Politics

  • Board defers plan to cut jobs at Department of Public Safety

    After an unusual confrontation between top state officials and employees whose jobs they want to eliminate, the Board of Public Works decided Wednesday to send Gov. Larry Hogan's job-cut plan back to the state's prison and parole agency for a second look. The board voted 3-0 to defer action on a proposal by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to eliminate 67 positions in its human resources department. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Hogan letter to Mikulski says county funding in place for Purple Line

    Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday urged members of the state’s congressional delegation to help secure federal funding for the Purple Line and notified them that the state and local contributions are finally in place. Hogan (R) sent a letter to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D), the group’s senior member, informing the lawmakers that Montgomery and Prince George’s counties met a critical demand from the state by agreeing to spend tens of millions of dollars more on the project. (Wash. Post) Read Full Article

  • Heather Mizeur endorses Rep. Chris Van Hollen in Maryland Senate race

    Former Democratic Maryland lawmaker Heather Mizeur endorsed Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Wednesday as a “stellar candidate” for the U.S. Senate in a video she posted on her campaign Facebook page. Van Hollen is facing his House colleague Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) of Prince George’s County in the primary race to succeed Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who announced earlier this year that she would not be seeking reelection in 2016. (Wash. Post) Read Full Article

  • Rawlings-Blake opening re-election headquarters in Remington

    Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will open a campaign headquarters next month in Remington as she plans a run for re-election in 2016. Rawlings-Blake's campaign, in an email Tuesday afternoon, said it will set up shop at 210 W. 28th Street. A grand opening is set for Sept. 12. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

Center Maryland

  • Donald C. Fry: Time to Shake off April and Reconnect Baltimore

    In the wake of the civil unrest in late April many in the Baltimore community heard plenty of talk from naysayers in the region and among national press pundits that the basic social contract in Baltimore had been weak and frayed for a long time and now is broken altogether. Those who know the city and many of the committed hard-working leaders in the business, government and other communities all too well didn’t buy this point of view. Not at all. But it was clear that some new approaches and initiatives were needed to be put in place, sooner rather than later, to help address some of the economic disadvantages that have dogged many in our city for decades. Some of these played a role, to an extent, in the frustrations which surfaced in the form of unrest in April. Read Entire Article

  • Josh Kurtz: Middle East Politics – and Sen. Cardin

    Six weeks after President Obama announced a nuclear deal with Iran, Maryland’s two U.S. senators, Barbara Mikulski (D) and Ben Cardin (D), have still not said whether they support it. Cardin is frequently overshadowed by the feistier, more senior Mikulski, but in this instance his decision is worth watching more than Mikulski’s. She, after all, is a lame duck, and her vote on the president’s deal next month will presumably be devoid of political considerations. Significantly, the three people likeliest to succeed her in the Senate, Reps. Donna Edwards (D) and Chris Van Hollen (D), who have been campaigning for the seat for five months, and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D), who is inching closer to a bid, all support the pact. Read Entire Article

  • Donald C. Fry: Despite Reports of a Slide, Baltimore Convention Business Alive -- and Really Kicking

    Cvent, an online event booking company, recently issued a report that seemed, on first glance, to suggest that Baltimore’s post-civil unrest image may be having quite a toll on the city’s convention business. The report stated that Baltimore had slid to No. 28, from 26, on its list of the top 50 convention destinations. As such reports go they can be easy pickings for reporters who must continuously feed the online news beast each day. And so, as one might expect, a story appeared in the local press with an unfortunate headline:  “Baltimore slides again on list of top convention destinations.” Now, Baltimore may have slid in the number of conventions booked via Cvent’s registration portal. But there are many portals in which convention bookings are handled and so the Cvent report doesn’t paint a complete or accurate picture of the state of the convention business in Baltimore. Read Entire Article...

