The meeting was called to order at 7:05. There were 24 participants in attendance.
Of the 136 names on the membership roster, 93 are active members (68%).
8 new members joined over the summer months (June - August) with 3 joining in September so far.
A total of 37 new members have joined in 2021
The Neighborhood Engagement Survey is still open and will be through September. This will help provide a better insight to the makeup of the neighborhood and provide feedback on how the association and better serve you! Anyone who not taken it is encouraged to do so.
The next dumpster day is Monday, September 20 as the makeup from the canceled August day.
Upcoming Fall Events
Movie Night on October 2 in the Fagley/Dillon Lot sponsored by PowerFest a local nonprofit. The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown at 7PM followed by E.T The Extra-Terrestrial. Also on the movie night, BHN will have a small pumpkin patch for kids to get a pumpkin. Check out our Facebook page for more information.
Halloween Kid & Pet Parade on October 31 at the Fagley & Dillon Lot. Time TBD so check out our Facebook page.
Events - November and December
BHN will again support the Southeastern Baltimore Police District's Thanksgiving food give-a-way. Last day, BHN business helped provide over 100 turkeys.
The annual adopt-a-family and toy drive for Graceland Park children will start up in mid-November. Check out our Facebook page for more information and details on the children's Christmas list. It's always a great event to bring some cheer to families in need.
BHN Bag Review - a big thanks to everyone who supported this fundraiser. 91 bags were sold in 29 days and someone just purchased a bag during the meeting. With another purchase the day after, there are now 3 bags left. Get yours today!
Next meeting - November 9 at 7PM where the election of new officers for the open positions of VP, Secretary, and 3 At-Large members will take place.
NOMINATIONS OF BOARD MEMBERS
Nominations were heard for the open positions of VP, Secretary, and the 3 At-Large members. There were 9 nominations submitted online. Two people were nominated by another residents, and those nominations were accepted.
Before reading the submitted nominations, the question was asked for any nominations from the floor. The option was given for anyone that nominated themselves online to nominate themselves again live on the call.
The following nominations were received and seconded
Andy Flacks, current At-Large board member
Phil a'Becket, Inaugural VP. Nominated by another resident
Kate McCarthy, former At-Large board member and Secretary. Nominated by another resident
Mike Hardee, current At-Large board member
Donna Beitler, former Treasurer
Christian Bezirdjian - the second was pending his joining as an active member. Christian may not be on the final ballot
Each of the nominations shared a short bio of themselves. It was good to have some excitement for the upcoming election. Voting will occur in November where each nominated person must be in attendance.
Brandon M. Scott, Mayor, Baltimore City
Mayor Scott was thanked for attending the pet parade and costume contest over the summer in Brewers Hill. While the hope was to conduct the meeting up on the Natty Boh rooftop, out of caution from the COVID Delta variant, we remained on Zoom. Mayor Scott was introduced and welcomed back to Brewers Hill. He shared that he was disappointed that we could not be up on the roof as it is his favorite view of Baltimore.
He started the conversation about the city’s equitable approach to COVID to ensure all residents are being cared for. It was one of the reasons he instituted the indoor mask mandate again. He discussed a study from Hopkins School of Health stating that Baltimore City’s vaccination rate was in the top 3% of United States jurisdictions with similar population characteristics. In addition, the city is in the lowest 20% for cumulative COVID-19 incidence rate and lowest 30% for mortality rates.
Yesterday, September 13, the mayor released a plan of $641M of ARPA funding. Awards will focus on investments in the fight against COVID, violence reduction initiatives, economic recovery, workforce development, and broadband and digital equity. A portal will be open for organizations to apply and available for a transparent view of who is award and how the money is being spent. The newly created Office of Recovery Programs will manage the federal requirements associated with the funding. Starting October 1, nonprofit organizations can apply.
The mayor mentioned a plan to help residents to avoid eviction and keep people in place. The program will also work with both landlords and tenants to help settle debts and to help landlords as well.
He mentioned that most pressing issue has been violence. The mayor shared that the entirely of his life has seen violence as a major issue. Status quo resolutions have not worked. In July, he released his crime prevention plan which is broken into 3 pillars: public health approach to violence, interagency coordination, and evaluation and accountability. The mayor stated that the issue of violence cannot be put on the back of police officers. Other agencies are involved with violence and need to work to help. The plan is not a simple crime plan – there is a portion of the overall plan that deal withs crime and BPD will handle that, however, they must be expected to focus on their area and not handle all aspects that come in.
He discussed his 911 plan to now include a clinical portion so that the most appropriate resources are sent to crimes or emergencies that need them versus a police response to then call for additional help. A gun data portal has been established which is real time for officers that help track down gun purchasers. In this year, 60% of guns recovered were from out of state, 84% outside Baltimore City.
Another big priority for Mayor Scott is to have a 21st century government. He pushed for a professional city administrator which is the practice is most major cities, including cities in Maryland, but not Baltimore. As an example, he mentioned that time sheets were filled out by hand when he took office. He said that people and structure must be in place to build an up-to-date, functional government.
