The citizens of Baltimore draw up a list of 100 directives for new city leaders

Welcome, new mayor and city council members. Because City Paper had to go to press at midnight on Monday, before the election results were in, we weren’t certain who our leaders would be so consider the following a massive to-whom-it-may-concern letter from citizens.

We reached out to 100 residents and asked them to contribute 100-word solutions to city problems, small and large, that our new city leaders should address in their first 100 days in office.

Talk to anybody in Baltimore these days and they are all over the map when it comes to an agenda for change but there is one thing they have in common: Everyone believes that the city is at a turning point where change is possible and essential.

We asked a wide range of people from city department leaders, university presidents, and heads of nonprofits to activists, artists, and students. The result is a wide-ranging “conversation” about what needs fixing here and how to best go about it. People talked about the criminal justice system, housing, education, jobs, public transportation and everything in between.

Some of solutions are birds-eye views of sweeping systemic problem—"create an affordable housing plan” one contributor suggested—and some are micro-level suggestions—extend the free bus pass hours for students who stay after school for sports and clubs, many teens pressed.

Some of the solutions come with a big price tag—fix the city’s potholes and sinkholes and decaying infrastructure, several folks recommended—while others are cost free; one young person urged city officials to better synchronize street lights to cut down on traffic jams.

And just in case our 100 solutions make you curious to read more, check out the Open Society Institute-Baltimore’s (OSI) sweeping Solutions Summit (solutionsummitbaltimore.org) to see the specific recommendations citizens are generating there. OSI has been hosting half-day workshops all fall on topics ranging from jobs to criminal justice to behavioral health to come up with fresh ways of addressing some of Baltimore’s most entrenched problems. The series, for which City Paper is a media sponsor, culminates on Dec. 10, and is a reminder that Election Day is just the beginning, now the hard work begins. At the Summit, participants will discuss, debate, and vote to narrow the hundreds of solutions down to 10 or 15 priorities.

As for the suggestions for change that City Paper has collected, we have clustered the suggestions into three main categories here: Experts and the general public; young people; and the media, including suggestions from City Paper staffers and contributors.

Perhaps the most moving and plaintive suggestions for change came from young people. City Paper collected ideas from students at the GreenMount School in grades six through eight, juniors and seniors at Baltimore City College High School and Baltimore Polytechnic High School, and college students at Morgan State University and Towson University. Read in succession, the entries provide a snapshot of what it is like to be a young person coming of age in Baltimore.

Seeing the world around them through their eyes, one senses immediately how they feel devalued. They are told to act like adults, but aren’t treated like adults. They are told to value education, but they don’t believe the community values their education. Many, many students complained about the poor physical state of the schools and in particular the lack of heat and air conditioning that has them sitting in coats in the winter and having classes cancelled in the warm fall. “We have math books from 1998, outdated computers, the heat/air conditioners are always breaking, the cafeteria runs out of lunches for everyone, the lunch portions are those of an elementary schooler,” one City College student raged.

A Poly student argued for more recreation centers “for the youth to receive guidance, mentoring and just a general place to hang out” and added, “I find it crazy when the city complains about the youth when it’s constantly taking away from the youth.”

A student at City College had a very basic—and free—request. “Needed: Consistent role models to influence the youth to be successful and not trap,” he wrote. “Basically, I had no one to tell me to grind to do good in school and no one barely does in the trenches.”

And they worried. They worried about harassment on the buses, being late to school because of the lousy public transportation, about potholes knocking the transmission out of their hard-won first cars. One eighth-grader at the GreenMount School worried about all the homeless people in the city, wondering why the city didn’t just give some of the vacants to them. “You can give so many people homes and help them get on their feet,” the student wrote. “If you don’t have a home, it becomes extremely hard to get a job.” But most of all, they worried about their safety. “With lots of police killings, citizens killings, etc., it has put fear in many of our hearts having us wonder…‘Are we next?’”

Perhaps my favorite suggestion for city leaders came from an eighth-grader at the GreenMount School: “They should figure out a way to get the people on their sides. The best way to get someone on your side is to relate to them. If the people are on your side, you will have more than 100 days to get something done.”

It is in that very spirit—of openness, optimism, and hope that our new leaders genuinely want to relate and hear from their constituents—that City Paper invites you to engage. Post your own own solutions to city problems on our website; we’re pretty sure the city’s incoming leaders will be paying attention. Isn’t that a copy of City Paper the new mayor has tucked under her arm as she steps to podium? (Karen Houppert)

Marching Orders

Leaders, activists, and ordinary citizens weigh in on what our mayor and City Council should aim for in the first 100 days

Address root causes of violent crime, modernize police department

As we move into 2017 and beyond with the next government administration, we must have an all hands on deck community-government approach to public safety. It requires a collective effort to solve the systemic shortcomings that have challenged our neighborhoods for decades. Most of the root causes of violent crime simply must be addressed by other government and societal entities. We must modernize our police department with 21st century technology, ensure it is properly staffed to effectively meet community expectations, provide scenario-based training to our police officers, and build mutually respectful relationships with our residents. We must be the most innovative and creative city in America, and we must not be afraid to encounter occasional stumbling blocks along the way.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis

Create a transparent, accountable police department

The new mayor and city administration would do well to heed to the words of Roman poet Virgil—“Evil is nourished and grows by concealment.” Upon taking office, the mayor's first act should be a pledge to Baltimore's citizens to create a transparent and accountable police department. City council hearings should be immediately convened on the secret process of funding and using a covert spy plane to surveil Baltimore residents. The new mayor should order the police commissioner to stop using “stingray” or portable cell phone tower simulators to track city taxpayers and to publicly disclose all past use of these phone trackers.

As citizens, we first expect law enforcement to be accountable. Data about police activities, including stops, arrests, use of police force, and misconduct complaints should be categorized by neighborhood, race, age, and gender, and should be posted to a publicly available website. Internal police investigatory files of officers, when exculpatory, should be made readily available to prosecutors and defense counsel in criminal proceedings. Openness by the police department is the first step toward repairing the distrust of law enforcement which is so prevalent in some city neighborhoods.

David Walsh-Little, Chief Attorney of the Felony Trial Division of the Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore

Give community control of DOJ consent decree

In the first 100 days of the new mayor's term they will be tasked with overseeing a massive change in Baltimore city with DOJ Consent Decree with the Baltimore Police Department which the BPD's blatant racism and brutality has necessitated. Whether the change is for good or bad remains to be seen. Our task no matter who wins is this, to dismantle the system of oppression—root and branch—to allow racial/gender equity and community control to flourish. We demand that the community have control throughout the consent decree process. We demand divestment from police and investment in community-controlled programs be included in the consent decree. We demand each of the factors we have addressed here be included in discussions where we will co-craft a consent decree with the DOJ.

Group statement from grassroots collective Baltimore Bloc

End cash bail

Maryland's bail system preys upon indigent people who simply cannot afford the excessive bails levied upon them by judges as they await trial, presumed innocent. Baltimore is at the epicenter of Maryland's problem, where poor citizens routinely have their lives upended by bails—whether it is jobs, homes, or families. So, as the city's leader, take a stand just as the Attorney General did, and tell Annapolis that you oppose cash bail. Encourage our council to act. Come up with services to provide arrestees in lieu of pretrial incarceration with the savings accrued. Bail is the tip of the criminal justice iceberg. Let's start melting it!

