It comes as no surprise to readers that dozens of Baltimore City businesses, located in the Inner Harbor, in a stretch called "Fells Point," are threatening the new city government, run by Mayor Brandon Scott, with not paying their taxes because they're "fed up and frustrated" with the outburst of violence.
In a letter titled "Letter to City Leaders From Fells Point Business Leaders," addressed to Mayor Brandon Scott, Council President Nick Mosby, Councilman Zeke Cohen, Madam State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and Commissioner Michael Harrison, the 37 restaurants and small businesses are threatening to stop paying city taxes and other fees until "basic and essential municipal services are restored."
What's happening in Fells Point, known for its hipster pubs and taverns, as well as delicious seafood from the Chesapeake Bay, is experiencing an overflow of violent crime from other troubled areas.
The letter comes after three men were shot in Fells Point over the weekend.
"What is happening in our front yard — the chaos and lawlessness that escalated this weekend into another night of tragic, unspeakable gun violence — has been going on for far too long," said the letter.
This is Fells Point, run by @Zeke_Cohen. The same Ezekiel that quote tweeted me weeks ago saying his district was in great shape. Go to his Facebook page, you will find his constituents cursing him out in the comment section. This will be Zeke’s last term. pic.twitter.com/UwIlwIpCMJ— Kimberly Klacik (@kimKBaltimore) June 8, 2021
Investigating an outbreak of violence in Fells Point. How police and business owners are reacting, tonight at 11:00 on 11 News. pic.twitter.com/GpChhgaHG5— WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore (@wbaltv11) June 7, 2021
I’m reporting live from #FellsPoint on @wbalradio this morning with @C4Show & @BryanNehman as nearly 40 business owners here have sent a letter to @MayorBMScott & @BaltimorePolice Commissioner Harrison threatening to stop paying taxes unless something is done about violence here pic.twitter.com/duePrfIGI3— Scott Wykoff (@ScottWykoffWBAL) June 9, 2021
The 37 businesses are planning to place their city taxes in an "escrow account" and released them until these demands are satisfied:
- Pick up the trash
- Enforce traffic and parking laws through tickets and towing
- Stop illegal open-air alcohol and drug sales
- Empower police to responsibly do their job
The letter continued to say that minor crime that police "ignore" is what is contributing to more violent crime. So Marilyn Mosby's halt on prosecuting petty crimes appears to be backfiring.
"When it comes to prostitution, public urination and defecation, and the illegal sale and consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs on the streets, we know these crimes are not as serious as the carjackings, shootings, and homicides that have become routine," read the letter. "But, as this past weekend proved, a culture of lawlessness rarely remains confined to petty offenses and invariably leads to the kinds of violence and tragedy we witnessed late Saturday night."
The letter concludes:
"Fell's Point is one of the crown jewels of Baltimore. It has become the heartbeat of city commerce; its rich history, stunning views, and cobblestone streets make it a landmark destination for residents and tourists alike; and, at its best, it reflects the remarkable diversity and magic of Baltimore. But if there is a cautionary tale in the decline of the Inner Harbor and Baltimore's Downtown, it is that where small issues go unchecked, it is only a matter of time before deeper problems take root and a neighborhood collapses."
Here are the businesses and their owners, in alphabetical order, who signed the letter:
- Abbey Burger – Marigot Miller
- Admiral's Cup – Darin Mislan
- Ale Mary's -Tom Rivers
- Alexander's Tavern – Carrie Podles
- aMuse Toys -Claudia Towles
- Barcocina – Shane Gerken
- Barley's Backyard – William Packo
- Bertha's – Andy Norris
- BOP Pizza – Mike Beckner
- Denzel’s Shark Bar Grill – Denzil Richards
- Dogwatch Tavern – Marka Browning
- EC Pops – Doug Yeakey & Lance Sovine
- Emporium Collagia -Luana Kaufmann
- Fells Point Creamery – Essayas Hable
- Fells Point Surf Shop- Alison Schuch
- Friends and Family- Ginny Lawhorn
- Koopers Tavern- Patrick Russell
- Luna Garden- Jascy Jones
- Max's Taphouse- Ron Furman
- Papi's- Charlie Gerde
- Party Dress – Susan Singer
- Pie in the Sky – Murat Mercan
- Poppy & Stella – Kelley Heuisler
- Red Star – Kevin Havens
- Rodos Bar – Mike Katris
- Slainte – Kaite Russell
- SuCasa – Nick Johnson
- Thames Street Oyster House – Candace Beattie
- The Admiral Fell Inn – Ted Jabara
- The Choptank – Alex Smith
- The Horse You Came In On – Eric Mathias
- The Point – Erica Russo
- The Pretzel Twist – Essayas Hable
- The Rockwell – Bryan Burkert
- The Waterfront – Kevin Havens
- The Wharf Rat – Sean Brescia & Jennifer Olivia
- Zelda Zen – Beth Hawks
One name that rings a bell is "Alex Smith" of The Choptank, related to David Smith, the executive chairman of Hunt Valley-based Sinclair Broadcasting. Alex runs the Atlas group with numerous investments in Fells Point and the Inner Harbor. Sinclair owns hundreds of news stations across the country, and one, in particular, is Fox Baltimore, which launched "Project Baltimore" to expose the corruption in the city.
It wouldn't be a surprise if the push behind the letter were by the Smiths, who've spent an enormous amount of money to revitalize downtown Baltimore.
But in an era of defunding the police and a liberal-run city that seems to be descending into another year of violence - the town is only going to get more dangerous, as we've explained over the past half-decade.
In response, some restaurants in the downtown area are exiting the city and headed to the suburbs where crime is almost non-existent.