Editor’s note: The following commentary aired on wbal.com on April 29, 2019.
The controversies swirling around Mayor Pugh have many clamoring for drastic change to Baltimore City’s government. There is no doubt that some reforms are necessary.
An amendment to the City Charter that provides a roadmap for the removal of an elected city official when circumstances call for that extraordinary remedy is clearly needed.
Other proposed legislative changes would significantly strengthen legislative powers and weaken the city’s current strong mayoral form of government. These proposals include increasing the budgetary power of the City Council, creating a City Administrator or City Manager form of government and reducing the number of votes needed to override a Mayor’s veto. Term limits for the Mayor and City Council have also been suggested.
The city is clearly at a juncture where reforms should be seriously debated and given thoughtful consideration.
But we must not allow the current circumstances to drive change just for the sake of change. Now is not the time to overreach.
Cities that experience economic growth and prosperity have Mayors that have the power to lead, inspire and bring about transformative initiatives. This dynamic needs to be considered.
Safeguards are needed to ensure that the city’s residents and reputation are spared from another painful debacle like the one unfolding now. Change that improves the operation of government and better serves the citizens is appropriate.
But exercising the right degree of thoughtful and deliberative change is the best approach to ensure a stable, responsive and productive city government.
I’m Don Fry, President & CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee.