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Readers react to the news.

Mayor calls for longer firefighter hours, user fee for garbage pickups

“If the vacants to value program and the PILOTs for developers are such a success, why are we assuming flat property tax income over the next decade? Something isn’t right. . . “
– Peter Matchette, via Facebook

“Lets make them [firefighters] put their lives on the line for even longer AND not pay them more for it!”
– Donna Knott via Facebook

“I don’t agree with everything in the speech, but I do applaud her for at least trying to take on some political sacred cows. City leaders kicked the can down the road for decades and now it is time to pay up for their short term fixes.”
– Bmore Free

“Once again the mayor has decided to fund her developer tax breaks and other unnecessary spending on the backs of the fire department and the few middle class taxpaying residents we have left. It’s time for churches and other nonprofits to start paying property taxes on the blighted vacants they own, time for our elected officials to realize you can’t redevelop a city without a solid middle class – and yours is fleeing at an alarming rate.”
– Carol Ott

“We need to reduce the cost of city government and we can start by reducing the number of people who are a financial burden to this city. The counties actively encouraged their poor residents to come to the city in the 80’s and 90’s and I think it’s time for some payback.”
– Matthew

“In addition to being cruel to the poor, your advocating city government do something outside of it’s power (reduce Federal programs). Poor people didn’t move to Baltimore. It’s poor people who stayed when the middle class moved out to the burbs because of desegregation, generous governmental housing assistance, government funded highways and lower property tax rates.”
– Flint Arthur

“There are plenty of entities who should pay a trash fee on top of their taxes – multi-unit buildings that were residential conversions, some residential to business conversions, or religious and non-profit property not otherwise taxed that are serviced by the city. . . Cynic that I am, I have to wonder what is her actual agenda. Is the trash fee a red herring to draw all of the argument away from the pension issues?”
– bmorepanic

“Making residents pay for trash is not going to promote a cleaner city. . . I am writing from Cambodia. How do we oppose this?”
– Diana Gross, via Facebook

“I have been very skeptical of SRB since she took office, but after reading through the transcript of her speech I find myself agreeing more than disagreeing with her proposed changes. While they may not be the most popular moves, if you do some research into similar metropolitan areas that went through years of decline (i.e. Boston, Philly, San Fran), this is right on par with how they recovered. Shed city government, lower real estate taxes, and get city owned properties into the free market – it’s a recipe for growth.”
– Joe Six-Pac

“Seems all the Mayor wants to accomplish a promise to reduce property taxes while making us pay for trash pick-up which we already pay for through our property taxes. This has been called a shell game for centuries. Meanwhile, they give themselves raises every year, get stipends for cars and staff, give their corporate constituents tax breaks for new Inner Harbor developments, fund a failing car race, and plain LIE to our faces about reducing our city costs.”
– Bill C. Beekeeper

“I’m not afraid to admit that I am middle/upper-middle class, work in the county and I choose to live in the city. This was after viewing many houses in the county and crunching the numbers and realizing I am saving so much money on my taxes and user fees due to the undervaluation of housing stock (my house is 3000+sq feet in a safe, desirable area and assessed like a condo in Howard in County) that I can afford to send my kids to reasonable private schools should I not be able to get them into a free charter and still save money as opposed to buying a similarly sized home in the county due to savings from my mortgage, taxes and user fees.”
– Joe Six Pac

“Great discussion. Sixpac certainly makes a valid point that the economics of city living can be made to work. After all, Baltimore has more low income folks than anywhere else and that’s why they live here. The big city problem is that the low property values deter new investment (e.g. putting $300k into a house that’s worth only $100k), which in turn is why values are low in the first place.”
– Gerald Neily

“Joe Six Pack is in for a shock when he finds his tuition budget will only cover about 60% of a parochial or 30% of a private education without aid. The Mayor deserves great credit for facing the un-glamorous reality, I thought it was the best thing we’ve heard from City Hall in years. . . The way the City delivers services is so firmly rooted in the past, and guarded by narrow special interests, that it is out of alignment with the citizens and those most in need – healthcare, pensions and property taxes being the most unsustainable examples.”
– MC2012
BWI workers rally for better pay and benefits

“I do sympathize with their lousy job conditions. Corporations are known to squeeze their labor force for all they can get out of them, and that’s despicable. and that’s what humans do to one another. welcome to the human race. On the other hand, maybe it’s time to seek employment elsewhere. this ain’t AD 1880. you’re not a slave unless you choose to be.”
– davethesuave

“These jobs are not intending to be used to support families they are supposed to be used as a path to develop your skills to better yourself. Stop whining.”

“But workers do depend on these jobs to support families. 35 million Americans – 26 percent of our workforce – earn less than $10.55 an hour. The overwhelming majority of low-wage workers are adults, not teens, and they contribute a substantial portion of their households’ incomes. Three quarters of minimum wage earners are 20 or older. Sure, people can learn a trade or go to college if they can afford it (and tuition prices have soared). That doesn’t guarantee them a better job either. Lots of folks in the trade are unemployed as well as many recent college graduates. When folks do get a job, a lot of them are doing low wage service work. One way to improve jobs wages and benefits is through organizing a union. That’s how other ‘unskilled’ jobs delivered better pay and benefits in the 20th century.”
– Flint Arthur

“If you chose to be employed at 2 part time jobs (much respect) why does that qualify you for benefits?? It would be great to ask these whiners what they would do if they owned the companies.”
– ken1963

