many voters of the 10th District have repeatedly told me that they do not feel they have a voice in the City Council. They say the current leadership has not brought them to the table when making decisions, especially when it comes to development of their neighborhoods. I will guarantee to the constituents that no decisions involving development will take place without their input. Given the constant development in the 10th District, many members of communities throughout the 10th District have expressed concern about losing their neighborhoods to impending development. Unlike the current leadership, I will guarantee they have a voice in the process.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I support parking ticket amnesty to collect overdue parking fines. In 2003, Baltimore collected nearly four million dollars from more than 110,000 citations during the parking ticket amnesty program.

 

*Edward Reisinger

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

No, I was elected by the voters in my District. I support their agenda.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line.

We need to evaluate all of the city's departments. It is too early to appropriate or cut budgets for the next fiscal year. Public Safety and Education are last in line.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so, how should its membership be constituted?

I support the Board of Estimates with three members: mayor, City Council president and present comptroller.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

That is up to the voters of Baltimore City. The candidate should be a responsible individual with integrity.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

There needs to be more accountability and transparency.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

Reformed felons should be given an opportunity to work for the city. As far as how many and what type of criminal convictions it should take to be rejected for employment or fired from a city job--it should be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented

Homicide Detectives should be kept as detectives and not placed in Patrol. Increased Foot Patrol Officers are needed in neighborhoods. More police officers should be added to the police Gang Division.

First, we need to fill the police officer vacancies that currently exist, the funding for which already exists in the 2007 budget.

The City Council, mayor, and Police Department--perhaps with input from the city's residents--must create a more comprehensive, successful plan for recruiting of police officers, which should include increasing police salaries in comparison to other jurisdictions in Maryland so that the Police will stay and live in Baltimore City.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

The Baltimore City schools should be under city control, while continuing the city-state financial partnership. Baltimore City will be accountable in the way the schools are handled, both financially and physically.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

With Baltimore City control, under the shared oversight of the mayor and City Council, there will be greater accountability and communication.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

We should: 1) Return control of Baltimore's schools to the mayor--research shows that this level of accountability in other cities has been most successful in improving urban schools. This will require General Assembly approval and a greater level of budget oversight by the City Council.

2) Co-location of services at schools, including after-school and recreation programs, health programs, adult literacy, and employment and social services. This can be accomplished through the city's capital budget, and by forcefully advocating for partnerships across agencies. Schools should be community centers.

3) Greater focus on middle schools--which are currently where test performance drops, and future high school dropouts begin to become disconnected. This can be accomplished by co-location of resources, by improving curriculums, and by more clearly showing the connection between school and career paths.

What specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I promise to communicate and continue to build better relationships, making sure my constituents' issues are resolved and objectives accomplished.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I do not support it. Some individuals will not pay their tickets, hoping for a parking ticket amnesty. I do believe that a review of the city's parking fine system is needed, and support looking into having automated kiosks throughout the city, similar to the automated parking meter kiosks, where citizens can pay their fines.

 

11th District

*William Cole

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

While in the House of Delegates, I was never a rubber stamp for the governor, nor would I be a rubber stamp for the mayor if elected to the City Council. My vote is based on the merits of each issue.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be the first in line for cuts during budget crises?

Prudent fiscal management dictates using a scalpel rather than an axe for budget cuts in times of budget crises. It is not in the best interest of our citizens to target a specific agency for cuts, or to make cuts across the board. Instead, in the event of a budget crisis, each agency should be mandated to revise its strategic plan and adjust its budget accordingly.

However, it is the responsibility of leaders to practice prudent fiscal management at all times, thus avoiding budget crises. For example, we should:

1) establish our priorities as a city and budget accordingly;

2) start to look at programs within agencies for budget adjustments;

3) terminate underutilized, unneeded, or obsolete programs;

4) develop true measures of performance and effectiveness, making certain that CitiStat measures those aspects that determine the effectiveness of individual programs, and;

5) require that each agency submit an annual report to justify the continued existence of each of its programs.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so, how should its membership be constituted?

Checks and balances in Baltimore have been eroding for decades with the executive branch gaining more power. We can look to the state's Board of Public Works as a model. The state board has similar responsibilities, but is composed of three people, two of whom are elected independently and one of whom is elected by the legislature. (I realize that there was no mention of increasing membership, so we shouldn't mention it. I deleted it.) I would support a decrease in membership to eliminate the non-elected members of the board. This would leave the three city-wide elected officials on the board: the mayor, comptroller, and president of the City Council.

What does a candidate's business and person's financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

How a candidate manages his or her own personal and business finances is generally a good indication of how competent s/he will be with the city's finances. I have always managed my personal finances--as well as the finances of any organization I have been charged with leading--efficiently, effectively, and without any problems. It goes without saying that it is not a good sign when a candidate defaults on credit cards, declares bankruptcy, or has a mortgage foreclosure.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

Competition should always be the hallmark of a public procurement process. A city procedure that is most vulnerable to abuse is sole-source purchasing.

Sole-source (or single-source) purchasing often occurs when an agency representative responds to a salesperson (sometimes a close friend or former associate) and concludes that a specific product offered by that salesperson is what is needed and it is not available from any other vendor. Instead of planning ahead and allowing sufficient time for open bidding, the agency representative further determines that only that product at that price may be used. It is an abused process that can be extremely costly to tax-payers.

