Nathan Sterner | WYPR

Nathan Sterner

Local Host, Morning Edition

"If radio were a two-way visual medium," Nathan would see WYPR listeners every weekday between 5am and 3pm. Weekday mornings, Nathan serves up the latest Maryland news and weather (interspersed with the occasional snarky comment).  Nathan also does continuity breaks through the midday, edits Sheilah Kast's "On The Record," infrequently fills in for Tom Hall on "Midday," and does all sorts of fundraising stuff. When not at WYPR, Nathan teaches a class on audio documentary at Towson University, and spends spare time running around Baltimore's streets and hiking around Maryland's natural areas. Before coming to WYPR, Nathan spent 8 years at WAMU in Washington -- working every job from part-time receptionist to on-air host, gaining experience in promotions, fundraising, audience analysis, and program production. Nathan has also served as a fundraising consultant, and helped dozens of public radio stations nationwide with their on-air fundraisers. Originally from rural Pennsylvania, Nathan has called Charm City home since 2005.

Baltimore City Police Department

Morning Edition Host, Nathan Sterner, talks to City Hall Reporter, Dominique Maria Bonessi, about the third Baltimore Police body camera video that has surfaced. Police Commissioner Kevin Davis rejected State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby's dismissal of the 43 out of 101 cases pertaining to the footage. Mosby responded to Davis in a statement saying that "this re-enactment undermines the public trust" and "creates indefensible doubt in the minds of the general public, judges, and jurors."

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Morning Edition Host, Nathan Sterner, talks to City Hall Reporter, Dominique Maria Bonessi, about the Baltimore Police Department's officer vacancies, new hiring strategy, and programs in their pilot phase to bring the department into the 21st century. 

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Morning Edition's Host, Nathan Sterner, talks to City Hall Reporter, Dominique Maria Bonessi, about the two amendments added to the legislation that would make illegal possession of a gun a felony in Baltimore. Bonessi was at the day-long city council hearing yesterday with more details. 

Photo courtesy WBUR

It's the Midday News Wrap, with guest host Nathan Sterner sitting in for Tom Hall.  Among the stories Nathan spotlights in this week's review: the drama of competing healthcare bills, the wrangling and chaos within the Republican Party, and the still-unfolding puzzle of possible Russian ties to President Trump's inner circle.

 Early in the week, Senate Republicans lacked the votes for their latest proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act.  By Tuesday, President Trump announced, “We’ll let Obamacare fail.”  The confusion deepened later in the week with proposals to Repeal without Replace and Repeal with Delayed Replace.

Also this week, there was the drip, drip of revelations about exactly who else was in the room in June of 2016 when Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chief at the time, attended a meeting where they were promised Russian government help for their campaign and some dirt about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.  Then on Thursday came the announcement that Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort have all agreed to appear before Senate committees next week to discuss Russia and the 2016 election.

Andy Green, Editorial Page editor of the Baltimore Sun, and Richard Cross, a longtime Republican communications staffer in both Annapolis and Capitol Hill, are here with background and analysis on the week's developments.

But first, Julie Rovner is on the line from DC to help us make sense of the week’s healthcare news.  Rovner is chief Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News, where she is the Robin Toner Distinguished Fellow.  If her voice is familiar to you, that’s because Rovner was a health policy reporter for NPR for 16 years before joining KHN.  She is the author of the book “Health Care Politics and Policy A-Z,” now in its third edition.  

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Morning Edition Host, Nathan Sterner, talks to City Hall Reporter, Dominique Maria Bonessi, about whether or not the gun bill introduced at City Council Monday night would actually reduce gun violence. Bonessi shares her interview with Laura Dugan, professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland. Also, listen to more to the research on mandatory-minimums for jail sentences and whether or not they reduce crime.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Morning Edition Host, Nathan Sterner, talks to WYPR's City Hall Reporter, Dominique Maria Bonessi on the gun bill dividing Baltimore City Council. Last week Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis proposed a bill that would make possession of a gun in a public place in Baltimore a mandatory sentence of one year. That bill was introduced on the council floor last night with some councilmen, like District Two's, Brandon Scott, saying that it was a "blanket call that would send more people to jail."

Rachel Baye

Facing record levels of violence, Baltimore officials are grappling with the best way to curb the violence, Mayor Catherine Pugh met with Governor Larry Hogan Monday afternoon to strategize.

At the top of her list, Pugh said she plans to bring in a team from the U.S. Department of Justice next month to help the city strategize.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Morning Edition host, Nathan Sterner, talks with City Hall Reporter, Dominique Maria Bonessi, about the competition between 26 law firms vying to be the U.S. Department of Justice consent decree's independent monitors for police accountability. A grassroots coalition, The Campaign for Justice, Safety, and Jobs and Baltimore residents met last night at a townhall meeting at Coppin State University to ask tough questions of the monitor applicants. 

