↑ New City Council
In an act of purely symbolic political theater, the newly sworn in City Council made its first official act to unanimously pass a resolution condemning the hateful rhetoric of Donald Trump, days before the president-elect was to appear in town for the Army-Navy game. San Francisco is the only other major city to pass a similar resolution. Will this gesture do anything to halt Trump's ascent to the White House? No. But it sets the tone for the Council and its values. "Fear of being harmed for doing what is right—standing up for those targeted by prejudice—is a fear we must never allow to grow," new Councilman Ryan Dorsey, who introduced the resolution, said on his official Facebook page. "As that fear grows, our willingness to fight for what is right diminishes, until the will is gone altogether. We must never allow ourselves to take the first steps in that direction." That's certainly a fresh and welcome stance from city officials in these times.
↑ Mayor Catherine Pugh
On her first day in office Mayor Catherine Pugh reiterated plans to de-throne Housing Czar Paul Graziano. Graziano, public enemy #1, has run the troubled agency for eons. He still clung to his job when the agency was buffeted this year by news of a sex-for-repairs scandal that horrified the city—and he deserves to go. While Pugh can't get rid of him by simple fiat because the board that oversees housing must back her on this, she is the one that appoints members of the board—and she is unequivocal. "He will not be the Housing Commissioner, period," she told the press. Okay, sure, this is no big news. Pugh regularly vowed to ax him during her campaign. But this is her honeymoon period; we're opting to believe her as she echoes the protestors' favorite chant, "Hey, hey, Ho, ho! Graziano's got to go!"
↓ Donald Trump
Nasty man. So delusional. Sad! The CIA reports that Russian hackers interfered with the election but the Donald rejects this "conspiracy theory." Pathetic! But hey, he came to visit us in the city this week. MAKE BALTIMORE GREAT AGAIN! And did you hear what the Donald said at the Army-Navy game? "I don't know if it is necessarily the best football...but it is very good." Shame! Totally biased and unfair. Bad diplomat. What a disaster. Total disaster.
↓ Baltimore Housing, Baltimore Fire Department, Baltimore police
On Monday, Dec. 5, just a couple days after the tragic Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, DIY arts studio and performance space Bell Foundry was shut down with its artists evicted and the building condemned. Artists were given less than a hour to get their stuff out and at least one police officer cruelly mocked residents who wanted to get back in to get a cat left inside. The next day, they were allowed back in to remove their belongings and the whole arts scene seemingly showed up to help out—so the city ticketed double-parked trucks and vans as people prepared to load them. As Lower Dens tweeted: "baltimore city response to oakland fire is apparently to kick people out of their homes and studios...this is a bureaucratic and idiotic response to a human problem."
↓ Old City Council
On its way out, the City Council voted against renaming Columbus Day. It needed eight votes to pass, but ended in a 7-6 tally against it (two members abstained). The plan wasn't great—it would rename the day both Indigenous Peoples' Day and Italian-American Day instead of just Indigenous People's Day, which seemed like the way to go—but still, how was this even a question? Maybe our more strident—rhetorically, at least—new City Council will resurrect it and Baltimore will stop dedicating a day to Columbus, a brutal slave trader, who was neither the first to discover America—whatever that means—and didn't even make it onto the mainland where the 48 states are. As those for Indigenous Peoples' Day shouted in the council chambers, "There is no pride in genocide."