Todd Oppenheim, Attorney, Public Defender's Office

Decrease police budget, increase parks and rec

If one out of every four federal government employees were a member of the military we'd think we lived in a police state. One out of every four municipal employees is a police officer. This makes the city less rather than more safe, and increases the odds of a Freddie Gray-like tragedy. Take a significant portion of the approximately $500 million Baltimore spends on police and put it instead in parks and rec. Or in co-operative development. Or almost anything else.

Lester Spence, Associate Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University

Capitalize on federal funding opportunities

Baltimore has often failed to capitalize on many federal funding opportunities available to cities, including ones that could fund initiatives related to infrastructure, housing, and youth programs. In other cases, the city received federal funds but failed to spend them completely or use them well. A solution would be to hire a senior official reporting directly to the mayor who is highly knowledgeable about federal funding streams and has demonstrated success tapping such funds for cities. He or she would identify all opportunities for federal funding, oversee public agencies developing proposals, and ensure that the city uses funds received appropriately.

Diana Morris, Director, Open Society Institute-Baltimore

Invest in black artists

The city needs to give money to local artists and creatively economically invest in neighborhoods outside of white Baltimore. I want to see the administration lead funding efforts for black creatives to be able to make a living as a creative in this city by allocating resources, like real estate, grants, incentives, and jobs that can create a flourishing industry for us.

Abdu Mongo Ali, musician

Require a racial equity impact statement

Be more intentional about using Baltimore's annual budget –which exceeds $2.5 billion – to dismantle structural racism and make racial equity our collective new normal. For example, city leaders should evaluate all revenue generation and resource allocation decisions using a racial equity impact assessment, a conscious and transparent inquiry into how public decisions impact different racial and ethnic groups in Baltimore. Consistent and faithful use of such an assessment will highlight Baltimore's hidden pipelines to poverty and provide concrete guidance to city leaders on how they can interrupt those pipelines and maximize opportunity at all city levels.

Tara Andrews Huffman, Director, Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program, Open Society Institute-Baltimore

Take an interdisciplinary approach to criminal justice

Talk to visitors waiting outside to see a family member or friend who's incarcerated at the Baltimore City Correctional Center. They can describe the reasons(s) why the inmate is there—lack of quality education, under or unemployment, substance abuse, mental illness, disintegration of the family, absentee parents, inequality in the justice system, lack of moral compass, poor child rearing...Solutions may call for an inter-disciplinary approach used by James Rouse in the planning of Columbia, Maryland. Bring together sociologists, theologians, psychologists, politicians, educators, transportation experts, recreation leaders, urban planners and others. Let them brainstorm and help rebuild the new town of Baltimore.

Pia Marie Winters Jordan, Professor at Morgan State University's School of Global Journalism and Communication

Change laws for misdemeanor crimes

They need to change the laws on misdemeanor crime. In Baltimore City misdemeanors are treated with an extra smidge of harshness that rubs me the wrong way. No one should go to jail for a suspended license that's not even some shit u wanna be in jail for, it just makes u sound dumb as fuck. Just imagine, you sitting jail with niggas that's peed on people and robbed grocery stores n shit, it's just dumb and unethical. Some of the things you can be locked up for in this city don't make any sense. The new laws that passed this October were a definitely a step in the right direction but we have Hogan to thank for that, not anyone else really. So I think they should prioritize that, decriminalize things that are putting good people in prison for non-violent offenses—because making those misdemeanors have less or no time on maximums would keep a lot of good black women and men out of the criminal justice system. The justice system works against people of color and just being in a court room makes me nervous because I know that whatever I would be in for, I'm probably going to get the book thrown at me. And it shouldn't be that way. It's a small step but I feel it's an important step in the right direction for a city that doesn't have much direction in terms of local politics. And maybe it would keep other artists from fleeing from this place, crying foul like Tupac did. I should run for mayor next time around. Imagine that.. MAYOR Peggy first thing id do is ban Stephanie Rawlings Blake from Maryland. Send here to Arkansas or something.

JPEGMAFIA, musician

Reform police department, demand accountability

If police are to be able to use violence in the name of the people of Baltimore, the people must have the power of accountability to ensure their names are not taken in vain.

Meaningful police reforms recognizes that public safety is a public good and places civilians in meaningful position of power, including on police trial boards and on a strengthened, independent Civilian Review Board.

Those who say police unions and state laws doom police reform efforts to failure are acquiescing to the most inexcusable of failures; a failure of imagination. Meaningful reform in the first 100 days is not only possible, but necessary to prevent talk of justice, and campaign promises, from ringing hollow.

Lawrence Grandpre, activist, educator, writer, Director of Research for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle in Baltimore

Mandatory steroid testing

There needs to be mandatory testing of law enforcement to detect steroid use.The penalty for using these drugs should be immediate termination from the force. Steroid abuse has been associated with several brutality cases including the 1997 sodomizing of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in New York City.

The murder of Freddie Gray and the damage that was done to his spine before he was placed in the van could have possibly been related to steroid use by the arresting officers.

There's no evidence, because the police union currently protects officers from being tested.

It's estimated that one in four police use steroids.

Baltimore could set an example for the rest of the country to end the use of steroids by law enforcement.

Paul Rucker, artist

Limit criminal background checks and other barriers to employment

Employers admit to using criminal background checks to automatically screen out applicants, even without convictions. Moreover, studies show that white jobseekers with a record are more likely to receive a call back than black jobseekers without a record. If one in every three black males can expect to go to prison, how can we truly cultivate a thriving workforce if a criminal record can render you unemployable? Job Opportunities Task Force urges the new city leadership to work closely with employers and its Annapolis delegation to aggressively pursue opportunities to eliminate employment barriers and increase job opportunities for all populations.

Caryn York, Director of Policy and Strategic Partnerships Job Opportunities Task Force

Return governance of schools to local control

No issue is more important to the future of our city than the quality of our public schools. The city's economic growth, the safety of its neighborhoods, and the city's influence regionally depend on our ability to improve our schools. A new mayor and city council must lead in transforming our school system. The first 100 days should be focused on returning the governance of the Baltimore City Public Schools back to local control and ending the city-state partnership. Under the current city-state partnership, the school board is jointly appointed by the mayor and the governor. The board then selects the CEO. We have seen on far too many occasions finger pointing and the blame game whenever a crisis comes up within the school system. With local control of the school system and the appointment of a Chancellor of Education by the mayor, accountability falls squarely on the desk of the mayor.

Keiffer J. Mitchell, Jr., Senior Advisor, Deputy Legislative Officer, Office of the Governor

Make education key

Our new Mayor and City Council must create a concerted, community-inspired focus on education. Baltimore's strength is in its neighborhoods and our schools are anchors there. Make the schools stronger and our communities get stronger. Everything requires a little money but if we pull together, city employees and volunteers working together in our neighborhood schools to make them the focal point for student learning, recreation, jobs, safe zones and more, we can lift up our youth and their families. I hope our new leaders can bring us together for a common cause and it starts with our neighborhood schools.

