Tag Archives: Baltimore

Fun School Funding Facts

THE SKY IS FALLING!

Well, if you listen to some city residents, and lots of city school administrators, that’s what you’re hearing about the Evil Republican Governor’s budget with respect to state funding for city schools.

The Baltimore Sun does a nice job explaining why there is a $35 Million reduction.  Fact is, it’s not because of The Evil Republican, it’s due to a formula that is more than a decade old. One, most likely, approved by the Democrats who control politics in Maryland.

Anyway, we’re hearing that this $35 Million cut is a catastrophe.  That students won’t have books, that 400 teachers will lose their jobs, that crumbling schools will be unsafe.  Having been a resident of Baltimore City, albeit one without children, I paid attention to the city schools, paid attention to the complete lack of accountability in leadership.  Watched as they celebrated a 60% graduation rate.  Watched as they lost millions of dollars.

Now, I’m a resident of Baltimore County, and I pay more attention to things here.  I compare, and I contrast.  You should, too.  After hearing the uproar and panic about the funding cuts, I decided to spend a little time on my own.  In about a half an hour, using search terms like ‘Baltimore City School Budget’ and Baltimore County School Budget’, and doing some math on a pad of paper, I discovered some fun facts.

  • $35 Million represents 2.6% of the entire city school budget for 2014 (I could not find a 2015 budget).  It represents a 3.5% reduction in state funds.  I would suggest that if a reduction of 2.6% is a catastrophe, maybe you need to look at the leaders of the school system, but that’s me and my corporate background.
  • The 2014 City School budget was $1,323,228,827
  • The 2015 Baltimore County School budget is $1,561,487,499.  That represents about a 6% reduction from 2014.
  • There are 110,000 students in Baltimore County, and there are 85,000 students in Baltimore City.  The Baltimore County budget is about $1,400 less per student.  While objective school success measures are difficult, they do somehow graduate 84% of students, versus 68.5% in the City. (I’ve seen a $3,000 spending gap published, but my math doesn’t agree with that number.  I suppose it may be due to how people look at capital budgets, which I have included.)
  • Baltimore City, with 25,000 fewer students, spends $30 Million more on Administration.  The County spends $1,300 per kid on Administration, the City spends $2,025.  That’s roughly $700 per child more (that’s half the difference in spending, by the way.)

The bottom line is this:  The administrators of Baltimore City Schools are proclaiming the sky is falling.  Why?  Because budget cuts put their jobs in danger.  Budget cuts make citizens do what I did, and actually look at the numbers.  They are lying when they say these cuts will have drastic effects on children, but that’s the only way to get parents upset enough to call their representatives to try to get more money.

Instead, perhaps the citizens of Baltimore should hold their elected leaders accountable.  Perhaps someone should take a look at North Avenue, and find out why they need to spend $30 Million more than their neighbors for the administration of schools serving 25,000 less kids.  Perhaps, just perhaps, some waste could be eliminated.

Anyone who thinks a 2.6% cut in funding for city schools should affect the day to day education of kids hasn’t looked at how the city schools are run.  I’m pretty sure I could find 5% in that budget in a couple of weeks.  I’d offer, but I’m not connected enough to get a job in City school administration.

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Baltimore Crime Solution

There’s been a lot of talk recently about crime in Baltimore.  People are upset.  Politicians are attending community meetings.  There is hand wringing.

But I haven’t seen a real solution.

There are two:

First, end the war on drugs.  The majority of violent crime in Baltimore, and certainly the majority of murders, are related to the war on drugs.

Second, and more (if you can believe it) complicated, the citizens need to take back the streets.  Criminals need to be afraid.  They need to be unsure if someone is going to fight back, or hurt them, or call the cops, or testify.  The single most important thing the people can do:  carry a firearm.  Quit waiting for the courts to fix the issues in the state legislature, quit being afraid of what the police might do.  How much chance is there, really, that a Baltimore city police officer will engage you, a law-abiding citizen of Canton, search you, and find your concealed handgun?  No one will know until you have to use it.  I think it’s worth the risk.

If you don’t, carry mace, or pepper spray, or a cattle prod; it doesn’t matter to me.  Engage the criminals, and win the fight.  Send them home limping, hurt, scarred, and they will think twice next time.  Yes, there’s risk; at some point you need to assume that risk, or let them win.