Agency representatives must be trained to approach purchasing from a performance perspective. That is, they must first determine the real departmental need and the performance requirements instead of demanding that it be a "purple widget that is produced only by company X."

Agencies must also be trained in planning ahead (strategic planning and budgeting), thus allowing sufficient time for the bidding process. On occasion when professionals have evaluated, justified, and satisfied due diligence, such as the Homeland Security team, the bidding process can--and must--be circumvented.

It truly should be the role of the City Council to determine the policies within which the Purchasing Department establishes procedures for all purchasing.

How many and what type of criminal convictions would it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

Rejecting an applicant would depend on the type of crime and the date of the offense. If we reject every city resident who has ever had a conviction, we would do our citizens a disservice. In Baltimore, most of the crime is drug-related. It is critically important to reduce recidivism from drug treatment by including comprehensive aftercare: mental health, job training, and housing assistance. Then we have to give the people who stay clean a chance. I believe that people can reform and deserve a chance to earn a living in this city.

If a city employee breaks the law in a way that abuses his/her authority or responsibility it should result in immediate removal. Any felony conviction should also result in immediate removal.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

My focus on curbing crime is three-fold: 1) strengthening the Baltimore Police Department, 2) reducing drug-related crime, and 3) provide greater protection for residents who are willing to work with police against criminal behavior.

1) The Police Department is facing several serious problems:

Chronic staffing shortage of officers: It is not possible for any organization to function effectively with hundreds of vacancies as our Police Department is doing today.

Enormous pay disparity: Baltimore is more dangerous yet pays its police less than the surrounding jurisdictions. The disparity increases the longer an officer works in Baltimore. For example, a twenty-year veteran in Baltimore City makes at least $20,000 less annually than a twenty-year veteran in Baltimore County. It is clear to me that some of our vacancies are directly related to the pay disparity. The result is a serious recruitment and retention problem that explains why we have to recruit police officers from as far away as Puerto Rico.

Officers in cars: Putting every officer in a police car has done little to reduce violent crime in Baltimore, or any other major city.

If elected to City Council, I intend to approach these problems from several directions:

Find ways to create equal pay so that our officers make at least as much as their Baltimore County counterparts. For example, we might invest less on blue-light cameras and more on real police on the streets.

Push the police department leadership to consider a long-term investment in regular foot patrols and smaller patrol routes.

Entice more police officers to make Baltimore their primary residence by offering a significant property tax reduction or similar financial incentives. I believe that having officers living in our neighborhoods, with police cars parked on the street, will make those neighborhoods safer.

2) Without question, the overwhelming majority of crimes in Baltimore are directly related to the drug trade. I view the drug trade as a regional problem. Baltimore City residents alone are not fueling the drug markets - a large percentage of customers come into Baltimore from the surrounding counties to make purchases. Yet, it is Baltimore City that is forced to deal with the most violent aspects of the drug trade.

We must reduce supply and demand while responding to those who want treatment. If elected to City Council, I intend to:

Make shutting down active, visible open-air drug markets the highest priority

Enforce all existing drug laws

Explore several new initiatives, a number of which would require the cooperation and support of the Baltimore City delegation in Annapolis. For example, I would like to include additional penalties (either criminal or civil) for crossing jurisdictional lines to buy drugs.

Fight for spending a significant portion of our drug treatment dollars on comprehensive aftercare, including mental health, job training, and housing assistance to reduce the recidivism rate. Otherwise we are wasting drug treatment money.

3) Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we need to provide greater protection for residents who are willing to work with police against criminal behavior. We must to protect and support those brave individuals who are willing to help the police reduce violent crime in this city.

Although you only asked for three specific suggestions, it is impossible to discuss the rising homicide rate without mentioning our children. In order to break this culture of violence, we must provide real opportunities for our kids to escape the lure of the streets--it is time that the vity makes another major investment in after-school activities, recreation and PAL centers, and summer programs.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

Given today's confusing and dysfunctional public education partnership between the city and the state, I just want someone to be ultimately responsible for city schools. One way or another, parents and teachers need to know who is accountable for performance in our schools. The endless blame game needs to end.

I do believe that the City Council and mayor can, and should, play a more active role in the future of our school system. Once it is abundantly clear that the city schools' finances are in order, the city should resume control of its schools.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The Baltimore City Council needs to ensure that the funds coming from the city and state are spent effectively and efficiently. The budget surprises--random irregularities and imbalances--must be corrected immediately. The City Council should serve as a budget watchdog and ensure that taxpayer money is being spent appropriately and that all funds are accounted for at all times. The council should also work with the school commissioners to make certain that funding for students, classrooms, and our aging infrastructure take priority over a large central administration.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

As a parent of two, and soon to be three, Baltimore City school students, public education is one of the primary reasons I am running for office. In order to break this cycle of violence in Baltimore, we must provide a quality education for all Baltimore city students.

Between my service in the House of Delegates and my six-plus years with Congressman Cummings, I have visited schools in every neighborhood in this city. I have seen first-hand the conditions of some of the school buildings and the challenging environments in which our educators are forced to teach. Despite those obstacles, we do have successful schools in this city and they can serve as models for the system to replicate.

