Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake famously promised that the Baltimore Grand Prix would be a "game-changer" for the city.

But after nearly $7 million of infrastructure funds have been squandered for what merchants outside the Inner Harbor say was little or no benefit, race organizers are failing to pay their bills from backers and local vendors. The Maryland Stadium Authority, which represents taxpayers' half-million dollar investment in the event, says it is "preparing for the worst" ("Grand Prix's financial troubles," Nov. 3).

Meanwhile, the mayor reports that we face another year of budget shortfalls and possible cutbacks in services. Neighborhood recreation centers are likely to close and the mature trees of downtown, which were cut down for the Grand Prix, are gone forever. Just as it has in so many other cities, the fairy tale of economic rebirth through a weekend of racing is unraveling.

The Grand Prix may temporarily distract attention from our city's underlying woes, but nothing will change until the mayor undertakes real reform and acknowledges that big, flashy downtown projects will not save us.

Mac Nachlas, Baltimore