Up until a few years ago, you never even saw a police car in Little Italy.  No crime.  Why?  Because if you broke into a car there and got caught they didn’t call the police.  Because people were watching, and more importantly, people were ready to take action.

These are your streets.  Act like it.

 


Calendar of Events

For those in the Baltimore area, have a look at a calendar of events we compile each month.

More to come on the marketing front with the new business, but we’ve got a name!  Website, facebook page, etc to come.


Baltimore Calendar of Events

Every month, my wife, J, puts up a Calendar of Events for Baltimore.  Check it out!


I already knew they weren’t concerned with people’s rights, but at least now they admit it

Over the weekend, a non violent spray paint artist was arrested(!?) at Baltimore’s Harborplace.  Police claim he was on private property, he claims he was on public land.  I don’t know, and I wasn’t there, so I can’t comment if the arrest was legal.

However, the officer involved did finally admit something we’ve known for quite some time.

A police officer on bicycle patrol wrote in his report that Chase was “performing for money” and had three buckets with the word “Tips” painted on the side. The officer wrote that the buckets were on private property operated by General Growth Properties, which runs Harborplace. But a company spokesman said Chase was on city property.

The report says the officer and Chase argued about his rights before he was arrested, taken to the booking center and given an October trial date.

“It is my constitutional right to be here without prior approval,” Chase said to the officer, according to a video that captured part of his encounter with police.

“Your constitutional rights have nothing to do with the law,” the officer responded.

No kidding.  In Baltimore, that is a true statement. Later, to their credit, they try to backtrack.

Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the officer was trying to explain that he was enforcing a valid law and couldn’t debate constitutional claims more suited for a courtroom than a street corner.

“The courts have a right to weigh in on it,” Guglielmi said. “But as of today … we still have an ordinance we have to enforce.”

This is the problem.  The guys and gals on the street don’t understand (or don’t care) about the rights of the citizens.  The union backs them up.  (See also:  Tshamba shooting).  The only person who can discuss rights and the Constitution in an intelligent manner is the department spokesperson, reading from a script.

We deserve better, and the Baltimore Police Department needs to start taking accountability.


Screw You, Hon.

Dan Rodricks gets it absolutely right in his commentary in the Baltimore Sun.

“Hon” isn’t unique to Denise Whiting, no matter how special she wants us to believe she is. Some linguists say it might not even be unique to Baltimore. But Baltimore took possession of “Hon” at some point in its history and anyone who would step up and claim ownership of it should be quickly booed off the stage, thank you very much.

A term of endearment, that’s all, “Hon” is something that makes Baltimore a bit different from Everyplace Else, USA. It might not be part of everyone’s greeting — there’s a history around here of African-Americans and feminists finding it offensive — but it was poured into the pot a long time ago and survives as a provincialism that distinguishes this city and the communities adjoining it from all other metropolitan areas. You can hear, “You want fries with that?” anywhere in the United States. Only in and near Baltimore do you hear, “You want fries with that, hon?”

Ms. Whiting is a very smart businesswoman, and has done a pretty good job of using a (wonderful) local linguistic trait to make a living, and celebrate the word ‘hon’ as well.  I supported her in her fight with the city over her pink flamingo along with many Baltimoreans. 

This is how she thanks us.

No.

Cafe Hon isn’t all that great a place to eat.  Never has been.  It was the theme, the kitchiness of it that drew people in.  Well, no more.  Trademark “Cafe Hon”.  Trademark “HonFest”.  I’m all for it.  You invented them, you protect them and profit from them.  But you don’t own “Hon”, hon.


Mayor and City Council Remain Less Than Honest

The rules are out for the new sales tax on beverages in bottles, and the city is doing it’s best to make sure consumers don’t know about the new sales tax.

City officials on Tuesday cautioned businesses that when they advertise their prices, they can’t make it appear that the consumer is paying a new sales tax in the city. The new regulations make it clear that this is not a direct tax on consumers, Miller reported.It means that the distributors and retailers may charge a couple of pennies more per bottle of soda at a store in the city, but when you buy it, your receipt won’t list a line item for the bottle tax, Miller reported.

