Resolution: We resolve not to increase the police budget, but instead hire 1,000 more Safe Streets workers. “Safe Streets,” you ask? Yes, Safe Streets is a program that hires ex-felons to prevent violence and keep streets safe in communities such as McElderry Park and Park Heights, and it works. These workers have shown in the past that they can effectively keep peace in neighborhoods, leading to lowered crime and murder rates.
Resolution: Open and reopen recreation centers attached to our schools, which can be run in part by the men and women of Safe Streets, the Baltimore Police, and community volunteers. Let’s transform our city schools into community schools that stay open late into the evening for learning, recreation, health, and more.
Resolution: Instead of locking up so many first- and second-time offenders of nonviolent crimes, we resolve to put them into community programs run by the thousands of people whose work is unheralded and underfunded every day—people who already work with our children and communities.
Resolution: Instill a real spirit of change and involvement in our communities by training volunteer firefighters and EMTs from our communities who would work alongside the professionals. The same model could be used for well-organized civilian patrols, to keep neighborhoods safe and build community.
Resolution: Create a Baltimore Civilian Review Board, with authority to hire and fire police, recommend indictments and exonerations, and conduct open investigations. Police body cameras are a great idea, but this practice will not transform how the police interact with our citizens, especially in the black and poorest communities.
Resolution: Make Station North Arts and Entertainment District the model for what urban development can really be. Station North can be a place for black and white artists to live and work together. MICA, Hopkins, Baltimore City, and foundations should develop properties that are affordable for all, alongside the private development that charges rents most artists cannot afford. Let Station North be a place where diverse communities meet and live, crossing lines of income and race.
Resolution: Pass a charter amendment that borrows $400 million (pick a number) to rebuild housing in communities for the working poor, hire those who live there to do the work, and make these communities into housing co-ops run by those residents. If we can afford bond issues, PILOTs, and more for wealthy developers, we can do this too.
Resolution: Turn our vacant lots and empty spaces into parks, playgrounds, gardens, farms, and places for community recreation and quiet spaces.
In 1983 I coined the term “The Outer Harbor” for Billy Murphy’s campaign for mayor, to illustrate a need for investment in communities that surround the downtown tourist and high-income areas. In 2015, the term is still relevant. We will never have a truly great city, or a peaceful or happy one, until we build a city for all of us.
Marc Steiner hosts the Marc Steiner Show on WEAA-FM weekdays from 10 a.m. to Noon.