The most successful schools have both strong principals and dedicated, talented teachers. To turn every school in every neighborhood around, we must continue to push for 1) additional economic resources for the classrooms and for our teachers, 2) small class sizes, 3) rigorous, consistent academic standards, and (4) high expectations.

Success in all of our schools is attainable if we will:

Focus on strategic spending: Implement a "Management for Results" program, much like the state has. We must require the school system leaders to budget--and justify spending--based on a comprehensive strategic plan.

Support our teachers: provide the financial resources to keep our best teachers in our classrooms instead of promoting them to administrative positions

Give strong principals the tools they need and keep them in the schools:

give principals greater influence over the makeup of their educational teams;

provide principals with financial management training to utilize existing resources better;

keep our best principals in the schools--instead of moving them to a central administrative position, keep them in the school environment and let other principals come to them for training.

Encourage community and family involvement: put the "community" back into our local schools

Ensure that students attend school prepared to succeed: address those problems that occur outside the classroom that prevent children from learning

Ensure that our schools are a safe and clean environment: while we cannot control what children face at home, we can make certain that their school environment is clean, safe, and conducive to learning

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district - not Baltimoreans city-wide, jut the residents and business owners you represent- you will accomplish for the over the next four years if elected?

I will work to increase city investment in struggling and aging neighborhoods in the 11th district.

While this district has the downtown commercial district, the harbor, part of the sports entertainment complex, and a number of affluent neighborhoods, it also has an inordinate number of vacant houses and struggling communities. It is time for the city to make the same investment in our outlying neighborhoods that it has in downtown development.

Several strategies include:

Recycling city-owned vacant houses: the "Dollar House" of the 1980's provides a model that can be successful if we make sure to:

Provide an adequate package of assistance so that people are equipped with the knowledge of what it takes to rehab a house as well as the financial resources to do so.

Select those vacant houses that make strategic sense; i.e., those near stable communities that can be renovated in whole blocks so they are not interspersed with uninhabitable houses.

Require sweat equity and owner occupancy.

Investigating the possibility of the Baltimore Development Corporation investing in communities with even a small fraction of the money they invest around the Inner Harbor and the downtown business district.

Looking at other cities' successes:

Cleveland created an Office of Affordable Housing to bring together all of the elements needed to focus on this issue.

San Jose provides signing bonus for teachers that assist them in finding affordable housing.

The new Center for Workforce Affordable Housing, launched in February, 2007 by the Urban Land Institute, is creating models of `mixed-income workforce housing design, development, and financing. The Center will also identify barriers to workforce housing production and work to eliminate those barriers by raising awareness of the affordability gap and by advocating changes in public policy.

What is our position on parking ticket amnesty?

While I realize that past amnesty programs have netted huge financial gains for the city, I am continually perplexed at why people allow themselves to get buried beneath a mountain of parking tickets and then demand amnesty.

There are clearly situations where the vehicle owner does not receive the citation only to find out years later that the original $23 ticket becomes a $300 ticket with interest included. Amnesty is an acceptable solution for those cases.

In short, I could support amnesty for those individuals that do not abuse the system. There clearly need to be limits to the city's generosity, however. For example, one should not be allowed to participate if he/she has more than 3 unpaid parking tickets. Amnesty should also not be allowed for anyone who parks illegally in a space for handicapped people or in a fire lane.

 

*Fred D. Mason III

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

No. My responsibility is to the people of the 11th District, not to whoever is elected mayor or to any other elected officials. It is critical for the City Council to be an independent body and for council members to fight for the interests of the people they serve and not to have any permanent friends or permanent enemies.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

The Department of Transportation should be first in line for cuts during crises. The Baltimore City Public School System should be last in line for cuts.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

The Board of Estimates should be reconstituted, and should be composed of the mayor, president of the City Council, and comptroller. Each of these officials is elected citywide and is accountable to the voters. The present organization gives the mayor an automatic majority by including the director of Public Works and the city solicitor, who are primarily accountable to the mayor.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

It depends on the magnitude of the problem. If someone shows a chronic inability to manage his or her finances, it casts doubt on their ability to be an effective fiscal watchdog. If someone has made occasional late payments, I would not hold that against them. A better signal is how a candidate exercises oversight with campaign finances and business finances if there are any.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

Campaign finance laws must be strengthened and enforced to prohibit gifts to office holders and candidates by companies doing business with the city. The gifts create the impression that obtaining contracts is predicated on making contributions.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

If someone has paid their debt to society, they should have the opportunity to obtain employment without discrimination. I support the effort to remove the question about convictions from city employment applications. We do not need to create an immediate block to someone seeking to re-enter legitimate employment. Sensitive positions should require background checks to determine if someone's convictions are related to the job they are seeking. It should take one felony conviction for someone to be fired from their job.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

Increase gun seizures and enforce severe penalties for possession of illegal firearms through the use of tools like Project Exile. I would push for increased cooperation between the police, the state's attorney, and the federal government to obtain appropriate penalties. I would push for laws to close gun stores that prove to be participants in straw purchases.

Increase foot patrols. Several police officers I have talked to would like patrol to be the central function of the police department. I would push for regular reporting by the police department of the number and percentage of officers assigned to patrol on each shift. Ideally, a majority of officers are on the street at all times.

