Christopher Connelly

Christopher Connelly is a political reporter for WYPR, covering the day-to-day movement and machinations in Annapolis. He comes to WYPR from NPR, where he was a Joan B. Kroc Fellow, and then worked as rundown editor for All Things Considered. Chris has a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley. He’s reported for KALW (San Francisco), KUSP (Santa Cruz, Calif.) and KJZZ (Phoenix), and worked at StoryCorps in Brooklyn, N.Y. He’s filed stories on a range of topics, from a shortage of dog blood in canine blood banks to heroin addicts in Tanzania. He got his start in public radio at WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, when he was a student at Antioch College.

Recess at Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas, looks much like recess anyplace else. Some kids run and squeal, others swing, while a half-dozen of their peers are bunched up on the slide.

Journey Orebaugh, a 6-year-old in an off-white princess dress, is playing family.

"You just get a bunch of people and just act like who you want to be," she says. Journey likes to play the mom.

  When police officers are accused of misconduct – whether it’s excessive use of force or other lesser abuses – the internal police investigations are governed by the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. The rules were written into law in 1974 to protect the due process rights of accused officers, but they’ve become a flashpoint for activists who argue they impede transparency and accountability from their police departments. Yesterday, a panel of state lawmakers took up the question of reforming the so-called LEOBR.

Gov. Larry Hogan surprised Baltimore Thursday when he announced that he’ll be closing part of the city’s jail. The Men’s Detention Center, built in 1859, houses about 750 men who will be moved to nearby facilities. The decision comes after years of scandal and lawsuits.

“The Baltimore City Detention Center has been a black eye for our state for far too long,” Hogan said.

Lawmakers in Maryland charged with exploring potential policing reform measures heard from the public in Annapolis on Thursday. More than a dozen activists from a broad coalition of labor, civil rights and faith groups turned out to call for major changes to make law enforcement more accountable, transparent and community-oriented.

After South Carolina lawmakers voted to take down the confederate battle flag flying over the state capitol, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday said it’s a fine line to figure out whether the state’s historical monuments are symbols of oppression or of history.

Hogan, speaking with reporters in Annapolis, said the state is no longer making Sons of the Confederacy license plates, and that he thinks the flag in South Carolina should come down. But he said that the Civil War is part of the state’s history, and going much further verges on “political correctness run amok.”

Huge amounts of crude oil are passing through Maryland every year by rail. A dramatic expansion of oil and gas production in the US has left drillers with a central question: How do you get the crude from the oil fields in the middle of the country to  refineries on the coasts. Railroads have been a big part of the answer, but some high-profile accidents have left many cities wondering if they’re at risk.

Sen. Ben Cardin was in Baltimore yesterday talking up federal legislation he introduced in the wake of the unrest following the death of Freddie Gray. Cardin’s so-called BALTIMORE Act, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, is a push to improve police-community relations.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski was in Sandtown Monday to talk with clergy about criminal justice reforms at the federal level, and discussed measures being considered in the Senate aimed at strengthening police-community relations.

Mikulski is the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations committee.  That committee gave approval last week to a spending bill that includes initiatives Mikulski thinks can improve policing. She said the protests following the death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custodies put light to a problem that exists in communities across the nation.

Two environmental organizations are suing Gov. Larry Hogan for blocking proposed clean air regulations on his first day in office. The Sierra Club and Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility argue that the governor lacked the authority to pull back the rules aimed at reducing nitrogen oxides that are key ingredients in ozone.

Just before leaving office, the Maryland Department of the Environment under then-Gov. Martin O’Malley approved smog-combatting regulations that would have required coal-fired power plants to run pollution controls throughout the summer ozone season and forced upgrades to pollution control technology in older facilities.

A workgroup made up of Maryland lawmakers met today in Annapolis to start exploring potential policing and accountability reforms that can be done at the state level. It was a largely organizational meeting, but advocates ranging from the ACLU and the NAACP to Amnesty International and CASA de Maryland used the date as a chance to make it clear that advocates are ready to put pressure on lawmakers to make change happen.

The General Assembly's leadership convened the workgroup on public safety after protests against police use of force erupted across Baltimore following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from injuries sustained while in police custody.

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