David Wilson, President, Morgan State University

Extend free bus pass hours for students

Baltimore City students are unable to use their school issued bus passes past 8 P.M. on weekdays or on weekends. This precludes youth from attending extracurriculars, working jobs, or attending community events that risk putting them on their MTA bus home a minute past 8 P.M. I conducted a survey of 61 Baltimore City high school students, and 95 percent reported that limited S-Pass hours—the times when students can ride the bus for free--had affected their ability to work or participate in extracurricular activities. The incoming city government needs to give Baltimore students the benefit of the doubt and expand S-Pass hours.

Patrice Hutton, founder and director of Writers in Baltimore Schools (WBS)

Educate our black youth

There's nothing more important than the education of our Black youth. I attended Edmondson and am now daily involved in the public school system here as an adult. The same dispossession I experienced as a child but couldn't define is happening today. It's written the faces of overwhelmed faculty, disheartened youth and on the beaten facilities. Your decisions will truly dictate whether we want that legacy to continue and more importantly the fiscal maneuvers you make. We'll see...

Tariq Touré, writer and advocate

Support artists and the DIY culture

One of many important issues the new mayor and city council should consider is how to make Baltimore a more hospitable environment for DIY art and music spaces. When these spaces have the chance to become well developed and well run, they enrich our city by creating an environment in which to share culture. What bad can come of this? Allow us, the artists, to occupy space without constantly being shut down by the police or having the space sold out from under us in order for developers to gentrify and capitalize on the environment which we created.

Maddie Shapiro, musician (Wet Brain, Girl Problem Records)

Commit to an annual appropriation for artists

The State of Maryland commits more than $16 million a year to the arts. In most jurisdictions this public support is matched in some ratio by the local government. It's time to create and commit to an annual appropriation to support the Baltimore nonprofit arts and culture sector, and establish a funding system that is accessible to artists and organizations from every corner of the city. (Citizen Artist Baltimore Priority Statement, 2016.)

In the shorter term, hire artists! Advance your priorities through deep collaborations between city departments and highly skilled community artists. The future health of Baltimore demands innovative, creative, cross-sector partnerships. How might arts-based engagement approaches ensure more equitable and stronger connections between city government and the communities you serve?

In the first 100 days, work with a team of artists and city staff to research successful initiatives and develop an Artist in Residence tool kit that provides step-by-step guidance for city officials on creating partnerships, connecting with local artists, training, evaluation, budgeting, and timelines.

Jessica Solomon, Executive Director, Art in Praxis

Creative Transformation of vacancies

The city is the largest landowner in the city, but most of our buildings sit in vacant limbo awaiting demolition and/or long-speculated development. Meanwhile, artists and creative entrepreneurs work out of scarcely available and increasingly expensive rental spaces. Decades of stalled redevelopment and decay in the “black butterfly” surrounding the increasingly TIF-supported “white L” show that the current “private” (but publicly subsidized) market does not serve most Baltimoreans. The city should invest in our budding cultural economy by freely giving its vacants to residents, artists, and creative entrepreneurs who are committed to rehabilitating spaces through vision, ingenuity, and sweat equity.

Graham Coreil-Allen, artist, Graham Projects, cultural organizer

Fix transportation and you fix the city

Transit. Everything about transit – improving quality of existing services, expanding mobility options with more protected bike lanes and safer/smarter pedestrian infrastructure, legislating and implementing Complete Streets, and catalyzing economic activity thru equitable Transit Oriented Development. Our transportation system embodies everything that is sick & wrong with Baltimore. Fix it, fix the city. Connect people, resources and opportunity, and watch transformation unfold. Smart transit will drive smart decisions about housing & property taxes, increase climate resilience, improve air quality & reduce obesity, attract/retain residents, generate 10,000's of jobs, remake people's experience of our public realm, and transform our culture from one of cynicism & despair to one of optimism & pride.

Robbyn Lewis MPH, Patterson Park

Eliminate food deserts

The new mayor and council should focus on reducing the number of so-called food deserts in the city. Fully a third of Baltimoreans live more than a mile from a full-service grocery store or access to fresh produce and fruit.

The problem is compounded by a public transit system that doesn't make it easy for residents without a car to shop.

There is, however, a plethora of corner stores throughout the city, many of which sell little food of substantive nutritional value. Perhaps by expanding programs like Baltimarket, which helps storeowners bring in more nutritious foods for customers, the city could begin to better address hunger and food access issues.

Jacqueline Jones, professor at Morgan State University's School of Global Journalism and Communication

Reconsider “BaltimoreLink” plan

I expect voices more qualified than myself are challenging you to combat police brutality, prioritize housing and education, and rethink drug policy from a perspective of compassion, so I'll advocate for a strong public-transportation stance. Specifically, the many thousands of residents dependent on the MTA need a mayor who will take a hard look at the governor's “BaltimoreLink” plan. We deserve better than its many changes that create new hardships for need-based riders. Additionally, find funding to keep the Charm City Circulator free and preserve existing routes. Long-term, we need dramatic improvements: new trains, bike routes, and buses. But protecting our existing system from further dysfunction will signal your understanding that Baltimore must grow past car culture and look forward.

Eric Hatch, Director of Programming, Maryland Film Festival

Prove yourself

Finally got a break between washing dishes at work to write this. I don't care that much about elections, {lsquo}cause well...the system's fucked and my personal situation is shitty so it's difficult for me to pay attention and vote. Baltimore always disinvests in the people who need it most and suppresses the votership of those communities. The services that are supposed to help the most oppressed actively hurt them. Why take social responsibility and vote when the corrupt government hasn't taken responsibility to protect them? Prove that my vote will make the situation better and maybe we're getting somewhere.

Dylan “Toyomansi” Ubaldo, musician

Prioritize public transportation

Our city needs a useful and reliable public transportation system. Around 40 percent of our population does not have access to personal transportation. A quality public transportation system builds our economy, attracts both residents and business and ensures that our most under resourced citizens have access to jobs, goods and services. Currently, our governor is attempting to implement the Baltimore LINK system. This proposal does not increase access, and doesn't have the funding to do so. Please make public transportation a priority.

Jacq Jones, Sex educator and owner of Sugar

Clean house at Housing Authority

The new mayor needs to focus on housing issues. Clean house at Baltimore Housing and the Housing Authority—from Paul Graziano on down to the maintenance workers. Stoppissing away HUD funds on slumlords who rent out dilapidated houses to the most vulnerable citizens, and permanently ban criminal tenants who threaten their neighbors' safety from the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Also, follow Washington DC's lead by implementing a higher property tax rate for owners of blighted properties—thus forcing slumlords to sell or rehab their properties. Blight elimination will lead to less crime and wasted public safety money.

Matt Gonter, activist

Create an affordable housing plan

Baltimore desperately needs an affordable housing plan. Today, 38.6 percent of Baltimore residents—92,186 households—can't afford their monthly rent and 150,000 eviction notices are filed annually. Baltimore Housing has eliminated half of our public housing units since 1992—from 18,393 to 9,940—and proposes adding only 979 units over the next five years. Our inclusionary housing law has created a paltry 32 units of housing since 2007.

No wonder 3,000 of our neighbors are homeless every night. Let's end the first 100 days with a plan. Then together we can build a Baltimore we can all be proud of.

Lauren Siegel, Healthcare for the Homeless

100 Words for 100 Days, a prose poem

Randy Newman's Baltimore, “Man it's hard just to live.”

