As what might be described as a casualty of the mess that has turned out to be the administration of Mayor Catherine Pugh, William Cole is resigning as the head of the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC). And not a moment too soon. But then this isn’t about the specifics of why he should be replaced. It’s about a much larger problem, that being the entire mission of the BDC.
Cole, who used to represent downtown Council District 11 before coming to the BDC, was appointed to his current position in 2014 by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake who preceded Mayor Pugh. He was hired, basically, to do whatever he could to assist certain developers with their downtown and selected other projects – which may very well be the last thing that most of the city, struggling to get by every day, needs. His appointment turned the BDC into a major tool for attracting downtown development-related campaign contributions without having any real, lasting impact on the vast majority of the city’s residents. Good for the Mayor’s office. Not so good for the City of Baltimore.
Note to candidates to replace Mayor Pugh… The BDC, if it is to have any continuing value, needs to be refocused. Under no circumstances should the city be spending a dime or minute encouraging or, heaven forbid, subsidizing development anywhere in Baltimore other than in the hearts of the neighborhoods where families are having trouble living, working and earning a meaningful wage for their families.
If you want to turn Baltimore around… If you want to make it a successful city, all-inclusively and not just for a small enclave of commercial, office and high-end residential activity huddled around the harbor… City-supported development has got to occur, urgently and exclusively, in neighborhoods where the people who are struggling live. Period. To do otherwise is just plain bad government.