The Baltimore City Council has approved a resolution upholding the Paris Climate Accord -- an agreement President Trump backed the US out of earlier this month. WYPR's Dominique Maria Bonessi shares the details with Nathan Sterner.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Plans for a 157-unit apartment building in Roland Park has split community residents. And it came to a head yesterday as the city council gave preliminary approval to a bill to allow the project at Falls Road and Northern Parkway.

As the vote was taken opponents of the project, wearing white T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan, "Don't OVERLOOK Us,"  stood up and disrupted the meeting. Jack Young, city council president, banged his gavel, telling the residents they were out of order and they left.

The Baltimore City Council voted unanimously Monday night to make deep cuts to Mayor Catherine Pugh's budget plan for the coming fiscal year. 

Baltimore City 2018 FY Budget

 

Parents, administrators, and community activists made their case to city council last night for additional funds for youth, after-school, and additional educational opportunities.

On Monday night, the majority of the Baltimore City Council voted to confirm five new members of the city's Civilian Review Board, which is charged with examining complaints against police.

Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

We begin with President Trump’s stunning decision to fire FBI Director James Comey earlier this week. Initially, the White House said Comey’s dismissal came at the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt the President said his decision to fire Comey came before the recommendation. Democrats aren’t buying it and say Comey was fired because of the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

John Fritze is the Washington Correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. Julie Rovner is the chief Washington Correspondent for Kaiser Health News. Prior to her role at Kaiser, Julie covered health policy for NPR for 16 years. Dr. Terry Anne Scott is an assistant professor of History at Hood College in Frederick. They join guest host Nathan Sterner to weigh in on Comey and the White House and other news of the week. 

Resolutions were a big part of the Baltimore City Council's agenda when it met Monday night. WYPR City Hall Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi was at the meeting, and gave Nathan Sterner the details.

A Battle Royale is playing out over a proposed Royal Farms store and gas station in Towson. Opponents claim it’s an example of developers running roughshod in Baltimore County. 

Dominique Maria Bonessi

With just a few weeks before budget hearings at Baltimore City Hall, police officials appeared a public safety meeting Tuesday chaired by Councilman Brandon Scott, to talk about fighting violence in the city. WYPR's Dominique Maria Bonessi was there, and spoke with Nathan Sterner about what happened.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore has recorded 101 homicides this year; at the same time last year, the city had only seen 77. Last night, the City Council debated several measures dealing with public safety and the city's Police Department. WYPR City Hall Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi gave Nathan Sterner this update.

On Thursday night, four Democratic members of Maryland's congressional delegation heard from their constituents. Senator Chris Van Hollen as well as Congressmen John Sarbanes, Dutch Ruppersberger, and Elijah Cummings took questions at a town hall meeting at the Baltimore War Memorial. 

Baltimore County's school board bemoaned the loss of Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night. Dance abruptly resigned earlier that day. WYPR's Jonna McKone covered the meeting, and told Nathan Sterner some of what happened.

photo courtesy Boston Globe

In this seventh week of the Trump Administration, Republicans in the House, the Senate and the White House continued to wrangle loudly over a health care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. 

President Trump’s second try at an executive order temporarily banning travel from six Muslim majority countries and halting all refugee admissions was blocked, again, by federal court rulings in Hawaii and Maryland -- rulings the White House says it will appeal. 

Mr. Trump also unveiled his first proposed federal budget, calling for huge increases in defense spending and deep cuts across a wide swath of social programs and federal agencies, including the EPA and the State, Labor and Agriculture Departments.

And in Maryland’s General Assembly, amid partisan battles over paid sick leave and bail reform measures, the House of Delegates passed a revised version of Governor Hogan’s 43.5 billion-dollar state budget proposal, and sent it on to the Senate.

Joining guest host Nathan Sterner to sort out the week’s developments are three keen observers: Amy Goldstein, a national reporter for the Washington Post with a focus on health care policy, on the line from the Post’s newsroom in Washington, DC;  Michael Dresser, State House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, on the line from Annapolis; and, in the studio, Richard Cross, a former press secretary and speech writer for Maryland Governor Robert Erlich and now a conservative columnist and blogger at rjc-crosspurposes.blogspot.com.  

John Lee / WYPR

Last week Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said she would update plans to shrink the city school’s $130 million budget shortfall. Monday, she and city officials unveiled that plan.

Clarke optimistic about minimum wage bill

Feb 7, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said Monday that the city is in a good position to raise the minimum wage to $15 in five years.

“We’re in about the best position we can be in,” Clarke said.  “Sure, we’re coming from a setback, but we’ve surged; we’ve grown [economically] as twice the rate of the state itself.”

Creative Commons

The debate over the future of hydraulic fracturing in Maryland is heating up, with growing numbers of towns and counties across the state voting to ban the controversial natural gas-drilling method, also known as “fracking.” In January, state lawmakers will have to decide if they want to impose a permanent ban on fracking, or allow it to proceed when the moratorium ends next October. But with a changing political and economic landscape, dueling studies of fracking’s impact on the environment and new state drilling regulations, it is not clear how this long-running debate will be resolved. 

