Spending panel approves new $241,000 deal for EBDI

Over the objections of some activists, the city's spending panel on Wednesday approved a new $241,000 five-year deal with East Baltimore Development Inc.

Under the contract, the city will pay EBDI about $48,00 a year to landscape medians along Broadway.

Members of the East Baltimore Leadership Team — a coalition of activists, churches and unions — testified against the deal Wednesday before the city's Board of Estimates, arguing that no contracts or deals should go to EBDI until it begins hiring more East Baltimore residents.

"They have not lived up to their mandate to hire East Baltimore residents," said Lawrence Brown, a coalition leader. He said that the developers have hired only about 10 percent of their construction workers from East Baltimore, and his coalition intends to oppose all deals for EBDI until those numbers improve.

EBDI CEO Christopher Shea said he will use 11 staffers to perform the landscaping who are all residents of East Baltimore.

"Most of them were born in East Baltimore," he said.

The panel voted 4-0 in favor. Comptroller Joan M. Pratt abstained.

"I know certain folks that work on this contract and I will not vote to put them out of work," City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young said.

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