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Welcome to Baltimore, Mr. President

President Obama is making a portentous trip to Baltimore today. Not because he's meeting with the House Republican caucus at its meeting at an Inner Harbor hotel in some sort of stab at bipartisanship. The way things are going in Washington, they would probably vote against their own party's platform if he proposed it. Instead, it's noteworthy that the president is coming to Baltimore at all.

Despite Baltimore's status as the closest "real city" to Washington, and previously a frequent venue for presidents to roll out their initiatives, Mr. Obama hasn't set foot in Charm City since a whistlestop speech on the way to his inauguration last year. The White House wasn't particularly cagey about the fact that the president was avoiding any association with our indicted mayor, Sheila Dixon. She was far from the dais when Mr. Obama spoke in War Memorial Plaza, and months later, she was publicly disinvited from a White House gathering of big city mayors.

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This was a shame, not so much because of the slight but because in Mr. Obama we have, for the first time in decades, a president closely associated with a big city and, presumably, more focused on urban problems than the most prominent residents of Crawford, Texas, or Little Rock, Ark. The closer our municipal leaders can work with the new administration in Washington, the better.

The announcement of a major jobs initiative at a small business in Highlandtown wasn't the first sign that Baltimore has come in from the cold now that Mayor Dixon has announced her resignation. Incoming mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake was included last week in a White House meeting of the National Conference of Mayors at which President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden spoke. But with City Hall cleansed of the stains Ms. Dixon brought upon it, we can hope these are just the first steps in forming productive relationship between the administrations in Baltimore and Washington to make this city a showpiece of urban renewal.

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