New CitiStat director pledges improvements, transparency

After two years of failing to post CitiStat reports online — and nearly two months without holding a meeting — Baltimore has named a new CitiStat director, who is pledging better transparency and performance from the vaunted good-government program.

Chad Kenney, who was named director in August after two years as an analyst for the program, has made five reports available on the city's website, tracking the performance of the Departments of Transportation and General Services. He has also begun holding regular sessions to discuss agencies' performance.

City Councilman Brandon Scott said he was glad to hear the documents would be posted online because residents want to make sure the program is doing its job of holding bureaucrats accountable.

"The public wants to know the CitiStat data," Scott said. "They want to see how their taxpayer dollars are being used."

In August, The Baltimore Sun noted that not a single report had been posted during Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's tenure as mayor.

By comparison, StateStat — run by Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration, which created CitiStat more than a decade ago during his tenure as mayor — has posted 70 reports online this year.

CitiStat tracks the performance of general services, water and wastewater, fire, health, housing, police, recreation and parks and transportation agencies, and each is supposed to be regularly analyzed. Meetings to track the city's cleanliness, gun violence, homelessness and domestic violence are also supposed to be frequently held.

Kenney said CitiStat didn't meet for about six weeks in May and June after former Deputy Mayor Christopher Thomaskutty — who had run the program for years — left to take a job at Mercy Medical Center, and his successor, Yolanda Jiggetts, suffered from health issues and ultimately stepped down.

The city allowed Baltimore Sun reporter to attend a recent meeting of CleanStat, the program that tracks cleanliness, to assess how the program was operating under its new director. At the meeting, city officials focused on problems of getting high weeds and grass cut on city-owned properties.

They posted pictures of lots in disarray and asked why the problem hadn't been fixed more quickly. With Rawlings-Blake looking on, Kenney, Chief of Staff Alexander Sanchez and Deputy Mayor Robert Maloney told staffers they wanted citizen complaints about high grass fixed within 25 days instead of the previous standard of 45.

"A citizen just wants to see the grass cut," Kenney said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Scott Calvert contributed to this article.

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