By Liz Doyle and Ryan Sullivan
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writers
Baltimore City Mayor Bernard Young nominated 11 individuals to the inaugural Public Safety Advisory Commission Monday night.
Baltimore City Council President Brandon M. Scott announced the nominations, and the council assigned each nominee to the Executive Appointments Committee during Monday night’s meeting.
The Public Safety Advisory Commission’s purpose is to guide community and police interactions and Baltimore Police Department processes, according to Scott. The commission will be tasked with developing community-police interaction plans that are responsive to the city’s diverse neighborhoods and communities, according to Scott.
“This is not just for the city as a whole,” Scott said. “But for drilling down into the specifics of police interactions in each of our police districts with people re-entering our community from prisons, the LGBTQ community, our Latinx community, and our youth.”
Scott put out a call for applications to join the commission last November, and he said that over 100 applications were received. A review panel was created that included community figures like George Buntin, chairman of the Baltimore Civilian Review Board, Merrick Moses of the state’s attorney office, and Ray Kelly, director of the Citizens Policing Project. They made the recommendations, and the 11 names on the agenda are the people who made it through that process, according to Scott.
A councilman at the time, Scott introduced the commission in 2017. He has been working on getting the commission into the community ever since.
“I want to thank Mayor Young for working with me and our team to formally nominate the inaugural group,” Scott said.
These executive nominations are scheduled for a public hearing on Nov. 9, according to the council. Each person, should they be confirmed, would serve a four-year term.
The council also discussed the city’s plan to extend its waste disposal agreement with Wheelabrator’s Baltimore Refuse Energy Systems Co. through 2031.
Although BRESCO is set to invest around $40 million in emissions control upgrades, many environmentalists are upset that trash is allowed to be burned at all.
“Opportunities are being lost for the health and well-being for the future of the city,” Council member Mary Pat Clarke, D- District 14, said Monday. “That tall structure is the largest air polluter in the entire city of Baltimore and creates the highest asthma rate in the state of Maryland.”
Environmentalists had previously hoped that when the city’s contract with BRESCO expired at the end of 2021, the city would implement a “Zero Waste Plan” that would emphasize the conservation of all resources.
“The great opportunity lost is that it looks as if Baltimore City and Baltimore County, without public hearings on the issues, have both decided at the same time, that by bringing trash to BRESCO, they are going to keep BRESCO alive much, much longer than we had hoped in this era of zero waste and this era of global warming,” Clarke said. “Now is the time for us, and we’re letting it get past us. Shame on us all.”
City Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton, D- District 6, agreed with many of Clarke’s points.
“Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke has given us some very good points for us to think about, especially the health and well-being of our young people and seniors, and communities that have suffered from cancer and all kinds of diseases from places like BRESCO,” Middleton said. “We need to think hard and long about our next steps.”
Scott has previously shared his opinion of BRESCO on Twitter.
“What I said is that if the contract were extended, I would do everything in my power to ensure this is the last time we ever discuss extending their lease and work to divert as much waste as possible over my term as mayor,” Scott said in a Tweet on Oct. 14. “Our city has never fully invested in the infrastructure and education required for a successful transition to zero waste. 85% of people in our city don’t regularly recycle. We have a lot of work to do, and there is no quick fix.”