MAYOR MARTIN O'MALLEY
December 7, 2004
Thank you Carla Hayden for a magnificent event and for the magnificent
job you do in running our renowned Library System.
Before I start I wanted to take a moment to recognize some people. At
the 1999 inauguration we were reminded that: "If there is no wind, we
must row." Along with the Cabinet members and all the hard-working men
and women who make Baltimore city run, these people wasted no time in
grabbing an oar - they probably needed one getting here today - and
putting all their energy, time, and resources toward assisting us in
Baltimore's comeback. We will be forever grateful to:
Reverend Frank Reid
Imam Hassan Amin
Senators Mikulski and Sarbanes
Attorney General Joe Curran
Congressman Ben Cardin
Senator Nate McFadden and Delegate Salima Siler Marriott and the entire
Baltimore City Delegation
Council President Sheila Dixon and the entire, soon-to-be-sworn,
Baltimore City Council.
Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith
Howard County Executive Jim Robey
Comptroller Joan Pratt
Former Mayor Tommy D'Allesandro
And, of course, my ship would have surely gone under were it not for
the patience, and love and loyalty of my family. Thank you Mom and Dad;
Barb and Joe Curran; my beautiful Grace and Tara and William and Jack;
and my sword and my shield, Katie.
Five years ago, on the day we recall the sacrifices at Pearl Harbor,
our City recommitted itself to forging a stronger and better future for
our children. In the years since that day, a new day of infamy -
September 11th - has entered our nation's memory and our daily
consciousness. And the people of Baltimore, once again, have risen to
the challenge of our times, against the headwinds of great adversity.
In 1999, we saw clearly where we were. But we saw, just as clearly,
where we could go. With trust in God and faith in the power of our
neighbors, we chose to move forward together, knowing there is more
that unites us than divides us. While we have not accomplished all that
we envisioned, we have achieved more than many believed possible.
Though older, greyer and humbled by setbacks and tragedies, we gather
today to declare that our work is not done. Our work is not done,
because better isn't good enough.
We are taking responsibility - as individuals, and as a free, diverse,
and creative people - for the future of our City. With belief in
ourselves and in our neighbors, our work has brought forth hard-won
progress: safer streets, new opportunities for our people, and the
promise of a better future for our children.
Our progress is made by the man who spends an hour a day cleaning up
his neighborhood - not because he threw the trash there, but because he
chooses to pick it up.
Our progress is made by the woman, and her neighbors with Citizens on
Patrol, who refuse to give up their neighborhood to drug dealers and
Our progress is made by the churches, mosques and synagogues that
choose to mentor Baltimore's children and take stewardship over the
parks and public places where children should play and seniors should
Our progress is made by the thousands of volunteers and scores of
businesses, who have rolled up their sleeves and made our classrooms
and hallways cleaner, brighter places through the Believe in Our
And our progress is made by our children in our classrooms - students
who are improving their test scores faster than the Maryland State
average - thousands of whom have personally promised me that they will
not let us down.
Over the last five years, citizens in every neighborhood of our City
have shown, through their action, faith, sacrifices and investments,
that we are responsible for our city's future. Today, one chapter of
our history ends; and today, a new one begins.
From his prison cell in the Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr. wrote: "Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability.
It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men
willing to be co-workers with God… We must use time creatively, and
forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right."
My friends, we have used time creatively.
Together, we have made our city cleaner. Together, we have doubled drug
treatment - helping twice as many of our courageous neighbors heal
themselves. Together, with gratitude to the Baltimore police officers
who gave their lives protecting ours, we have reduced crime by 40-
percent. Home values are rising in neighborhoods across the city. We
have $6 billion dollars in new investment. Our population loss has
slowed, and we are poised for growth. And our first and second grade
children, citywide, scored above the national average in reading and
math for the first time in 30 years.
Nothing about our progress was inevitable. In a very real way, the
responsible men and women of our City have all chosen to be willing
"co-workers with God."
With openness and honesty, with trust and respect for one another, we
have built a new foundation - beginning with public safety and
committed to improving the quality of life for all. Now, we must
continue this important work.
Continue working until that time when all of our young men grow up
knowing more love than fear; and none of them dies in the senseless
destruction of drugs and drug violence.
Continue working until all of our schools are centers of learning and
Continue working until our City is a place where all of our citizens
have the opportunity to earn a decent living to support and nurture
Continue working until all of our neighborhoods are safe and clean and
look forward to the future - because in Baltimore, there is no such
thing as a spare neighborhood, and there is no such thing as a spare
American. Everyone is needed.
This Battle for Baltimore - this noble battle which we freely choose to
wage - will not be carried for us by others. Nor is it a cause that can
be won in these short years ahead. It is, nonetheless, a cause every
bit as important to the conscience of our country as it is to the
future of Baltimore's children.
At its core, on battle lines that stretch across our most challenged
neighborhoods, it is the cause of freedom - freedom from fear, freedom
from want, freedom from oppression, freedom from bigotry, intolerance,
and ignorance. And it is the cause of justice, and what we choose to
make of it. Here. In our time, when our country needs us, in this
place, in our place… in Baltimore, …the greatest City in America.
Revised: December 07, 2004