The idea is to widen the perspective of the pre-election debate through the voices of a number of prominent Baltimore stakeholders who express their views about the state of Baltimore, the candidates, their preferences, sentiments, recommendations and suggestions for what should be done.
|Activist Ralph Moore on the steps of the War Memorial|
(Photo: Peace X Peace)
I will publish the responses in random order over the coming months on this blog. The interviews are not in any way intended to be representative.
Inter-dispersed with the interviews are the findings of a representative study about what Baltimoreans care about, conducted last fall by the Open Society Institute Baltimore published this Monday under the title "Blueprint for Baltimore". At the time I conducted the interviews the OSI report had not yet been released.
The below is from OSI's press release:
Open Society Institute-Baltimore and community partners including Baltimore Votes, Black Girls Vote, Black Leaders Organizing for Change, CASA, and the No Boundaries Coalition conducted the city-wide survey from mid-October to early December, recording more than 5,000 responses, mostly through on-the-ground canvassing, augmented by online outreach. Candidates for Mayor and City Council President will be asked to respond to the data collected in the survey at a series of forums. The first one, a mayoral forum, will be February 5 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum (register here).
|OSI report "Blueprint for Baltimore"|
1. Are you overall optimistic about Baltimore or pessimistic? Why?
Overall, I am optimistic about Baltimore despite the reality of the difficult days we are in now in terms of the violence in our city. Someday there will be acknowledgement and consequent action that we have not done right by the large communities of poor persons in Baltimore: not enough decent affordable housing, too many low paying jobs, struggling schools and too many guns and drugs while there is too little access to quality mental and physical healthcare. But more and more citizens are becoming aware of the disparities and disrespect of Baltimore’s poor citizens and that will lead to more engagement and progress eventually. The 2020 election turnouts will tell us something but increasing citizen actions such as Baltimore Ceasefire, the 1000 Men March during this year’s MLK Day parade etc. are signs of an awakening.
2. What three issues do you suggest should be the top priority of the new Mayor?
The three issues that should be priorities for the new Mayor, I think, are: More jobs that pay a living wage with benefits, available access to jobs with more and better public transportation and more decent, affordable housing in the city. Improving the city schools would be my fourth issue…
3. If you were to advise a candidate for Mayor what would be your best suggestion?
I would urge the candidates for Mayor to get to know the underserved areas of the city: their citizens, their lack of commercial development and clean alleys and streets, the schools and the public transportation in and out of the neighborhood. And I would develop an individual neighborhood renaissance plan for Sandtown, Park Heights, Westport, Oliver and other such areas east, west, north, south and center in the city. The models should be how we developed Canton and Remington for examples. They should be models for predominantly poor Black and Brown areas of the city. But specific, timely plans and reorganization of city government to make them happen sooner as opposed to later will help save our city. WE screw poor people in Baltimore every day without thinking twice about it: we reneged on the $15/hour minimum wage. In criminal justice we let the cops all go free after a man from one of the poorest neighborhoods died in the Police Department’s custody, no officers were charged criminally and none of the officers were reprimanded for violating Police Department policy , and finally in political justice we let the establishment steal the last mayoral election when most wanted a mayoral candidate more in touch with the whole city, despite “gift card” issues. Let the people decide elections fairly.
4. What should the next US President should do for cities?
The next President should create an urban jobs program that pays a living wages and good benefits for cities. Job training and readiness should be part of the efforts. He/she should push for much stronger gun control that would help decrease the number of guns and make it harder to get guns and ammunition. Internet sales and gun show sales should be eliminated. The President to encourage manufacturers to return to inner-cities and should decrease the Defense Department budget to pay for more human needs.
5. What recent local fact has given you hope for Baltimore?
I am a “dubious” Catholic so the new school the Archdiocese of Baltimore is building in West Baltimore is a small, good sign of progress and naming it for Mother Mary Lange, foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence also moves in the right direction. The fact that the William Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, publically pledged his support of the Kirwan Commission recommendations to the General Assembly to improve PUBLIC EDUCATION for even the poorest of children of Maryland is a good statement. Lori made this statement at a Faith in Baltimore event at Center Stage on Martin Luther King’s birthday.
6. What recent local fact has depressed you the most?
The homicide rate in the city is clearly the most depressing fact in the City.
7. Do you support a particular candidate for Mayor and for City Council?
Because of my wife’s sensitive position as the Deputy City Solicitor, I am not publicly acknowledging a favorite candidate for Mayor. But I am not convinced someone totally inexperienced in city government is what Baltimore needs now.
8. What personal contribution to Baltimore are you most proud of?
I just do the work I think is needed. Not interested in bragging on or acknowledging myself.
Ralph Eugene Moore, Jr. was born in Baltimore City in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of West Baltimore in 1952. He grew up with seven brothers and sisters who were members of St. Pius V Church. He attended St. Pius V Catholic Elementary School and was educated by the Oblate Sisters of Providence from Kindergarten through Eighth Grade. Ralph, Jr. attended Loyola High School in Towson, Md. on a Carroll Scholarship, and graduated in the class of 1970.
He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1974 with a degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences.
He married in February of 2002. Mr. Moore was chair of the Transportation Committee for CPHA; chair of the City’s anti-poverty agency, the Human Services Commission, and served on the boards of St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, The Job Opportunities Task Force and Sojourner Douglass College. He was the director of the Community Center at St. Frances Academy from January 2002 until June of 2012. He taught pre-GED classes at the Healthy Start Center and the Reisterstown Plaza campuses of the Baltimore City Community College until recently.
Ralph Moore at Peace Camp in 2018, a program
of Strong City Baltimore he founded
(Photo: Strong City Baltimore)
Ralph Moore is formerly the Coordinator of Mentoring for the Adult Resource Center of the Living Classrooms Foundation. He was Program Manager at Restoration Gardens, a 43 unit apartment building and resource center for formerly homeless youth in southern Park Heights. Moore currently teaches pre-GED students part-time at the Healthy Start Center in the Middle East neighborhood in the city.
He enjoys his family, politics, civil rights history, movies, reading and all things Motown.
Other articles and interviews in this series: