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News Opinion

Rawlings-Blake's farm bill support: More of the same for Baltimore

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's op-ed piece from Friday is an example of why nothing ever seems to change in Baltimore. 

 Mayor Rawlings-Blake writes primarily about the Congressional farm bill and the impact that it will have on the city of Baltimore. She writes:

"Baltimore City, like many other cities around the country, is dependent on a comprehensive, multi-year farm bill that addresses the current needs of local farmers, low-income residents and consumers who want access to healthy foods grown nearby. Programs in the farm bill that support local farms and food access are instrumental to our city, making Washington's gridlock particularly disheartening."

The piece goes into great length about urban farming initiatives in the city of Baltimore as well as the food stamp program. However, what the mayor does is prove how dependent the city budget is on the largesse of other government entities.

Rawlings-Blake points out that Baltimore has instituted a "Baltimore Urban Agriculture Plan" to allow for individuals to begin growing crops within city limits, particularly with vacant city-controlled property. This is a noble goal, one that allows for more locally grown crops and could have a positive environmental  impact on the city. But she is concerned about the farm bill because it may lack funds for "essential training and start-up grants that could further these efforts already underway locally." 

 Why does any of that require federal funding? If these efforts are already underway locally, why does the mayor go hat-in-hand to Washington instead of funding them through her own city budget? Why can't she partner with local colleges and universities in order to provide training instead of relying on federal grants? Are there no non-profit of private partners who would not be willing to underwrite the cost of urban agriculture?

Rawlings-Blake goes on to discuss the SNAP food stamp benefit and the impact that it would have on Baltimore's working poor. Obviously the entire food stamp program has become a political landmine for many, but putting that aside there is a key flaw in the mayor's logic; why has her administration not done more to end poverty in Baltimore? Why are regulations in effect that limit job creation? Why does city government continue to have so much bloat? Why are there so often efforts to raise taxes at the city level? Why can't the mayor get crime under control? Food stamps don't end poverty, so why is the mayor more concerned about giving a hand-out to Baltimore's citizens who live in poverty instead of working to give them a hand-up out of poverty?

Unfortunately Mayor Rawlings-Blake is merely perpetuating a sad tradition of Baltimore mayors for the last quarter-century. Instead of working to fundamentally transform the institutional dysfunction of city government, they would rather ask the federal (and often state) governments for a handout. 

Baltimore is a city that desperately needs leadership, and the mayor is consistently proving that she cannot provide it.

--Brian Griffiths

Red Maryland has strived to be the premier blog and radio network of conservative and Republican politics and ideas in the free state since 2007. Its posts appear regularly on baltimoresun.com.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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