City spending panel postpones vote on awarding DPW contract to Pikesville company

Jan 9, 2020

The city's Board of Estimates was scheduled Wednesday to act on a $40,000 contract that would hire workers to clear an invasive species at Druid Lake and Ashburton Resevoirs--two sources of the Baltimore's drinking water. 

The Department of Public Works endorsed the contract for a Pikesville company. Community activist Kim Trueheart argued that the money should be earmarked for a program to get young people off street corners and into paying jobs. "When are (City leaders) going to put money---sustainable money behind helping those young men find work," she asked. "There are opportuntities here, that this procurement just misses completely."

There was pushback from City Council President Brandon Scott about whether there were any legal restrictions that would prevent the agency from hiring young people between the ages of 21 and 24 year old old to the landscaping work that said to be "too complex."  Erin Sher Smyth, Purchasing Agent for the City's Finance department said there wasn't such language in contracts.  

Mayor Jack Young also offered pushback of his own recalling days of his youth working in pest control.  "We talk about our youth out here doing the bad things, but yet when opportunities come when we can talk about employing them, we shut the door," said Young. " Pointing to a group of young men standing with Trueheart, Young said just by looking at them he was "quite sure they can do that work."  The vote on the contract has been tabled for two weeks.