Press Release: Councilman Bill Henry Announces Campaign for Baltimore City Comptroller Alongside Elected Officials

Baltimore, MD – Earlier today, Bill Henry, the Councilman from Baltimore City’s 4th District, announced he will be running for Baltimore City Comptroller. 

Councilman Henry began by saying, “In my view, government should do two things very well: it should be accountable to the people, and it should deliver the right results,” he continued, “We need a ‘Chief Accountability Officer’ – a truly independent official whose job it is to remind the Mayor and the City Council that achieving better outcomes requires making better decisions.”

Councilman Henry was joined by his colleagues Councilman Zeke Cohen (1st District), Councilman Kris Burnett (8th District), Councilwoman Shannon Sneed (13th District) and Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke (14th District), as well as State Senator Mary Washington (43rd District) and State Delegates Robbyn Lewis (46th District)  and Stephanie Smith (45th District). City Councilman Ryan Dorsey (3rd District) and State Delegates Luke Clippinger (46th District) and Brooke Lierman (46th District) are also endorsing Henry, but were unable to attend the event. 

When introducing Councilman Henry, Senator Washington said, “Working with Bill over the past 15 years, I have witnessed first hand his intimate knowledge of how government works and how government could work better. I trust him to make sure our tax dollars are being spent equitably and strategically to protect our communities.”

In his remarks, Henry pledged to focus on three priorities: modernizing the office, using audits to get results, and promoting equitable economic growth. Along with sitting on the City’s Board of Estimates, which handles all day-to-day financial actions for the City, the Comptroller oversees the City’s Department of Audits and Department of Real Estate.

Councilman Burnett also expressed the need for a change in leadership in the Comptroller’s office. “The office of Comptroller can be a great tool for bringing more accountability and transparency to city government, but it takes someone with Bill’s expertise and passion for good governance to deliver necessary innovation with steady hands. That is why I’m very excited Bill is running for comptroller.”

Henry ended his speech to a large crowd of friends, family, elected officials and supporters, with a call to action, saying that “To accomplish all this, however, will take more than just a campaign – we’ll need a political movement like nothing this City has seen before, but which I see beginning here today.”

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About Bill Henry

Councilman Henry is a graduate of Loyola Blakefield, Johns Hopkins University and Loyola Maryland University, where he received a Master’s degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in Finance. Prior to elected office, he was a deputy director of the Patterson Park Community Development Corporation and worked in the City Council President’s office, both as legislative aide to Mary Pat Clarke and as chief of staff to Lawrence Bell.

He has long been active in the arts, currently serving on the board of the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, and previously serving on the boards of the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Mobtown Players Theatre Company, of which he was a founding member. Councilman Henry is also a former board chair of Greater Homewood Community Corporation (now Strong City Baltimore) and Citizens Planning and Housing Association, and a former board member of Local Progress, a national network of over 900 progressive municipal officials.

To learn more about Councilman Henry’s campaign for Baltimore City Comptroller, please visit www.billhenry.com

Bill Henry Calls for Creation of City Government Customer Service Centers

Bill Henry Calls for Creation of City Government Customer Service Centers

Bill Henry Calls for Creation of City Government Customer Service Centers

Reminiscent of Mayor Schaeffor’s “Mayor’s Stations,” Councilman Henry introduces resolution calling for brick-and-mortar locations offering government services throughout Baltimore’s neighborhoods

Baltimore, MD – At tonight’s City Council meeting, Councilman Bill Henry introduced a resolution calling for the creation of City government customer service centers. These “little city halls” would provide services at brick-and-mortar locations on neighborhood commercial corridors throughout Baltimore. 

The program would be based on programs found in cities like Seattle, Washington, where residents can visit neighborhood-based centers to access key services like bill or fine payment, referrals to city programs or resources, access to government forms or applications, or even a legal clinic. 

Councilman Henry’s proposal is reminiscent of the “Mayor’s Stations,” under Mayor William Donald Schaeffer that made government more accessible to residents.  

“Bringing City Hall to the neighborhoods will improve our local democracy, make our City fairer, and add to the vibrancy of our main streets,” said Councilman Henry. “I look forward to working with Mayor Young, Council President Scott, and my colleagues on the Council to get this done.”

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About Councilman Bill Henry. Bill Henry is a community development professional with over 20 years of experience in urban policy. In 12 years on the City Council, Bill has championed efforts that hold government accountable, empower communities, and grow the tax base. Bill believes we need a City Comptroller who will provide thorough, independent oversight of the City’s fiscal and policy affairs. As Comptroller, Bill will protect the public interest through the office’s crucial roles in budgeting, auditing, and managing the City’s real estate.

Bill Henry Calls for Creation of City Government Customer Service Centers

Councilman Bill Henry Issues Statement on Relocation of Baltimore Police Department’s Training Facility

Baltimore, MD – After approval of a lease agreement and parking agreement moving the Baltimore Police Department’s training facility to the University of Baltimore, Councilman Bill Henry, who is a candidate for Baltimore City Comptroller, issued the following statement:

In 2015, I co-sponsored then-Councilman Mosby’s resolution for a study on moving Baltimore Police Department’s training facility to Coppin State University, which has an excellent criminal justice program, and as a West Baltimore HBCU should be a key engine for equitable economic growth in Baltimore.

This morning the Board of Estimates approved a lease agreement that was initiated by the past administration to move the facility instead to the University of Baltimore.

