Pursuing city-county goals

Regionalism: O'Malley, Ruppersberger join forces against metropolitan crime and blight.

February 18, 2000

IN THE PAST, Baltimore and Baltimore County have paid mere lip service to regional cooperation. But by unveiling an unprecedented joint legislative agenda, Mayor Martin O'Malley and Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger are taking concrete steps that may lead to real joint efforts.

They support bills that would:

Form a city-county task force that would serve 61,000 outstanding warrants for offenses ranging from murder to shoplifting. The task force has a $5.8 million price tag.

Suspend driver's licenses and refuse car registration for individuals with outstanding arrest warrants and deadbeats who don't pay child support.

Combat thefts by requiring pawn and precious metal shops to digitally register and report all consignments.

Speed up appeals hearings on housing code violations.

Extend state-funded streetscape projects that straddle city-county boundaries.

If these measures are passed, they'll likely be successful. The regional auto theft task force, formed just a few years ago, proves as much.

It dramatically reduced the ability to steal cars in one jurisdiction and hide in another.

It is stupifying that these kinds of common-sense solutions to regional problems have occurred only so recently -- not just between the city and Baltimore County, but also between the city and other suburban jurisdictions. For example, it was only about five years that city and county police authorized the pursuit of cross-jurisdictional crimes.

In the metropolitan context, boundaries are becoming meaningless.

"The bad guys pay no attention to the borders, why we should we pay attention?" Mr. O'Malley said.

Exactly. Now, he and other local officials now must ensure that their colleagues in Annapolis back this long overdue agenda.

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