Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Matt Gallagher: Baltimore’s people, neighborhoods, and institutions should be doing much better than we are.

The fourth in the series of interviews with Baltimore Stakeholders features Matthew Gallagher, President and CEO of the Baltimore based Goldseker Foundation, a non-profit which is heavily involved  in Baltimore's future.
Matthew Gallagher, CEO of the Goldseker Foundation
The Goldseker Foundation works in partnership with the city’s civic leadership, a well-established nonprofit sector, and a growing community of entrepreneurs to serve the Baltimore community, through grantmaking primarily in the areas of community development, education, and nonprofit organizational development (Foundation website).

Gallagher is well known in Baltimore and beyond. He was Director of Baltimore's CitiStat system introduced by then Mayor Martin O'Malley as a tool to make city departments more accountable. Gallagher later served as Governor O'Malley's Chief of Staff in Annapolis.

The idea of these interviews 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.

The responses will be published in random order over the coming months of this election campaign. The interviews are not in any way intended to be representative.

Mixed in 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.

OSI will conduct a mayoral candidate forum on Wednesday, February 5, 2020 at 7pm in the Reginald Lewis Museum.
OSI poll: Where jobs should be created

Matthew Gallagher
Matthew D. Gallagher
The Goldseker Foundation

1.      Are you overall optimistic about Baltimore or pessimistic? Why?
It’s usually easy to be optimistic about Baltimore when you’re a grant maker working with and supporting dynamic leaders and mission-driven organizations that do great work. Unfortunately, while we’ve got pockets of performance and promise around Baltimore, they’re not pervasive. Baltimore’s people, neighborhoods, and institutions should be doing much better than we are.
2.      What three issues do you suggest should be the top priority of the new Mayor?
Public safety, public education, and functional government.

Baltimore must be a safer place to live and raise a family and work and grow businesses. It requires gaining back the public’s trust that effective policing can occur with absolute integrity, while at the same time bringing appropriate focus and intensity to comprehensive interventions in the lives of those most responsible for and at risk of falling victim to violence. Sustained success in these complimentary efforts is the surest way to enable the new investments needed to accelerate improvement in our public schools and restore confidence in Baltimore City’s elected leadership.
Gallagher in 2018 at the University of
Baltimore withUB President
and former Mayor Kurt Schmoke
A consistently functional government can provide all of Baltimore’s neighborhoods with equitable access to not just basic City services, but higher-quality neighborhood amenities too. It can also harness its buying power to increase employment opportunities by prioritizing local hiring, purchasing, and contracting and scale the most promising partnerships with local nonprofits. Spurring our City’s local economy and forging effective partnerships create the momentum and conditions where we can pursue, adopt, and execute more systemic policies that improve the health and welfare of Baltimore City residents and confidently advance regional initiatives involving local assets critical to the metropolitan region’s success. These could include public management of Baltimore’s water utility, refuse management, and expanded and integrated transportation options for residents, workers, and visitors alike. This isn’t about just finding Superman or Wonder Woman to be mayor, we need a whole Justice League of superheroes to bring agency- and issue-specific leadership and management to all of City government. 
OSI survey: What services should be prioritized?

3.      If you were to advise a candidate for Mayor what would be your best suggestion?
While articulating broad priorities that reflect the shared aspirations of those who truly care about Baltimore is an important first step for candidates in a campaign, the next step is more challenging and important. It involves persuading a rightfully skeptical public that real progress can be simultaneously achieved in a number of different areas. That requires being hyper-specific regarding what actions should be taken, where and when those actions will occur, the ways in which those actions will be carried out, and who will be responsible. It’s about creating real expectations, meeting them much more often than not, and constantly communicating with stakeholders the roles they can play in accelerating progress.

4.      What should the next US President do for cities?
Doing no harm would be a great first step and provide immediate relief.
The federal government could really play an important role in more sustainably financing the delivery of public services at the local and state levels. There is so much consensus around wanting to invest more in education vs. incarceration, preventive health care vs. acute care…there’s a very long list of issues and policy areas where the public’s overwhelming preference would be to invest in higher yield activities that, generally, have larger upfront costs and produce tangible dividends in years to come. But if you’re a mayor or governor trying to lead and manage within a four-year election cycle and annually produce a balanced budget, it can be very difficult to self-finance these upfront investments that will eventually lead to higher earnings, lower incarceration, and reduced health care costs. While there has been limited public finance innovation in areas like social impact bonds, cities (and states too) really need the federal government’s scale to create glide paths to sustainably transition public investments towards activities that produce better long-term outcomes.

5.      What recent local fact has given you hope for Baltimore?
Having the NFL’s best player has given me hope for Baltimore. The civic pride in the Ravens’ and Lamar Jackson’s successes cut across race, class, and neighborhood. We need more things that bring us together and unite us in such ways.   
Music lover Gallagher at the 8x10 last week

6.      What recent local fact has depressed you the most?
A fifth straight year of 300+ homicides. It’s completely unacceptable and everyone knows it, but it’s particularly depressing that we can’t forge a clearer community consensus and take more tangible courses of action to reverse this devastating trend.
We need an unwavering focus on the issue of violence. Enough with distractions like aerial surveillance, local/state control of the Baltimore Police, and even squeegee kids. We should be constantly talking about where, when, and how the police work and repairing relationships within communities to restore trust. We need sustained, intensive, and direct engagement with the citizens most at risk of killing or being killed. And for all the appropriate attention given to the Baltimore Police, we need to collectively scrutinize the actions/inactions of other important participants in the public safety continuum and hold them accountable too, particularly the State’s Attorney’s Office and State Parole and Probation.
7.      Do you support a particular candidate for Mayor and for City Council?
As the head of the Goldseker Foundation, no. The foundation’s role is to support the people and institutions of Baltimore in a completely nonpartisan way. This requires us to regularly work closely with local elected and appointed officials. The foundation has always and will continue to be a reliable resource for the mayor, council members, and the hard working professionals of city government.
As a private individual, I can tell you I’ll absolutely be voting (as everyone should), although I don’t yet know for whom. At this point, I just know the candidates for whom I wouldn’t vote.   
Baltimore: Have the best times been in the past?
(photo: Philipsen, Abandoned train facilities near the streetcar

8.      What personal contribution to Baltimore are you most proud of?
Being the founding director of CitiStat is a source of great personal pride, as is seeing the program replicated and adapted so many times over the past two decades. I was very fortunate to be part of a great team that made this contribution to the field of public sector management.
I’m also very proud to have the privilege of leading the Goldseker Foundation. During my tenure and with the board’s full support, the foundation has shifted community development investments into more challenging neighborhoods, we’ve granted to more minority- and women-led organizations, and invested our endowment locally and with more diverse firms and managed funds than at any point in our history.  

9.      Any final thought?
Thank you for your outstanding Community Architecture blogposts. You regularly give substantive treatment to timely issues of great concern to Baltimore.

Matthew D. Gallagher serves as the President and CEO of the Goldseker Foundation. Before joining the Foundation in 2013, Mr. Gallagher served as Chief of Staff to Maryland Governor Martin J. O’Malley and was responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the executive branch of Maryland State government. Prior to his position in Maryland State government, Mr. Gallagher served as Director of CitiStat, Baltimore’s nationally recognized public sector accountability program. Mr. Gallagher has also served as Project Director for the Greater Baltimore Committee, as an assistant deputy mayor in Philadelphia Mayor Edward G. Rendell’s administration, and in educational programs for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Other articles and interviews in this series:

Alvin Hathaway: A Marshall Plan for Cities!

David Troy: Joan Pratt should be fully investigated

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