Across demographic and age groups, residents of Baltimore cite the city’s political leadership as the single biggest obstacle to Baltimore becoming a world-class city.
It’s one of many findings to come out of the early results of the Speak Up, Baltimore survey developed by the philanthropic Warnock Family Foundation, founded in 2012 by David Warnock, managing partner of Camden Partners. The survey, launched in September, is collecting data the foundation will use to inform its forthcoming Baltimore Social Innovation Journal: an open call for Baltimore’s residents to submit proposals tackling a variety of urban problems and receive funding from the Warnock Foundation to put their ideas into practice.
As of Monday morning, 400 people participated in the month-long survey. View the full results here.
Respondents were first presented with a list of obstacles and assets put together by the Warnock Foundation and asked to assess each.
Then respondents were asked to choose the one biggest obstacle and one biggest asset to Baltimore, regardless of whether it was on the list above. While 27 percent of survey respondents cite political leadership as an obstacle — and just 16 percent of respondents say that Baltimore is “one of America’s greatest cities,” despite what the benches say — they have a high opinion of Baltimoreans, citing “people who live here” as the city’s biggest asset.
Other findings from the survey (with the requisite warning about cum hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacies):
- Respondents who live outside Baltimore have a more favorable impression of the city than respondents who live inside Baltimore. This flies in the face of (often unsubstantiated) conventional wisdom that assumes suburbanites fear Baltimore and filter all their impressions of the city through the most violent scenes from “The Wire.”
- But, as one might expect, respondents selected poverty, drugs and education as the biggest obstacles to Baltimore’s future success.
- For the technology crowd: 27 percent of respondents said “technology” was an asset.
- En masse, 42 percent of respondents pinpointed Baltimore’s tax structure as an obstacle. But when asked to pick out a single obstacle, this number drops to 3 percent. Correlation is not causation, but it seems that more people would be more amenable to Baltimore’s high property tax rate if they knew they were being billed correctly and that their money wasn’t being squandered.
- The big takeaway: more than half of survey respondents, and it is admittedly a small sample size, believe becoming one of this country’s greatest cities should be Baltimore’s goal, and 43 percent believe Baltimore can do that within five years.