Baltimore, like other U.S. cities, sees declines in homicides in 2018

After spiking over the past few years, homicide rates in cities across the U.S. appear to be on track to fall this year, according to a recent New York Times report. The Times’ Thursday story cited improvements this year in Baltimore and 65 other cities with populations over 250,000. The figures are notable after a 23 percent increase in murders nationally between 2014 and 2016. The story noted that homicides are down “substantially in cities like Baltimore; Charlotte, N.C.; Louisville, Ky.; and Memphis,” which all experienced large increases since 2014. (Balt. Sun)

Read Full Article

Chesapeake debris cleanup presses on, months after storms

A half-submerged tree trunk bobbed in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. From his perch several hundred feet away aboard a small barge, John Gallagher began giving orders to his crew. Not much needed to be said. By now, the actions of the other three men had become almost automatic. “Here’s a good example of what the debris looks like in here,” said Gallagher, head of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ hydrographic operations. “This is right off the channel.” (Md. Reporter-Bay Journal)

Read Full Article

Baltimore City Council delegation in Texas for closed-door meetings on police commissioner nominee

A delegation of four Baltimore City Council members and two staffers is in Texas for private meetings as part of the council’s vetting of police commissioner nominee Joel Fitzgerald. The group arrived Sunday and returns late Tuesday. Lester Davis, a spokesman for Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, said the delegation expects to meet with about 30 leaders of the community in Fort Worth, where Fitzgerald is chief of police. They will be a mix of critics and people who have worked closely with Fitzgerald, Davis said. “The delegation is going with an open mind,” he said. (Balt. Sun)

Read Full Article

Federal judge to decide whether to freeze Ocean City topless ban

A federal judge will decide whether to halt Ocean City’s prohibition of women going topless at the beach until a lawsuit is resolved over the ban. Five women sued the city in January after its leaders passed an emergency ordinance banning public nudity. The women are asking a federal judge to stop the town from enforcing its ban until they can resolve their lawsuit. They argued over the injunction Friday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. “I’ve never heard of somebody being harmed at the beach by the female breast,” Devon Jacob, an attorney for the women, told the judge. (Balt. Sun)

Read Full Article

Baltimore City Council bills aim to cut back on vaping, smoking — including banning flavored vape liquids

Baltimore City Council members have introduced a package of legislation aimed at curbing smoking and vaping. The three bills look to broaden the definition of smoking devices and ban the sale of flavored vaping liquids, as well as call for tobacco retailers to post information about smoking risks and cessation and carry nicotine replacement products such as patches and gum. City legislators worked with the Baltimore City Health Department for most of the year to craft the bills. (Balt. Sun)

Read Full Article

State health exchange enrollment up, federal enrollment down in last week

As the state health exchange enters the final week of this year’s open enrollment, Marylanders appear more interested in buying health insurance than many other Americans. The number of people buying private policies through the state’s online marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act is up a bit, while enrollment on the federal exchange that serves 39 states is down 11 percent. “We’re not done yet,” said Michele Eberle, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which oversees the state marketplace. “But we’re hoping for a really strong ending.” (Balt. Sun)

Read Full Article

The hidden loss: Maryland farmers confront rising suicide rates

Earlier this year, at a loss for what else to do, Keith Ohlinger, a livestock farmer in Howard County, picked up his phone and dialed a friend. He wasn’t calling to borrow equipment or trouble-shoot a problem on the farm. Instead, he was offering to talk or help, if he could, as he struggled to find anyone or any group willing to address his concerns about rising suicide rates among farmers. (News-Post)

Read Full Article

Pastor who invited Trump to Baltimore hopes president's visit will showcase city as model for revitalization

The pastor of an East Baltimore church invited President Donald Trump for what will be his first trip to the city since taking office, hoping to showcase Baltimore as a model for urban revitalization through federal "opportunity zones" and other programs. Trump is expected to meet Wednesday with the Rev. Donte L. Hickman, pastor of the 4,000-member Southern Baptist Church, and other clergy and elected officials at the church in the Broadway East neighborhood, Hickman said Saturday. (Balt. Sun)

Read Full Article