Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Lessons for Baltimore, from Detroit
Baltimore has been used as an example many times by Detroiters about what it did as a city to turn around its downtown, to revamp its waterfront and breathe life back into a city. Now, with its Mayor recently convicted of taking gift cards as bribes and using gift cards that should have been used as gifts for the needy, Baltimore can and should learn from Detroit.
The Mayor of Baltimore refuses to resign after her conviction last week, saying she still has Baltimore's interest at heart. If the Mayor truly had Baltimore's interest at hear she would step down as Mayor, end the drama and let the city move forward without her. If she does not step down, then a cloud will continue to hover around the city.
With the Mayor staying in office, the city cannot move forward. Businesses will not want to do business with the city, its bond rating could be in jeopardy due to the volatile situation in the city, with a lack of uncertainty as to what may happen with or with out the Mayor, and the continued scrutiny of the Mayor.
There is no doubt that the Mayor's attorneys are advising the Mayor to stay put. It provides leverage in negotiating a settlement and a platform for her to speak. But her speech will be limited by what her attorneys tell her she can or cannot say, pending the legal action against her.
Now it is easy for me to sit here in Detroit and be critical of a Mayor who I don't know in a city that I have only visited. But, I can speak from experience about what a city needs to do to move forward and beyond the negative stories that have traumatized a city, a region and a state.
The Mayor of Baltimore and the President of Baltimore's City Council should learn from Detroit. Step down as Mayor. If she is not going to step down, then the President of Council should ask for her resignation, being to create a transition plan, meet with local business, community, labor and faith-based leaders. Travel to Annapolis and meet with the state legislative and executive leadership and begin to make the plans for taking Baltimore back and shift the focus from scandal to hope and opportunity, faith and transparency, accountability and action.