Mayor Scott introduced Chris Shorter, the city administrator, and Chris then introduced himself on the call. Chris grew up in Detroit and came to Baltimore in January 2021 from Austin Tx where he was assistant city manager. Prior, he was director of public works in DC. He mentioned that the transition team was made up of many residents, and they are making sure they take the info and guidance from that team. Public Safety is the #1 priority. The goal is to make sure this is the government that this city needs and that the residents deserve. Admin Shorter said he is happy to be here and be part of the work.
After Administrator Shorter’s introduction, we move to a Q&A session.
Question: What is the plan for bulk trash to return. Mayor said we will hear very soon about bulk trash update. He said we should be very pleased with the announcement (note: the Mayor announced the very next day, September 15, that bulk trash would resume in October). He mentioned that DPW was hit harder from COVID than any other agency. They were able to get younger people in but also noticed they left quick. When asked, it was mainly because there were walking 3x as much mainly because of the shortage or folks working at home. A follow-up was made stating that on the Commissioner’s call, someone talked about a program of people returning from prison to train and work at DPW. The Mayor said they are doing that throughout the Solid Waste Bureau.
Question: What is state of downtown. What’s being done to revitalize downtown? Mayor said the reality is like many things in this city government, the non-decisions made has created pockets of development but not an overall plan. Harborplace is still the center piece to downtown and that needs to get into the hands of someone local to bring it back and be part of the downtown community. He compared it to Cross Keys which is now in the hands of a local development. He wants to do the same with Harbor Place. There will be an update on Harbor Place but not as soon as bulk trash but there will be an update soon.
Question: Regarding police not bearing sole responsibility – what about the city SAO role with non-prosecution of certain crimes? Recent crime in the area and with handguns was mentioned. Mayor said that he has heard for all his life that everyone is pointing at each other – SA, Police, Judges. At a meeting, he asked how many cases were nolle prosequi (no longer prosecuted) because of mistake of BPD (such as a report issue)? How many because SA didn’t do something correct? How many because case was transferred to the Feds. No one could answer any of the questions, and he asked how can you argue with each other if you don’t know the answers? Everyone needs to work in partnership. Mayor cannot say something is not his responsibility when it comes to crime and his expectation is that all other parties take the responsibility too. SA plays a big role but so does every other public safety agency. He believes the Criminal Justice Council (CJC) which both he and Gov. Hogan agree on is an important part of this resolution and for the council to take action.
Question: On lack of enforcement issues, BPD has limited officers on the street. Crime is trending down related to SAO new policy. But there is lack of confidence in the SAO and lack of crimes are not reported because they feel like nothing will happen. There is no accountability so that people feel safe. Criminals have the upper hand right now. Mayor first said he needs everything reported because that is important for him from PoliceStat meeting to know what is getting reported to then compare how it is addressed. He admitted that staffing for BPD is not where they need to be. Everyone wants BPD to be out on the street and interacting but also to prevent crime. But we need to alleviate what we are asking them to do. Some of the requests need to be unloaded so that officers are not just call takers going to call to call to call. But so many calls go to BPD and they should never go there such as calls before someone’s boyfriend is cheating on them. He mentioned that BPD districting was last done in the 50s and said that you cannot expect the needs from the 50s to be effective for 2021. Also there needs to be swift action, getting back to the SAO and judges, and is something that mayor and commissioner talk about it all the time.
Question: Department of Housing budget was grounded last year and a now retired worker, George Kirk was a great resource to neighborhood issues and to advocate at other agencies who needed to get involved. There needs to be budgeting for housing to help with communities. The Mayor understood the concern but said part of that is working to have a better structure so that the agency can work for neighbors for more effectively across the entire agency. Admin Shorter said they will start doing community surveys soon (sort of like a report card) to assess how agencies are working for residents. Also doing this with 311 to get feedback from residents using 311 for help.
Question: Regarding COVID relief funds, what’s the intention of transparency and audit of those funds. The Mayor created an office for recovery and committed to quarterly public review with the council. Because it’s federal money, city must report quarterly anyway. Portal will show what proposals were accepted, rejected, and how money was spent. You can review the website here.
Question: Regarding the IG and how the advisory board seems to want to limit her actions.
The Mayor agrees with the actions of the IG. Regarding the advisory board, the Mayor mentioned that the IG voted for this oversight body.
Question: Regarding Haven Street Traffic. Admitted that it is outside of Mayor’s purview, but DOT treats it like a non-entity and does nothing about it despite BHN’s numerous meetings with DOT about traffic calming and correct detouring. Mayor was asked to have the opportunity to speak with someone from the Mayor’s office to address some of these issues because of the development going on and its direct proximity to the neighborhood. A common theme is that DOT is reactive and BHN has been pushing for more proactive measures and DOT has been dismissive at times. We understand that there is a lot going on in the city, but we just need some attention on ongoing problems that just do not get addressed. Mayor mentioned he was in city government in 2008 as a staffer and that was the last time traffic calming was discussed. He understands the need to look at this better. BHN board will be in touch to follow-up.