“Learn a trade or go to college if 8.50/hr. sucks.”
– Matt Ryan, via Facebook

“I am disabled and cannot work, have a nine month old daughter and all I get is $455 a month. I would love $8.50 an hour right now.”
– Shannon Fernandez, via Facebook

“hey shannon, matt thinks you should learn a trade or go to college!”
– Christopher Nelson, via Facebook

“Wow, what a warm set of comments. This is a pretty basic story: people trying to gain ground in their workplace. They deserve the right to unionize and advocate for themselves. If you’re not aware that there is a major problem in this country with low-paying jobs, you’re not paying attention.”
– Rocky_Ground
Inside City Hall: $100K for new official to direct mayor’s financial plan

“What a joke. The money spent on this study for political cover, could have kept a firehouse or rec center open.”
– William Hudson

“This series of articles on the budget and finance fascinate me but they also scare the living daylights out of me. I kinda see the white rabbit in my mind – banging down a approval stamp just as fast as the committee members can pass the papers. ‘Whew’ he says.’We must be done. We spent furiously!’ Wink, wink, nod, nod and ‘Tea, your honor?’”
– bmorepanic
Opinion: Without audits, the mayor’s fiscal reforms are mostly window dressing

“Keep doing this excellent work!”
– ConcernedCityFF

“Audit should begin with the two most bloated and corrupt agencies in the City – DPW and the Police Department.”
– Jason Taverner

“I don’t get it. Aren’t public revenues OUR money? Don’t we get an accounting of OUR money?”
– Markjmaloney via Twiter
Opinion: Rec and Parks had the resources to maintain rec centers and pools

“Thank you Chris for taking the time to bring these details to the public’s eye. Another point worth noting. . . The previous Recreation and Parks Advisory Board (originally appointed by Mayor Dixon) urged Mayor Rawlings-Blake for years to move forward with an audit, and to stop holding recreational services hostage every budget season. Having observed no change, the Parks Board submitted a letter to the mayor, and provided copies to local media. Within weeks of receipt of the letter, Madame Mayor replaced all but one of these Board members. I will allow you to draw your own conclusions.”
– glsever

“This is reprehensible. Terrible. Disgusting.”
– Charlie Metz, via Facebook

“A timely audit would have revealed the agency was diverting funds from the public’s eye.”
– @MairZdoatz via Twitter
What a saxophonist learns from his students and his city

“Lisa Simpson had ‘Bleeding Gums’ Murphy. Morgan Brown has Russell Kirk.”
– Gerald Neily

“Thanks for this hip and inspiring piece about one of Baltimore’s maybe no longer up-and-coming, but arriving jazz artists.”
– Theonliest
Charges against mayoral critic dropped

“How do you drop charges ‘noisily’?”
– Barnadine_the_Pirate

“Nothing more than a storm in a tea cup to the police. Intimidation, a routine for the authoritarians, comes noisily but leaves stealthily especially when it has not been successful. But mostly it lurks, ready to spring and vex those who question authority.”
– ushanellore
Hopkins selects Harbor East’s Beatty to develop Charles Village site

“Hard to blame the students for not feeling apart of a community that doesn’t want them. Relationships are a two way street.”
– JoeK47

” I agree with you JoeK47. . .  These colleges/universities (university hospitals) are the only institutions whose jobs are not likely to get outsourced. They are what keep Baltimore from becoming Detroit.”
– AndySam

“I would like to be friendly to the students, except over and over when you say hello they just ignore you like you are some sort of undesirable person that they should live in fear of (I hear this as well from other Baltimoreans). . . I don’t get that treatment from anyone else in Baltimore whether it be Hampden, Waverly, Highlandtown, Downtown, South Baltimore, Remington, Fells Point, etc. Maybe Hopkins should stop telling their students that Baltimoreans are just out to hurt them and it’s best to just ignore them.”
– Matthew

“That’s interesting, As a student I make sure to not wear clothes that say Hopkins outside of Charles Village. When I did wear Hopkins attire I would get a few a nasty looks.”
– Bluejay3

“As both a city resident and an alum, I see it from both sides. ..The attitude a large number of the students have of ‘I’m providing jobs, if it weren’t for me you would have NOTHING’ – as though the residents of Baltimore are lining up to get jobs cleaning your toilets – doesn’t help . . .  From the other side of the aisle,  as a resident I do hear a little hate on the students for their privileged upbringing and their perceived condescending attitude. . . Long story short, the kids at the school are just that – kids. I feel Baltimore residents forget that sometimes and don’t realize that their thoughts and actions are based on a narrow sample set of experience they received in a very controlled environment.”
– Joe Six-Pac

“You missed my point. Note that I directed my criticisms to the residents of Roland Park and Charles Village not Waverly. . . My claim that Baltimore would have NOTHING if these institutions were gone is based simply on my research of post-industrial North American cities.”
– AndySam

“This is an excellent conversation, there are tremendous potential benefits that come with this project, from any number of perspectives…Over the last year, before selecting a developer, JHU continued the dialog with a series of community ‘focus groups’ to help determine the type of retail/ restaurants people hoped to see on the lower floors (a pharmacy came up frequently). The new development team has already begun reaching out to make introductions in the community.”
– MC2012

“A pharmacy”, MC2012? How about a haberdashery or a blacksmith? Please come back to the 21st century.”
– Gerald Neily

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