Tag Archives: Catherine Pugh

Progressive Baltimore: Guess the value of the school district’s maintenance backlog

Baltimore City Schools CEO Santelises: fighting a losing battle…

In March this year, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh authorized spending $100,000 to send 60 buses full of kids to the “March for Our Lives” anti-gun rally in DC.

Many noted at the time that the school district had a $130 MILLION budget deficit last year so the last thing they needed to be doing was wasting money to indoctrinate students against the Second Amendment. Yet the mayor persisted.

So along with a budget deficit, take a wild guess as to what the value is of the school’s maintenance backlog! Take a guess then guess again. Ready for the value?

According to the Baltimore Sun, the total value of the school district’s maintenance backlog is nearly $3 BILLION. That’s more than double the district’s annual operating budget.

More from the Sun’s report:

“We do have the oldest school buildings in the state of Maryland. That can’t change from a quip or from a magic wand,” says city schools CEO Sonja Santelises. Addressing the backlog in repairs, she says, is “not going to happen overnight.”

It’s become a back-to-school tradition for politicians and community members to decry the lack of adequate air conditioning in Baltimore classrooms. The conditions, which forced dozens of schools to close early during the sweaty first days of the school year, led Gov. Larry Hogan and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot to demand that all city schools be outfitted with AC in the next few years. That’s meant funding for air conditioning has taken precedence over other pressing projects.

The Baltimore school board approved a report this month that lays out the city’s complex needs. The 2018-2019 Comprehensive Maintenance Plan is clear: After decades of underinvestment, the city school system needs a dramatic infusion of money before its school buildings have a chance at being up to par.”

Read the whole Sun story here.

Granted, this financial crisis didn’t start under CEO Santelises. According to Wikipedia, the crisis was first discovered in 2003 where it was believed they had a deficit of anywhere from $54 to 64 million. The district budget has been accused of having many errors and was not being monitored carefully.

And the school’s budget deficit has continued to climb to $130 million since 2003. This deficit, combined with the $3 BILLION maintenance backlog, equals a number that is more than the projected budget deficit of some 20 states.

Good luck Baltimore, you’re going to need it, along with some serious fiscal discipline.

DCG

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Bloomberg foundation gives $5M to Baltimore to "fight crime"

jack young baltimore

Baltimore council president Jack Young


As of December 3, Baltimore had 322 homicides, with 280 of those caused by a shooting. This occurs despite having very strict gun laws.
And the shootings occur despite having over 600 cameras to “make a person think twice before they do something.” Apparently installing 60 more cameras throughout the city will somehow “bring out a lot of crime.”
I wonder why Bloomberg is throwing so much money at a cause that will have minimal results.
From MyFoxBaltimore: Mayor Catherine Pugh announced Sunday $5 million in funds to help fight crime. “I’m very grateful for Bloomberg Philanthropies for reading the Violence Reduction Plan, for understanding what we need in order to make this city safe,” Mayor Pugh said.
Bloomberg Philanthropies, a charity of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, awarded Baltimore the grant, which will fund 60 new CCTV “Citiwatch” cameras, 25 mobile licence plate readers and expand gunshot detection coverage by 10 square miles.
“It will make a person think twice before they do something. You see, people don’t think twice because there aren’t any cameras around,” William Goode of West Baltimore said. “It will help it a lot. It will bring out a lot of crime.
The city already has more than 600 Citiwatch cameras, according to Open Baltimore. BPD and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice will decide where those cameras will go.
“Five million dollars on cameras?” a man named “Tony” asked Fox45 Sunday. “You can put $5 million on so many things in this city that would help this city for real, and you’re gonna use cameras?”
In a press release, the grant was met with optimism from City Council President Jack Young.
“One of the most common requests I receive from my constituents is for more vigilance and more cameras in our neighborhoods,” said Council President Jack Young (a 21-year veteran of the council). “I’m extremely pleased to see the City directing resources to tools that have demonstrated success in keeping communities safe.”
DCG

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"Don't kill anybody": Murder-free weekend urged in Baltimore

