These are trying times for all of us – we are all uncertain at what lies ahead for our families, our jobs and our communities. Even before COVID-19 became a part of our daily reality, our city and so many of its residents were already in crisis. The coronavirus is making one thing clear – Baltimore is in a make or break moment, and we can no longer wait to address the systemic issues that have affected the daily lives of our citizens. Baltimore’s next mayor needs to be ready with a plan to put public health and safety first, get our residents back to work, and support our small businesses that have helped us thrive. My commitment to you, Baltimore, is to do everything in my power, using every tool in our arsenal and coordinating government at every level, to keep our families safe.
I applaud Gov. Larry Hogan and his administration for their leadership during an unprecedented challenge for Maryland. As Mayor, I will work closely with his administration to share information, provide ideas and secure funding, especially for critical needs. As I establish an external Baltimore City Covid-19 advisory committee, I will request a liaison from the Governor’s coronavirus advisory committee to join us so that our state and local government responses are coordinated and effective. Our coordination will be streamlined and complete.
Reducing Crime and Keeping Baltimoreans Safe
Already, Baltimore City has reported 85 homicides this year. The Coronavirus crisis has compounded the heartbreak of these losses, with 797 confirmed cases in the city already and 72 virus-related deaths. There is no time to waste, and we need strong leadership from City Hall to stop crime and save lives.
- The COVID-19 crisis has only made our fight against crime more urgent. Many of the same communities that are facing the highest levels of crime in our city are now seeing the highest levels of infection. We must keep Baltimoreans safe, and we have to leverage all of our resources at all levels of government to stop and prevent crime and alleviate the underlying conditions that make communities vulnerable. My comprehensive plan to reduce crime does just that; we must implement it without delay.
- Effective policing is a necessity now more than ever. We must enhance our police presence and make sure our community knows there are resources there to help them. This means more foot patrols and more coordination of Baltimore Police, Maryland State Troopers, and MTA Police.
- “Protect and serve” starts in the community. Baltimore police have been assisting with food and supply deliveries to families across our city and that must continue, both to meet critical needs and to rebuild trust between police and neighbors.
- As we move forward, it is critical that all Baltimore police, firefighters, first responders and health professionals have the PPE they need to do their jobs safely. My administration will commit to whatever means necessary to ensure the people on the frontlines serving our community are protected so they can prevent crimes and serve the victims of crimes without risking harm to themselves and their families.
- At a time when our community is rallying together, we must remain vigilant against criminals who take financial advantage of our residents. We must be proactive about holding those responsible who attempt to take advantage of our current unstable environment through price manipulation, fraud, or violence.
- It is critical that residents feel they can trust our public figures to fulfill their duties with integrity and transparency. Building healthy relationships between our communities and law enforcement and making government transparent will be instrumental as we seek to identify and address areas of need.
Childcare and Education
- We are facing an emergency when it comes to ensuring Baltimore children receive an equitable education. While we wait to resume traditional in-person schooling, something that has become abundantly clear during this pandemic is the importance of having internet access at home. Too many children in Baltimore lack the resources to learn. Detroit has moved quickly to get $23 million worth of computer tablets and high-speed internet to K-12 public school students. Baltimore should follow suit. I support immediate funding that would provide students in need with an at-home internet connection and a device on which to complete schoolwork. We cannot expect students to excel if they do not have the tools necessary to learn in the 21st century, both during distance learning and in the future when classes resume in-person.
- We need to start planning now for what a return to school looks like in the future. There is no way we can send our children to places where they can be exposed to a virus that we don’t have the ability to treat or prevent. Until we can safely return our children to these facilities, working people cannot return to their jobs. I will prioritize communicating with our Board of Education and daycare providers to make sure that our schools and their facilities are safe before children can return to school and continue to implement aggressive measures for the next several years.
Working Hand in Hand with Health Experts
- Above all, we must listen to the experts as we navigate through this crisis – and the consensus is clear that we need to prepare not just for the next few months, but for the next few years. We must re-orient government to respond to the demands of the time. Now is the time to collect research and increase our capacity so that we are prepared for what lies ahead. And in the meantime, we must continue to provide essential services in an environment that is safe for service providers and recipients.
- I will dedicate a new COVID intelligence unit within our Health Department entirely focused on COVID-19, which would conduct research, track data and advise all levels of government. This new unit will help us learn how to respond to COVID-19 and to better prepare us in the unfortunate event that another infectious disease plagues our city. By collecting best practices and implementing them in every sector, we can more easily go about our day to day lives safely.
- Above all, I will make decisions regarding public safety measures based on advice from medical professionals. Scientific evidence will always be my guide for how to move forward and will inform our city’s policies..
Rebuilding Baltimore’s Economy
Addressing the economic harm this pandemic has brought to our city will be one of our greatest challenges. But with strong leadership and bold decision-making, putting the health and safety of our residents first, we will not relent until Baltimoreans are back on their feet and stronger than before.
Learning from the past
While the challenges we face today are unprecedented, it’s important to learn from the lessons from past crises. As mayor during the 2008 Great Recession, I know what it takes to lead our city through an economic crisis. Many will recall the stimulus bill passed through the leadership of President Obama, which made millions available to cities and states to fund programs and meet the immediate needs of our citizens for food, housing and healthcare. The 2008 stimulus also made bold investments in communities to rebuild roads and bridges, make buildings more energy efficient, build affordable housing, and train Americans for the new green economy.