Implement programs based on best practices from other cities, such as Safe and Sound's Operation Safe Neighborhoods, which is based on Boston's Ceasefire program. This was a holistic effort including community stakeholders, social service providers, the faith community, and law enforcement to provide real alternatives to a life of crime and severe consequences for those who continue to violate the community.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

The ultimate responsibility for the schools should be with a school board with a majority of members elected by the people of Baltimore City. The current system diffuses accountability, and elected members could be held accountable by the voters.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The City Council should and must exercise budgetary oversight. I would push for an audit to determine how much of the budget is actually getting to the schools and to the classrooms. A major role I see for a council member is making sure each school has a strong support system built around it to leverage outside resources.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system?

Steadily increase city funding of the school system. A majority of the annual budget increases should be devoted to education.

Examine the budget to maximize the amount going to the classroom. Set a goal of restoring art, music, and physical education programs that are essential components of the educational process.

Establish programs to involve nearby seniors in mentoring students and sharing first-hand historical knowledge.

Set developing a well educated population as our top goal.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I will make sure that every school in the 11th District has a strong group of community partners including businesses, community groups, faith institutions, higher education institutions, and seniors. These community partners would raise funds, provide positive experiences, establish mentoring programs and generally expand the range of possibilities for the students.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

A one-time amnesty would be a good gesture to allow people to begin with a clean slate, and it would generate some temporary good will. The bigger problem is how the fines are set for various offenses and whether the enforcement efforts are a net positive. I would examine how much the city actually nets from parking enforcement and how the fines are set.

 

*Adam Meister

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

Over the last decade the City Council has served as nothing but a rubber stamp for the Mayor. I intend to stop this trend. I will not be a pawn of the mayor. I will vote for what is best for the people of Baltimore. Unfortunately over the last few years the mayor's agenda has been what is worst for the people of Baltimore.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

Housing and Community Development is a very bloated and inefficient part of city government. Cuts in this department would force the city to finally account for the over 8,000 vacant properties the city owns and figure out a way to sell them efficiently. Less properties mean less to manage and thus the need for less money to run the department. Sold properties also mean more revenue for city and a quicker end to the budget crisis. The Health Department is the last place we should look to for cuts. By cutting this budget we are only creating more problems for our most vulnerable citizens. In the long run this will end up costing us even more money to correct the problems a budget cut would create.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

Right now the mayor does control the Board of Estimates because she is basically in control of three of the five votes. I believe the mayor should have the most power on the board but not have the majority of votes. A simple way to do this is allow the mayor, a mayoral appointee (city solicitor), the City Council president, the vomptroller, and the City Council vice-president to all have votes on the board. The vice-president is selected by the City Council so it would be as if that body had a vote on the board.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

If a candidate has a history of bankruptcy, fraud, and shady business dealings one can assume that the candidate will bring these traits to government. We need people in government who understand basic economic concepts and are able to manage money efficiently. So much of the city's affairs revolve around money. We can not have a person in power that treats real money like monopoly money.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

We were told that the SCOPE program was supposed to favor home owner occupants over developers and at least was supposed to get home owner occupants in to city owned vacant houses. On the ground in reality this is not happening at all. Every shady little developer is given a preference over those who actually want to live in the houses. The developers do not have to fix up the houses in 1.5 years because none of the SCOPE rules that housing states to the public are enforced. In reality there are no clauses that say the house has to end up owner occupied! We need to make sure that housing actually enforces what ever rules are in place over the SCOPE program and creates new rules that clearly favor home owner occupants (what they promised us already existed).

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

Two felonies in the past three years should prevent a person from being hired by the city of Baltimore. If a city employee commits one felony then they should immediately be fired. This policy should be made very clear upon the hiring up the employee

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

The great majority of homicides in Baltimore have something to do with the illegal drug trade. Open-air drug markets are the transfer points of the drugs and sometimes the spots where the violence that leads to homicides takes place. If we focus on eliminating these markets and the people who sell drugs in these markets then we will have less homicides and happier communities that will not feel like they are being held hostage anymore. Right now open-air drug markets have become an accepted part of life in Baltimore. Citizens feel the police drive past the markets without stopping. They have stopped reporting them to 911. We need police to actually stop every time they see an open-air drug market and get out of their car to break it up. They need to have members of the warrant task force with them or call them in. So many of the people selling drugs already have warrants out for them. This will serve to catch more serious criminals and deter them from conducting open illegal activity. This will involve expanding the Warrant task force.

We need to create incentives to get police to live in Baltimore City. When an officer lives in the City he or she will have a better understand of the City and more of an interest in seeing it succeed. It will be less of a job and be much more personal. I propose allowing police officers to pay property taxes at a rate equivalent to that of Baltimore County the entire time they serve on the force and live in Baltimore City. Pay parity with surrounding counties is also necessary to lift of the sagging morale of the force and make them more efficient.

It is time for a complete crime audit in Baltimore City. In reality we can not fight crime without knowing what crime really takes place and where. Right now not all crime is being reported properly or at all. We need a starting point to see where we really are and where we need to focus. Baltimore needs to hire an independent third party auditing organization and figure out our true crime statistics.

