Jack's Journal: Vol. 9, Issue 28Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Op-ed: Anti privatization charter amendment would protect Baltimore's water system, residents
By Rianna Eckel
The City Charter lays the foundation for how Baltimore operates. After Mayor Catherine Pugh set up a team to review and update this document, which was last updated more than 20 years ago, the City Council has been using the review as an opportunity to bring positive change to our city.
Councilman Dorsey passed legislation to give the Office of the Inspector General independence. Councilman Burnett passed legislation to establish public financing for Baltimore elections. And on Monday, Council President Jack Young passed legislation that would make the water supply and sewer systems “inalienable” assets of the city.
Baltimore could become the first major city in the country to ban the most extreme forms of water privatization.
The proposed charter amendment, once signed by the mayor and ratified by the voters in November, would make it so that Baltimore could not sell, lease or grant a franchise for the city’s water and sewer systems. Mayor Pugh originally proposed this charter amendment at the end of June, but she withdrew it alongside the rest of her proposed amendments. Fortunately, Council President Young took it upon himself to ensure its passage.
Shutting the door on the water privatization industry in Baltimore would be a huge win for the city. Water privatization abandons democracy and props up corporate interests while leaving customers hanging out to dry. Poor communities bear the brunt of the burden of the higher rates and unreliable service that come with corporate control of water.
At a time when Baltimore is facing an intensifying water affordability crisis, privatizing the system would be especially ill-conceived. A survey of the 500 largest water systems, taken by Food & Water Watch, found that private water companies charge households an average of 59 percent more than local governments charge.
We’re no strangers to water privatization schemes in Baltimore. The threat has loomed over our city for at least 25 years. As far back as 1997, then-Mayor Kurt Schmoke said he had met privately with at least three different companies over the preceding four years. More recently, in 2014, a proposal from Veolia was stopped in its tracks. And Mayor Pugh periodically has met with American Water as well as Suez since taking office in December 2016 (she even highlighted and thanked Suez at her Light City Mayoral Roundtable in April).
Only two municipalities have leased their water assets to Suez and its Wall Street partner, KKR: Bayonne, N.J., and Middletown, Pa. After Bayonne leased its system, rates went up 28 percent in the first four years, despite a promised four-year rate freeze. In the first year of the lease, the number of homes sent to tax sale for their water bills tripled. Middletown has had its own set of problems: The borough is in court right now trying to stop the company from adding a surcharge onto water and sewer bills, and last month, the entire borough was under a two-day, boil-water order because of problems with the Suez-run water supply.
Putting a private company in control of water service means relinquishing water access as the system’s top priority. Corporations must prioritize securing shareholder profit. Our city cannot afford to entertain this idea.
There’s certainly a lot of work to be done to make our water system work for everyone, but our city officials have the ability and the responsibility to make that happen on their own. The struggles our water system faces, from incorrect bills to massive water main breaks, must be addressed with only one goal in mind: making sure that everyone in our city has access to safe, affordable water service.
If the passed charter amendment is signed by Mayor Pugh and approved by voters, Baltimore would become the first major city in the country to ban the most extreme forms of water privatization. Baltimore should take this opportunity to set an example for other cities. Mayor Pugh must sign the resolution by the Aug. 13 deadline for proposed charter amendments to be sent to the Board of Elections to appear on the November ballot.
I urge her to stay true to her original proposal, sign this critical legislation that she brought to us, and lead Baltimore toward preserving our water system as an inalienable asset this November.
Rianna Eckel is Maryland Organizer of Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Action; her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Potential Overpayment Letter
The Baltimore City Department of Finance, Bureau of Revenue Collections mailed notifications to citizens who have potentially overpaid taxes, parking tickets, funds abated, etc. This notice applies only to citizens who have received a letter marked “DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE, CLAIM FOR ABANDONED/UNCLAIMED
PROPERTY (OVERPAYMENT) REVENUE COLLECTIONS.” A questionnaire regarding potential overpayment is included in each letter. If you receive a letter from the Bureau of Revenue Collections stating that you have been identified as the owner of a potential overpayment, you must complete the questionnaire and follow the instructions that are also included to make a claim. If you have not received a letter, please do not contact the department to ask if you have overpaid or why you have not received a letter. Only citizens with documented potential overpayments will receive a notice.
The completed questionnaire, along with proof of payment, are to be returned to the Board of Estimates, Room 204 City Hall, 100 N. Holliday Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21202. Completed questionnaire and proof of payment must be postmarked or hand delivered to the Board of Estimates by August 31, 2018. No extensions will be granted. A postmark date of August 31 will be accepted. Questionnaires received without proof of payment are incomplete and will be returned to the claimant. However, incomplete claims will be accepted once they are completed with the required documentation and received by the Board of Estimates by the deadline of August 31. Completed questionnaire and proof of payment received after August 31, 2018 will be returned to the claimant, along with instructions on how to refile your claim in 2019.