City taxpayers will pay $2.5 million to renovate the UB facility and $7.2 million in rent over 5 years. Taxpayers will also pay more than $200,000 for parking.
The reason provided is that the consent decree mandates moving to a new facility immediately, and no other location in the City is apparently suitable.
Here’s what I would have done as Comptroller.

First, I would have taken on the feasibility study that the City Council asked for four years ago. As an independent elected official devoted to oversight and accountability, the Comptroller’s office is well-suited to providing this kind of analysis where it is needed.

Second, as chair of the body which approves these leases before they go to the Board of Estimates, I would have withheld my approval of the lease until being provided with the administration’s rationale for rejecting other city-owned properties and private facilities like those at Coppin. I would have provided this analysis to the public.

Perhaps the UB facility truly is the best possible way to meet the consent decree’s immediate requirements. However, the public deserves to see the details. Unfortunately, we will never know whether a better solution would have been possible now had due diligence been done in 2015 as the Council advised.

Today the BOE asked Baltimore City residents to again accept the inertia of past missed opportunities. This is why open, transparent, and accountable government is central to Baltimore moving forward.

As your next Baltimore City Comptroller, my job will be to speak up for the public interest early and often, because we’re going to have to change the way we make decisions if we expect to see better results anytime soon.”

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About Councilman Bill HenryBill Henry is a community development professional with over 20 years of experience in urban policy. In 12 years on the City Council, Bill has championed efforts that hold government accountable, empower communities, and grow the tax base. Bill believes we need a City Comptroller who will provide thorough, independent oversight of the City’s fiscal and policy affairs. As Comptroller, Bill will protect the public interest through the office’s crucial roles in budgeting, auditing, and managing the City’s real estate.

WHAT DOES THE COMPTROLLER DO? UNDERSTANDING THE OFFICE OF THE COMPTROLLER

The Comptroller’s role is the chief accountability officer for the City who helps ensure that government delivers the results people want, including clean and safe streets, good schools, a fair and growing economy, and well-functioning infrastructure.

The position of Comptroller serves one main purpose: to provide a check on the power of the Mayor and the growing bureaucracy, centrally-controlled by the Mayor.

Today, the main functions provided by Baltimore’s Office of the Comptroller are:

  • City Auditor. Through its Department of Audits, the Comptroller’s Office provides regular financial and performance audits of City agencies. The Comptroller is responsible for checking the books and they also determine the efficiency of the City offices and programs delivering results to the public.
  • Oversight via the Board of Estimates. The Comptroller has a vote on the Board of Estimates, which oversees the City’s budgeting, spending, and procurement contracts.
  • Independent Accountant. The Comptroller’s office prepares the Consolidated Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and other key accounting documents as the City’s independent accountant.
  • Managing Real Estate. The Comptroller is the head of the Department of Real Estate which manages the City’s real estate holdings.
  • Finance and Pensions. The Comptroller sits on the Board of Finance and the boards that oversee the City’s pension funds. The Board of Finance issues City bonds and loans, reviews the City’s capital budget, and oversees all City trusts and investments.
  • The Comptroller is the head of the Department of Communications Services, which is comprised of the Municipal Telephone Exchange and the Municipal Post Office. 

As we move into the third decade of the 21st century, it is time for the Comptroller’s Office to refocus on its role as the watchdog of the City’s affairs. Furthermore, this must be done in a way that uses the tools and techniques of a data-driven society and an information-based economy. In order to provide real accountability on behalf of the public, the Comptroller must take the lead in providing not only transparent data, but also useful analysis of City functions. By virtue of being independently elected, the Comptroller is insulated from the politics of the Mayor and City Council. The Comptroller is best situated to answer the question “Is the City government is producing the results residents deserve?”

AN INDEPENDENT VOICE IN CITY HALL

Bill’s Plan to be Baltimore’s Strongest Advocate for the Public Interest

Baltimore needs more than just change in who holds elected office: we need to completely rethink how City government is run. City government must be able to protect basic human rights and human dignity. Services like police, sanitation, water/wastewater, or transportation should work efficiently and effectively.

As your Comptroller, BIll Henry will be the City’s most powerful advocate for the public. It’s the Comptroller that has both the independence, access, and staff resources to provide real oversight.

  • Advocating for Better Policy. As Comptroller, Bill Henry will work with a broad array of partners to identify key areas of analysis that can be furthered by work performed by the Department of Audits. The focus will be on empowering Baltimore’s decision-makers at all levels to enable choices that better reflect the results desired by the people of Baltimore City. Areas of analysis would include:
    • Affordable Housing
    • Fair, Equitable Development
    • Better Public Transit
    • Homeownership
    • Waste Disposal Issues
  • Restructuring the Board of Estimates. Bill Henry knows that restructuring the Board of Estimates would effectively end the strong mayor system. We need a government that is accountable, but not gridlocked. Bill supports a formal study of options to restructure the BOE, curbing the power of the Mayor’s office without ending the strong Mayor system.
  • Participatory Budgeting. It’s time to let communities have more direct say over the budget. Bill would partner with the City Council to bring participatory budgeting to Baltimore City.
  • Annual surveys and town halls. Bill will reinstate the Baltimore community survey to continuously engage residents on what needs to be improved at City government.

Providing Reports and Issue Briefs to Guide Decision-Making. When the public, the press, and city government consider major issues, including crime reduction and housing affordability, the Comptroller’s office must be able to provide key data and analysis from an independent perspective. For example, the Allegheny County Comptroller produces periodic updates to taxpayers on relevant issues.