100 days to make it easier: Let homeless folks sleep in the City's Hilton Hotel's vacant rooms. Stop drug arrests. Release the nonviolent inmates. Turn over public housing to the residents. Make the minimum wage a living wage. End tax lien sales. Let rich developers be self-sufficient. Create a public bank. Outlaw for-profit health care. Turn the police into social workers. Seize the Orioles and Ravens by eminent domain – every Baltimorean gets a turn to attend a game.

Prince's Baltimore, “Enough is enough, it's time for love.”

Jeff Singer, housing advocate and adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work

Boost the Black Butterfly, dismantle apartheid in our city

Baltimore's politicians intensified our apartheid by giving billionaire Kevin Plank's Sagamore $760.4 million in tax breaks plus $660 million in TIF bonds that imperils our public school without a permanent fix. It's time for a $1 billion Baltimore Racial Equity TIF: $500 million to wipe out the hazard of lead poison and $500 million for redlined Black communities to use to begin rebuilding their neighborhoods.

This TIF would be the down payment on dismantling apartheid in our city. Democratically-elected, representative councils of 15 people would be chosen by each designated community to manage funds to address community priorities determined after multiple public conversations.

Lawrence Brown, professor at Morgan State University's School of Community Health and Policy

Protect immigrants, limit police collaboration with ICE

Baltimore's current policing system is in crisis. It has a record of discrimination, lacks transparent accountability mechanisms, and faces tremendous challenges in keeping city residents safe. The first step toward reform must be establishing police-community trust by:

1) Codifying into law and enforce the Executive Order prohibiting discrimination and limiting police collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

2) Ensuring that civilians play critical oversight roles in the negotiation and monitoring of any agreement between Baltimore and the Department of Justice.

3) Restructuring BPD to ensure that our local elected officials are able to set policy for the police department.

Elizabeth Alex, Regional Director, CASA

Decriminalize youth

Decriminalize youth! With the increasing privately-enforced limitations on the liberties of people under 18 at local malls and movie theaters, it is urgent that our new administration lift the city-wide curfew on youth and prioritize creating safe, productive space for young people to gather and connect. Youth curfews target and disproportionately impact poor kids of color who are already working against the city's inequitable education, transit, health, and housing systems. Beyond encouraging young peoples' presence in our public spaces, I urge elected officials to support and build programs that address both surface issues around where youth hang out and structural issues around who is valued incity life.

Lee Heinemann, Education Director, The Contemporary

Perform annual audits

This week the city's Finance Department said that all 26 of the charter-mandated agency financial and performance audits would be complete by year end. But this is just the beginning: there are 55 departments and agencies, and quadrennial auditing is far too infrequent. On the ballot, Question I would mandate audits every two years and establish an Audit Oversight Committee. This will likely pass, and Catherine Pugh (and other candidates) have even pledged to perform annual audits. We must audit regularly — not just to find theft — though we might. Regular audits are a starting point for honest public conversation about how our city works, and that cannot come too soon.

David Troy, CEO of 410 Labs and lead administrator of Baltimore City Voters group on Facebook

Young People Speak Out

Students from the Greenmount School, City College, Poly, Morgan, and Towson offer their perspective and solutions to city problems

Focus on murder rate

Homicides in the city are the biggest problem. The legislative crew of our city needs to crack down on the killings of people in each neighborhood. There have been over 200 killings alone this year and that has been very devastating to people in the communities and their families. Having this type of problem puts a bad label on the city and also lowers the population. With lots of police killings, citizen killings etc., it has put fear in many of our hearts, having us wonder... “Are we next?”

Tavon Davis, City College High School

Provide healthy school lunches

The mayor should change the way school lunch is being served to schools throughout the city. Since the first day I walked into Baltimore City Public Schools, the food I have received has been disgusting and not pleasing to the eye. Our country wants us to be so healthy but them giving us this synthetic food will not do that. Why are they trying to force this upon us? This is why obesity is on the rise. Solving this small issue will make a big difference.

Sharnae Myles, City College High School

Convert vacants to housing for homeless

The vacant houses located in Baltimore, especially over west, reflects the way the City Council and people of Baltimore don't take care and maintain their own city. It is estimated that Baltimore has more than 16,000 vacant homes. I look at these houses as I drive past them and think of a lot of ways these homes could be used. For example, they can be used for homeless people, for recreational centers, or for hospitals.

Also, our transportation system fails to link people to jobs which are spread out across the city, not just downtown. These long commutes do harm to our economy and quality of life.

Maghan Lloyd, City College High School

Fix potholes

Dear Mayor,

I recently purchased a car with my own money and because of the major potholes in the streets the transmission gear broke. Once again, I had to kick out my personal money to fix this issue. I'm sure this problem has not only affected me but those around me in similar situations. Please fix.

Daniell Snowden, City College High School

Purchase current textbooks, computers, etc.

Where is the money for our education going? We have math books from 1998, outdated computers, the heat/air conditioners are always breaking, the cafeteria runs out of lunches for everyone, the lunch portions are those of an elementary schooler. I want to know, where is the money going? Who is prioritizing education? Things like the heat or AC constantly breaking, the outdated resources, and the minuscule lunches really affect our performance and slows us down.

Caryn Singletary, City College High School

Clean up the streets

Dear City Council,

This is coming from a kid who grew up in very bad, low-priority areas in Belair-Edison. We need more help to “clean up” our neighborhoods. By that, I mean helping us not see kids on drugs on my way home from school. I mean keeping kids off the street, and from doing reckless things like getting involved with gangs and guns, and seeing my 13-year-old cousin out with those kids, and coming in at 12:30, 1:30 on school days after being reminded but never fully told from his mother that has experienced the same, that there is nothing out there for us. Give us the materials and different opportunities so we can see that nothing is out there [on the streets] for us. Help us “clean up.”

Anleel Gardner, City College High School

Get a professional basketball team

Dear Mayor,

It is of huge concern to me and to me and to many others as to why the city does not have a professional basketball team. After doing research and reading a few articles, I see that the biggest reason for the absence of an NBA team is money. I believe that as a city we could support a professional franchise financially. Since we lack money, the team could actually bring in money through creating jobs, through visiting teams staying in city hotels, and through ticket sales. Bringing a team back to the city would be a great way to bring the city back together and reduce violence.

Kamerhon Jackson, City College High School

Provide role models

Needed: Consistent role models to influence the youth to be successful and not trap. Growing up in a small poverty-stricken, dope-fiend infested, and gang-glorified neighborhood in Baltimore where there are rarely role models to influence us to be more than a drug dealer is detrimental and keeps us in affliction. The problem with Baltimore is that no one believes in us and spends enough time to raise our children to be lawyers, doctors, or legal businessmen. Because we look up to men who have no option but to trap due to the repercussions they face in life. It's like they have to. Every time I go back to Poplar Grove, my uncles say, “Chip, I'm proud of you because we've never encountered someone as dedicated to inspire and prosper just as much as you and you know where we from.” Basically, I had no one to tell me to grind to do good in school and no one barely does, in the trenches.

Keintrai Williams, City College High School

Hold police accountable

We need to start holding the police accountable for their actions and dishing more consequences and punishments. The reason is that there is a pattern that's been going on for years in which an officer has killed someone and they were let completely off the hook. And it's oddly strange that the people who have been killed are black and the police who have been claimed innocent by the court are white and it's very obvious that we have a huge problem when it comes to disciplining police.

