Baltimore City Council Challenges Mayor Over Youth Funding

Council President Jack Young defiant as Rawlings-Blake administration tries to stop proposal which would dedicate 3 percent of city budget to youth funding

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Story Transcript

MEGAN SHERMAN, TRNN: Amid turmoil after a mistrial was declared in the case of William Porter, the first of six officers to face charges in the death of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore City Council convened to address an issue that has been lost in the coverage of the legal proceedings: how the city can improve the lives of its youngest residents.

JAMES B. KRAFT: This is a charter grant creating [inaud.] youth fund for the purpose of establishing a continuing, non-[inaud.] overdue fund, to be used exclusively to supplement services provided to children and youth.

SHERMAN: At issue is money. Specifically, a proposal to dedicate by law 3 percent of the city’s $2.4 billion budget to money for youth programs. Spending that many say has been lacking in the past.

BRIA JOHNSON: YouthWorks is underfunded and it’s understaffed, so that’s basically why we need the help from the city, so that they could invest. And that’s exactly why the 3 percent would impact us tremendously.

SHERMAN: And some say partly responsible for the unrest when Gray died in a police van in April.

BRIA JOHNSON: The main people that were involved, were involved in the riots, were the youth, which is why we were publicized and broadcasted as hooligans and savages and all that other stuff that we were labeled as.

SHERMAN: But it is an idea that prompted conflict. That’s because Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says she opposes the measure. But a defiant council president Jack Young appeared undeterred by the mayor’s opposition.

BERNARD C. “JACK” YOUNG: There are too many services we do not invest in and [inaud.] our young people. That figure includes [inaud.] support and [inaud.] the sheriff’s office, and $3.1 million for juvenile services and the state’s attorney. This may be money we need to spend, but it’s not money we can claim to be helping our children [inaud.].

SHERMAN: For now the council says they can move it forward without the mayor’s support.

MARY PAT CLARKE: Children, youth, and families are at top of our priority list and should be. And therefore we need to know that we don’t have to negotiate every year for additional funds. The fate of the city will be the fate of our children and our families as far as funding goes.

SHERMAN: If it passes the council it will be up for voters to decide its fate, if the city should commit real resources to the future of its youth.

This is Megan Sherman and Stephen Janis reporting with the Real News Network.

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DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.