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City Employees Do Not Equal City Dwellers

Photo: Ben Claassen III, License: N/A

Ben Claassen III

Photo: Ben Claassen III, License: N/A

Ben Claassen III

In early 2011, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake launched Open Baltimore, the city’s online open-data initiative, to a good deal of fanfare. City agencies were now required to post their publicly available data online. But time passed, and many of the data sets were not updated or fully populated. City employee salary figures are now nearly two years old, for instance, and as the Baltimore Brew recently noted, the supposedly comprehensive city contracts database is missing hundreds of important, active city contracts. But, as city resident and data hound Yakov Shafranovich has discovered, it still pays to keep an eye on Open Baltimore.

Shafranovich works in information technology, and in his spare time monitors city and state government and posts his observations to his web site, In January, he analyzed Open Baltimore data regarding the residency of city employees by agency; the result was eye-opening. (This particular data set captures city employee residency as of Dec. 1, 2011.)

In his blog post, Shafranovich points out that only about 56 percent of city employees actually live in the city. That’s 8,221 out of 14,559 employees. Of those, 743 don’t even live in the state of Maryland. (Nearly half of the out-of-staters work for the Police Department.) As Shafranovich notes, the Police Department and the Fire Department—arguably the city agencies locals are most likely to interact with—have among the lowest percentage of city resident employees (28 percent and 36 percent, respectively). In contrast, city residents make up 95 percent—411 out of 431—of one unsung sector of city government: the Department of Transportation’s crossing guard unit. Props to Shafranovich for revealing what was under our noses all along.

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