Innovative initiatives to grow Baltimore

Transition blueprint: In setting clear benchmarks

February 05, 2000

WHEN Mayor Martin O'Malley set up large transition committees after his November election, doubts were voiced about their usefulness. However, the reports they have submitted are surprisingly good. Best of all, the committees not only issued recommendations but set six-month, one-year and long-term priorities.

This kind of unambigious goal-setting is refreshing. The administration of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke might have been more successful had it set and monitored objectives during each of his three terms. That did not happen.

Mr. O'Malley's transition committees focused on 13 areas -- from education and public safety to recreation and finance. Some of the recommendations are obvious -- such as cracking down on crime or making the bureaucracy effective.

Others urge the mayor to pursue ambitious goals:

"Make a commitment to restoring the arts to the school system" a first-year goal, prods the education committee.

"Evaluate, modify and implement a rerouting plan for more efficient trash collection" during the first six months, exhorts the public works committee.

"Develop a data base to allow prospective buyers to view available properties on the Internet," suggests the housing committee.

"Hire a new director -- a stewardship leader and a creative and efficient manager" and "create a strong park board," goads the recreation and parks committee.

"Streamline bid and payment processes for public contracts," proposes the small and minority business committee.

"Start an annual regional music festival," says the arts committee.

Some committee reports are stronger than others. The health panel, for instance, could not come up with any one-year priorities. This underscores the importance of further prioritizing and follow-ups to make sure things get done.

The release of the committee reports marked transition's end for Mr. O'Malley. With the full Cabinet in place after the choice of Patricia J. Payne as housing commissioner, the routine of governing starts. In part, progress can be measured by how well the administration meets its self-imposed goals.

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