Community-Centered Public Safety
PHOTO: Workshop on racism & police brutality led by community youth leaders.
Our community continues to struggle with police brutality, gun violence, wage theft by employers, and other crimes of poverty and desperation. Despite a police budget that continuously increases, and the enactment of well-intentioned but ineffectual policing reforms, our City's homicide and crime clearance rates have not meaningfully improved. Instead of doubling down on failed strategies, we must respond to crime by addressing the roots of the problem, which are systemic racism and a lack of opportunity for many in our city. We need to transform the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) into a community-led public safety program that serves ALL Baltimoreans. We must also re-prioritize funding to invest in the physical, economic, and social well-being of our neighbors.
As Councilperson, I will advocate for the Organizing Black 4-part platform at the City and State level:
1. Immediate divestment from the Baltimore Police Department.
2. 50% of BPD’s 2020 operating budget to be invested in Baltimore’s Black communities.
3. Immediate repeal of the Maryland Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBoR).
4. Control of the Baltimore Police Department must go to the City of Baltimore, not the State of Maryland.
I will work to reorient our public safety budget to address the root causes of crime by investing in:
1. Physiological and emotional health services that respond to and care for those struggling with mental health and substance abuse;
2. Youth education, recreation, and jobs through expanding YouthWorks;
3. Adult education and literacy courses both inside and outside of prison, which dramatically reduce both incarceration and recidivism rates;
4. Programs that support the transition from prison back into the community and help formerly-incarcerated people secure and maintain quality housing, healthcare, and employment;
5. Housing support for all Baltimoreans, including those who experience homelessness and housing insecurity through universal rent control, city-wide tenant unions, and seizure and redistribution of vacant housing to community controlled institutions like community land trusts.
5. A minimum wage that is a living wage of $15/hour that automatically rises with inflation; and
6. Resources to combat anti-worker and anti-tenant crime, such as wage theft and tenant exploitation.
We must stop needlessly pushing Baltimoreans who commit nonviolent illegal acts into the criminal justice system by:
1. Ending cash bail;
2. Legalizing marijuana; and
3. Decriminalizing sex work.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in our city, but Black, Latinx, low-income and working-class residents have been disproportionately harmed. I am taking action now. Our campaign is dedicated to connecting District 12 residents to the services and community support that we need to survive, and even thrive, during this unprecedented health, labor, and housing crisis.
To accomplish this goal, our campaign is building a team that will nurture relationships with mutual aid organizations, listen to the needs of District 12 constituents, and connect them with the resources they need. If we win, I will continue to fight for more resources to combat the COVID-19 crisis, and transform our campaign structure into a summer job program for youth.
Equitable School Funding
Currently, Baltimore City allocates only about 15% of its budget to Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPSS). Meanwhile, the average Maryland county contribution to education in 2018 was 36% of its total operating budget. While we must ensure that the state of Maryland fulfills its constitutional responsibility to provide an adequate education to its residents, and while Baltimore City cannot be expected to pay as much as wealthier counties, City Hall must still pay its fair share. The Kirwan Commission determined that Baltimore must steadily increase education funding each year until reaching 161M in additional funds by 2030. As Councilperson, I will ensure our state and city pay their fair shares for our kids’ education.
Black Lives Matter at School
We must recruit, hire, and support Black and Latinx educators. We must also hear the call of students to revisit our curriculums — we must ensure that the experiences and ancestries of Black and Brown students are properly studied and represented in our schools. Finally, we must provide support for schools to host meaningful and ongoing anti-racism workshops for school staff.
REAL School Choice
As an education access advocate for immigrant students in Baltimore, I have seen first hand how many students (especially those receiving English language services or special education services, and those living in concentrated poverty) are locked out of high-performing schools. We must invest in the success of ALL of our public schools, so that students can receive a high quality education no matter which school they attend. Our ultimate goal is to create a fully resourced public school system, free of discriminatory practices, where all students can go to a school that they are proud to attend.
Putting the Brakes on School Closures
According to one of the largest national studies on school closure done by the Stanford-based group CREDO, school closures do little to change student performance, and any change is more likely to be negative than positive. Furthermore, the practice of school closures disproportionately impacts and displaces Black and Hispanic students.
The processes of school closure, re-imagining and re-opening must be decided democratically by students, parents, and community members. Additionally, school must be community-led. Before considering school closure, BCPSS must work with parents, students, and educators to implement strategies (such as Community School models) that can have a greater positive impact on struggling schools.
Teacher Observations and Evaluation
The essential metrics for fair and balanced teacher evaluations are those which provide an understanding of an educator’s strengths and weaknesses, and guidance for how educators can improve their practice. BCPSS’s revised evaluation process does not meet these goals.
In 2019, BCPSS without working with City educators or the Baltimore Teachers Union, proposed and passed unannounced “gotcha” teacher observations. While the rubric used to evaluate teachers was created to observe quality teacher practices over a period of several observations, BCPSS demands that teachers execute the rubric’s more than 40 individual “look-fors” in one class period. To execute a lesson that can incorporate all the tasks required by the rubric requires meticulous and thoughtful planning. But BCPSS is planning to begin unannounced formal observations next year in the middle of a global pandemic.
I will advocate for the fair observation and evaluation of our educators, with practices anchored in meaningful teacher, parent, and student input.
