Resolution Solutions

As Inigo Montoya now famously said in "The Princess Bride": "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

As used for the act of a New Year's pledge, the term "resolution" means to resolve personally to do something, to make a definite commitment or promise to undertake an action yourself. It does not involve going around creating goals for others on their behalf. I can't, and don't, make a resolution for someone else to lose weight any more than they can make a resolution for me to clean up my clutter.

Every one of the so-called “Resolutions for Baltimore” (Feature, Jan. 7) is of this pledge-others-to-shape-up ilk. Most of them involve spending other people’s monies to achieve said goals. And, of course, most of the “most creative thinkers” you chose for this screed of collectivism would stand to benefit personally and financially in some manner from the “resolutions” they have proposed. 
If a venture capitalist came to this city and proposed a development project that would involve public monies to benefit both the city’s residents and their own investments, you would most likely condemn such a proposal as “cronyism” and “greedy unfettered capitalists looting the city” and wouldn’t give their proposals the time of day, even if largely  undertaken with their own money.

Now, how about you tell us what you want to promote and sponsor with your own money for a resolution?

Alexander D. Mitchell IV
I’m not a “bold font” city official, I’m just a resident, property owner and taxpayer. Let me give you my resolution for Baltimore. It’s simple: The city must end its war on retailers.
 I fought the plastic shopping bag tax/ban—twice. Mercifully, the mayor vetoed this stupid legislation. When the Baltimore City Council has nothing better to do, they devise another way to harass local business. If it’s not a bottle tax, it’s a charge on advertising signs (even when the sign is on property owned by the business). And heaven forbid a retailer illuminates it—the city slaps another hundred dollars on that “privilege.” The bottle tax is an obscenity and no doubt there are other nuisance taxes I’ve yet to hear about.
It’s great to have more “art venues” but we don’t require a glut of “fast fashion” outlets. There is a plethora of bars, restaurants, boutiques, and similar frippery. What we need are places to shop! During this past year I’ve lost my bank (Citibank); they moved to Laurel. My eyeglasses store took off for Lutherville, my jeweler pulled up stakes for Frederick, the Charles Street Fresh and Green supermarket closed two years ago, and the space is still vacant. Another local supermarket burned down (twice). Last month we lost our Office Depot, and there’s not another office supply store for miles! This hurts.
 Baltimore should stop viewing retailers as “cash cows.” I live in downtown Baltimore—we require local “go-to” merchants. We need stores where they sell basic necessities like printer cartridges and paper. We need grocery stores so that when we run out of eggs or need something mundane like an onion, there’s a nearby source. Today we have too many “food deserts.” Baltimore must stop making it hard for businesses to exist. We need to end our war on retailers!
Roz Heid

Thank you for the "Resolutions for Baltimore" article in last week's City Paper. It was insightful to hear some of Baltimore's residents' opinions on how they'd approve the system here.

I wholeheartedly agree with everything Kate Drabinski said.

Carla Hayden, a library card at 14 years old? How about one at 5, when a child enters school, or 3, while in Head Start? Why wait for nine years of schooling to give children access to the library world?

Hey Kurt Schmoke!! My instagram name is @from_thecitythat_reads. That was the best slogan ever for a city. Now they're telling us to "believe." In what? I believe community college should be free too. The same education that is offered behind those walls that people have to pay for and take out loans for is the same education that sits behind the walls of the library that sits untapped by the future world who doesn't get to access it until the ninth grade. That may be a run-on sentence, but that's basically why community college should be free. If college is the ultimate goal, then it should be taught from grade school, and emphasized just as much as in ninth grade. If self-education and show-and-prove was accepted at jobs instead of degrees saying you have the knowledge, then a lot more Americans would be employed.

Is this 500 words yet? I'm ranting because I'm mad. Now that I'm 31, I feel disillusioned by America's system. They want to call people conspiracy theorists, but how come those theories make more sense than the plight of America's people in the land of milk and honey?

Mya Jenkins
Lord Tweeter 
“Their assumptions baffle me, but to be baffled is a great blessing.” So writes Baynard Woods in a recent “Conflicts of Interest” column (Jan. 7), and I couldn’t agree more. The column is about echo chambers, group think, and our disinclination to be around others who don’t share our worldview. In other words, it’s about Baltimore Twitter.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve been noticing an on-average higher noise level on Twitter these days, one that can sometimes border on a deafening roar and remain steady throughout the day. We are outraged. And about everything, it seems.

