Baltimore gets a B+ for transparency

January 24, 2013|Eileen Ambrose

When it comes to disclosing to residents how their city’s money is spent, Baltimore rates a grade of B+, one of the highest grades among 30 cities in a new report released by the Maryland PIRG Foundation. Only three cities received an A: Chicago, New York and San Francisco, with the first two singled out as models for the rest of the nation’s cities.

The report issued grades based on the ability of city residents to be able to track budgets, contracting grants and requests for quality-of-life services.

Baltimore received a score of 89, or a B+ — the highest score among the Bs. Baltimore spent $24,000, or 3.9 cents per resident, to make its website transparent, the report said.

According to the report: “Five cities – Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, San Antonio and Washing­ton, DC – have made government spending information available online, but the data are either slightly more limited or more diffi­cult to access than the spending data in Leading cities.”

Researchers gave five cities an F — Atlanta, Detroit, St. Louis, Sacramento, and in last place, Cleveland.  

“Baltimore’s performance in our study makes clear that spending transparency can be achieved by cities of all sizes. The city scored better than many other cities with significantly larger budgets and populations,” said Laura Muth, associate with Maryland PIRG, said in a statement.

Though Baltimore got a good grade, there is room for improvement, Maryland PIRG said. The city, for instance, should provide more in formation on tax incentives, such as the benefits specific companies receive, the group said.

Ironically, this report came out the same day that a frequent critic of the mayor was arrested for trying to enter city hall.

Update: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s press secretary Ian Brennan called to say that the critic was not removed on the mayor’s orders, but that it was the result of the police handling a police issue. And, he added, it has nothing to do with the “mayor’s insistence on transparency.”

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