Monday, April 18, 2005

Setting Low Standards

As every major media outlet in the area has reported, Martin O'Malley has been named one of the five best big-city mayors in America by Time magainze. The full article has yet to be posted online, but the Sun reported that the magazine notes that "O'Malley has only slightly dented the murder rate."

Of course, that is like saying the federal government has only slightly dented the use of illegal narcotics. The murder rate in Baltimore is rising. Has been rising for several years. In January, the city was on pace for one murder per day. The use of illegal drugs continues to go up. The students in Baltimore city public schools continue to achieve less than their suburban counterparts in buildings that are crumbling around them.

The magazine notes that the city is on the verge of a renaissance. And to be fair, the Inner Harbor and the westside near the Hippodrome are having increasing development. Federal Hill and Canton are continuing to gentrify. But ask somebody who lives on Edmondson Avenue, or Park Heights Avenue, or Patapcso Avenue if their areas on the verge of a renaissance. Ask those border communities in the county, including our very own Brooklyn Park, if their neighbors on the other side of the city line are experiencing urban renewal and lower crime rates.

I love Baltimore. Baltimore is a great city and it is the largest and most important city in our state. But we cannot fool ourselves into thinking that everything is wonderful. People are moving out of the city in droves. The crime rate keeps inching higher and higher. Businesses, for the most part, are leaving the city. The City Council last year approved another tax increase. The Council, in cojunction with O'Malley, threatening to tax non-profit organizations knowing that the tax would disproportionately affect one of the city's largest and most important employers in Johns Hopkins. City Hall is more concerned with blaming all of Baltimore's problems on Annapolis and Governor Ehrlich than addressing the needs of the city. And O'Malley is certainly more concerned with raising his profile and political stature by making questionable public pronouncements to bolster his soon-to-be-announced candidacy for Governor than he is with the actual business of governing the City.

If Martin O'Malley is one of the best big city mayors, (curiously lumped in with other big city big spenders), it means that Time is setting low standards.


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