To be fair, these past months have been pretty outrageous. Tragic killings of unarmed black men and subsequent protests, horrific attacks on journalists exercising their right to free speech, misogynistic attitudes pervading the discussions around sexual assault and domestic violence—all have shocked, saddened, and outraged us, and rightfully so.

Aside from a heightened sense of outrage on Twitter, however, there's another related trend I'm observing, one that troubles me.  Scrolling through my timeline 24/7, as I do, I often see the "truly moral" (read, "liberal") attempting to weed out the "not moral enough" (read, "not liberal enough"), a practice that feels alarmingly fundamentalist in nature. When did we embark on this holy crusade?

As an astute Twitterer recently analogized, often we Baltimore liberals on Twitter act as an army of clones who, upon detecting a strange interloper, descend en masse to eliminate him from the world of sameness we’ve carefully created for ourselves. 

I'm no different, rest assured. I, too, have (un)intentionally curated a timeline that will echo and affirm my own sentiments about many things, and it's jarring to see a tweet pop up that is counter to my worldview. When it does happen, my usual reflex is to do one of two things: cover my ears or click that big red "unfollow" button. Still, there are many others who will not rest until the sinner is humiliated and beaten down, begging for forgiveness.

Baltimore Twitter, I think we need another way.

Inside of our echo chambers of shared outrage, we have become intent on silencing and eliminating the outsider and, perhaps along with them, any real possibility of the change we so desperately need.

If my friend isn’t “liberal enough,” can’t we still celebrate our common ground and use it for good? If my friend is not liberal at all, can’t we still afford ourselves the opportunity to disagree and be civil? 

Maybe we're all just tweeting so that we can have loud conversations with people who think pretty much exactly like we do about almost everything.

That's cool. I guess. I fear, though, we may be missing out on a great opportunity to contribute to real change in this beautiful city we love.

Because gathering people exactly like you to talk about everything you agree on, and excommunicating the dissenters, sounds like the formula for some archaic, reviled religion.

Without a reformation, the Church of Twitter could be well on its way.

Katie Wollman

Regarding Edward Ericson Jr.'s write-up on the "Baltimeter" ("Back to the Future," Mobtown Beat, Nov. 12, 2013): So we need fancy meters and software to tell us about all those nasty water-line breaks, and about those long hot showers we love so much, and those green, green lawns? Please! City government might actually help to find those leaks, and with getting them repaired, by encouraging judicious use of precious water resources in the first place.

Apparently assumed in the article is the public acceptance of all this wonderful "smart" technology. Many of us have been observing the ongoing fiasco of those BGE smart electric and gas meters as their aggressive roll-out rages on everywhere. The industry hypes on about "efficiency" and "progress," etc. The "consumer control" they talk about is actually control by the utilities—and who knows who else who wants that data that is churned out 24/7. Ultimately, the financial benefit flows to the utilities, their contractors, and perhaps eventually passed on to an elected official here and there.

Noticed those collector meters on the street, and those odd boxes with antennae attached to power poles around the city? Expensive devices, signaling day and night in continual communication along nodes in a proposed worldwide network.

A BGE worker recently told me that he has decided to refuse smart meters at his own house, in an attempt to protect himself and his family from negative health effects. It is wise to listen to dissenting voices. Check out the Smartmeter Education Network and MD Smartmeter Awareness sites, plus the writings of David O. Carpenter and others who have documented the experiences of those whose electric bills have gone up, appliances gone haywire, and other problems.

We need to reconsider our casual use of all wireless devices such as cellphones, the Wi-Fis now mandatory in some schools, as well as microwave ovens, fluorescent lights, and so on. And to use the precautionary principle, which is about proving safety and forestalling harm, rather than the backward non-ethic that is status quo. Certainly, it makes no sense to add to the existing electromagnetic field/radio frequency toxic overload and its resulting environmental havoc.

Exelon/BGE, Pepco, Itron, Itineris, and so on are contracting with entire municipalities to install their rogue technology without our consent. While they spew their rosy propaganda about being green and modern, we are wondering why our bodies are aching, our ears are ringing, and why we cannot seem to sleep well these days. Dismissable "collateral damage," of course, for the lying, thieving, profit-and-privatization thugs who are not going to stop until we stop them!

Linda Toast