Baltimore Now PAC is chaired by a guy who got fired from City Hall in 2015 for saying what the rest of us were thinking — that City Hall’s response to the uprising was a failure. More on that in a minute.
When Dan Sparaco graduated from his expensive Ivy League law school in 2001 he was the only person in his class without a job. He had tried to get funding to start a nonprofit to fight police misconduct in Philadelphia, but that didn’t pan out.
He eventually found work doing human rights work in southern Mexico on behalf of indigenous communities trying to defend their land and way of life from a hostile government. But it seemed strange that he should go to another country to do work like that when so many people in his own needed defending.
So Dan, a Long Island native, returned to New York and got a job at The Legal Aid Society defending low-income families from eviction in Brooklyn. After three years and hundreds of families — most saved from eviction, some, sadly, not — he got a job at a law firm in Manhattan because he needed the money, and rich people and corporations arguing over their own money paid better.
Then he met a woman who lived in Baltimore, so he moved here, got married, then got divorced, and found himself, a broken man with the potential to be something better, in a broken city with the potential to be something better.
At that point he started taking risks. For the first time in his career he stopped practicing law. He had always been a trial lawyer, and had been one in city government since he came here. But then he had the chance to work in the mayor’s office for Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and he took it.
In the mayor’s office Dan oversaw city operations — the real meat-and-potatoes of city government like picking up trash, fixing potholes, and fixing water bills. But after April 27, 2015, his job became about the future of the whole city.
Two months after the uprising, at a meeting he wasn’t even supposed to be in, with all the big shots — the chief of staff, the senior team, the heads of public works, health, housing, transportation and the police commissioner — Dan made the mistake of speaking his mind. For two months the whole city (and, it seemed, the whole country) was watching and waiting for City Hall to respond to the death of Freddie Gray and its aftermath. But City Hall had done nothing. Dan said we should do the opposite of that.
Then Dan followed up his performance at this meeting with a memo to the mayor and all of senior leadership, outlining his points and the need for a path forward. This was not received well. Shortly after the mayor announced she was not going to run for re-election, he was told to get out.
Since then he’s been a practicing lawyer, he’s fought to elect candidates he believes in, and even had his own ill-fated (but fun) campaign for City Council as an independent candidate in 2016.
After getting the boot from City Hall, Dan started researching Baltimore’s political history. Now he’s struggling to find time to write a book. That research provides the backbone for Baltimore Now's analysis, and for narrative and political program it seeks to develop.
If we wait decades for the history of 2015 to be written the way we waited decades for the history of 1968 to be written, it will be to late. And so, Baltimore Now.