My above suggestions are part of a much larger plan of mine but I selected these specific points because they deal with what we see on the street and what directly changes our lives, the police situation, and the behind the scenes corruption that is holding us back.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

I know that the current city-state partnership is a disaster that allows the state and city to push the blame back and forth while the situation worsens. The city should be in charge of its own fate but with the state contributing so much money to the system the city must first prove it is worthy of managing the system. Baltimore must properly account for current school budget to assure the state that millions of dollars will never go missing again. The school budget recently presented to the public makes little sense. It is filled with mathematical errors and to this day the public does not know the true amount of money that is actually going into the schools themselves. Baltimore's elected officials know that the entire school budget is $1.2 billion a year. We must ask every school how much money they need to operate (including facility repairs, special needs, after school programs, salaries, etc.). After every school submits their desired operational budget we should add up each school's proposed budget and subtract the total from $1.2 billion. What ever is left over is allocated to pay for the administration located at the North Avenue headquarters. If there is not enough to pay all of the administration then we identify which positions within the administration are unnecessary and we eliminate these positions. Right now it appears funding goes to the administration first and what ever is left over goes to fund our schools - where our children are supposed to be learning. This is a backward and wrong and only hurts our children.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

If the city of Baltimore is allowed to control the schools again then the City Council should have the power to approve a school budget for the mayor to consider for final approval. See my above answer about returning power over schools to Baltimore.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system?

Please refer to my answer for question no. 8. We must have a proper accounting of the school system and make sure every school is getting the money it needs to operate. Some other suggestions I have are the following: Currently there are empty spaces in some of our schools. At the same time, there are school safety worries. I believe some of the empty spaces in our more dangerous schools should be designated as police substations. Police use substations as a place to relax for a few minutes or to use the bathroom. Having Baltimore Police foot traffic inside school buildings should add some order to otherwise disorderly schools.

I have been told by numerous principals that they are responsible for setting the tone at their schools. We need to establish a culture where good principals are rewarded at bad principals are replaced.

If we are able to cut the administration fat at North avenue substantially then it may be possible to move the city school administration out of its North Avenue headquarters and into a smaller building. This would allow Baltimore to sell all or part of the North Avenue complex to raise additional funds for our schools.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I promise the constituents of the 11th District that as a full-time councilperson I will be there for them at all times. By the time 2011 comes around we will have a cleaner district. I can assure them of this because I will help clean the district with my bare hands. This is public service not the Monday club for those who dream of higher office and bigger bribes. On a constituent service level in the 11th district I will set the tone by:

Hosting district-wide quarterly meetings

Organizing and attending at least two cross-neighborhood meetings a month

Participating in at least two cleanups a month

Participating in at least two COP (Citizen on Patrols) walks a month

Answering all e-mails personally

Researching who owns problem properties and contacting them if need be

Attending neighborhood associations monthly meetings

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

The last amnesty was in 2003 and the Baltimore City code (Article 31, Section 36-23) states that "no further amnesties may be offered for 10 years." I supported the amnesty then and I remember the city did a good job of getting the word out and stressing that this was a one time a decade offer. I support continuing the policy that was clearly stated in 2003 and waiting until 2013 to have another amnesty.

 

*Nick Mosby

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I personally believe that the city councilman for the 11th District needs to be an advocate for and fight for the citizens of the 11th District and should not be a "rubber stamp" for the mayor or City Council president. However, if the next mayor pledges to do the following:

Make ALL city agencies perform quarterly audits beginning in January 2008

Push for an elected school board (in whole or in part)

Push for mayoral control of the school system

Implement my abandoned housing plan that will create 1000 jobs and generate $15 mil annually in revenue

Invest in the youth of the city by implementing my plan to create state-of-the-art youth enrichment centers across the city

Appoint a well qualified police chief, ensure that he will create a city wide gang unit and then let the police chief run the department

Operate the government efficiently and transparently

Support my pledge of accountability in principle and in practice

I will be a reliable supporter.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

If elected, I will push for ALL city agencies to be audited. Once the audit process is complete, the department that will be first in line for cuts will be the one that has operated the most inefficiently. The one that will be last in line will be the one that has been operating efficiently and not wasting the taxpayer's money. However, if it takes awhile to implement my quarterly audits, the area of the budget that I would attack first is Contractual Services. In the 2005 fiscal year budget, the Contractual Services line item was 23.9 percent of the budget. One has to ask how many of those contracts were no bid contracts? As part of my platform, efficiency, accountability and transparency, I would make sure that the government is operating in a transparent manner and would push to end no bid contracts.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

I believe that the issue is not the rules that govern the Board of Estimates. It is the people that are actually on the board. If we continue to put the same people in the same positions, they will continue to do the same things. If we want change, we need to enact change by voting for change.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

[no answer]

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

Over the past few years, we have seen reports of agencies misplacing or misspending millions of dollars and there is no accountability. That is why I have a pledge of accountability and why I will push for quarterly audits of all agencies. As taxpayers, we are over taxed and under served. In order for that to change, we must expand the tax base by brining more taxpayers into the system and stop wasting so much of the money that we do have.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

That depends on the conviction and the job. If a person is convicted of embezzlement, I would not want them to be in a position to embezzle money again. I am not sure how it works now, but if a person is convicted and must go to jail, how would they be able to keep their job if they cannot show up for work. I would not be opposed to allowing them to re-apply for their job depending on the crime and circumstances, but I would think that if convicted and served jail time, being fired would be automatic. I also recognize that we are a society that believes in second chances. We are also a city that has a large number of convicted felons, so I am hesitant to make a blanket recommendation that anyone who is convicted of a crime and serves their time should be automatically disqualified for any job. To make sure that all of the citizens have a chance to be productive members of society, we also need to make sure that we have adequate re-entry programs to give those citizens a chance to make a better life for themselves.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

Most of the crime in Baltimore is directly related to drugs and gangs. Most of the violent crime is committed by a small group of offenders. To address this my plan calls for the following:

Creation of a citywide gang unit.

