Nick Mosby calls for property tax cuts, universal pre-K, police reform

"He does have pro-growth economic policies," analyst says of Nick Mosby's platform

 

Mayoral candidate Nick J. Mosby unveiled his wide-ranging plan Tuesday to improve Baltimore by “connecting the dots” with new public safety proposals, universal pre-kindergarten and ideas to spur development on the east and west sides.

The West Baltimore councilman’s “15-point Plan for Baltimore’s Future” calls for reducing property taxes, equipping police officers with body and dashboard cameras, building recreation centers on vacant sites and eliminating the clause in police settlements that prevents brutality victims from speaking.

“We can continue to look at this as just trying to develop initiatives or programs or projects, or we could really look forward to realizing a 21st-century city in Baltimore — and in 20 years, look back and say, ‘Today, we decided to develop a program that was going to put work back into a working-class city.’ “

Mosby outlined his plan while standing at the intersection of Howard and Franklin streets, saying such an area shouldn’t be depressed. With the right economic incentives, Mosby said the area’s proximity to public transit and the Inner Harbor should lead to revitalization.

He did not give details on how each of the initiatives would work, but said he will provide more information on every part of his plan in the coming weeks. The plan is a result of discussions with “hundreds of folks” over “hundreds of hours,” he said.

Mosby said he plans on “tracking every dollar spent and the impacts they produce” through regular audits, contract managers to keep projects on time and on budget and more oversight on the procurement process.

To improve education, he wants to float bonds to pay for pre-kindergarten for all children. He also wants to build “state of the art” recreation centers on vacant properties and create a new mayoral office emphasizing education reform.

To spur economic development, Mosby wants to also give additional tax breaks to city workers, and offer financial incentives for employers who hire ex-offenders.

To reform policing, Mosby says he will speed up implementation of the Police Department’s body camera program and increase funding for the police Warrant Apprehension Unit.

Mosby praised Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, saying he has helped restore relationships with the community, clergy and business owners. Mosby said Davis is “unafraid to go after the bad actors on the force” and that he has made operational and procedural changes in the department.

Still, Mosby did not commit to keeping Davis in place, should he be elected. He said he will be watching over the coming months to see the results of Davis’ efforts.

While Mosby did not offer specific costs for his proposals and did not say how he will pay for them, he argued that the city’s more than $3 billion budget has enough money if resources are reallocated.

“$3 billion spent each and every year is enough to change our fate, if spent properly,” the plan states.

The plan also calls for reinvigorating the CitiStat office, creating a task force to address lead poisoning and restoring the inspector general position in the Housing Authority of Baltimore City.

Mosby said he believes it’s better to address the city’s issues by investing in young children. “Either we pay for it now, or we pay for a lot later,” he said.

Christopher B. Summers, president of the Maryland Public Policy Institute, a conservative think tank, said he believes Mosby’s fiscal plans could develop the economy, adding jobs.

“We agree with him in the property taxes issue,” Summer said. “Lowering city property taxes should be the No. 1 priority for the city. He does have pro-growth economic policies.”

But Summers said he was worried about what appeared to be “an expansion of the city’s bureaucracy” were Mosby’s plans to be implemented.

“It’s ambitious and it’s bold, but you have to ask the question: How do you pay for it?” Summers said. “There are big, lofty goals that will probably be unrealized.”

Lawrence Brown, assistant professor of community health and policy at Morgan State University, said the plan is “a good start, but it needs to go further.” He said Mosby should outline remedies for specific police misconduct issues such as “rough rides,” do more to prevent the lead poisoning of children and foster desegregation.

Mosby’s plan comes as fellow mayoral candidate Sheila Dixon has released a four-point plan to reduce crime. It is focused on targeting gun offenders and increasing police training while addressing the city's joblessness and “public health crisis.”

Mosby’s campaign spokeswoman, Tiffany D. Cross, slammed Dixon’s proposal in an email to reporters.

“Will we move forward or will we return to the failed policies of the past?” she wrote. “While arrests declined slightly before her resignation, Ms. Dixon failed to address the critical issues of police brutality and aggressive use of force while she was Mayor.”

Mosby and Dixon are among 13 Democrats seeking to become the next mayor. Other leading contenders include state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, City Councilman Carl Stokes, lawyer Elizabeth Embry and businessman David L. Warnock.

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