Larry Ho­gan made a lot of prom­ises af­ter Fred­die Gray was killed; he’s not keep­ing any of them.

The Washington Post Sunday - - METRO -

Af­ter Fred­die Gray’s death and the en­su­ing ri­ots, Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) spent long days and count­less hours meet­ing with com­mu­nity, re­li­gious and govern­ment of­fi­cials in West Bal­ti­more. The gov­er­nor promised it was the “be­gin­ning of a di­a­logue” and claimed his ad­min­is­tra­tion would “ad­dress the un­der­ly­ing causes” fu­el­ing the un­rest. He even shot hoops with the res­i­dents of Sand­town-Winch­ester, just blocks from where Gray had been ar­rested.

More than two years have passed since Gray’s death. Un­for­tu­nately, ar­mored ve­hi­cles and con­tin­ued dis­in­vest­ment are all the gov­er­nor has of­fered the most dis­tressed and seg­re­gated neigh­bor­hoods in his state.

First, Ho­gan can­celed the Red Line, a pro­posed $2.9 bil­lion light-rail in­vest­ment project. The Red Line would have pro­vided job, gro­cery and health-care ac­cess, in­cen­tivized re­gional de­vel­op­ers to seek tran­sit-ori­ented de­vel­op­ment projects and at­tracted mil­len­ni­als and oth­ers de­sir­ing a car-free life­style to West Bal­ti­more. His care­less de­ci­sion not only tossed a decade of re­gional plan­ning and ded­i­cated fed­eral fund­ing into the dust­bin of Bal­ti­more’s fraught tran­sit his­tory but also redi­rected fund­ing to un­nec­es­sary and un­sus­tain­able ru­ral road projects. Adding in­sult to in­jury, the gov­er­nor ap­proved the Pur­ple Line in Prince Ge­orge’s and Mont­gomery coun­ties and then op­posed the Open Trans­porta­tion In­vest­ment De­ci­sion Act, com­mon-sense leg­is­la­tion de­signed to in­crease trans­parency re­gard­ing how trans­porta­tion projects are funded and max­i­mize re­turns on pub­lic in­vest­ment.

Stand­ing in Sand­town, the gov­er­nor pre­tended to ad­dress West Bal­ti­more’s va­cancy is­sue by an­nounc­ing his Cre­at­ing Op­por­tu­ni­ties for Re­newal and En­ter­prise pro­gram. Project Core was pro­moted as a $700 mil­lion plan to tear down thou­sands of va­cant homes and spur ur­ban de­vel­op­ment. How­ever, this was largely po­lit­i­cal theater, not ma­jor state sup­port for neigh­bor­hood rein­vest­ment. Nearly 90 per­cent of the re­vi­tal­iza­tion dol­lars that Ho­gan touted were pre­vi­ously planned state fund­ing, an­tic­i­pated tax cred­its or sub­si­dized fi­nanc­ing not ap­pro­pri­ate for de­mo­li­tion. While a much smaller $28.4 mil­lion in­vest­ment over four years, guar­an­teed by the Mary­land Sta­dium Author­ity, is a wel­come ad­di­tion to Bal­ti­more City’s over­all and lim­ited de­mo­li­tion bud­get, this level of fund­ing is a far cry from what is needed to re­build — not just knock down — neigh­bor­hoods in West Bal­ti­more.

Fi­nally, de­spite strong com­mu­nity sup­port, a proven de­vel­op­ment team and a for­ward-think­ing, mixed-use tran­sit-ori­ented de­vel­op­ment plan, Ho­gan re­jected the rental agree­ments for State Cen­ter, ax­ing a $1.5 bil­lion neigh­bor­hood-trans­for­ma­tion project for West Bal­ti­more. The project, more than a decade in the mak­ing, would have put a gro­cery store in a West Bal­ti­more food desert, com­bated job sprawl, im­proved con­di­tions for state em­ploy­ees, re­duced de­ferred main­te­nance costs on ob­so­lete build­ings and re­con­nected Bal­ti­more neigh­bor­hoods sev­ered by the fail­ures of ur­ban re­newal. In­stead, Ho­gan opted for a law­suit on tax­pay­ers’ backs.

For Mary­land to com­pete and suc­ceed, state lead­er­ship must play a crit­i­cal role in re­build­ing and re­vi­tal­iz­ing its ur­ban core and largest em­ploy­ment cen­ter. But Ho­gan’s love for Bal­ti­more has been noth­ing more than lip ser­vice; since Fred­die Gray’s death, his ma­jor de­ci­sions around tran­sit, hous­ing and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment all sug­gest he wants West Bal­ti­more to crum­ble.


Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) kicks off Project Core in West Bal­ti­more in Jan­uary 2016.

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