Tag: srb

You May Go Cross-Eyed Trying to Figure This One Out



Okay. So, back in April 2013 the city secretly hired an independent firm, URS, to conduct an audit of its 2012 speed camera system, the results of which have just recently come to light via the Baltimore Sun. Those results show an error rate much higher than was publicly stated — over 10 percent. That’s theoretically 70,000 erroneous tickets — $2.8 million in erroneous fines.

Soon after the results of the audit were seen by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, back in April, the city’s speed camera system was taken offline despite now being run by a new company, a move which Rawlings-Blake’s spokesman says makes it “clear we did take it seriously.

To counter that claim, we have Rawlings-Blake herself saying yesterday that the document she received from URS showed that  “the company was not sufficiently qualified to do a complete review.” She found Xerox’s self-audit — which produced a much lower error rate — more trustworthy. (Just so you know, the city recently rehired the not sufficiently qualified URS for “additional independent monitoring services.”)

Rawlings-Blake Goes on TV to Talk Up Obamacare



Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake returned to Meet the Press Sunday to defend Obamacare. Her appearance coincided with an announcement by the White House that, two months in, healthcare.gov is now “working smoothly for most users.” 

Hurrah. Victory.

It’s pretty hard to play this off as a triumph, and Rawlings-Blake wisely didn’t even try. “We know that the rollout was botched,” she conceded on the program. (Co-panelist Rep. Chris Van Hollen echoed her sentiment in a comment on Maryland’s state run exchange, stating flatly, “Maryland’s a mess. There’s no doubt about it.”)

Baltimore Taxi Services to Engage in ‘Civil Disobedience’ to Protest New Tax


Veolia Transportation launches Baltimore's first propoane-powered taxi fleet, May 11 2012.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s new taxi and limo tax of 25 cents per person, per trip is a key part of her overall revenue-generating strategy in the face of a property tax cut designed to lure more homeowners to the city. Baltimore’s Finance Department projects that the tax will raise $1.3 million for the city. That is, as long as the city’s taxi services actually pay it.

A group of “taxi, limousine, and for-hire sedan companies” that represents a large majority of private transportation vehicles in Baltimore have banded together with a vow to  fight the new tax with “civil disobedience” — they say they simply won’t pay it.

Baltimore Has Embraced Demolition but Doesn’t Want to Shrink



In an article in yesterday’s New York Times, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was quoted as saying, “I’m trying to grow the city, not get smaller.”

That comes as no surprise. By now we’re all familiar with Rawlings-Blake’s goal of attracting 10,000 new families to the city by 2023. But what’s interesting is Baltimore’s commitment to expansion given its simultaneous embrace of razing vacants to the ground. How attractive is a city that is tearing down building after empty building?

The trick is to turn demolition into a bold step forward, rather than a retreat. To that end, Baltimore has been offering many of the vacant lots to urban farming operations, like Boone Street Farm in Midway, which cultivates an eighth-acre site and sells the produce to local eateries and at farmers markets.

Ravens’ AFC Championship Win Brings Cannoli and Seafood to Baltimore’s Homeless



Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake raked in quite a spread of foods after winning a bet against Boston Mayor Thomas Menino over the outcome of the AFC championship game. Menino sent Rawlings-Blake a package that included “cannoli, ravioli, various packaged goods and an assortment of seafood, including mussels, scallops, oysters and four live lobsters.”