Of course, it is a new tax on consumers, but they don’t want you to think that.  We really need to vote these people out.


Makes sense, to a simpleton

Baltimore City is desperate to increase its tax base.  The city needs to draw in middle and high income residents who buy homes and pay property and income taxes.

Naturally, the best way to draw those people into the city is to raise the income tax.

The council signaled approval Monday for four measures proposed by Rawlings-Blake: An increase in the income tax rate from 3.05 to 3.20 percent; a 4 percent bump in the parking tax rate; small hikes in taxes on telephone lines; and the end of a discount for some early payments on property taxes. The measures are slated for a third and final vote next Monday, but the second vote indicates broad support from council members.

By the way, ending a discount for early payment of taxes is a tax increase.  A property tax increase, in Baltimore City.

Apparently, other than police and fire, there are no other possible cuts in spending.  We do own a lovely hotel and the Senator Theater, though.

We remain governed by simpletons.  It’s time to replace the city council, unfortunately, politics in Baltimore is all about the Democrat party and their power structure.

But who are they going to tax when the people who have incomes and wealth leave?


They will never learn

Mary Pat Clarke thinks that if the city says you must pay a living wage, then it will be so.

Retailers that are part of a chain that grosses more than $10 million annually would be required to pay employees the living wage rate under Clarke’s proposal.

“This would apply to the businesses that can afford to do this, not the mom-and-pop stores on the corner,” Clarke said.

Opponents of a plan to build a Walmart store in Remington, who have formed a group called Bmore Local, have asked that the city require businesses that move into the former site of Anderson Automotive on Howard Street to meet several criteria, including paying workers the state’s designated living wage of $12.25 per hour.

Or, she knows it will keep large retailers (Walmart) from polluting empty car dealerships and providing inexpensive goods to poor people.  Or something.

Mary, you need an Economics lesson.  First, if what you do isn’t worth the “living” wage, you do not make the “living” wage.  You make $0.  Further, the ability of poor people to obtain inexpensive sundries goes away, as companies who sell inexpensive things we all need (the evil Wal Mart) won’t open stores here.

Second, that “they can afford it” isn’t relevant.  I can “afford” a Ferrari (I really could… pay cash for it, too).  But I don’t, because I’d rather retire at 55.  Companies make choices like that all the time about pesky little things like Return on Investment and Profit Margins.  But forcing companies to pay more for labor than the market will bear is exactly like forcing me to buy a Ferrari to keep Italians employed.

I guess it sounds good, so they’ll just ignore the basic Economic facts and keep making it more difficult to do business in Baltimore and more difficult for poor people to get the things they need for low prices.  Or BMore Local has more campaign contribution clout.


Baltimore settles secret lawsuit

How is this possible?

The city Board of Estimates this week approved a secret $200,000 settlement to a person who had sued the Baltimore Police Department, saying the terms and name would be kept confidential to avoid “unfair damage to the career and reputation of the plaintiff.”

Officials disclosed the amount Friday and said that the figure was wrongly left off the agenda by the comptroller’s office. But George Nilson, the city solicitor, provided the amount and said the city agreed not to discuss the details of case. He called the secret nature of the settlement “extreme” but with good reason.

“It was an honest mistake, quite clearly, that resulted in unfortunate and unintended harm to a citizen’s reputation,” Nilson said. “The community reached a cruelly wrong conclusion about this individual, based on this mistake, and this individual was harmed in personal and professional ways. I’m just not going to participate in furthering that unfortunate harm.”

Nilson said in his three years as city solicitor, such a private settlement was a first, and he did not anticipate the city handling future claims in a similar manner. He also said the plaintiff was not a city resident, but he declined to provide additional details, citing the settlement agreement.

The five-member board approved the payout at its meeting Wednesday. The board meets weekly to approve city spending, including legal settlement payments.Ryan O’Doherty, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, said the plaintiff “demanded confidentiality as part of the settlement agreement. Had we not provided that, the cost of the settlement may very well have been higher.”

“We’ve attempted to provide as much transparency as possible within the confines” of the settlement, he said.

Baltimore City has settled a lawsuit where they will not name the plaintiff, will not name the tort, and will not discuss the details, other than the amount of MY MONEY they used, $200,000


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