Michael Morton, City College High School

Improve police training

The training of the Baltimore Police is a serious problem within the city because our officers are being trained to be brutal and handle situations with excessive force or violence, operating almost like a gang instead of being trained to deescalate the situations presented to them. By operating like this, police brutality is becoming increasingly problematic within not just Baltimore but the United States as a whole. If the police are supposed to symbolize protecting and serving then do that. I would strongly suggest a longer, more intense training and qualification regime for officers that live here—and stop bringing in officers from other places that don't know the city as a whole. I hate having to turn on the news and wonder about another hashtag or victim. It's not right and certainly not fair to the community to be treated like this.

Amaya McIver, City College High School

Train officers to deescalate situations

Officers are not being trained to properly deescalate and handle situations with care but to fear for their life. When officers are going through the academy and watching videos of situations officers are put in, they are videos that show our “fallen officers” losing their lives. Police training needs to show how to handle citizens in various situations, but instead they are taught to come to work every day as if it's their last day. The only way to assist officers in better handling their citizen-police interactions is to not just better equip them, to give them better knowledge so they are capable and informed enough to handle issues in the correct/proper format.

Monae Myers, City College High School

Repair lead-laced water pipes in schools

Education could be better for students in the Baltimore School System because a lot is flawed. For example, my school has water fountains that haven't worked for years. The school system, in my opinion, could also be improved by talking to students and receiving their feedback. Homework, class work, and projects should be limited to not cut into students' social life.

Nicolas Munoz, City College High School

Extend free student bus pass hours to facilitate after-school activities

A problem I feel can be fixed and should be fixed is student transportation. I am a student-athlete at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, meaning I do not proceed home from school directly after the ringing of the bell. I do not begin to leave from school until 6:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. Student passes should end later than 6 p.m. I also feel that student passes should work on Saturdays because some games are scheduled on Saturdays. Also, most, if not all, SAT and ACT testing dates are scheduled on Saturdays.”

Trayvon Hines, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Fix the heat & AC in schools, repair the water system

In the city of Baltimore, there are a lot of changes that need to be made; mainly in Baltimore City public schools. Heating and air conditioning systems need to be fixed. There are times in the summer when the classrooms feel like the outside and days in the winter the classrooms are freezing. Also, a problem that need to be addressed is the water system. In city schools, we do not have a clean water system which causes our schools to be contaminated and filthy. The water comes out brown and yellow at times.

Jeremiah Ingram, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Synchronize street lights, reschedule construction

“Something that affects me everyday is traffic. On my way to school, there is so much traffic. If workers are going to do construction, I believe it should be done at night when most people are asleep so it doesn't inconvenience them in the morning or during the day. There also doesn't need to be a stoplight at every corner. When one is green, they all should be green. I shouldn't have a green light and drive to the next light that is red when they are 50 feet away from each other. Situations like this are what cause people to drive crazy and be in a rush to get past the lights. I feel like if there were less, traffic wouldn't be as bad and there would be less accidents.

Daisha Davies, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Open more rec centers

In Baltimore we need to change the actions of people. That can start with more recreational centers for the youth to go to and be productive. Having more centers would occupy the time that the kids have and that could be a start of minimizing the murders. The youth are the future and we have no one standing behind us with support. The future can't make progress with limited opportunities.”

Taylor Lloyd, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Promote arts in education

Baltimore City lacks artistry. When we have several recreational centers to promote arts, the city will be better. The STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program has taken charge. However, I have learned of STEAM (adding art: music theater, painting, creative writing, Shakespeare, production) coming into fruition in some places but have not yet seen much progress in Baltimore. While attending a college preparatory majority mathematics school, I have learned that these subjects are important; yet I feel like my school's goal has overshadowed the art community.

Zion Thornton, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Reduce crime

Crime affects the city I live in. It changes how we live and how we act. Living in a city with a high crime rate definitely limits what you can or can't do, and how cautious you are. In a city where the good die young, you can be murdered for anything, from a dice game to simply just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Deshawn Mosley, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Put more buses on the streets, encourage public transportation

Transit consistency is a large problem in Baltimore City. I get out of marching band rehearsal at approximately 6:30 p.m., but sometimes I don't get home till around 8 p.m., regardless of the fact that it's a 30-minute drive. Sometimes I have to wait an hour for the bus, and it can be dangerous walking home in the dark. I think we should put more buses on the street to allow for more consistency for students and others that rely on transportation. Also, to counteract the traffic, Baltimore City should encourage people to use public transportation more by cleaning up buses and trains and keeping them in shape.

Ethan Gehr-Edwards, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Improve police protocols

Often in Baltimore, cops don't respond to situations by their assigned protocol. Cops often react with fear and violate people's rights and potentially put their lives at risk.

Ruben Molina, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Give us hope

Problems are almost everywhere around the city. If we start talking about them we would be here until the cows come home, and we wouldn't end. However, I think the beginning to make a change whether for poverty, violence, or the school systems, is showing people love, hope, and purpose in life. We can sit and talk about the issues for hours, but if people are purposeless that will never change their mindset. At the end of the day, all they have on their minds is their reality: harassment on the bus while going to school or fear of going outside and getting attacked. These things wouldn't affect us if they happened once in a while, but seeing them everyday makes citizens feel purposeless. So my question is, how will you show people purpose and have them take pride in their community?

Exel-Valle Estrada, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Shift school start time

The main policy the government should change is the time school starts. School should begin at 10 a.m., so there should be no excuse why students are late to school. In addition, if you are a senior and have all of your credits to graduate, you should not have to attend school for the full day. Schools should teach students how to do real life things that children are oblivious to, such as paying a mortgage on a home, or paying taxes. Teaching children calculus does not help the AVERAGE human with real life problems.

Quaye Bayton, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Eliminate curfew at the malls

One problem in the city that should be fixed is the curfews at the malls and movies for teens. Most neighborhoods in Baltimore experience crimes of all types and throughout the day these crimes occur. Creating a 6 p.m. curfew forces these kids from the malls and movies to relocate to areas that they wouldn't enjoy themselves, places like the streets with their high crime rates.

Demitrice Weaver, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Grant students basic rights, respect

Some problems that we need to fix are

1) the air conditioning and heat in schools—all city schools. We should have air and heat for the different weather that we go through throughout the school year.

2) School should start at 9 a.m.

3) Seniors should be able to leave school at lunch to go get food. We are old enough and should be trusted to do so. If we don't return to school then we should just have to deal with that responsibility.

4) We should be able to wear any top (shirt, jacket, hoodie, polo, etc.) in school, as long as it has our school logo or name on it.

5) We should be able to leave school early if we have all of our credits.

Jewel Porter, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Convert vacants, reduce rats

There are too many vacant houses in Baltimore, and when someone lives next to one they could get rats and bugs in their homes. The houses should be redone by the city and sold to improve the state and look of the city, and improve real estate in the city. Homeless people could also take some of the lower priced houses and receive money until they get a job to pay for the house.

Ashlee Johnson, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Start treating high school seniors like adults

The new mayor, when elected, should work with a Baltimore City school his/herself. As a senior at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, I think we should have more privilege than the underclassmen and 11th graders. Only because we deserve it and we've earned it. For example, if a student has a registered vehicle in the school parking lot, that student should be able to leave at their lunch period and come back at the end of their lunch period. If the senior doesn't come back and it affects their grade in the long run, that's on them.

