2016 Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire

Bill Marker sent this Questionnaire to
party-affiliated Baltimore Mayoral Candidates in 2016.
Commenting on the Questionnaire,
journalist Fraser Smith called Bill Something of a Super Citizen.

1) Fair Property Taxation: One major problem facing Baltimore City is our high property tax rate. Our rate is so high because the State of Maryland has set up a property tax system whereby 56% of the State’s population, including Baltimore City’s residents, subsidize the other 44% of the population. This is documented in my enclosed One State, One Rate! proposal. Will you, as Mayor, initiate and coordinate an effort with the leaders of the counties that are also harmed by our current property tax structure to move us to a fair structure?

2) Abandoning Our Neighborhoods: The Baltimore Sun on December 13, 2015 reported on Baltimore City’s housing program to move City residents, at significant cost to the city, away from troubled neighborhoods to suburban counties, thereby “Escaping the housing trap.” Similarly, after the April Uprising/Riot, there was discussion of enabling some individuals or groups to move away from distressed/troubled neighborhoods. See Dan Rodricks’ Baltimore Sun column of June 7. What is the effect of such subsidized escape on those neighborhoods? Should we move the jobs, not the people? Would it be better to spend those resources serving those neighborhoods and their residents?

3) History and Civics Education: Does focusing on STEM or STEAM education critically diminish vital knowledge of history and exercise of civics among our population?

4) City Elections: If Baltimore City, like all of Maryland’s counties, elected our leaders (Mayor and City Council) as part of the Gubernatorial election cycle, Baltimore City would likely have significantly more influence in elections for Governor/Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and Maryland Comptroller. Should we move our elections from the Presidential cycle to the Gubernatorial cycle?

5) Casino Neighborhoods Boundaries: Since the original establishment of the Baltimore Local Development Council, which recommends how the Casino Impact Funds should be spent, the allowable area for spending these funds has been expanded to the east and to the south, but not to the west and the north. Was this appropriate? If not, how will you revise the area of permissible expenditures?

6) Spending Casino Impact Funds Legally: The Casino Impact Funds are to be spent “for improvements primarily in the communities in immediate proximity” to the casino, MD Code, State Government, § 9-1A-31(b). Yet much of the impact funds to date, and as projected into the future, have been spent on the casino itself and on the city’s infrastructure improvements. Per my enclosed memo of October 30, 2014, I believe this spending is illegal. As Mayor, will you, per the statute, spend the casino impact funds legally, unlike the current administration? This would enable the neighborhoods to have millions to spend, rather than thousands.

7) Casino Impact Fund areas: Is it appropriate that, separate from the Baltimore Local Development Council, another part of Baltimore receives casino impact funds even though they are not near a casino?

8) Pigtown v. Washington Village: Will you officially and for all city purposes acknowledge that the community along Washington Boulevard between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Monroe Street is Pigtown, not Washington Village?

9) The Walters Bathhouse: Should the Walters Bathhouse, 904/906 Washington Boulevard, the last building to have served as a public bath house and long the organizational center of Pigtown, be allowed to leave public hands and stop serving a public function?

10) Pigtown Plaza: The property on the southwest corner of MLK and Washington Boulevards is greatly underused, though the existing businesses are important. Published plans of Pigtown Main Street (Pigtown Main Street Business District Strategic Plan December 2014, pages 84-86) and the Local Development Council (South Baltimore Gateway Master Plan 2015, labeled page 93) both enclosed, envision this corner as a major mixed-use Gateway Project, perhaps also including the property on the northwest corner. This was in significant part due to my Pigtown Plaza proposal. In addition to shopping, dining, parking and perhaps offices, the Project could include market rate housing serving faculty/staff at the adjacent University of Maryland, Baltimore and the University or Maryland Hospital and other downtown employment centers. Seniors with choice ready to give up stairs but not their community could also move to the Project. Would such a project be a priority for your administration, possibly partially financed by a loan of Casino Impact Funds?

11) Getting Over Martin Luther King Boulevard: The communities of the Southwest Partnership, as well as State Center and the communities to its south, need connection to the University of Maryland and downtown without the divide of Martin Luther King Boulevard. Acres of (elevated) land could be created and the divide literally overcome if structures were built over much of MLK Boulevard. Additionally, this might enable a higher use possible for the various parcels of undeveloped land along MLK. Is this an intriguing idea worth exploring by your administration?

12) Walking and Bicycling along Martin Luther King Boulevard: Will you encourage walking and bicycling on the path on the west of Martin Luther King Boulevard by:

  1. Ordering that snow and ice removal operations include the path sections in the shadow of the Highway to Nowhere overpass?
  2. Creating and maintaining a drain to end the pool of water that can exists for days south of Fayette Street? (Or redesign that section of the path)
  3. Restriping the pathway markings on crossing streets and ticketing motorists who block the path?
  4. Redesign the section of the path between Druid Hill and Madison to eliminate the constant dirt/mud?
  5. Replace the many missing bricks?
  6. Having tickets issued to drivers of vehicles that block the pathway when stopped by a red light?

13) Airplane Advertising: To relieve residents of incessant buzzing before sports events, should airplane advertising be prohibited near stadiums?