Democrat Stokes promises accountability

September 09, 1999

This is an edited excerpt of the response from Democratic Baltimore mayoral candidate Carl Stokes to a Sun questionnaire. Other Democratic responses were published earlier this week. Republican candidate responses will run tomorrow.

On mayoral style: As a council member, I was both public servant and coalition builder. When a problem arises, I will bring all parties to the table until a solution is found.

Leverage will be my modus operandi. That means every city dollar spent will be used to attract private, state and federal dollars. I will be Baltimore's representative in Annapolis. I will give city departments the authority that they need to be responsive and accountable.

Finally, the people of Baltimore will know who I am. My motto will be "management by walking around." I will spend my time out of the office persuading businesses to relocate to Baltimore, walking the streets and alleys of our neighborhoods. Lee Iacocca is an inspiration to me because I believe I can do for Baltimore what he did for Chrysler Corp. He turned around a large, complex enterprise, just as I plan to turn around a large, complex city. He had the vision and skill to foster new ideas that made a fundamental difference in his business. And he is known for straight talking, keeping his word.

On privatization: Phoenix and Indianapolis demonstrate the ability of competition to concentrate an organization's attention on what the customers need and want; in our case, this is a reliable supply of public services, responsiveness to citizen problems and questions, and costs that are justifiable by quality and quantity of services delivered.

For a start, we will use service benchmarks from other cities as a basis for evaluating how Baltimore is doing and where we should focus on making improvements. One method of making improvements is to let the private sector say what it can do and then give it a shot at doing it.

However, city departments must be allowed to compete on equal footing with private providers of services. This means allowing managers to reward their staff for good work and to be rewarded themselves when they have exceeded their objectives, and to make changes in their operations when such changes will improve their performance.

Second, private providers have to be held strictly accountable when they take on a service contract.

On criticism in Annapolis of Baltimore's use of state money: At least annually, we will publish a report on our performance. This monitoring system will improve the city's management and demonstrate to others that we are doing a good job. While the city is no longer the center of the state's economy, we still play a major role in making the state an attractive place to live, work and visit.

On regional cooperation, tax-base sharing and a commuter tax: We have to begin fixing our own problems if we are to expect real cooperation among all of the parts of the region. Tax-base sharing and commuter taxes are two of several mechanisms that other cities have used to give regional cooperation some real meaning.

Experiences in such places as Minneapolis and Cincinnati make it very clear that implementing any such voluntary transfer of tax money among local jurisdictions is a big challenge. The joint Baltimore-Washington bids for federal investment in high-speed trains and to host the 2012 Olympics are opportunities for us to learn how to work together better.

Democratic candidates Phillip A. Brown Jr., Robert S. Cunningham, Charles A. Dugger, Vincent P. Fullard, John W. Hahn, Bernard J. Kempa Sr., Sandra F. Okwaye and William E. Roberts Sr. did not respond to The Sun's questionnaire.

Pub Date: 9/09/99

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