Baltimore Co. budget deficit not unexpected
It’s time for The Sun to stop referring to the Baltimore County $81 million deficit as “unexpected” (”In Baltimore County, a budgetary crossroads,” April 16). That’s as bad as calling the Baltimore riots of 2015 “unrest.” County Executive Johnny Olszewski was endorsed by multiple Democratic Baltimore County Council members. Surely, these people were aware of the county’s financial situation. If they weren’t, why are they still in office?
When Mr. Olszewski was running for county executive, making promises that he would increase teacher salaries by 20 percent in his first term, “work toward a 1:18 teacher-student ratio,” provide free community college and universal pre-K, and put $2 billion into school facilities over the next 10 years, didn’t any of these council members pull him aside and say, “Hey, you may want to dial back your promises a bit. The county budget is in a big hole?”
This deficit seems to have been a somewhat well-kept secret, dating back to Kevin Kamenetz’s administration, a secret that was maintained as long as Kamenetz had his eye on the governorship. That brings us to Don Mohler, Kamenetz’s former chief of staff, who was chosen by the council to finish Kamenetz’s term after his sudden death. Mr. Mohler had no intention of seeking election for another term and he actively endorsed Mr. Olszewski. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.” So the secret should have been out.
However, it appears that Baltimore County’s budget was the elephant in the room. It defies imagination to think that Mr. Mohler and the previously mentioned council members would leave their new county executive in the dark regarding the state of the county, or that he never said to them, “I couldn’t help but notice that elephant sitting over there.” This was not an “unexpected deficit.”
Olszewski tries to be the O’Malley of Balt. County
Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski was supposed to deal with deficits in the county finances, not surrender to them (“In Baltimore County, a budgetary crossroads,” April 15).
Instead, he capitulated, and all of us in the county will be his victims. Do I hear echoes of the egregious Gov. Martin O’Malley with his perpetual whining about “structural deficits” and new taxes, more taxes, higher taxes, extra taxes, still more taxes?
County needs a tax hike when God calls for one
Good heavens, we have to go all the way back to 1992 to find the last time Baltimore County raised taxes (“In Baltimore County, a budgetary crossroads,” April 15)! Let’s see, when was the last time God levied an increase? You know on that fixed, flat 10 percent asked of everyone, with no deductions, no loopholes, no exemptions? Oh, not since Genesis.
When the flock has a good year, God has a good year. If it’s good enough for God, it ought to be good enough for Caesar.
Wake up, Baltimore: Get your priorities straight
Baltimore’s continued population loss constitutes documented evidence of the failure of the city’s high tax rates, violent crime, ineffective public schools and bad policies and priorities. For example, why is the city continuing to subsidize luxury apartments and large projects such as Harbor Point and Port Covington when there has been no net growth in jobs or population? It is an affirmation of the lack of both political and business leadership (“Baltimore mayor must resign,” April 3).
There has been too little self-reflection and too much sugarcoating of our problems recently. People do not naturally come to Baltimore. We have to give people a compelling reason to come here to live, work and visit through our actions and attitudes. We are clearly not doing that and have not for a very long time.
Baltimore is a bit like Sears Roebuck. Sears was a once great company but did not respond to changing habits or desires of its customers and became a shadow of its former self (amazingly, Amazon is simply doing what Sears was doing 100 years ago with its catalog business). Baltimore was a once great city and has let itself decline in both size and quality. We cannot wait any longer to wake up and do something dramatic about this situation.