At school safety hearing, Baltimore officials discuss violence, role of social media, ways to address trauma

Councilman Zeke Cohen asked questions regarding the availability and effectiveness of school psychologists and mental health officials, calling on officials to examine whether the city’s worst schools “need more than one school psychologist” and to provide data about the current racial makeup of those officials.

“Too many of our kids … do not receive the mental health services they need,” Cohen said.

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Council unanimously passes resolution calling on school board to pass protections for trans students

City Councilman Zeke Cohen (1st District), the sponsor of the resolution, said on the floor that he met with both a transgender teacher and student who described a climate of harassment.

Cohen said the student contemplated suicide, and told him, “Councilman, we just want to be seen.”

“This policy is a step in the right direction toward letting our LGBTQ brothers, sisters, and siblings know that they are not only seen, but loved,” Cohen said.

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Let’s not fight over scraps in the Kirwan Commission education plan

Across Maryland, we have allowed ourselves to be divided when it comes to funding our schools. Urban versus rural. Rich versus poor. Baltimore versus everyone. This zero-sum scramble for resources leaves all of our kids at a disadvantage. Over the past few years, Maryland’s schools have fallen in nationwide rankings. Our economy lags behind neighboring states. And we are not delivering on our potential to lift our most vulnerable citizens out of poverty. We must do better.

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City Council Members Push For Independent Study On Water Rate Increase

Councilman Zeke Cohen and other advocates held a conference Tuesday to ask the DPW to produce an independent rate study before raising water bills.

“This is a moment for transparency in Baltimore,” said Cohen. “The public deserves to know why our bills are increasing and where our tax dollars will go.”

DPW announced that rates would go up by 30 percent between fiscal year 2020 and 2022 and is scheduled to ask the Board of Estimates for the rate increase Wednesday.

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Councilman Cohen Releases Statement

Councilman Zeke Cohen, a member of the Executive Appointments Committee, released a statement after the hearing, saying in part: "I expect any nominee for this position to consistently engage with the public, present a vision for their leadership and the city and be transparent about their background file and resume. Unfortunately, these qualities have not been reflected in Mr. Fitzgerald's candidacy."

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This process was embarrassing for this city

Councilman Zeke Cohen also wondered if Fitzgerald was the right person for the job.

"This process was embarrassing for this city. We are at a moment where we are facing a crisis of violence and a crisis of confidence," Cohen said. "We need the best in the world to come here to Baltimore. We need a process that is clear and transparent. We need someone who is going to come here with a vision, a plan and an ability to both reduce violence and successfully implement our consent decree."

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Baltimore police commissioner nominee withdraws

Going forward, council members and activists said Monday that Pugh needed to guarantee greater transparency. Councilman Zeke Cohen called for a fresh start.

“My strong recommendation is that we start over with a transparent, community-based process where the voices of people who sat through that hearing are heard, where council members have access to the full vetting file of the candidate and we can get the very best person in the world to come serve our great city,” said Cohen, who sits on the council committee that weighs mayoral appointments.

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