Drew Cobbs, the Executive Director of the Maryland Petroleum Council, and Mitch Jones, an anti-fracking activist and a senior policy advocate at Food and Water Watch, join guest host Nathan Sterner to explore the risks and benefits and the uncertain road ahead for fracking in Maryland. 

Photo courtesy Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

Before Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning earned notoriety for their theft of US government secrets, there was Brian Patrick Regan.  This hour,  guest host Nathan Sterner delves into the bizarre story of this little-known American spy.  In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Regan used his position in a US intelligence agency to steal huge amounts of secret government data, and tried to sell it off to foreign governments.

He was brought down, in part, because of his dyslexia.

A new book on the case is called “The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI's Hunt for America's Stolen Secrets.” Nathan talks with author Yudhijit Bhattacharjee in the first part of the hour.

Courtesy of Space Telescope Science Institute

If you’ve ever looked up at the night sky and felt dwarfed by the magnitude of the universe, prepare to feel even more insignificant. When astronomers analyzed deep space images gathered by NASA’s Hubble Telescope in the mid-1990s, they estimated that the observable universe contained about 200 billion galaxies. It turns out they were off by a bit. Well, more than a bit. New models reveal that the previous estimate is at least 10 times too low. There are closer to 2 trillion galaxies in the universe. So, what does this mean? How do scientists know this information? And, why, with 10 times more galaxies, are there still patches of darkness in the night sky? Joel Green, a project scientist in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute, joins us to answer these celestial questions.

We begin with a conversation about the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. There are some who believe that if this type of gas drilling were allowed in Western Maryland, it could generate up to 3,000 jobs and at least $5 million in annual tax revenues. But many have concerns about the impact on the environment and public health. We’ll hear from Dr. David Vanko, the former head of the Maryland Fracking Commission, and co-host Nathan Sterner talks to Dr. Brian Schwartz, a researcher from Johns Hopkins, and Senator Bobby Zirkin, who proposed banning fracking.

Then, Alan Walden, the Republican candidate for Mayor of Baltimore, joins Tom to talk about his vision for the future of Charm City. And theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck has a review of the new show at Ford’s Theater in Washington, Come From Away. The musical tells the true story of the 7000 airline passengers whose planes were diverted to the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, immediately after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and how the tiny community’s embrace of these stranded strangers became an inspirational counterpoint to the horrors that brought them together. 

Today, a look at the controversial issue of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It’s a method of getting at natural gas that involves injecting millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals into the ground at high pressures to fracture the underlying rock and release the gas.

Fracking has expanded rapidly across the US in the past decade, mostly in western states. There are also thousands of fracking operations in the East, especially in the area known as the Marcellus Shale… a gas-rich rock formation that runs beneath parts of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland’s two western-most counties.

A Maryland commission-- chaired by Dr. David Vanko, dean of the Fisher School of Science and Marthematics at Towson Universty -- was created in 2011 to study the environmental and health impacts of fracking, as well as its potential economic benefits. Four years and 34 public hearings later, that commission recommended that fracking be allowed to proceed under strict regulations.  But the General Assembly intervened and imposed a two-year moratorium on fracking that expires in October 2017.  

While Maryland’s Department of the Environment may see fracking as a reasonably safe enterprise, public doubts have been fueled by a steady stream of troubling scientific research.  Dr. Brian Schwartz, a professor in the Johns Hopkins-Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health, has co-authored a series of four papers over the past year that suggest fracking operations could be the culprit in a wide range of health problems.  Dr. Schwartz joins Maryland Morning co-host Nathan Sterner in the studio to discuss those findings.  Joining the conversation by phone is State Senator Bobby Zirkin, who first proposed a permanent ban on fracking back in 2014, and plans to do so again in Annapolis next year.

P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore City is one step closer to raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour.  But it’s not clear if there will be enough votes next week to make it final.  City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke’s proposal squeaked by in a preliminary vote Monday.

But that vote, 7-4 with three abstentions, was one short of the number needed for final passage.

Aqua.org

 

Big change is coming to the National Aquarium's 25-year old dolphin exhibit.  Last month, Aquarium CEO and marine conservationist John Racanelli announced that the institution will move its small population of dolphins to a marine sanctuary somewhere in the Florida/Caribbean area by the year 2020. The decision comes five years after the Aquarium ended its traditional dolphin shows, and follows protests at the Inner Harbor facility by activists calling for more humane treatment of dolphins. The proposed sanctuary has been applauded by many animal welfare groups.  Dr. Heather Rally, a wildlife veterinarian with the research and conservation arm of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), calls the transfer of the dolphins to a non-breeding marine sanctuary "a monumental move."

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