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Baltimore's New Mayor Takes Over This Week

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Incoming Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's top priority is the city's balancing the city's budget.
Baltimore City Council
Incoming Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's top priority is the city's balancing the city's budget.

By Cathy Duchamp

Baltimore will get a new mayor this week. Sheila Dixon officially resigns from the post Thursday, following a plea deal that brings a drawn-out corruption probe to a close.

Rawlings-Blake will leave her Baltimore City Council President job for the Mayor's office with one top priority in mind: the city's $127-million budget deficit.

"That's the equivalent of our entire fire department, half the police force, 2,200 city jobs. We have to get our government working and that means balancing our budget," says Rawlings-Blake.

But for some residents, getting the government working means putting more police officers on the street. Valerie Neuder lives in Baltimore's Highlandtown neighborhood.

"They deal drugs around here all the time. And we call the police and they really don't do nothing," says Neuder.

Next-door neighbor Julie Chaplinski agrees. But they are also concerned about a government that allows outgoing Mayor Sheila Dixon to collect a city pension, despite her conviction for taking gift cards intended for families in need.

"I mean there are people out there that work 40 years for one lump-sum pension and she's getting it every year. No, that's not right," says Chaplinski.

Rawlings-Blake says the city council is looking at what other communities have done to address that issue. She also points to a bill she introduced last week that would change the makeup of Baltimore's ethics board.

"I think it's going to be a significant departure and signal very strongly that there's a new way to do business in the city," she says.

Rawlings-Blake takes the oath of office on Thursday.

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