Sheila Dixon: Baltimore isn't perfect but it's getting better [Letter]

Daniel Patrick Moynihan said famously that everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. Such is the case with Brian Griffiths' "City mayors don't focus on city" (Feb. 20), which expresses a range of opinions without any supporting evidence. Mr. Griffiths covers the period between 2000 and today, spanning three mayoral administrations. Yes, Baltimore is far from perfect — too many are without jobs, our city has too much violence, and the scourge of drug addiction destroys too many lives — but living in Baltimore is objectively better today than in 2000. We are healthier and safer compared to the prior two decades, and relative to other Rust Belt cities that are still grappling with massive deindustrialization, population decline and loss of federal funding, Baltimore has fared well.

With 16 universities and hospitals, Baltimore City is making the transition to a knowledge-based economy. Between 2000 and 2013, Baltimore's property and income tax receipts grew by more than 60 percent. Population loss during that period slowed to a crawl. Average housing values climbed 61 percent. The city's job base has largely recovered from the huge Great Recession losses. Benefiting from national demographic trends favoring cities, Baltimore's downtown has the eighth largest population, in front of San Diego, Washington D.C. and Denver, with an average income of $67,000. There are more positive trends.

Good people in all sectors — government, non-profits and businesses in the private sector — are all working hard to make Baltimore City a better place. Nationally recognized programs are making a difference in people's lives. In Park Heights, the Center for Urban Families is strengthening urban communities by helping fathers and families achieve stability and economic success. The Incentive Mentoring Partnership helps hundreds of underperforming high school students by providing each one with a family of committed volunteers. Their actions should not be diminished by a broadside indictment of Baltimore or its leadership.

We are all served better by an honest and balanced assessment of where Baltimore City is today — facing up to our problems, accepting responsibility for our mistakes and celebrating our achievements. It is my hope we can continue to make our Baltimore community stronger through both honest assessment and fundamental respect for each other.

Sheila Dixon, Baltimore

The writer is the former mayor of Baltimore.

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