Lyric Manley, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Address residential segregation

I went on a college tour to UMBC just a couple of weeks ago. I noticed something unsettling. Coming from Poly and the route the bus took, there was a neighborhood between Greenspring Apartments and Caton Avenue that was all boarded up and abandoned. The sample presentation at UMBC mentioned a “black butterfly” segregation in residency. I don't know exact statistics on the homeless population race-wise, but I feel that there can be a better mix in both low and high class communities, not to just blame a race for poverty or homelessness. There is something wrong with the housing ideals today, and it's looking bleak for the future.

Jordan Dixon, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Add more trash cans, reduce rats

Baltimore has a serious trash problem. When I catch the bus, I notice that not every bus stop has a trash can, which makes people litter on the ground. All this litter is making our city dirty. Recently, Baltimore was voted number 6 in being the most rat-infested cities in America, but yet we still litter and complain about rats. To fix this problem, all it takes is a trash can.

Joshua Yeboah, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Safer streets, better food

Baltimore has to come together as a whole so we can stop the violence in our city. We should be able to walk across the street to get some food during our lunch period. We should be served better food in the cafeteria because some of the food they serve is nasty. We need more money as well so that we can make those things happen. We also have a lot of rats and cockroaches in places such as Lexington Market, and they need money to better their health grade and environment.

Torrin Stephens, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Increase frequency of buses, expand hours for student bus passes

Baltimore City should improve the bus system. The bus system needs to become more efficient and come more frequently. They should extend the time for the bus pass until 9:30, so people have more time to make it home from school due to late games, practice, or long distance traveling. I also believe that the city should work on putting A/C and heating units in the schools throughout the year. The lack of these units cause a lot of inconveniences: missed school days or the ability to focus during school time, due to inclement weather conditions.

Gabrielle DeGuire, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Fix the heat and AC in schools

Something that should change is the heating and cooling in Baltimore City schools. It should be changed because when winter comes, it can get really cold inside the buildings and you have to wear jackets to keep warm. During the summer it gets really hot, and we either have to leave early or stay in a hot building all day. Hopefully the new mayor will take this all into consideration for all the kids that struggle to keep warm or cool during their school day. This will also help because sometimes when you get too hot or cold, it makes you sleepy and you can't get any work done.

Cameron Carrington, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Improve quality of school lunches

Something that should change in high school, or maybe just the senior class, should be able to leave school for lunch and should not have to eat school lunch. If this can't happen, then Baltimore City should make the school lunches better. Most of the students don't eat lunch because it's gross, or it's not appealing so students don't eat it. I can say personally that many times I haven't ate school lunch because it didn't look appealing, or it looked like it didn't taste very good.

Justin Mills, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Fix heat, AC, and dress codes at schools

There is a problem with heating and cooling systems in the Baltimore City school district. Also, there are problems within the streets. Even when driving slow, you can still feel all the bumps and breakage in the road. This messes up my tires, and I want to make my car last as long as I can. The school doesn't allow us to wear jackets, and the students are cold and irritated by this issue.

Lindsey Bush, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Beautify the vacant lots, create positivity

There are a lot of empty lots throughout Baltimore City. They have become an unpleasant sight and have dry grass reaching just your kneecaps. There is often trash in the lots, and it makes the city look bad. It would be nice if we could plant trees or flowers and turn the lot into something beautiful that inspires people. The city is composed of intelligent and beautiful people. To drive by and see something that reflects this could create a new wave of positivity that is currently needed in the city.

Keturah Boone, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Reduce cost of vacants

Baltimore is beautiful: from the rich seafood and marine life to the outskirts of the county. At the same time, this city could change a lot under new guidance. I recommend lowering the prices of boarded up houses so that all the buyers need to do is pay for the cost of refurbishing. Moreover, they can make the person who's buying the house pay a slight amount above that cost so that the state can make more money to help improve other issues, such as the water in the bay. Also, if the school system for young children K-6 was improved, then people would struggle less in the later years because they've had a good foundation. Students are 21 percent of our population.

Moja Williams, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Fix potholes, give youth jobs

The streets need to be fixed. I just bought new tires for $40 a piece and they go through a lot because of the potholes, cracks, and bumps on the road. Also, I believe the city could fix up the vacant houses, so people could have other places to live; it's just not fair to them. Not just vacant houses, but vacant stores as well. By increasing the amount of stores, the unemployment rate will drop, and our youth will have something to do instead of being in the street.

Imebette Barkley, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Open rec centers, engage with rather than complain about youth

A big issue that I think should be solved is funding toward the youth of the city; meaning putting money in the city school budget to go toward heating and air conditioning being fixed—as well as opening more recreation centers for the youth to receive guidance, mentoring and just a general place to hang out. I find it crazy when the city complains about the youth when it's constantly taking away from the youth. I think the city should become more engaged with the youth. If the city invested in the youth then the city will be on the right path going into the future.

Demetrius Lee, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Reduce the pigeon population

There is a pigeon problem in downtown Baltimore. Every time I walk down Baltimore Street, Lombard Street, and Fayette Street, I get blocked off or disturbed by a multitude of pigeons. They crowd the sidewalks, they fly right in your face, and they flock around trash cans and bus stops. I am constantly being rattled by these birds. This morning I felt terrible. I was walking downtown past Baltimore and Charles, and the walkway was cut off by a flock of pigeons. I walked in the street to get around them and another flock stood in my way. I went past them and as soon as I got through a pigeon flew in front on me and I mistakenly stepped on it. I felt so bad; it wasn't the pigeon's fault. However, if it wasn't for the multitude of pigeons this accident would have not happened. Even though just the pigeon got hurt, I could've been hit by a car trying to get around them. This pigeon problem needs a solution.

Mykhi Johnson, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Fix school heat and AC, extend hours for bus passes

Throughout our city there are a lot of problems, but the problems that affect me would be the Baltimore City Public School system's problem with central air and heat. Almost all of the city schools do not have heat due to old pipes, or so-called money issues. Also, the school bus passes should be available to use longer during the days and even the weekends, so students can get to where they have to go.

Quartez Massenburg, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Deal with sinkholes

Everyday on my way to school it is hard for me to walk to the light rail. I live downtown by Lexington Market. It's hard for me to maneuver to the light rail because there are so many pipes laying around Franklin Street [due to the sinkholes], so it's hard for me to cross the street. These pipes have been lying on the street for about six months now, and the only thing the city has done is put ramps over them to get to the other side of the street. However, that takes more time, which makes me miss the light rail. This ultimately makes me late for school, and I end up with detention.

Dashana Davis, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Reduce crime surrounding college campuses

Crime surrounding college campuses is a big issue that needs to be addressed in Baltimore City. Baltimore is the home of many great universities such as Morgan State, Johns Hopkins, UMBC, etc., and they are filled with many talented and intelligent students. However, a lot of these students are harassed or killed either on campus, or in surrounding neighborhoods off-campus. Parents send their children to school to be successful not to be shot and left for dead in the street. I have lost so many friends due to the violence surrounding college campuses. I want my peers to live to see graduation.