Not all of the youth in Baltimore are engaging in gang behavior and many are doing positive things. However, Baltimore has a gang problem and this problem has been going on for years unchecked. We need a citywide gang unit that can respond to this threat appropriately. This unit needs to collaborate with other neighboring police forces and the Baltimore City State's Attorneys office to ensure that we bring all available resources to bear to stop this problem.

Expand the warrant apprehension task force.

There was a published report this year that highlighted the fact that most of the victims and perpetrators of the violence in Baltimore have extensive records. We need to find those offenders that are consistently perpetrating this violence and make sure that they are dealt with by the system swiftly and severely.

Create state-of-the-art student enrichment centers across the city.

Recreational centers across the city are either closed, or in the same shape they were in 15-20 years ago. We cannot expect our youth to turn away from gangs and drugs if we do not give them viable alternatives. It is imperative that we upgrade our youth facilities if we expect to stem the rise in both violence and gang activity that we are witnessing. We also need the police department to be a partner in this project.

If elected, I would use the confirmation hearings for the next police chief to make sure that my ideas are implemented. I would not vote for any police chief that did not come with a written plan of how he planned to address the crime problem. I would also make sure that my suggestions were incorporated into any plan that the police chief would draft. Once that is done, we have the means to hold him/her accountable as well as a base line to see if our plans are working. As a follow up, I would make sure that I held regular meetings to evaluate how well the plan is working as well as give citizens the opportunity to provide input.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

I definitely believe that city schools should be under city control. Until we stop this paternalistic attitude on behalf of the state, and take control of our city schools, we will not be able to turn this around. No one knows what is better for Baltimore than Baltimore. That is not to excuse the state from fully funding Thornton, or meeting their annual funding obligations. However, the reality is that the city/state partnership is a failure and we must take responsibility for our situation.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The mayor should have direct control over the managing of the school system by nominating the CEO (to be confirmed by the City Council) and having him/her directly report to the mayor. The CEO needs to have the budget pass through the mayor's office and the City Council should approve the school budget.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system?

[no answer]

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

My pledge of accountability is my contract with the citizens of the 11th District. I am the only candidate that is willing to say up front what I will do and what I expect the citizens to hold me accountable for over the next four years. However, to cite one specific thing, I would highlight my plan to call for quarterly audits of all city agencies. We have no idea how much money is being misplaced/misspent. If my plan were implemented, we would know when an agency is having a problem. We would not have to wait for a City Paper expose on how an agency has lost millions of dollars over the last three years and no one had a clue.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I would not be against a parking ticket amnesty if it would bring in money that was not going to be otherwise collected. However, I would not want the citizens to get in the habit not paying their tickets because they are waiting on an amnesty program.

 

12th District

*Ertha Harris

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

Let me start by saying that because I have not held a position on City Council, which I would only be able to give you my view on what I know so far. I think it is unfair to be given the same question to me as the incumbents. To be fair I don't like to say what I would do or could do, but I will say what I think I would do. I'm running so I can get in an see why things are not working for the best interest of the people of Baltimore, why is it that we are still complaining about the same things over and over again. Why are the politician not held accountable for the last time they answer this question? They are still talking about what they would do; I want you to look at what they have done. How many have been a reliable vote for the mayor in the past and will there be a reliable vote for the next mayor, if it not one they have chosen. But to answer your question as best I can, I will look at the agenda, to see how closely it relate to the will of the people, starting with the 12th district and all Baltimorean. The agenda that the mayor's has imputed is it in the best interest of those who have power or is this agenda for the citizens of Baltimore, to help create a One Baltimore. That agenda should reflect each City Council man/women district. I will vote in line with what I think is fair and honest.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

It hard to say what city department should be cut; I would have to do a full audit on each department to see were I stand. The last department I would cut is education.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

Because I have not been able to look at the Board of Estimates and fully understand why the mayor have more than one vote, I would agree that this should be looked into. It may be time to look at reforming the Board of Estimates, Baltimore is going to have development all over town, and order to make sure it is fair one could say that the mayor should not have so much power.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

I think a candidate's business and personal financial could have a part to play in his/her ability to run the city. I also think that you would need to look into some other factor that may play a part for example: some candidate's are not the one who handles there financial situation, some candidate have more money then others and may not ever have to cut there budgets and so on. I would make sure I have qualified experts to help the financial budget of the city.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

The one corrupt practice I have seen, is our government not investing in our children, they are not putting they money were there mouth is. I would fight to fully fund education.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

I don't know right off hand what type of criminal convictions it would take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected, I would look into this more. To answer the question, I would look at each case by case for example. I would not want a person who was convicted of harming children to work around or near then, but I would say if that person has paid his or her dues to society, has done his time, has finished his sentence, than let him work. The path to good citizenship comes from acceptance of responsibility. Responsibility is the guiding force behind an ex-offender's motivation to change his life. Give him a serious responsibility and you give him a purpose. A purpose to get up in the morning. A purpose to be a good citizen. Purpose to be a member of the community.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

The three specific suggestions I would use to curb crime is education, jobs, and housing

Education: A great education will lead into a student going forward and looking forward to something to which to go forward and look forward to, the schools must be a place where students learn how to improve their lives daily, where students can expect to attain information and skills that will be used to improve their lives.

Jobs: The non-working population are out of work because of downsizing or company relocation, most people in the non-working category are either under skilled or unskilled. The skill status of many Baltimore City residents is tied to school failure, school dropout, or school completion with an inferior education. We need to help our residents in Baltimore city acquire new skills for a job, and establish a specific strategy to help ex-offenders acquire skills, attain jobs, and persist in their new jobs.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

I think the schools should be under city control to show accountability, starting with the students, parents, community, politician, and business because we all play a part in providing the best education to the children of Baltimore.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

I think the City Council should first make sure that schools are fully funded, getting resources from the city, state and federal and overseeing the use of those funds.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system?

I would suggest that a standard of excellence must be enforced. Education in Baltimore city schools must be linked firmly to careers and career opportunities.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your district--not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent--you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I will promise the constituent that if I'm elected, I will work hard to help reconnect them back into holding and understanding public policy make at City Hall and what the leadership can and can not do. I will help my district by offering a voter education course, to move us from a complaint point to and action point.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

Is a great way to get people who are in trouble with MVA a chance to get back the driving privilege? But, I would look into parking and the fairness of how ticket are given out, also I would look into making more parking available at a fair rate, not just downtown but around town.

 

*Bernard C. "Jack" Young

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I intend to work in partnership with the mayor to keep the progress of this city moving forward.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line?

There is no city department that should be first or last in line for cuts because they are all important to the mission of the city, what should happen is all departments should look at what could be consolidated to save money.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and if so how should its membership be constituted?

I introduced legislation a couple of years ago to place on referendum to have just the three elected officials as the Board of Estimates and if failed to come out of committee. The mayor, comptroller and the president of the City Council should be the only members of the Board of Estimates.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

It says that if you can't handle your own finances and business situation then you can't manage the affairs of the city.

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

I have not witness nor seen any corrupt practices since I have been on the City Council.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employee to be fired from their job?

I believe that we should not hold a persons past record against them for employment unless we want the crime that we are seeing to continue. There is such a thing as reform. If you are employed by the city or the private sector and you are convicted of a crime usually you go to jail for a couple of days and policy on most jobs are if you miss three days that's considered as a no show and you are fired.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

My three specific suggestions would be to put more funding into preventive programs for our youth, create more mentoring programs, and jobs for every youth age 14 that wants to work. I would continue to advocate for funding of these programs by working in partnership with the mayor's office and introducing legislation to create funding sources for these programs.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

I think the schools should be under the control of the city with the state continuing the required funding as mandated by law, that way we would be responsible for the management of the fiscal and education of our school system, right now we have a Board of School Commissioners that we have no say in their selection that hires and run the day to day operation of the school system yet we get the blame and calls from parents.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

First we should have control of our schools, after we have control we should have an advisory role for parents to give ideas on curriculum and programs for our schools. The City Council should have confirmation hearings for all school board members that are appointed and we should have some input on the selection of the CEO responsible for the education of our students.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system?

The suggestion that I have is to give parents a true sense of partnership with the schools that their children attend by being welcoming and answering their questions truthfully about the education of their children and putting some of their suggestions in practice. I would work with the CEO to make sure that these suggestions are implemented and tracked for compliance.

What one specific thing do you promise the constituents in your districtónot Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you representóyou will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I promise honesty and transparency as well as to promote the creation of more business expansion and job opportunities for the next four years.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I support amnesty for city residents only.

 

13th District

No questionnaires returned.

 

14th District

*Mary Pat Clarke

If elected, do you intend to be a reliable vote in support of the mayor's agenda before the City Council?

I will be a reliable vote in support of mayoral legislation which my constituents and I perceive as positive, helpful, and fair for the well-being of Baltimore City.

The City Council can only cut, not add to, the mayor's annual budget. Which city department should be first in line for cuts during budget crises? Which city department should be last in line.

First in line for cuts should be mayor and City Council budgets.

Last in line for cuts should be the Baltimore City Public School System. But BCPSS must reorganize its budget to be clear and transparent to the general public and especially to individual school communities. What families, principals, and City Council need to know are what each school is guaranteed in staffing and resources--and how that compares fairly with other comparable schools.

The five-member Board of Estimates is supposed to scrutinize the city's expenditures, but it is often seen as a mayoral rubber stamp. Should the board be reformed, and, if so, how should its membership be constituted?

The current Board of Estimates is designed to hold the mayor responsible and accountable above all others for the financial policies and priorities of Baltimore City government.

Of the five members of the board, three are intended to vote "the mayor's way": the mayor and the mayor's two appointees, the city solicitor and the director of Public Works.

Before that charter change, a century ago, members of the City Council controlled contracts and jobs in their respective districts. With so many elected officials controlling the purse-strings, our citizens were unable to "follow the money" for accountability.

