The Glover Report: What Will Baltimore’s Next Mayor Need to Focus On?

By Doni Glover, Publisher
Unapologetically Black: Doni Glover Autobiography
Thursdays at Midnight on WEAA 88.9 FM

(BALTIMORE – September 10, 2020) – Probably, the first thing on Baltimore’s next mayor’s to-do list is addressing the repetitive violent crime that plagues city residents all day and all night. Everyone knows it’s a problem. Most agree the current method of crime fighting is yielding minimal results. I’m not sure if that means getting a new police commissioner, but I would imagine that topic could easily be on the new top city exec’s table.

A second issue is the trash. Because of COVID-19, many Department of Public Works employees have gotten ill and/or have been quarantined. Consequently, the trash is backed-up. There are plenty of pictures of this trash problem floating on the internet, including at Fulton and Lafayette on the southeast corner. Just around the corner from my house, it is a blatant eye sore. I think it’s time to fix this dilemma by any means necessary, including calling-in Bishop Barry’s Pest Control. In high-demand up and down the East Coast, Bishop’s reputation precedes him.

Thirdly, Baltimore is in dire need of expert fiscal guidance. Now, while I have never run a multi-billion dollar budget, the same values and principles that apply to a smaller budget apply as well to a larger budget. Put differently, before one can be a good steward over larger things, one must first master smaller things. Defund the police? Well, it has its merits as long as the goal is a better-trained police force. At the same time, Baltimore is an aggressive city, and I’m not convinced a kumbaya approach to law enforcement serves anybody’s better interest except the miscreants who consistently wreak havoc in our communities. Further, while Martin O’Malley’s “zero tolerance” pushed the pendulum to the far right – arresting one in six Baltimoreans, the “consent decree” era has pushed the pendulum all the way to the left. Get it? Clearly, a happy medium must be found.

Baltimore’s bureaucrats and employees, in my best estimation, have a critical role, too, if Baltimore is to reverse the current trend of inefficiency. We need to become more business-minded and customer-friendly. Do you know the feeling one gets after attempting to communicate with a City employee on the phone? Too often, those employed by the City have an “I don’t give a f***” attitude. You go to pay a bill at the municipal building and too often run into a funky attitude … for nothing who acts like they are doing tax payers a favor. Hear ye: If you do not want to serve the people with a positive attitude, find work elsewhere!

Across the board, City employees need a new culture – one of teamwork. One of gratitude. Now, mind you, Baltimoreans can be the quickest in terms of smart-mouthed answers. So, to be fair, citizens have to get classier, too. We, the citizens, have to treat our municipal employees with respect. Prayerfully, they will respond positively.

At the end of the day, Baltimore is what we make it. So, the next mayor will have to breathe life into citizens and employees alike. Especially amidst the pandemic, people are all on edge in all parts of town. Hence, the next mayor will be tested from Day 1 and he … or she … had better be ready. There will be no time for a learning curve. The next mayor has to hit the ground running with some semblance of leadership. At present, there is turmoil across the board. Money is tight. Thus, we are going to have to do more with less. This is where the next mayor’s leadership style will either make or break us.

With the right leadership, Baltimore can regain its footing, but, again, it is going to take all of us.

Business, business, business is the next critical issue, I think. The next mayor’s herculean task will be the most essential. After all, it is predicated on the first three issues above being effectively addressed. No businesses want to come to a place that is crime-ridden, violent, dirty, and where the morale among City employees, including cops, is at an all-time low. No business owner is going to feel secure knowing his employees are getting car-jacked. And certainly no Fortune 500 wants to come to a city where something as simple as obtaining a business license becomes unnecessarily difficult.

As noted at the Greater Baltimore Black Chamber of Commerce’s Virtual Mayoral Forum last week hosted by Josh Harris, it became very clear that too often, businesses are being handcuffed by bureaucratic red tape. Baltimore has to become business-friendly. Instead of chasing businesses away from Baltimore, we all need to be about the business of becoming ambassadors for our hometown. Even when we travel outside of the city, we have got to spread the word that Baltimore is about the business of positively reinventing itself.

And we have to remember that while red light and speed cameras – along with meter maids – are about collecting money for our public coiffeurs, they leave a nasty taste in the mouths of our people. For instance, to give someone a parking ticket at the Avenue Market ought to be a crime. Do you know how much it takes to go to Pennsylvania Avenue for anything? So, when a person does go to this God-forsaken part of town, the last thing in the world they anticipate is a parking ticket. They actually deserve a $50 coupon just for going there!

We have so many tourist attractions that we must better celebrate, also. Tourism will only increase if we make our city’s reality that much more desirable. And again, it will take all of us. From Druid Heights to Liberty Heights to the end of East North Avenue, we need a re-birth, a reinvigoration, a renaissance where everyone feels a part of the progress.

As we know, Baltimore has been a national symbol of segregation going back to the days of Mayor J. Barry Mahool. However, we can shed that racist reputation by spreading around the wealth. You want more tourists? Fix Penn-North now! You want more visitors? Then invest in the Black parts of East Baltimore that have been neglected since the ’68 riots! You want the crime to go down? Then create employment opportunities for Baltimore’s historically forsaken Black citizens.

As people become employed, the community becomes more viable. After all, a job is the best crime-fighting plan on earth. But what has been happening instead? Well, Baltimore will transform North and Charles overnight for white people, but Penn-North on the other hand gets ignored as it has been for 6 decades. While money goes into Canton, not a dime comes into Sandtown.

This uneven investment model by Baltimore’s white power brokers has to end. Police corruption has to end. Taking people’s homes for water bills while fat cats downtown have never paid a water bill – that, too, must end.

Lastly, Baltimore’s next mayor must also re-implement a culture of life-long learning where education is ubiquitously and perpetually celebrated. The education of Baltimore’s young people – although a long-term effort – will pay the highest return on investment. We must invest in our youth. We must make school a priority for everyone. Educating these youth requires each and every member of the village. From Patterson to Northwestern High, education must be a part of most of the discussions at City Hall. It is not enough to have a great spokesperson at school headquarters. What we truly desire is results. Thus far, we are inundated with excuses, and that isn’t serving us well. If Baltimore is to turn-around, then our youth must play a significant role in this effort.

In short, Baltimore’s institutional racism must be addressed head on, and I pray the next mayor has the testicular fortitude to do so. Otherwise, we’ll have four more years of a spiraling-out-of-control city where criminals on the streets and criminals in blue uniforms will make Baltimore its worst, and not its best.

As for me, I’m pushing for the best – the best accountability, the best transparency, the best manner of evenly and fairly distributing the resources that we all need and deserve to live.