Blue Smoke and Mirrors

I appreciate political fantasy as much as the next guy but is appears that Keiffer Mitchell, the white candidate in the Baltimore mayor’s race, has broken new ground.

Economic development in Baltimore would be great. The unfortunate fact is that despite excellent location it is laboring under a, to coin a phrase, “structural deficit” which makes this unlikely. The structural deficit is composed of dangerous schools, higher taxes than surrounding jurisdictions, a declining population base, and a city government that is not only lackadaisical but an ongoing RICO violation.

Some of his ideas are easy. For instance, reducing the paper work necessary to start a business in Baltimore. That is under the control of the mayor. Of course, if you reduce the paperwork you probably reduce the number of jobs necessary to process the paperwork and not only knock some pol’s layabout cousin off the public teat but remove the opportunity for graft and kickbacks.

He recommends reducing the property tax by 12 cents but studiously ignores how that revenue will be made up. How this benefits businesses or creates economic development is unclear as most businesses don’t own their own premises and there is no indication that landlords will pass along the reduced tax rate to tenants.

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Mitchell says he will require the city to divest itself of properties it owns in 6 to 9 months. This is a great idea. I lived in a neighborhood in DC that was about 50% occupied with the unoccupied properties owned by the city. Anthony Williams forced the plethora of city agencies who owned those properties to sell them and the neighborhood was 100% filled within two years. It works. Just like the issue with business permitting, this will result in a loss of jobs.

One thing that Mitchell says which convinces you that he actually knows what is needed and knows his plan is a smokescreen comes through:

“Any economic development plan must be based on a safer city and a smarter city,” Mitchell said. “Unless we have a safer, smarter city, we will not have real growth.”

Bingo. Is there any evidence that anyone in city government really wants this?

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