Abell Salutes: Mayor Martin O’Malley, the citizens of Baltimore, and the more than 60 departments that provide for their quality of life

November 2004 / Salutes / Community Development

Their combined efforts are moving Baltimore City in the right direction.

According to the telephone book, Baltimore City lists more than 60 departments, from “A” (“Abandoned Vehicles”) to “Z” (“Zoo”) that manage and provide for the quality of life of its citizens: The Abell Foundation salutes Mayor O’Malley and City departments — and especially the citizens of Baltimore who put them in charge. The recognition is for their role in moving Baltimore City, in a time period from 1970 to 2000, back 15 hard-earned points on the Urban Hardship Index, created by researchers to measure “economic conditions of U. S. cities.” The good news is that Baltimore moved from sixth (“most troubled city”) downwards to 21st. What the improvement in ranking confirms is that the City is making steady and recognizable progress in overcoming its considerable problems. From sixth down 15 levels to 21st on a scale of measurement where movement towards improvement is historically stubborn, is no small victory. Quite the opposite, it is a large one.

The research and rankings (“An Update On Urban Hardship”) are the work of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government of the State University of New York. The institute looked at 86 cities, measuring
unemployment, poverty, per capita income, education, crowded housing, and dependency (percentage of population under age 18 or over 64.)

According to the report’s authors, Lisa Montiel, Richard P. Nathan, and David Wright, “Baltimore has steadily improved its rankings through the years.” That it has, comes as no surprise to Mayor Martin O’Malley. After reviewing the encouraging findings, he says, “Baltimore’s progress is real, and measurable. Businesses, non-profits and individual citizens are all stepping up. And government is becoming a better partner. We’re tracking and driving better government services through CitiStat. Neighbors are coming together with their Police Department to reduce crime to levels we haven’t seen since 1970. Through the Believe In Our Schools initiative, this summer more than 5,000 volunteers, unions, businesses and non-profits came together to do more than $4-million of construction, painting and landscaping for our children and our teachers. And Project 5000 is the first comprehensive effort to tackle blight—and return abandoned property to productive use—in Baltimore’s history.

“We still have work to do. It will take years of continued progress to get us to where we all believe our city can and should be. But as we make these improvements, private investment is returning to our city—improving neighborhoods and creating jobs. You will see Baltimore‘s rankings continue to improve.”

The Abell Foundation salutes Mayor O’Malley, all 56 City of Baltimore departments, the people who work in them and all of the citizens of Baltimore— whose combined efforts are moving Baltimore City in the right direction.