  • Laslo Boyd: A red card for Ken Holt

    Last week at MACO, Secretary Ken Holt committed a major foul. Amazingly, Holt is still Secretary of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.   Considering his world-class screw up last week, you actually have to wonder how he got the job in the first place. What happened is clear and undisputed.  Holt, in prepared remarks to a panel at the Maryland Association of Counties’ annual meeting, asserted that a mother could just put a lead fishing weight in her child’s mouth, then take the child in for testing and make a landlord liable for providing the child with housing until the age of 18.  The Housing Secretary used that hypothetical as part of his case for the need to reduce state regulations, including lessening the liability for landlords in lead paint cases. Read Entire Article

Business

  • Horseshoe celebrates first anniversary

    Horseshoe Casino Baltimore is marking its first anniversary with a $111,111 giveaway. The Caesars property said it has attracted more than 5 million guests and created 1,815 jobs, most of them held by city residents. The $442 million casino opened on Aug. 26, 2014, with Las Vegas-style showgirls and a surprise appearance by pop star Iggy Azalea. The casino said it recently commissioned an economic impact study by the Sage Policy Group indicating that it generated nearly $384 million in commerce in Baltimore in its first 11-plus months. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Baltimore City approves sale of downtown property slated for affordable housing

    The Baltimore Development Corp. got approval Wednesday to sell multiple city-owned properties on downtown's west side to a developer planning a $17.5 million affordable housing complex. BDC, a quasi-public agency, last year issued a request for proposals to redevelop parcels in the west side area, including the properties located at 213 and 215 Park Ave.; 105-107 Clay St.; and 208 and 210-216 N. Liberty St. (Balt. Bus. Journal) Read Full Article

  • Regulators endorse lower slots payout requirements

    State gambling regulators are recommending that Maryland's five casinos be permitted to reduce required average annual payouts from their slot machines, according to online documents. The regulators are endorsing — in part — the casinos' request that the state relax a requirement that each casino pay out an average of 90 percent to 95 percent of the money bet at all of its machines over the course of a year — its entire floor payout. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • $12.9M paid on insurance claims for riot damage

    The Maryland Insurance Administration says insurance companies have paid $12.9 million in claims stemming from civil unrest in Baltimore linked to the death in April of Freddie Gray. The agency said Tuesday that the payments include $11.6 million for commercial property damage. Rioters damaged or looted hundreds of business, and set several on fire, after Gray's funeral April 27. (AP) Read Full Article

Education

  • Baltimore City school officials to ease hiring rules for applicants with criminal records

    Baltimore school officials are seeking to relax hiring rules to make applicants with nonviolent misdemeanor convictions — such as drug possession and burglary — eligible for jobs renovating school buildings. The proposal comes as the school district embarks on a $1 billion plan to renovate and rebuild more than two dozen schools over the next decade. The plan is expected to create about 5,000 construction and administrative jobs, and city officials hope that many are filled by Baltimore residents. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Maryland, other schools prepare to 'enhance the fan experience' — aka, start selling beer at games

    It isn't just the University of Maryland seeing the light when it comes to beer. As college football season approaches, some college athletic departments will be watching the results as they loosen regulations on the sale of beer — and in some case, wine, too — at athletic events. (Balt. Bus. Journal)Read Full Article

  • Mother appeals to Frederick County Board of Education on the right to opt out of tests

    The conference room of Frederick County Public Schools may seem an unlikely scene for debate on education issues that have yet to be fleshed out on the national level. But that was the struggle for the Board of Education on Wednesday, as members heard an appeal from one parent who maintains that her children should not have to take state standardized tests if she does not give her approval. (News-Post) Read Full Article

  • Baltimore schools staffed with leaders, but many still need teachers

    All Baltimore city schools are poised to open with a leader this year, but there are 90 teaching vacancies that remain. The district announced seven principal appointments Tuesday in a special meeting, and said they were working to process the remaining teacher vacancies by Monday when students return to school. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