Ja'Von Hill, Morgan State University

Fix public transportation with real-time information

As a student with many important things to do and many important places to be, I would really like to see Baltimore implement a transportation system that works. Clean, reliable buses. And a bus-tracking system that tells me more than when my bus is scheduled to arrive. If I'm already standing at the bus stop, I know when my bus is supposed to get there. What I'm looking for in that moment—what I'm frantically scrolling through my phone for—is real-time information. I want to know if the bus is late (or if it came early and I already missed it), and whenever I check, most of what I see is marked with a little (s)—for scheduled. Does the schedule know about Baltimore's ever-changing and omnipresent construction/detour situation? Does it take rain/traffic/city events into account? I just want to get where I'm going.

Sam Shelton, Towson University

Essential, effective, and functional public services

This lack of services effects the health, well-being, and quality of life of all city residents, but those outside of the “White L” in particular. Stop giving developers huge tax breaks. Make them pay what they owe and use those funds to put trashcans on city corners, to stop sewage from backing into peoples' homes, to ensure every resident has access to clean, affordable water. Let's invest in infrastructure before Baltimore becomes one big sinkhole.

Susie Hinz, UMBC alumna

First 100 Days

The media weighs in with fixes for city problems

Bring meaningful sex ed to all city middle schools and high schools

“Less than 50 percent [of city schools] actually have reproductive health ed or sex ed being taught,” Rebecca Dineen, assistant commissioner for the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health at Baltimore City Health Department, told City Paper in February.

But help is on the way.

The federal government gave Baltimore an $8.5 million federal grant to address the crisis. The money went to the Health Department and the U Choose Coalition, a group that includes the Baltimore City Schools, Planned Parenthood of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University Center for Adolescent Health, Healthy Teen Network, Family League of Baltimore, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Behavioral Health System Baltimore, and a network of seven Title X clinics.

The plan is for a new sex ed curriculum called “Making Proud Choices” to be in every high school across the city. It's a good curriculum; it goes beyond the nuts and bolts of reproduction and birth control and disease to build in time for discussion about healthy decision-making, sexuality, identity, pleasure.

The new mayor, who appoints people (along with the governor) to the Board of School Commissioners must make sure they are strong advocates for sex education.

Karen Houppert, Editor, City Paper

Stop courting the county and outsiders

Baltimore policy is seemingly powered by a mix of borderline apartheid policies (to keep out of towners and White L-dwellers who mostly despise the city comfortable) and denial (we are not few gentrification steps away from being the next Seattle or whatever, we are a very interesting but scrappy, shitty little city and that's what make us pretty great). If the mayor and city council stopped focusing on how the city “looks” to the tourists who come here a couple times a month maybe, there could be more investment in Baltimore as a whole—with a focus on East and West—and less money sent in support of the shallow rewards that downtown offers up. Keeping up appearances dominates how things are run in this city and if we had a mayor and a city council that could shake this impulse to court the county, we could more easily admit and understand the systemic problems with police (laid out in a DOJ report), stop vilifying teens (especially dirt bikers), properly confront the causes and significance of the Baltimore Uprising, and lift long-suffering, oft-divested neighborhoods up. A byproduct of all this by the way, would probably be more tourists.

Brandon Soderberg, Deputy Editor, City Paper

Get serious about homeless crisis

“Housing first” is both a strategy and a slogan, but in Baltimore it has been mainly the latter. The new mayor should get serious about the 3,000 or so people who still live on the street. The city has the capacity to house all of its people; it just wastes millions on programs and systems that do everything but provide the poor with heated shelter and running water. This is true nation-wide, of course. But the problem in Baltimore—a city with cheap land and many viable buildings sitting vacant—is acute, and eminently solvable.

Edward Ericson Jr., Senior Staff Writer, City Paper

Find the funding to maintain the Circulator bus

Well Mayor, your predecessor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, punted on dealing with the funding troubles for the Charm City Circulator, the city's free bus system. So it falls to you. In July, after the City Council declined to raise the parking tax to pay for it, Rawlings-Blake suggested the system would have to be reduced. This would be a mistake. While critics rightly lament the Circulator's exclusive domain in the city's White L, a ride on the service shows it is used by a diverse group of people. It's a quick way to get around downtown and seems more reliable than the MTA network of buses, which is currently undergoing an overhaul. Find the funding to keep the current system intact, and if the situation presents itself, expand the Circulator further.

Brandon Weigel, Blogs Editor, City Paper

Tackle sexual assault and abuse

Dear mayor,

Sexual assault and domestic violence are pervasive issues all around our country, and they're problems with deep roots and too many offshoots. Locally, we saw this plainly in the Department of Justice's August 2016 report on the Baltimore Police Department's numerous failures—in particular, with the way it handles sexual assault and abuse claims (especially for more vulnerable communities, like sex workers). While an overhaul of the police department may not fall directly within the mayor's grasp, you can certainly take a public stand against perpetuating rape culture and helping work towards shifting the culture of victim blaming to survivor support. One tangible way to show support would be by working with groups that advocate for survivors, such as Power Inside, Baltimore Transgender Alliance, Turn Around, House of Ruth, as well as FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, which, through a combination of art and activism, has shown the power of creating public spaces for healing for survivors of sexual assault and abuse. The potential for a positive, survivor-supportive change is great when we all have to reckon—publicly, vocally, emotionally—with this issue that affects everybody.

Rebekah Kirkman, Visual Arts Editor, City Paper

Make arts education integral in the schools

For leaders of this city, the arts have been a tool for economic development—or just a talking point. While the ingenuity of Baltimore's varied artist communities can “put us on the map” via brief festivals and other spectacles, there are more pressing purposes the arts must serve with the continuous support of the city. Extensive art education must be on par with math, English, and science at public schools all over the city, especially east and west Baltimore, which are home to skilled artists who have already shaped this city substantially. These artists need full-time teaching jobs, and students need art education—not just to give them something to do, but to give them purpose and a sense of self. Beyond the classroom, Baltimore residents need their local club, theater, art gallery, and community center for the same reasons; if nothing else, to help them persevere. These institutions—small, large, and yet to open—need to be equally recognized and supported by the city not as an economic sector but as essential pieces of the Baltimore's history and sustainability.

Maura Callahan, Performing Arts Editor, City Paper

Embrace transparency

Dear incoming mayor:

You're coming into office with a host of problems ready and waiting for you. As you go about this work, remember the important role that this city's journalists play. As you've no doubt noticed, a few of this city's leaders had some transparency problems this year. The Baltimore City Police Department struggled with how much to tell the city about their aerial surveillance program and the last person to hold your job didn't much appreciate a local reporter asked pressing questions, and banned him from a weekly press event. Don't make those mistakes. Respect the people of this city enough to allow them access to as much information as possible.

Lisa Snowden-McCray, Associate Editor and Eats and Drinks Editor, City Paper

Own Up!

Baltimore is world renowned for cleaning up, covering up, patching up, but not owning up to the many deficiencies in our city until it's too late. This allowed a riot to happen. Long term, it allowed a 21-year difference in life expectancy between people in poor neighborhoods and affluent neighborhoods, but there is one Baltimore? Our new mayor and council must have a new proactive approach to addressing the challenges that plague our communities before they are exacerbated. Come December, let's have our new leaders evaluate their actions and our city's direction ahead of time in order to enhance the quality of life for all Baltimoreans.

