TGR: $121 Million Deficit in Baltimore City: What’s the Solution?
By Doni Morton Glover, www.bmorenews.com
”Until the education and salvation of our youth become a priority, we will continue to lose yet another generation.” – David Miller
(BALTIMORE – March 29, 2010) – The city has a $121 million deficit according to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake last night on David Brown’s radio show on WEAA 88.9 fm.
True, it’s a recession. One mayor out and another is in. So many balls to juggle, I can imagine: Snow storms and Council President dilemmas. She suggests, in any event, doing more with less, like fewer recs. Twenty-nine, to be specific. And that’s not a scare tactic?
According to University of Maryland Law Professor Sherrilyn Ifill, “We’re about to get it real! It’s going to be a really hot summer and this is not the way.”
By the way, cutting cops, fire houses, pension systems, helicopters - let alone libraries? ... All I can say is that mayhem is in store for the great city of Baltimore this summer. Does anybody know the number to the White House?
She said, “Closing rec centers is anti-stimulus for our community. It’s going to be a long, hot summer unless we recommit ourselves to preserving our future which means putting our young people first.”
She posed, “What would the budget look like if we started with young people?”
As a rec-child, Easterwood Recreation Center was my home away from home. It was home to many of us who grew up near Baker and Bentalou. We had so much fun: ping pong; karate; bumper pool; weight lifting; discos. Easterwood was our safe haven.
The rec director was Eulia P. Williams, if I am not mistaken. A full-grown woman, she gave so many of us love. Ralph Durant was her sidekick. He taught us football. He taught us how to run a pattern. He taught us discipline. He taught us life.
I didn’t realize it then, but they both taught us how to grow up in an otherwise mean-spirited world - a world that does not care about black children - a world that is so heartless and cold.
When the funding was cut for Easterwood, so many young people lost out. And adults lost their jobs. Consequently, a lot of kids never got what we were so fortunate to have. We had a life. We didn’t realize it then, but we were so blessed.
Then something so wicked came at us. I think it was President Ronald Wilson Reagan who first came with it: The cuts. It was around the same time of Iran-Contra-Crack.
Yup! Crack hit out neighborhood like a storm: North and Ruxton. I’ll never forget it.
We had heroin in our neighborhood for years. And we had coke. However, when crack hit, all hell broke loose. It changed people in the worst way. Prostitution rose. Ignorance rose. Mis-education and under-education rose. Poverty rose. Homelessness rose.
Most of all, there came a hopelessness like never before.
According to Baltimore City Councilman Bill Cole, “Balancing the budget without massive cuts is not possible.”
He said, “While revenue enhancements introduced by the Mayor may help restore some core services, cuts are unavoidable. I think the Mayor has been honest about the problem. We do not have nearly enough revenue and cannot create enough revenue to save everything.”
Anirban Basu of Sage Policy Group suggests this: “We have a deficit for a number of reasons.”
He said that legislators view the budget as if the economy will stay this way.
I asked him what to do: Adjust? Is it housing? Are taxes too high?
He said, “We have had a remarkable boom in residential and commercial investment during the middle part of the previous decade and policy makers at local, state, and federal levels created budgets as if that boom would continue. It did not. And what is left is massive deficits and the need to shrink government.”
When asked what Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake needs to do, he replied, “She needs to establish a structure by which the city over the next decade or so can attract another 50,000 tax-paying households to the city of Baltimore.”
He added, “First, as much as it is possible, [she should strive] to hold the line on taxes. Nothing keeps people away as high taxes.”
I am no economist. However, something is fundamentally wrong when young people are on the chopping block, regardless. I just don’t think they can believe in us, adults, when we allow their futures and progress to be simply wiped off the table because we, as adults, can’t do better. I think we are all guilty.
We find money for $5 million TV screens for Camden Yard. We find stimulus money for new highways and for transportation. However, we have yet to find a way to save black youth in Baltimore City. Shame on us!