1. Please describe your educational and professional background and how it has prepared you to serve as council president.
I am a 1968 graduate of Douglass High School (Baltimore City School System). I also attended Coppin State College for three (3) years. I am a retired (thirty-six (36) years) employee of the United States Postal Service. Being both a craft (10 years) and management employee (26 years) have prepare me for this position. I had extensive experience in managing budgets and people. I am a graduate of the William F. Bolger Management Academy. My career, community involvement and life experiences have prepared me for this next important step in my life.
2. Why do you want to be council president? What would your top priorities be if you are elected?
My interest in becoming Baltimore City Council President is to serve the Great Citizens of Baltimore City. I feel that the current leadership has lost focus and lack leadership skills needed to maintain transparency and root out government waste. In today's Baltimore City Paper, it was reported that my opponent has raised over $300,000 dollar from special groups. Now......what does this tell you, the voting citizens of Baltimore City????? It tells me that special interests...................WILL HAVE A PLATE AT MY OPPONENT'S DINNER TABLE! I am committed and will give back half (1/2) of my salary to assist youth and community related programs and projects. I will share my plate.
3. Do you support Baltimore's current crime-fighting strategy? What changes, if any, would you pursue to improve public safety in the city?
No! I believe the current strategies are not working. Once, I am elected I will develop a workable relationship between the police department and the people they serve. Regaining the trust and confidence of those who have lost the respect and admiration once given to our officers. I would communicate with other sister cities that have experienced the same cultures of violence that is currently plaguing our cities and use some of their crime fighting techniques to lower our high crime rate!
4. Do you support the recent reforms in the Baltimore City school system? Do you believe any changes are needed in the schools' governance structure (such as direct mayoral control or an elected school board)?
Yes! Baltimore Public Schools have made some improvements in its overall student's performance. I also believe that an elected school board will assist educators, parents and students in the many challenges they face
5. How would you address the city's backlog in school maintenance and renovations, estimated to be as much as $2 billion?
The backlog of renovations and maintenance issues should be priority and addressed. These improvement/renovations should be made to allow our students to function in an environment conducive to learning!
6. Property taxes have become a major issue in this year's election. Do you believe the city's tax rate needs to be cut? If so, by how much, and what steps would you take to keep the city's budget in balance while lowering the rate?
Yes! But I would not make a decision on cutting property taxes until I am elected. As I stated before I would mandate that a semi-annual audit be done on all agencies to see if there is unused money sitting in some of the many Baltimore agencies' accounts. Do you remember the $75M that the current administration claim was found in a unknown dormant city account earlier this year? If this is true.........where is the money now? Why didn't our elected officials know about this account? $75M dollar would offer a lot of relief to Baltimore City property owners!
7. The city has faced large budget shortfalls in recent years. If that trend continues, what top priorities would you protect from cuts? In what areas would you pursue spending reductions?
If the budget short falls trend continues I would protect further cuts to public safety and education. But, another "big hitter" is the Department of Public works (DPW). As a resident of Baltimore City traveling through different city communities I see many of the DPW work crews doing absolutely nothing! One of the roving reporters for a local television station followed a crew for four hours and they did not perform any duties during that time period; work crews gambling on the "clock" & work crews sitting around our different city markets for hours with their trucks engines running. Where are their supervisors? If, I as a city resident can see all of these bad work practices why has nothing been done? Why can't our elected official get out of city hall and........"Manage by walking around." I don't literally mean walking............but take their assigned city cars & city cellular telephones and ride around the city. When you see infractions.......call the Director of DPW! I know my opponent knows about these deficiencies because on many occasions I have seen him holding public forums in one of the city markets during the working hours!!! With DPWs' budget of billions of dollars...............can you imagine how much money can be saved if we make our city employees manage more efficiently! Remember...............IF, YOU WANT THE SAME OLD THING, THEN VOTE THE SAME OLD PEOPLE BACK INTO OFFICE! It's all about changes and new innovations.
8. Baltimore has lost tens of thousands of jobs in the last decade. What would you do to encourage economic development and provide employment opportunities for city residents?
To encourage economic development I would offer incentives to businesses to encourage expansion and hire qualified city residents. If they don't qualify, then I would initiate training programs to get them the skills needed for the positions!
9. Do you support construction of the light rail Red Line? If so, what would you do to mitigate concerns in some neighborhoods about the impact of the project? What other changes to the Baltimore mass transit system would you pursue to provide transportation options for those who lack access to a car?
Yes. Many of our city residents don't own automobiles so the Baltimore Red Line would be very beneficial to all city residents who use public transportation. It would cover a lot of area, from Johns Hopkins Bayview campus to The Center for medicare and medicaid Services. It would save a lot of time and conserve gas.
10. Do you support the Greater Baltimore Committee's proposal for an expanded convention center/arena/hotel complex downtown? If not, what alternative, if any, do you support for replacing 1st Mariner Arena?
No! Not at this particular time due to lack of city funds. I am not saying ever, I am just saying not right now.
11. Do you support current plans for redevelopment of the West Side Superblock and the State Center office complex?
No, I feel that it is not cost effective.
12. Do you support the city's plans for a slot machine gambling parlor near the downtown stadium complex? Would you pursue any changes to the program, through either local or state legislation? Would you support an eventual expansion to table games there or elsewhere in the city?
Yes! When i am elected I will take a through look at the proposal and make sound a decision that would be best for the Citizens of Baltimore!
13. Recent corruption scandals in the police and fire departments and other city agencies have diminished public trust in government. What steps would you take to ensure that the public is receiving the honest services of all city employees and elected officials?
I express my concerns in question 7 about DPW. These same steps could be used in all city agencies. I would demand from my Directors full accountable for all infractions.
Renold B. Smith
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