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WYPR's Senior News Analyst opines on recent Maryland news.

Mayor Must Push The Red Line

The new Baltimorean may love the city more than those of us who’ve been here for decades.

They want a lively, creative and walkable place to live. They’re saying no to cars. Cars pollute, snarl traffic and clog neighborhood streets. They reduce, not enhance, the quality of life.

Given these sentiments and other compelling arguments, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake must push for the Red Line. She must push publicly. Almost every day – as if the city’s future depends on it. It does, M.J. "Jay" Brodie says. The current resurgence might not be sustainable without it. And, says the former city housing commissioner, the deal won’t be done until the federal check’s in hand.

It’s not just a matter of getting from one place to the next. It’s about being a world-class, progressive city, worthy of its new blood. The new city lover – perhaps a bio-scientist who fell in love with Baltimore while earning a PhD here – would reject the old Baltimore skepticism. There are still some among us, Brodie says, who believe there’s “a particular cloud full of rain that sits over Baltimore and only rains here.”

Baltimore could truly be best, he says. But only if we are talking about the entire city. A billion-dollar state grant for renovating and rebuilding schools could be the leverage for community-wide renewal.

Patience, he says, is precious in the world of development. “It takes a minute to play the minute waltz,” Brodie reminds us. In other words, developments take as long as they take. The city and developers have done more for Baltimore than many of us realize.

Everybody knows about the big-deal downtown developments. What the city plans for the neighborhoods is much less clear. These plans can’t be abstract, delivered  from 30,000 feet. Planning, he says, is vision. Planning and visible action keep hope alive.

Quoting the Bible, Brodie says: “Without vision the people perish.”

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