Baltimore Children and Youth Fund update - By the Numbers
I’d like to share with you an update on the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund.
The interest and participation from the general public has been truly amazing. This process has been a grassroots-led effort that’s breaking the mold for how grant-making is done. The City of Baltimore should be proud of this effort.
The Request for Proposals period closed at midnight on July 9. The 25-person Proposal Review Panel will spend the coming weeks assessing grant applications for Year-One of the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund.
There were 487 total applications received prior to the closing of the RFP period. Of that number, 427 applications were determined eligible for review by the Proposal Review Panel.
- Level 1 ($5,000-$20,000): 65 proposals
- Level 2 ($21,000-$250,000): 299 proposals
- Level 3 ($251,000-$500,000): 63 proposals
Here’s a tentative timeline for the weeks ahead:
- July 12 – July 31: Proposal Review Panel conducts reading and scoring of proposals and offers recommendations for finalists in Levels 1, 2, 3
- August 1 – August 31: Associated Black Charities, which is serving as the manager of the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund, will review the recommendations, conduct a financial review process for all grantees and complete necessary due diligence, as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding entered into with the City of Baltimore. During this time, grant agreements will be drafted, completed and filed
- Early September – feedback will be offered to applicants who were not awarded grants as part of the Year-One Baltimore Children and Youth Fund. Initial disbursements will be made
Please feel free to contact my office with any questions. You can also stay up to date on the process by visiting BCYFund.org.
Bernard C. “Jack” Young
President, Baltimore City Council
Consent Decree Community Forums
Below is a list of community forums wherein the Baltimore Police Department will brief the community on our efforts to comply with the Consent Decree
All of the following Consent Decree update meetings will be held from 6:00-7:30pm:
- Thursday, September 20th Living Classrooms (Address TBD)
- Thursday, October 17th Chase Brexton, 1111 N. Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201
Out and About in Baltimore
On Saturday City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young visited Hilltop Community Association's Back-To-School Event to help kick off the upcoming school year.
Coming up in Baltimore
FRESH at the Avenue
Every Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Avenue Market, 1700 Pennsylvania Ave
Proudly selling produce grown in 21217. Featuring produce from local farms. Quality prices!
Adult education classes in Baltimore City!
August 9th & August 14th at 1 p.m.
GIC HQ, 222 E. Redwood St. Baltimore, MD 21202
In partnership with Baltimore City Community College, Goodwill is offering basic skills (Pre-GED) classes. Testing and registration will occur August 9th & August 14th at 1 PM at GIC HQ (222 E. Redwood St. Baltimore, MD 21202). For more information call (410) 986-3200.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake
Becoming a mentor is easy. Mentoring is about real relationships that help young people overcome obstacles and thrive. From education to extracurricular activities to community engagement, young people benefit from mentoring. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake Community One-to-One Mentoring Program connects young people with caring adult mentors. Matches are provided with professional supports, inclusive of a case manager, and monthly low to no cost activities. We ask that volunteers commit to mentoring a child for a minimum of one year and to plan two to three match activities per month. To apply contact Leticia Sharp at 410-243-4000 or visit www.biglittle.org/volunteer to complete an online application . Visit Big Brothers Big Sisters on Facebook: BBBSGreaterChesapeake, Twitter: @bbbsgc and instagram: bbbsgc.
Online Homebuyer Education Course
24 hours a day/7days a week
Looking to buy a home? Don't just take your best shot, make it a slam dunk! eHome America can help make your homebuying experience a winning experience! Learn what you need to know about the homebuying process, on your own schedule, from any computer. The cost is low, but the information is invaluable. Visit us at www.ehomeamerica.org/ for more information, or to register online. Information courtesy of Steven C. Kinney of the GO Northwest Housing Resource Center on 2300 Garrison Blvd., Suite 140. For more information e-mail email@example.com or call 410-947-0084.
GO Northwest HRC Free Foreclosure and Prevention Counseling
Wednesdays, from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM by appointment only
2300 Garrison Boulevard, Suite 140
This workshop is for individuals who are behind on their mortgage and/or facing foreclosure. Free workshop and free parking! Appointment is required. Call 410-947-0084 x104 for more information.
Adult Education Classes in Baltimore City
Locations throughout Baltimore City
The Baltimore City Community College and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City will offer Basic Skills (Pre GED) Classes at the following locations: Eager Street Homes, 709 E. Eager Street; Gilmor Homes, 1515 Vincent Court; O'Donnell Heights, 1200 Gusryan Street; Pleasant View Homes, 201 N. Aisquith Street; Westport Homes, 2343 Norfolk Street; Brooklyn Homes, 4140 Tenth Street. You must be at least 17 years of age to enroll. For more information call 410-396-3212.