The Mail: 3/2-3/9

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"Little Italy political fundraiser funnels money to Pugh"

Nice work, Baltimore politics is not just dirty but embarrassingly amateurish.

FWIW, "Mondo Kane" is also the name of a documentary from 1963. Roughly translated the name means "A Dog's Life" or "A World Gone to the Dogs." No clue if there is any connection.

—"Johnny Armstrong," Feb. 25

"Degenerate City: Charm City Demolition Derby"

Federal policy disadvantages neighborhoods like West Baltimore. Banks often won't lend to people who want to rehab a row house but have no problem lending for a house on a cul de sac with a yard, a driveway and a garage. The system is set up for that. Not to encourage people to bootstrap West Baltimore.

—"Steven D.," Feb. 26

So if the city pays for rehab of rotting homes for new low-income homeowners, who will pay for the upkeep of those homes? Will these new homeowners make enough money to pay taxes?

The $1 program required each purchaser to have money to rehab the homes themselves. The people who bought all those Federal Hill homes provided an expanded and much needed tax base for the city. And it's a nice neighborhood filled with small businesses. Those businesses also pay taxes. Those taxes pay for all sorts of city services - services that support the poor.

Renting isn't a bad thing. But taking on an obligation you can't pay for, like mortgages and insurance and home upkeep, can leave you bankrupt and/or living in a crumbling home. Home ownership is expensive and is not a guaranteed investment.

Also, the city still has a version of the $1 program. The cost to buy may be more than $1, but people can still buy property at a dramatically reduced rate. I looked into it, but found it lacking. The Fed Hill program had all the homes in a condensed and somewhat geographically blocked off neighborhood, so new"homeowners had good belief that their neighbors would also be able to support their home and the neighborhood. The current project is for homes sprinkled throughout the city. I decided to buy in a good (but not pricey) neighborhood with no abandoned homes. Having neighbors that could take care of their homes was important to me. I didn't want to make a bad investment and find myself underwater because my street tanked.

I think Baltimore and the city's poor would benefit from a larger tax base of middle class residents. To attract people, the city should look to provide opportunities for people to buy with a good degree of confidence. I don't think your proposals do that.

—"SusieMpl," Feb. 25

@SusieMpl Classic "trickle down."

—"mflane1," Feb. 25

It costs money to demolish and rebuild and it costs money to renovate, both have the bigger agenda of trying to do good. But why is the choice of demolition and rebuilding usually the one the politians go with? I wonder what is the incentive of demolition over renovation?

—"Kristin Theresa Zeminski," Feb. 25

Correction: A blurb on the Hour Haus Resurrection Fundraiser (Now Hear This, Feb. 24) incorrectly said Joe Squared left its previous space because the building changed formats. According to news reports, they left because the buidling was "falling apart." City Paper regrets the error.

Clarification: A blurb on the Central West Baltimore City Council Candidates Accountability Forum (Now Hear This, Feb. 17) was accompanied by an outdated map of the city's councilmanic districts. The council was redistricted in 2011.

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