By Sabri Ben-Achour
Baltimore's new Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, delivered some sobering news about her city's budget in today's State of the City Address.
In office only 19 days, the mayor made only fleeting references to what she called the "sad and difficult circumstances" that brought her into office, namely the resignation of the former mayor over an ethics scandal.
"Now more than ever we are in a time of healing," she says. Rawlings-Blake said the city would need to seize on a sense of common cause to deal with the biggest challenge facing the city, a $120 million budget deficit.
"Let me tell you what $120 million means to Baltimore," she says, "it is 1,700 police officer positions, half of our police force. One-hundred percent of our firefighters."
The mayor called the deficit devastating and brutal and warned it would have implications for everyone, starting with her own staff. She promised to reduce her vehicle fleet, cancel international trips, and shut down the Mayor's Office of International Affairs.
Rawlings-Blake said a team of community and business leaders would review city agencies for waste, though she did stake out two primary priorities that would be spared: education and the street police force. Blake also pledged not to raise property taxes.