As mayor, my team took aggressive action to capture and maximize stimulus funding by creating the Baltimore Economic Recovery Team. Representatives from the mayor’s office and more than a dozen city agencies came together every week to strategize on federal grant opportunities, make decisions on spending funds equitably across the city, and ensure that every dollar was spent wisely. When state and federal agencies put out their call for grant-funded projects, every city agency was ready to apply. Through our efforts, Baltimore City received $4,221 per capita in stimulus spending while the average jurisdiction around the country received only $1,222. I am ready on Day One to oversee the kind of top-down operation it will take to see Baltimore through this crisis.
- On my first day back in office, I will re-establish the Baltimore Economic Recovery Team and charge them with bringing together the best ideas for putting Baltimore back to work. We need all our brightest minds working together in unison to serve our city in its hour of need.
- As mayor, I will use major lessons we learned from the 2008 Recovery Act as a guide. First, we had to be ready with projects and programs that could move quickly. Second, for every dollar we won from the federal government, there were community, business and philanthropic partners willing to match the investments with money and “sweat equity.” Some projects could only succeed with 100% public funds, but the most successful projects were those that leveraged resources from across community, nonprofit and private sectors. These are the kinds of projects we can build on and adapt to the times in order to bring back our economy as quickly as possible.
Relief for Small Businesses
Like many communities across the nation, COVID-19 has hit Baltimore hard economically with the closure or reduced hours of retailers, restaurants and offices. Maryland’s unemployment filings rose by more than 38,000 in mid-March, many of which were in Baltimore’s service industries. I know that restaurant owners, hotel managers, shopkeepers and other businesses were heartbroken to lay off many of their employees, but they had little choice in order to keep their business afloat and re-open when this crisis is over. Keeping these businesses and the Baltimoreans they employ afloat will take strong leadership from the mayor’s office.
- As mayor, I will prioritize assisting the hundreds of our small businesses that did not receive the kind of financial assistance they need to fully resume their operations. As was true before COVID-19, most of our small and minority-owned businesses do not have access to equity capital. We continuously talk about how vital they are to employment and overall economic well-being, yet we are unwilling to risk the kind of investment they really need to grow and prosper. As mayor, I will make sure we focus on the small businesses that have made our city thrive.
- I will immediately establish a Neighborhood Impact Investment Fund, which will provide existing small businesses within the city the opportunity to leverage these funds through grants and low-interest loans for operational cost and economic development. Measures like this are necessary for providing immediate relief to small businesses and have potential to save many businesses that would otherwise go under.
- With so many various programs being announced each day, my administration will make it a priority to maintain clear communication with our small business community, ensuring they know where to turn for help. I strongly encourage every small business to get their records in order now and make early contact with your bank or financial advisor so that you can access all support that available.
Relief for Individuals
As we work to protect our citizens’ health, it is equally important that we protect their livelihoods. Unemployment insurance will help to fill the gap for many who have lost their jobs, and the just-passed stimulus bill gives a major incentive to bring employees back on the payroll through grants and loans. Those fortunate enough to have received Paycheck Protection funding will find themselves with unexpected debt with no corresponding increase in revenue. We must act swiftly to make sure individuals have what they need to support their families and return to their jobs safely.
- Bank and other nonprofit service providers, we will continue to deliver food and supplies to families in need for as long as it takes. I will leverage private sector dollars to support our public efforts to meet this basic need for Baltimore families. I applaud the many people who have already contributed to feeding Baltimoreans, please know we are grateful.
Relief for the City
Baltimore is losing $20 million a month in revenue during Coronavirus pandemic, with the city facing a projected $42-million deficit for this upcoming fiscal year, FY2021. The city has spent roughly $20 million in revenue towards COVID-19 recovery efforts thus far, and we are expected to spend upwards of $45 million by the end of June. Federal recovery funds will help replenish what has been spent thus far, but not fully reimburse the entire amount spent on Coronavirus recovery efforts. This requires immediate action from the mayor to ensure we can continue to provide city services and keep government functioning.
As mayor, I will have the opportunity to make cost-saving decisions on the city budget, whether they be in regards to personnel or real estate.
- I would consider the sale of real estate assets. During a crisis one of the hardest hit markets is always real estate because the value of properties will drop. This presents an opportunity for the city to sell assets such as vacant land and schools to investors at a low price while being able to recoup a profit each year through taxes collected.
- As Mayor, I would encourage the option for Employee Buyouts. The city can offer buyouts for 5 to 8% of our employees who are eligible for retirement in select positions, this will allow us to avoid layoffs and furloughs. The buyout could be in the form of allowing employees who elect to participate to maintain current insurance coverage and rates for a year before transitioning into the retiree health plans. These buyouts could serve two purposes. The first is we could keep the positions vacant and generate a cost savings. Or we could hire employees to fill some of those positions at a lower pay rate which could help to solve the large unemployment issue that we will be faced with.
- I would reassess retirement contributions. We would temporarily suspend payment of the cities portion of the retirement contributions for all cabinet members for 12 months.
- I will suggest a Senior Executives Temporary Salary Reduction. In Fiscal year 2022 all employees in the following base salary ranges would receive a temporary pay decrease. Employees earning $200,000 a year or more will receive a 15% pay decrease, employees making between $160,000 and $199,000 would receive a 10% pay decrease, and employees between $130,000 and $159,000 would receive a 5% pay decrease. Additional salary adjustments would be evaluated on a yearly basis.
As a city, we are going through unprecedented struggles and hardships right now. I know that we can address our concerns and fears head-on and overcome them by working together. Baltimore is a tough city, and we have always leaned on each other to dust ourselves off and get back up again. With our faith in God and each other, I have no doubt Baltimore’s best days are ahead of us.
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SUPPORT OUR CAMPAIGN
Your donation of $100, $25, or even $10 will help us wage the fight to restore hope to our beloved Baltimore.