Stokes criticizes city for failing to resolve issues

Mayoral candidate notes homeowner's problems

May 05, 1999|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Pointing to a leaky and cracking rowhouse the city damaged two years ago, mayoral hopeful Carl Stokes criticized Baltimore officials yesterday for failing to fix such problems and provide a more consumer-friendly government.

"I am outraged that after two years, the city still has not resolved these issues," Stokes said from a podium outside the East Baltimore home of William Gray, 52, in the 200 block of Montford Ave. Government is "not an employer. It's a service entity."

Gray's home was damaged when contractors for the city demolished three rowhouses next to his two years ago. The city constructed a support wall for Gray's home but left cracks in the building.

The city also wrongly charged Gray $2,354 for the wall and attached liens to his property when he didn't pay. With interest, the debt has reached $2,800. Though the city has promised to erase the debt and fix his house, Gray fears it will be sold at a city tax sale May 17 to 20.

"I'm very annoyed about it," Gray said. "This should have been resolved two years ago."

Zack Germroth, spokesman for the city housing department, said Gray is being removed from the tax sales list and repairs to his home should begin in a week or two. Germroth said the city has been working with Gray and wants to find the best way to resolve the problem.

"I told a representative of Mr. Stokes that, at this point, [Gray] should pretty much ignore the bill he has," the spokesman said. "And we have a contractor ready, willing and able to do the work."

Stokes said Gray's troubles reflect systemic city government problems. If elected mayor, he said, he plans to work with residents to help rebuild Baltimore's communities.

"The government is not us and them," Stokes said. "It's we. I will be the No. 1 servant. We're talking about a consumer-friendly government."

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