Around Maryland

  • Mayor hires Baltimore's first 'Broadband Coordinator'

    Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday hired Jason Hardebeck, a veteran technology executive, to become the city's first Broadband Coordinator. Hardebeck, who will be paid $44,000 as a contractor, will lead an effort with community members and businesses to implement a widespread broadband plan for Baltimore. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Md. Corrections secretary says ongoing corruption cases extend beyond Baltimore

    Maryland’s corrections secretary said Wednesday that ongoing investigations within his agency have uncovered allegations of corruption from within the state prison system extending outside of Baltimore. Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Sec. Stephen T. Moyer told the three-member Board of Public works about the investigations as he made his case for approval of a plan that would allow him to eliminate up to 63 human resources positions. Moyer said the eliminations were necessary in order to combat corruption and hiring practices that have allowed “bad actors” into the system. (Daily Record)Read Full Article

  • Penn North community leader calls for Baltimore City to spend millions on kids, not trash cans

    Organizers of the Penn North Safe Zone and about two dozen students came to City Hall Wednesday to ask Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to supply funding for a group that's providing activities for young people in one of Baltimore's toughest neighborhoods. "On June 1, we opened a Kids Safe Zone in Sandtown-Winchester in a vacant laundromat," said Ericka L. Alston, spokeswoman for the Penn-North Community Resource Center. "We've transformed that laundromat into a safe haven for children. The curriculum is 'stay alive.'" (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Overall crime down in Baltimore County, though homicides increase

    While the number of homicides increased, overall crime in Baltimore County continued to decrease in 2014, officials said Wednesday. Twenty-five people were killed in homicides in 2014, up from 20 the year before. Police officials said the five-year average for homicides in the county is 25. Baltimore County had a decrease in rapes and aggravated assaults, and robbery numbers were flat compared to the year before. Nonviolent crimes, including burglaries, thefts and arson, also declined. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

Commentary

  • Rutherford pleads poverty

    This week, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford announced the first round of recommendations from the statewide task force he chairs aimed at reversing the rising number of heroin-related deaths and cases of addiction. The effort is commendable and largely details how the state will spend $2 million Gov. Larry Hogan had earlier this year set aside for this cause. But one point Mr. Rutherford made to reporters should give Marylanders pause. In acknowledging the size and scope of Maryland's heroin problem, the lieutenant governor said that the state would never have enough money to fully address the scourge. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Dan Rodricks: A '12 O'Clock Boys' theme park for Baltimore

    Lotfy Nathan spent about five years working on "12 O'Clock Boys," his 75-minute documentary about Baltimore's dirt-bike culture, its title taken from the vertical position to which the riders aspire when they pop wheelies in the streets near Druid Hill Park. It's no surprise to Nathan to hear that the Baltimore dirt-bikers are the source of much Sturm und Drang again, and that one of the proposed solutions for the problems they create is a dirt bike park. That sounds sensible: Get the dirt-bikers off the streets, and presumably the streets they ritualistically invade each Sunday will be safer. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Karl W. Bickel: Officers' bill of rights is not the problem

    On Monday, we saw a renewed attack on the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR) here in Maryland. Once again, well intentioned advocates for police accountability are misdirecting their energy toward something that will have no meaningful impact on the problem at hand: unjustified and/or excessive uses of force by police and growing community mistrust. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Stopping airborne contraband

    In 2009, guards at a prison in Brazil noticed something strange: a pigeon sitting on an electrical wire overhead with a bag tied to one of its legs. They coaxed it to the ground, opened the bag and found parts of a cellphone inside. The next day, they found another pigeon with a bag in the exercise yard. It was carrying the phone's charger. Inmates had evidently raised the birds inside the prison walls and smuggled them out, knowing that when released they would return home. All that is to say that the news this week that Maryland officials found a remote-controlled drone loaded with drugs, pornography and tobacco outside the state prison complex in Cumberland is surprising only in that it didn't happen sooner. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article