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh
It’s come to this: Wearing t-shirts begging folks not to kill. Mayor Catherine Pugh and former mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake must be so proud.
From MSN: A 44-year-old mother might seem an unusual visitor on the drug corners of Baltimore, but Erricka Bridgeford has stopped by them for weeks to make her pitch for peace.
Forget your grudges for one weekend, she urges the young men she finds. Help bring a 72-hour truce to a city besieged by gun violence. “It’s a city-wide call,” she tells them, “but I’m talking to you.”
Bridgeford and other neighborhood leaders are drumming up support for the three-day ceasefire to quell Baltimore’s violence on the first weekend of August. She admits, however, that such peace is a tall order for a city that’s seen 188 killings this year.
Organizers aim to stop the shooting from Friday, Aug. 4 through Sunday, Aug. 6 with a unified and blunt message: “Nobody kill anybody.”
Their message has been printed on T-shirts and fliers. They designed a website and held community meetings. More than 1,600 people visited their Facebook page. The grassroots campaign has swelled since it began in May.
“I’ve seen the momentum build over the past several weeks,” said T.J. Smith, spokesman for Baltimore police. “We are all in this together and we’re 1,000 percent supportive of the efforts.”
The campaign urges people to put aside their guns and join weekend events for healing, from a peace rally Friday evening to a vigil Sunday where participants will read the names of every person killed in 2017.
“The Baltimore Ceasefire was not declared by any one organization,” organizers wrote on their website. “This ceasefire is the product of Baltimore residents not only being exhausted by homicides, but believing that Baltimore can have a murder-free weekend if everyone takes responsibility.”
More than 600 people have pledged to keep the peace, they wrote. Among them are some of the young men Bridgeford has met on the corners. “You just talk to them like they’re your little brother,” she said.
A professional mediator, neighborhood volunteer and part-time Uber driver — “Everyone who gets in my car leaves with a flyer and a speech” — Bridgeford’s own younger brother was gunned down a decade ago in Southwest Baltimore. His killer was never caught.
Next month’s ceasefire would prove successful if it deters a single shooting, she said. And she figured the movement has already saved a life somewhere. “Somebody was plotting on this weekend,” she said. “Now they’re not going to do it because of a rumbling in their soul.”
The organizers are raising money through their website for more fliers. Some of the money will be donated to the families of anyone killed over the ceasefire weekend. Bridgeford is urging everyone she meets to echo the call for peace. “Jumping out in open-air drug markets might not be for everyone,” she said. “But we’re asking everyone to do their part.”
Community ceasefires, however, have failed to stem the violence in the past. The group Mothers of Murdered Sons called for a ceasefire over Mother’s Day weekend, but at least four people were shot, including a 59-year-old man and 17-year-old woman; both were killed.
Other communities have called for ceasefires after spates of violence in Birmingham, Ala. and Berkeley, Calif., and such efforts are as much about empowering residents as reducing homicide statistics, said Cassandra Crifasi, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins-Baltimore Collaborative for Violence Reduction.
Persistent violence often leaves neighbors feeling powerless, she said. “Communities feel like they can’t do things for themselves. They don’t have a voice. They don’t feel heard,” she said. “This effort seems to me like the people most affected by violence are standing up and saying, ‘We’re not going to take this anymore.'”
A similar awareness campaign began in Chicago in 2013 and has spread across the country with people wearing orange in June to draw attention to the scourge of gun violence. Across the country more than 90 people are shot and killed every day, according to the Wear Orange campaign.
Baltimore, meanwhile, remains gripped by its own violent spike, with 2017 on pace to be the city’s deadliest year ever. The number of homicides shot up to 344 in 2015; another 318 people were killed last year. Baltimore had not exceeded 300 annual homicides for decades before 2015.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Crifasi said of the ceasefire. “It indicates to me there are lots of people in Baltimore still invested in the safety and security of their communities.”
People like Bridgeford who has carried the message to Baltimore’s drug corners. She found an unexpected audience, even encouragement in the streets. “I’ve absolutely heard skepticism,” she said. “But even the skeptics are like, ‘Stay out here.'”
DCG

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