The Baltimore City Council: Process without substance.

In the last 4 years – 2012 through 2015 – the Baltimore City Council has enacted only 13 ordinances (municipal laws) with the word “job” or “jobs” in them. Not one of these bills was intended to nor could it possibly effect any material increase in employment or reduction in the unemployment and poverty that have plagued our city for decades. Not one.

Do you think we’re exaggerating? No problem. Go to the Baltimore City Council’s website, conduct your own search and see for yourself.

These 13 include legislation that was introduced at the request of the Mayor as well as laws that originated inside the Council.

Hard to believe, isn’t it. Roughly 25,000 adults, mostly Black, are known to be unemployed. Thousands more are under-employed, meaning that they’re working, but not earning enough to support themselves and their families. A quarter of the city is living in poverty. And, fiscally speaking, our city government itself is hanging on by a thread. So where are the creative, visionary, leading edge or even the ordinary government programs to reduce unemployment and poverty – and crime that is the result of economic strife – though all-inclusive economic growth? Where’s the leadership?

True, being on the City Council is technically only a part-time job – that pays a full-time salary of $62,918 plus benefits. So maybe we’re not paying the Council enough to get their attention and give Baltimore the legislation the city desperately needs?

Perhaps you’re thinking that it’s the Mayor’s job to put people to work? Not just a few people here and there, now and then, but tens of thousands in long-term, full-time jobs that pay more than a living wage? No sign of that, not in the last 4 years or 40+ years.

Baltimore City Council Chambers

Or maybe you’re saying to yourself that it’s all up to our Baltimore Development Corporation. No question about it, the BDC is famous for giving hundreds of millions of precious tax dollars to subsidize downtown/harbor development – with what benefits to the city’s economy and as if the city’s many disadvantaged neighborhoods didn’t count.

In case you’re wondering, there’s no sweeping Baltimore’s unemployment and poverty under the rug. The un- and under-employed are not going to be replaced by relatively high-skilled, highly educated professionals working in tall buildings and moving into transitional neighborhoods until all the vacant and abandoned property – and the homes where Baltimore’s struggling families currently live – have been replaced with a cityscape the Governor and Mayor find less offensive.

Widespread unemployment and poverty are not problems that are going away on their own. The only solution is economic recovery that produces all-inclusive economic growth, a/k/a the jobs that bring the city’s unemployed and under-employed into a viable, growing Baltimore economy.

The good news is that 6 of the 14 incumbent members of the Council are not running for re-election and a number of the others are facing serious challenges. Maybe this is when we elect a City Council and Mayor with the balls, figuratively speaking of course, the vision and the commitment to the very substantial jobs creation that will solve our city’s problems once and for all.

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