Stokes proposes $1 ticket tax to support recreation centers

Mayoral candidate seeks Camden Yards surcharge

May 12, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Baltimore mayoral candidate Carl Stokes is calling for a $1-per-ticket tax on Camden Yards sporting events to help pay for city recreation centers.

Standing outside the Tuerk House rehabilitation center in West Baltimore, the former city councilman offered the idea as part of his crime-fighting plan. Stokes noted that during the past two years, the city has closed 18 recreation centers, choosing instead to turn over many of the duties to the Police Athletic League.

Baltimore has slashed $15 million from the city parks and recreation budget in the past three years, services that can help prevent crime, Stokes said. Stokes called Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the new $220 million PSI Net Stadium, paid for through state lottery proceeds, the city's "two major recreation centers downtown."

"We cannot solve crime simply by law enforcement," Stokes said.

A former city school board member, Stokes also said that he would restore power to the Mayor's Coordinating Council on Criminal Justice. Under the administration of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, the council's power was reduced to applying for state and federal grants.

Stokes said that he would be chairman of the coordinating council to restore the concept intended by former Mayor William Donald Schaefer, who created the council to ensure that city police, prosecutors, judges, jailers and probation officers work together.

Stokes also criticized paying city police officers overtime to attend court hearings, many of which are postponed. At recent City Council hearings, police administrators noted that department overtime has exceeded budget projections by $3 million since July.

Stokes suggested creating a police liaison with the court to alert officers when cases are postponed.

Pub Date: 5/12/99

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