Mayor Declines To Up Job Funding For Baltimore Youth
STEPHEN JANIS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, TRNN: In the wake of unrest after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody and the ensuing protests, [incompr.] came with a demand: more jobs for residents in neighborhoods that have all but been neglected by the city.
REGENA DAVIS, SERVER, HYATT REGENCY HOTEL: Only we know best. We’re the ones live here, we see it every day. They’re just the ones that’s controlling a little bit of money.
JANIS: But it is a plea that has in part fallen on deaf ears at City Hall. That’s because this week The Real News Network has learned Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake decided against fully funding a summer jobs program that has 8,000 applicants but only 5,000 slots. A move that will save the city $4 million, but is being criticized as shortsighted.
BERNARD C. “JACK” YOUNG, BALTIMORE CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Jobs have always been a single focus for me.
JANIS: City Council President Jack Young says he’s trying to fund the excess slots by appealing to businesses throughout the city. Young things the city should do more to bolster city youth with opportunities for work and recreation, even if it is privately funded.
YOUNG: I think it was 8,000 kids that really applied. I want to make sure that all 8,000 of those kids get jobs.
JANIS: We spoke to the Mayor’s office, who told us that some of the 3,000 applicants may have found work elsewhere, and that the Mayor is also looking for private funding. But earlier this week several groups say the city government itself, not the private sector, should be funding jobs. Among them, former city council president and mayoral candidate Lawrence Bell, who called for more direct government funding for neighborhoods like Gilmor Homes, where Gray was arrested before he died.
LAWRENCE BELL, FMR. CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Black men are no different from any other men. Given an opportunity, given an alternative, a good alternative, a living wage, they will choose that over the illegal drug market where they’re risking life and limb.
JANIS: And a group known as One Baltimore, who floated a flurry of proposals to increase opportunity for city youth.
DAVIS: We know that they need books and computers. We know that unemployment is at a skyrocket, we know that minimum wage is nothing, it doesn’t pay for anything.
JANIS: Both agreed that the city had to change its arm-length approach to help young people find opportunity and purpose during a time when the city itself seemed to be lacking both.
Reporting for The Real News Network, Stephen Janis in Baltimore.