As a former chair of the Board of Estimates, I know that the power of public input and opinion can sway a mayor to rethink mayoral initiatives and take them back

to the drawing board.

Crucial to that process are the "good government" requirements of advance public notice of Board of Estimates' business, public discussion, and testimony "for the record," and the power of persuasion of the two "minority" board members, the independently elected president of City Council and city comptroller.

It may be time for a change, but not one that diffuses accountability for how the public's money is spent.

What does a candidate's business and personal financial situation say about his/her ability to manage the city's affairs?

Candidates and elected city officials are obliged to publicly disclose financial obligations and investments involving persons and entities doing business with Baltimore City, including our own relatives--and to remove ourselves entirely from decisions in which we have a conflict of interest occasioned by such financial and familial relationships. Fully and honestly meeting these disclosure and recusal obligations is a basic measure of a candidate's integrity--and eligibility for office, "management" abilities notwithstanding. If we fail the integrity test, we fail. "Next, please."

Name one corrupt practice you have seen in city government and explain how you will reform the system to stop it.

It is unfair and demoralizing for one Baltimore police officer to collect a full pension before he reaches eligibility when that officer voluntarily quit his Baltimore Police Department position to accept a high-paying job with state government. Meanwhile, officers on the street are risking their lives to make a living and keep themselves alive to reach "20-and-out" retirement. That officer's retirement benefits were within what current law permits. I will support legislation to prohibit future such retirement eligibility.

How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for an applicant for a city job to be rejected for employment. How many and what type of criminal convictions should it take for a city employees to be fired?

In my district, we have returning parolees who want to secure a steady job--preferably entry-level/labor with the city. If a person has served prison time for non-violent crimes, such as illegal drug possession/intent to distribute, without any illegal gun possession or violent charges/ convictions, the city should consider that application for employment, being careful to protect fellow employees by confirming the non-violent nature of the applicant's record.

There should be no compromising of requirements for sworn personnel (for example, school police), the Police Department, the Fire Department, or positions of trust (for example, positions working with children, with money, with pharmaceuticals).

About firing for criminal convictions, a first step is information about such convictions. The mayor and City Council should consider a city policy, like the state's, whereby city employees are required to self-report convictions to their supervisors.

Please list three specific suggestions you have to curb crime, particularly homicide, in Baltimore. Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully enacted?

A) Provide an alternative to gang affiliation for children afraid for their own safety and isolated in family and neighborhood environments without resources beyond gang bonding.

Restore the old Recreations and Parks' Youth Services Workers who met our youth where they "hang" and in the late-night/early-morning hours when they do so. These workers were trained in group work. They are NOT the police, and they advocate for the youth they serve in terms of job, education, and service access and follow-up.

B) Accelerate "search and seizure" and warrant arrests to take the violent perpetrators out of operation and leave their followers in disarray, and, hopefully, in a more receptive mood for alternatives to gang/drug affiliation.

C) Lobby city government to provide an ever-increasing array of after-school and community school services to meet the holistic needs of Baltimore City's children.

Do you think the city's schools should be under state or city control? Why?

The city's schools should be under city control, as they were before the 1997 agreement, whereby we traded-off control in return for increased state funding of the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS).

When the 1997 agreement was enacted, we who live here lost control of our schools, and those at the state blamed us anyway for all the system's failings, all in return for five years' of additional school funding.

I support the appointment of School Board members by the mayor of Baltimore City, with confirmation by the City Council (or not!) of mayoral appointments.

What role do you think the City Council should have in improving and overseeing the Baltimore City Public School System?

The city of Baltimore owns every Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) property, every school building, so these buildings are the city's responsibility.

City Council's first and most appropriate duty in improving the schools is to recommend a general bond obligation loan, subject to voter approval, to undertake the major and fast-track restoration of the "physical plants" where our children go to school everyday. To make them safe, lead and asbestos-free. To make them warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and appropriately configured and equipped for student success. To ensure traffic safety through student-friendly traffic signals, crosswalks, and crossing-guard assignments.

In addition, it is City Council's job to oversee Education's operational budget, to ensure that schools get funded first and that our city's K-to-8 extended elementary schools receive "fair funding" for their 6-to-8 middle grades.

What specific suggestions do you have for improving the city's school system? Please be sure to include specific means and methods you would work to enact to make sure that your suggestions were successfully implemented.

Require school-by-school funding equity by demanding that all BCPSS schools be afforded school-based budgeting in the FY 2009 budget cycle.

The Maryland Court of Appeals has upheld the per-pupil allocations requested by BCPSS charter schools. To preserve equity, it is now incumbent upon us to require that every BCPSS school secure comparable autonomy and per-pupil allocations.

Require that all 6-8 graders in K-to-8 elementary schools be afforded equal staffing, resources, and facility entitlements equal to those afforded in traditional middle school, 6-to-8, facilities.

What one thing do you promise the constituents in your district - not Baltimoreans city-wide, just the residents and business owners you represent - you will accomplish for them over the next four years if elected?

I will do my best to be there for you, available, accessible and fulltime.

What is your position on parking ticket amnesty?

I favor a one-week, once-a-year parking ticket amnesty. The city gets revenue. The citizen gets "out from under" a snowballing obligation which threatens jobs, child care, competing essential obligations. It's a win-win.

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