Charging that "the federal government has abandoned its moral responsibility to America's cities," Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke appealed yesterday for a spirit of volunteerism to help Baltimore through difficult times and become "America's most livable city."
"Now I want to spread [the] fever of self-help," Mayor Schmoke told a gathering of about 150 young executives whom he had invited to Southwestern High School to hear his speech. "I am calling on everyone who lives or works here to join me in making sure that the sun rises higher and brighter than ever over Baltimore."
The executives were the remnants of a larger group that met in the summer of 1990 to create a vision for Baltimore's future. Their eventual proposals were rather utopian.
For example, they proposed that Baltimore public schools improve so much that private schools would be out of business by the year 2020.
Mayor Schmoke asked them to reconvene yesterday and hold brainstorming sessions on new issues he put before them, including the fight against AIDS, making downtown Baltimore more desirable for residents, minority business development, and promotion of regional cooperation among jurisdictions in the metropolitan area.
Involving those outside government in such discussions, the mayor insisted in his speech, was "not an abdication of local government's responsibility. In 1991, uniting, directing and leading a partnership between the city and its constituent communities . . . is local government's responsibility."
With a week to go before the Democratic mayoral primary, Mr. Schmoke used the occasion to outline his priorities for a second term. As always, education was first.
He said he would continue to seek decentralization of the administration of city schools, giving parents and communities a greater voice in the operation of their neighborhood schools. He also said he hoped that every school would be adopted by a Baltimore business, which could help provide resources and volunteers to those schools. And he said he would seek more state funding for the Baltimore system.