Issues Page and Vision for Baltimore, Harris For Baltimore

Vision For Baltimore

To unite a divided Baltimore and bring the city into the 21st century providing equal access and opportunity to ALL. We have a core focus on creating sustainable, healthy, and economically viable neighborhoods.

Banking for Baltimore Undivided

Creating a Sustainable City For All

Confronting Race and Class to Increase Opportunity and Equity for People and Neighborhoods

For too long, Baltimore’s people and communities have had little or no say in the direction of the government or how tax dollars are spent. They do not determine how their communities are developed, and so they have watched as government has gone into debt to fund the development of downtown areas - while neglecting the very real needs of neighborhoods throughout the rest of the city. The Baltimore uprising of 2015 brought long festering problems to the forefront and showed that Baltimore needs transformational change - not tinkering with the status quo. The investment strategies and policies for the past 60 years are no longer relevant or feasible. A Joshua Harris Administration is ready to enact enabling legislation to fund investment strategies that make sense in 21st century Baltimore.

HOUSING

With 30,000 plus vacant lots and buildings, Baltimore City is in an enviable position to stimulate its economy and provide livable wage jobs to ex-offenders, truants, and the chronically unemployed.

Solution:
Unemployed Baltimoreans will be properly trained in whole-house renovation and paid a livable wage during their apprenticeship. Upon completion of training, the targeted group could apply for their journeyman’s license or prepare for entrepreneurship. The City in return would get a supply of homes available to police, teachers, and innovators who would transform, stabilize, and transition our city into the 21st century and generate much needed revenue for Baltimore. Moreover, providing stable jobs to the targeted populations will create a pathway to self-sufficiency that will trigger incredible budgetary savings because social services will be appreciably minimized. Notwithstanding revenue generation and budgetary savings, long-term employment is the best strategy to combat crime. 

 

HEALTH

Our quality of life is greatly determined by our diets and many communities in Baltimore are food deserts, urban areas in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. We can significantly reduce Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and some cancers in future generations, and significantly improve the overall health of the present generation, by moderating our diets. We understand people are not going to give up sugar today but if we add fruits and vegetables to the diet, we can offset some of the ill-effects.


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Solution:
Strategically placed local distribution centers (LDCs) within the neighborhoods that are food deserts. This is one of the recommendations from a study completed by Johns Hopkins in 2012 on the food environment in Baltimore. LDCs will connect the corner stores in food deserts to fresh vegetables and fruit. Pathways will be created for families to access nutritious foods and eliminate the most common barrier to eating healthy. LDCs will provide educational workshops on nutrition as well as other classes on healthy living and community well-being. LDCs are also job creators and will absorb some of the ex-offenders and chronically unemployed.

ENERGY

Baltimore has some of the most expensive utility costs, outpacing the likes of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and all others with at least a half million population. Baltimore City residents are still paying some of, if not the highest, electric bills today while Exelon, the parent company of BG&E, became one of the recipients of a half billion dollar welfare payment the city gave to the Beatty Group—Exelon got a plush office at the taxpayers' expense, simultaneously sticking those same taxpayers with excessive utility bills.

Maryland's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard is a state law which requires electricity suppliers to use renewable energy sources to generate a minimum portion of their retail sales. The renewables requirement is 20% by 2022 and beyond. The law was amended in April 2007 to include a solar-photovoltaic (PV) requirement of 2% by 2022. Producing 20% of its electricity from clean energy would reduce Maryland's global warming pollution by 11 million metric tons in 2025 – the equivalent of taking 2.4 million cars off the road. Solar energy at that scale would help Maryland comply with the goals of the Clean Power Plan – the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) proposed plan to reduce U.S. global warming pollution from the power sector by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Solution:
Establish solar manufacturing in Baltimore City to make solar affordable for economically-challenged households and create much needed employment opportunities for those targeted populations. Promoting household transformation to a 21st century economy has many benefits and not the least being a reduction of dependence on fossil fuels but also significant reduction and over a period of time, elimination of electric bills. The worst case scenario is stabilized electric rates.

Aside from the relief households would realize from saving on electric expenses and a healthier environment, solar manufacturing makes sense from the employment opportunities it opens up for targeted populations. Growth in the solar industry from November 2012 to November 2013 was 10 times faster than the national average for employment; the Maryland solar industry employed 2,000 people in 2013.

The solar initiative would complement our initiative to turn the 30,000 vacant buildings and lots into performing assets. Each new or renovated house coming online will be energy efficient, using a minimum of 35% renewable energy as a source for generating electricity. The payback time on this investment is approximately 6.5 years, thereafter becoming self-sustaining. But far more important than the economic factors are the human development and fulfillment, the abatement of crime and empowerment of communities and their transition into the 21st century.

EDUCATION

We need to develop alternative means to the middle class using our education system as a catalyst to prepare our youth for life and the workforce. I propose we start career orientation as early as 7th and 8th grades and allow augmentation of high school with preparation for employment. The students can supplement their academic course work with one or multiple vocational skills.

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We will create pathways to the “middle class” with robust housing and energy policies. The jobs that are spawned by transitioning to a 21st economy will be available to those who do not desire to go to college. Notwithstanding the lives that will be positively impacted, we can diminish the drain on our public safety net by empowering people to move toward self-sufficiency.

Knowledge, research and learning are at the core of Baltimore's Green Economy and workforce, and will include the full education cycle, from elementary and high schools to partnering with our world class colleges and universities. Through the excellent incubation system of Baltimore’s universities, startups will have access to advanced research facilities, and each student in every graduating class will help to create an unmatched talent pool in America's new clean energy hub.

CRIME

Create pathways to employment. It is today accepted as fact, just as the earth is round, that employment significantly reduces an individual’s propensity to return to crime. A robust whole-house renovation program will sustain a sizable workforce for years. According to the Baltimore Housing Authority, the city has 16,000 vacant buildings and 14,000 vacant lots, which represents a tremendous opportunity to develop many careers and businesses for ex-offenders and potential offenders. This initiative is discussed in more detail under “HOUSING”.

EMPLOYMENT

Jobs, jobs, jobs. The real unemployment rate in the inner city is at epidemic levels and far worse than noted. Each solution has an employment component and a targeted population (ex-offenders, high school dropouts, truants and the chronically unemployed).

SOCIAL JUSTICE

There is currently a lack of justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within the city. There is also a lack of justice and accountability of our police department and judicial system. 

Solution:
Advocate to ensure all constituents' right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights, and a fair allocation of community resources. I will work to ensure that people are not discriminated against. I will assess current policy and legislation, address any that may be unjust and implement new policy and legislation using the Associated Black Charities Ten Essential Questions for Policy Development, Review and Evaluation as a guide, to ensure they are racially, culturally, and socioeconomically just. 

I am committed to counteracting the devastating effects of systemic disenfranchisement. There are many organizations in Baltimore which provide essential human services to those in need. While my administration wholeheartedly supports this work, our approach will be different. We will address the systems that create those needs in the first place.

With regard to restoration of community police relationships, we will work with police leadership to ensure cultural competency training as well as community-based policing that promotes organizational strategies. These changes support the systematic use of community partnerships and problem-solving techniques which proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues. The community should be involved in the process of training our officers all the way through substantive review of any infractions.

My administration will work to change our city, police, and judicial culture to that of accountability and transparency.

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