In the News: 1/25/07

While Ben Cardin has been doing his thing in the Senate, Michael Steele has returned to a job that he knows well, running a political organization. Steele has been named head of GOPAC. GOPAC trains Republican activists and recruits candidates around the country. I hope the training doesn't include any of Mr. Steele's recent election antics.

Personally, I think this is a stupid move for GOPAC and for the national GOP as a whole. Though I find his politics reprehensible, Mr. Steele is one of the most interesting and dare I say vibrant Republicans in the country. As a Democrat, I am glad to have Steele heading up GOPAC, seeing as he has proven his inability to win elections, particularly at the grassroots level. I must assume that he couldn't even round up enough volunteers in Baltimore to hand out his literature on election day.

If Republicans were smart, they would call up Mr. Murdoch and get Steele a pundit job at Fox news where he can do what he does best, which is to be a pretty face and a slick voice for the GOP.


Through inaction, Maryland lawmakers can put lethal injections and the death penalty on hold indefinitely. That is not enough for Delegate Samuel Rosenberg and Senator Lisa Gladden, who both introduced legislation this Tuesday that would abolish capital punishment in the state.

Good for them.

The unemployment in rate in Maryland has dropped to an amazing 3.8%. This is good news, but simply having a job doesn't always translate into having the buying power to make the big moves in life. By big moves, I mean things such as buying a home, paying off school loans, and starting a family. I still have all of these things ahead of me, and to be honest, they are completely out of reach, despite having what I consider a "good job".

This brings me to an recent Sun article on affordable housing. This bit in particular depressed the hell out of me:
In the Baltimore metro area, the annual income needed to purchase a median-priced home of $275,000 (based on third-quarter data) was $94,206, according to the study -- well above the $60,000 that is the going rate for registered nurses, and slightly less than the $50,000 that is the prevailing wage for experienced elementary school teachers and police officers. (The study assumed one-income households. With two-income households, the gap is less daunting, but that's another story.)

Yet the key phrase here is "metro area." With a median sales price of about $170,000, homes in the city are in reach to those workers, though not to lower-paid workers such as nursing aides and housekeepers.
Ouch. Lets just say my salary falls far below the lowest amount mentioned above. Even with houses in Baltimore being generally lower priced than around the state, I feel that I will remain a perpetual renter.

Realtors are making the argument that the City Council shouldn't intervene, because the issue is regional, not city based. I am inclined to agree. If affordable housing is not being created all over the state, it would be unfair to basically force those who want affordable housing to live in the city. Many issues arise here, including school and neighborhood quality. Low income families should have at least and opportunity to compete for affordable housing in the suburbs around the state.

So I think the City Council should still consider raising the affordable unit requirement to 20%, as one proposal has suggested. However, Governor O'Malley and the State legislature, as well as county governments need to step up as well. Maryland is made stronger by our economic diversity. We cannot risk losing such diversity by forcing out our low income population. Heck, as a person who considers himself middle class, I am worried about being squeezed out too. The state needs to work together to change the affordable housing situation.

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