BCPSS Educator Voice & Elected School Board
Baltimore City is currently the only jurisdiction in the state whose entire School Board of Commissioners is appointed. In 2022, the board will expand from 10 to 12 seats, with the two additional seats being elected rather than appointed. BCPSS educators are barred from serving and the one student commissioner lacks full voting rights. Of the 23 other Maryland County School Boards, 19 are fully elected, and 4 are an appointed/elected hybrid, with only Wicomico County having more appointed than elected positions. In Baltimore City, School Board members are appointed by the mayor, and serve a 3-year term, for 20 hours per week of unpaid public service. The large time commitment and unpaid nature of the work creates an incentive for professionals and upper-income residents to participate. Researchers have found that appointed boards often lead to a loss of both community participation and broader involvement in the democratic process. We need a fully democratically elected school board and BCPSS educators deserve a voice at our own School Board.
As a BCPSS educator, I have advocated with the student-led organization SOMOS to secure major victories for English Learners in Baltimore’s middle and high school choice process. As a City Councilperson, I would continue to engage the school district to ensure all schools have equitable access for students receiving special education services, living in concentrated poverty, experiencing homelessness, and receiving English language services.
I will also work to expand support for our diverse immigrant community that hails from all corners of the globe by:
Pushing City Hall to provide translation service funding for all Baltimore City agencies, such as: print translations, interpreters for events, and telephonic interpretation. Language support empowers our immigrant community to understand what is happening at City Hall and to have a voice.
Ensuring all personnel in City agencies that provide constituent services are trained to do telephonic interpretation.
Empowering the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Community Advisory Board to systematically represent the diverse voice of different immigrant communities from various ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds; have quarterly meetings with the Mayor’s office; and share quarterly reports with ALL agencies on what is impacting the immigrant community.
Revising the 2019 Equity Coordinators law to include “National Origin,” so that coordinators have the goal of addressing issues that face our immigrant community. Fighting to maintain the separation between ICE and the Baltimore Police Department and fight back against any efforts to build adult or youth immigration detention facilities or to have pre-existing facilities serve as detention centers.
Ending Systemic Racism
PHOTO: #CanceltheRent march to protect Marylanders from homelessness
Racial segregation dominates every aspect of our city. We must challenge the multiple systems that uphold the racial divide with discriminatory practices.
Modern day red-lining exists in Baltimore in the form of predatory loan practices, such as charging high loan rates for Black and Brown residents. Residents are pushed into cycles of debt which lower their credit, making the dream of owning a home, or renting in certain neighborhoods, nearly impossible.
As a Councilperson, I will fight to:
Implement greater regulation of mortgage and short-term lenders like payday, auto-loans, and bail bonds;
Establish universal rent control and city-wide tenant unions; and
Seize and redistribute vacant housing to community-controlled institutions, such as community land trusts.
Our public transit is profoundly segregated. In agreement with the Baltimore Green Party, I believe that Baltimore City needs an “equitable, accessible, efficient, multi-modal transit system which allows everyone to get where they need to go in a timely and safe manner, and to spur economic development for Black and Brown communities.
I will push for institutions like Johns Hopkins to redirect the money they spend on private busing infrastructure to free MTA passes for their students and staff. This will both reinvest funds into our public transit and help pay for BCPSS student bus passes to be extended to a 24/7 pass.
In agreement with the work of the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition, I believe our public transit system must be controlled by a Regional Transit Authority where Baltimore community members must have a meaningful voice at the decision making table;
I will fight for bicycling infrastructure that connects all existing trails, keeps riders safe, and supports bicycle ridership across Baltimore City;
I support the Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) platform to work towards free public transit and the return of plans to implement the Red Line.
Corporate Discrimination and Divestment
Recent events at Atlas Restaurant Group locations like Choptank and Ouzo Bay show us that racial discrimination persists in Baltimore. These are a small part of the continued legacies of Baltimore’s racist history of segregation and redlining. I am currently advocating the following with local musicians, workers, and organizations such as Clarence Ward III, Joel Michael-Schwartz, Organizing Black, Ujima, and others for the following:
Atlas Group must rescind the Atlas dress codes.
Atlas Group must commit to creating a safe, reprisal free way for people in the Atlas community, particularly servers and performers, to report racist policies and actions.
Atlas Group must commit financially to countering the gentrifying trend it is a part of by investing in communities of color.
As a Councilperson, I will advocate for all corporations that have a similar footprint as Atlas to do the same and fight against TIFs and PILOTS that rob our city of needed revenue.
We are facing a global climate crisis that impacts our health and safety. This crisis impacts our health and wellbeing now. Air pollution and lack of access to green space are deeply linked to higher rates of type 2 diabetes and asthma.
In order to reduce these risks to our health and existence I support the Green Party platform of:
Banning the zoning and construction of gasoline refineries, gasoline or natural gas shipping terminals, and new gas stations;
Banning waste incineration and other destructive energy production methods;
Divesting City funds from any investment fund profiting from oil, gas, or fossil fuels corporations;
Implementing Councilperson Ryan Dorsey’s bill to amend the Baltimore City Zoning Code to replace parking minimums with parking maximums. This will reduce car congestion and the existence of large parking lots that are detrimental to the environment.
City Hall Representation
Provide stipends to Community Advisory Board participants, to ensure constituents from all economic backgrounds can participate.