Kenneth Stone Breckinridge, Editorial Assistant/Researcher

Eliminate gridlock

There are three improvements that would make those who have to commute via car very happy. 1. Blocking the Box: Washington D.C. has pretty much conquered its traffic gridlock at intersections by issuing $500 tickets for anyone who's blocking an intersection during a red light. We need a comprehensive program and enforcement to resolve this issue here in Baltimore. 2. Fix the signal patterns: Baltimore lights are notoriously out of sync and cost drivers a lot of time and gas. The new mayor needs to commission a real stop light study and come up with a better sync system. 3. Audit D.O.T.: I would love to drive the mayor around in a car that's not a limo or SUV and really see how bad the state of the roads are citywide. Especially after something underneath has been repaired. Really, the patch jobs are sometimes worse than the natural deterioration of roads by general wear and the environment.

J.M. Giordano, Photo Editor, City Paper

Be a mayor for the whole city

Even if only to boost your image, I'd like to see you in random places throughout the city, not just in Canton, Fells Point, downtown or midtown. Speak to the comptroller or whoever you need to reach out to to get the ball rolling on a dirt bike park. Dirt bikes are just as much a cultural staple as crab cakes and Natty Boh's are in Baltimore. Facilitate a safe space for riders to ride.

Reginald Thomas II, Photographer/Reporter, City Paper

Get rid of all the PR bullshit

City government is not about making the city seem bright and shiny and good to outsiders. It is about making the city livable for the people who are here, not creating good publicity in order to counteract “The Wire” and bring in the mythical 10,000 families. Get rid of all the PR bullshit. Don't lie and don't hide. Don't ban reporters. The city will look good if it works good. Until then, we all gotta try together and fail together and fuck up together. That requires you trust yourself enough to be transparent with the press and the public.

Baynard Woods, Editor at Large, City Paper

Create a bike-able city, even for children

Dear Mayor:

Every child should be able to walk or ride a bicycle to school safely and with joy. This requires safe streets and sidewalks accessible to cyclists and pedestrians, trees and plants along the way, neighbors who know and greet each other, community schools that are supported to meet the myriad needs of families, and concrete ways out of poverty. Big stuff, I know, but start somewhere, beat those wings in the direction of this vision. Plant a tree today, and then figure out how to redistribute some city wealth to those who need, and so know best what they need.

Kate Drabinski, Contributing Writer, City Paper

Honor Tupac Shakur and reading as revolutionary

One of the great American artists of the 20th century began his artistic journey in Baltimore. The songwriter and actor Tupac Shakur lived here from 1984-1988 and to millions of people has become a unique symbol of the relationship between social consciousness and art. A recent article in the Baltimore Sun reported that “more than half of Maryland students failed to meet standards for English and reading.” We can “rebrand” learning by using Tupac as a symbol of reading as a revolutionary act and method of weaponizing the mind as a tool of self-defense. At the age of 13 Tupac sat on the stoop at 3955 Greenmount Avenue reading by the light of city street lamps because his home had no electricity. Though his short life ended tragically, he is a shining example of someone who turned the disadvantage of poverty into a resource. Please pass a resolution designating June 16 “Tupac Shakur Day” in Baltimore.

Travis Kitchens, Contributing Writer, City Paper

Hold officials' feet to the fire

Dear everybody who protested the Port Covington TIF, police brutality, #StopFOP, #AFROMATION, the people who week in/out organize West Wednesdays, the people who work for affordable housing and tenant's rights, the end of cash bail/bond, equity in public-private resources like BikeShare, advocate for neighborhood land banks, and so many other organizers that demand a long-overdue disruption of 40 years of central Baltimore economic development models that further cleaved the socioeconomic inequality that redlining stoked:

Don't stop.

Our new mayor and council members need to be reminded that the election only begins their jobs. The rest of us do, too.

Bret McCabe, Contributing Writer, City Paper

Support the Tubman House

The new administration should guarantee that the Tubman House will stay standing and unbothered. Carl Stokes had it right: the organizers of the house could do more good with $5000 than Under Armour can with $500 million, and anyone who doubts that must not get out enough. They're rehabbing a vacant row house, giving away school supplies, throwing cookouts, growing a beautiful garden, bringing neighbors together—in short, they're serving citizens in ways the city stopped doing long ago, or never did in the first place. The city needs to let them be so they can do the work.

Andrew Holter, Contributor, City Paper

Bring Back The Poet Laureate

New Baltimore Leadership,

It's time to reestablish the position of poet laureate of Baltimore.

I know that poetry can seem like luxury in times of crisis, but we're the town that gave the world Afaa Michael Weaver (and took from it Edgar Allen Poe). We're a city that shook up the spoken-word scene this year with two national championships. Baltimore is a literary city.

I know that poetry isn't going to fix all the city's troubles. Poems aren't stopping bullets or the displacement of gentrification, but for some folks out here, poems are armor.

Let's show the world that here in Baltimore, we grow poets.

Anthony Moll, Contributor, City Paper

Change the way we create housing for the vulnerable

The revelations we've all heard about the conditions that people in Baltimore's public housing have to live with are shocking. It's clear that this is an aspect of our society that is no longer prioritized by government. With the coming influx of state support for the demolition and stabilization of vacant properties here, the City has an opportunity to try to change the way we create housing for the vulnerable among us. Combine Project CORE's funding for neighborhoods with other proposals like community land trusts, and launch a TIF initiative to invest in housing in Baltimore - not just on the waterfront, but everywhere.

Fred Scharmen, professor at Morgan State University's School of Architecture and Planning and City Paper Contributor

Embrace visionary leadership

Dear New Mayor of Baltimore City,

The problem for which I offer what I believe to be the most sustainable solution is that of uniting our “two cities” into the one city it should have always been but never was. I implore whomever you are to focus on creating bonds based on our common interests and pride in being from Baltimore to build bridges across communities that will improve our economy, public safety, and access to information. Baltimore can be better but it will take visionary leadership to achieve our greatest potential. I am willing to help.


Catalina Byrd, WEAA radio host

Move $100 million from police budget to Safe Streets program, refocus priorities

Violence in our communities, police misconduct and addressing dire poverty in this city should be the top priorities.

Start by taking $100 million out of police budget it put into Safe Streets, the women in Out for Justice and Power Inside to be violence interrupters, mediators, health workers and organizers in communities suffering from violence and poverty. Let them be the first responders to stop violence. For non-violent offenses let us turn to Community Conferencing and Mediation not incarceration. Let them use schools & rec centers 24/7 as neighborhood anchors. Then the police can work closely with communities to solve real crimes.

The bottom line measurement for all city investments must be racial equity and the effect they have on the poorest communities in housing, jobs, arts & culture. Period, otherwise they don't get done.

Marc Steiner, President/Executive Producer, Center for Emerging Media, host of The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA FM 88.9 FM and Sound Bites

Support Mr. Trash Wheel—and the Professor

The Waterfront Partnership announced not too long ago that the beloved Mr. Trash Wheel will soon be joined by Professor Trash Wheel, though “she” will be in Canton, not quite in the Inner Harbor like the current machine.

One of the best things that Baltimore's new mayor could do to support our city would be to give full, un-ironic support to the trash wheels and other projects to clean up the harbor. While Baltimore is a diverse city, both in population and economics, it's impossible to deny that a clean harbor (and, hopefully, a clean Chesapeake Bay) would be good for Baltimore's morale, economy and national reputation.

Cody Boteler, Editor, The Towerlight, Towson University