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Young calls for partners to address city problems

Baltimore 72nd City Council took office Thursday with more than half of its members newly elected.

Council President Jack Young said that the members will focus on reducing crime, reducing the number of vacant properties and increase affordable housing.  And, he said, he wants to partner with the private sector to accomplish those tasks.

During his address, he focused on the theme of the ceremony – “strengthening neighborhoods through partnerships” – and mentioned some examples.  He discussed a holistic approach to reducing crime being created by Belair Edison Neighborhoods in Northeast Baltimore.

“Mrs. [Johnette] Richardson, [executive director of Belair Edison Neighborhoods,] is leading an effort that views crime as an issue that’s bigger than the police department,” he said. “This involves working with city agencies; from the Departments of Health, Transportation, Public Works, Housing, the Liquor Board, Baltimore Development Corporation, and a host of other agencies, as well as stake holders outside of government.”

Young also told the crowd about Details Deconstruction, a division of local non-profit Humanim, that hires people to take apart vacant properties and reuse the building materials for other construction projects.

“One deconstruction job done by Details creates six to eight times more jobs than standard demolition,” he said.

In addition to talking about the council’s future over the next four years, Young celebrated the accomplishments of the 71st City Council.  Those include prohibiting companies from asking about an applicant’s criminal past on a job application and requiring a majority of jobs for city contracts to be filled by city residents.

Young also praised the council’s push for police body cameras; an effort that was ultimately vetoed by former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Using football terms, Young said the previous council “advanced the ball down the field.”  However, he added, “we’ve been forced backward a few times, but we’ve also converted a couple of timely third downs.”

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