Mayor: GOP offers criticisms, Democrats offer solutions [Letter]

February 24, 2014

Baltimore's biggest challenge is not the magnitude of the problems we face but rather the pessimistic attitudes of those only offering criticism instead of solutions.

Anne Arundel County Republican strategist Brian Griffiths was the latest example in Thursday's Red Maryland column criticizing Baltimore's Democratic mayors ("City mayors don't focus on city," Feb. 21). He wrote a lot of partisan bluster attacking Democrats but presented no ideas on how to fix problems.

This was a page taken right out of the national Republican playbook, in which the GOP focuses on political attacks while Democrats are hard at work expanding access to health care and fighting to increase the minimum wage.

Anyone can criticize and tear something down, but it takes leadership to build, and that is what we are doing in Baltimore.

Together, we have closed historic budget deficits without drastic reductions in city services.

We've reformed our fire and police pension system, avoiding a potential $165 million liability to taxpayers.

Long before Detroit went bankrupt, Baltimore was hard at work implementing our 10-year financial plan — closing $400 million of a $750 million structural deficit.

We've cut property taxes for homeowners while climbing out of the national recession, and the city continues to welcome thousands of new jobs.

Systemic problems such as inaccurate tax bill calculations and unreliable water meter billing are being met head-on, and residents will continue to see more positive changes as we modernize both systems.

Thanks to the $1.1 billion investment we secured in school renovation funds, Baltimore City Public School students will benefit from approximately 30 to 35 new and modernized school structures — perhaps the largest legislative achievement in the city's history.

In Baltimore, we do not sugarcoat our problems. Rather, we acknowledge our challenges, roll up our sleeves and continue to work because that is what leadership requires.

We haven't yet solved all of our problems, but we are making steady progress each and every day.

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore

The writer, a Democrat, is mayor of Baltimore.

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