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Councilmania

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

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 2/18/2009

Bill 09-0284 Sanitation--"One Plus One" Collection Program. This proposes several changes to the current trash-and-recycling pickup system.

The Read: The 14-page bill contains a few details that might raise eyebrows. For example, the present refuse-collection limit per residence is eight 20-gallon containers--160 gallons--per week. The new limit would be 64 gallons. Also, the current twice-weekly trash pickup schedule would be reduced to once weekly (though the current twice-monthly recycling collection would be increased to once weekly). The fine for open "mixed refuse" container violations for residents would be reduced from $60 to $50. There is also a provision for city-provided receptacles--that is, you'd get a free regulation trash can. City Councilman Jim Kraft (1st District) spoke enthusiastically about the bill: "This is, I think, step one in the mayor's proverbial 'putting your money where your mouth is.'"

Resolution 09-0107R Performance Measures--"Blue Light Cameras"--Crime Prevention. Requests that Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld report to the council on the status of one type of police camera, and on a decline in clearance rates for robberies and aggravated assaults.

The Read: The department has 480 closed-circuit television cameras plus 100 moveable PODSS, a kind of camera that requires a police officer to be nearby to see the picture it produces--or a crew to remove the videotape. The closed-circuit cameras are easier to monitor and provide a better picture, according to the resolution, and Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake wants a report on progress replacing the old PODSS cameras with closed-circuit units. Rawlings-Blake points to budget cuts last November, which slashed police overtime. Since then, the homicide rate has increased by 21 percent, she says: "Killings have increased and our progress has been threatened."

Resolution 09-0108R Legislative Oversight--Baltimore Police Department. Requests that the police commissioner report on the effects of budget cutbacks on crime prevention, and the efficacy of restructuring the police districts.

The Read: "We are fighting crime as if we were back in the '50s, and this is not an efficient way to use our officers," Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declared. The police department's nine district boundaries were established several generations ago, when the city's crime patterns were much different. Back then, said Councilman Robert Curran (3rd District), "the Northeast District was considered [a] country club." The idea is to redeploy the cops we have to better cover the crime.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 23 at 5 p.m.

Correction: This article incorrectly reported that a City Council bill on trash and recycling would offer people "a free regulation trash can." The bill neither promises nor funds new trash receptacles, though it would give the city Department of Public Works the authority to require a specific kind of trash can in the future. City Paper regrets the error.

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