Council president urges Baltimore mayor to end Grand Prix

City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young is urging Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to abandon the troubled Baltimore Grand Prix and focus on "core issues that impact the quality of life for all Baltimoreans."

In an op-ed article submitted to The Baltimore Sun, Young said the city should direct its limited resources to programs that benefit young people and senior citizens, such as public recreation centers and pools, both of which were cut under Rawlings-Blake's budget for the current fiscal year.

"What does it say about our priorities as a city when we move heaven and Earth to continue a street race but will turn our backs on our most vulnerable citizens?" Young wrote.

A Rawlings-Blake spokesman noted that Young had previously supported the race.

"Even though Council President Young very publically supported the Grand Prix and voted to support the race, he is certainly entitled to change his political position now," spokesman Ryan O'Doherty said in an email. "If we are able to revive the event with a new company, he is certainly entitled to change his political position again, depending on what's popular at the moment."

City Council members contacted Wednesday said they were conflicted about the race's future. While several said they believed the race should continue — with additional fiscal safeguards — others said the city should postpone the race for a year or cancel it.

Councilwoman Helen Holton said she thought it was too late to pull together a race by Labor Day weekend. "Timing is everything, and right now we're behind the eight ball," said Holton.

The City Council does not play a formal role in decisions about the race. And Young, as City Council president, lacks the power to stop it. While he is chairman of the city's five-member Board of Estimates, which would vote on any race proposal, the mayor controls three seats on the board.

Young, who spent most of Wednesday in Annapolis for the first day of the General Assembly session, declined to comment in detail about his article.

Asked about O'Doherty's remarks, Young said, "This is a typical statement from Ryan O'Doherty who does not know his front from his back. Why attack me for what I believe in?"

Young said the city should cease investing time in attempting to salvage the race.

"To continue to pursue the race … is not the best option at a time when so many other important programs and services lack much-needed support," Young wrote. More at Baltimore Sun

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