Sheilah Kast

Host, Maryland Morning

Sheilah Kast has hosted WYPR’s Maryland Morning since it started in 2006. She began her career at The Washington Star, where she covered the Maryland and Virginia legislatures, utilities, energy and taxes, as well as financial and banking regulation.  She learned the craft of broadcasting at ABC News; as a Washington correspondent for fifteen years, she covered the White House, Congress, and the 1991 Moscow coup that signaled the end of the Soviet empire.  Sheilah has been a substitute host on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Diane Rehm Show.  She has launched and hosted two weekly interview shows on public TV, one about business and one about challenges facing older people.

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Maryland Morning
11:06 am
Mon March 30, 2015

How Is Solitary Confinement Used On Teenagers Charged As Adults In Maryland?

Baltimore City Detention Center
Credit groupuscule / Wikimedia Commons

Federal prosecutors have warned Maryland corrections officials to fix serious problems in how juveniles are treated at the Baltimore City Detention Center -- specifically, the prosecutors said teenagers awaiting trial on adult charges are often held in solitary confinement for weeks or months, putting the youth at risk for behavioral or mental problems. The prosecutors said there have been improvements at the detention center, but that its disciplinary process remains “seriously flawed”, its staff not adequately trained, and its treatment and programming for the young people in its control, very limited.

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Maryland Morning
9:00 am
Fri March 27, 2015

New Maryland Health Secretary Van Mitchell

Credit Alex Poimos / Flickr / Creative Commons

  Whoever heads the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has a lot on their plate: overseeing health care reform, taming the heroin epidemic, administering Medicaid in the state. Gov. Larry Hogan tapped Van Mitchell, a former deputy health secretary, state delegate, and lobbyist to lead this sprawling agency. Van Mitchell joins Sheilah in the studio to talk about his priorities.

Maryland Morning
9:00 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Compromise And Continued Debate Over Chicken Manure

Credit Matt Beckwith / Creative Commons

One of Governor Hogan’s first acts as governor was to revoke regulations proposed by his predecessor aimed at reducing phosphorous running into Chesapeake Bay.

Phosphorus is a component of the mounds of manure produced by the hundreds of millions of chickens raised in Maryland. Because it contains other nutrients, farmers use that chicken litter to fertilize grain and soybean crops. But it holds more phosphorus than already-saturated soil can absorb, and the runoff ultimately depletes oxygen in the bay. Farmers and agricultural trade groups contend it’s very costly to limit phosphorus.

When Governor Hogan, as he said, “hit the pause button” on the regulations proposed by Governor O’Malley, Democrats in the legislature immediately moved to lock the O’Malley rules into law. The situation had all the makings of a standoff – but last week a compromise was reached. We want to understand its implications and what may happen next.

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Maryland Morning
8:55 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Another Side Of Maryland Day History

Credit Library of Congress

Today is Maryland Day – on this day, more than 380 years ago, 150 English settlers stepped off two boats, the Dove and the Ark, and onto the uninhabited shores of St. Clement’s Island on the Potomac. The settlers planted a cross, performed mass, and gave thanks for a successful journey. But, half a mile north of St. Clement’s, thousands of people, members of different Indians tribes, already populated present-day Maryland. What did the “Maryland Day” landing mean for those who had already been living there for centuries?

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Maryland Morning
9:00 am
Mon March 23, 2015

How Healthy Is Maryland's State Pension System?

Credit Ken Teegardin / Flickr / Creative Commons

Think about this number for a second: 63 billion. $63 billion dollars is how much it’s expected to cost the state’s pension system to pay retirement benefits to teachers, judges, and state employees in the coming years. Here’s another number for you: 45 billion. That’s about how much the state currently has to pay those benefits. So, right now, it’s about $18 billion short of meeting its long-term financial commitments. What does all this mean for state employees looking to retire in the coming years?

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Maryland Morning
9:00 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Improving MTA Oversight

Credit Bridget Weininger

The Baltimore Sun reported this week that people took nearly 4 million fewer trips on the Maryland Transit Administration’s buses last year than the year before. Ridership was also down on MTA’s Metro, light rail and MARC trains, though not as sharply. Overall, the Sun reported, MTA lost nearly 5 percent of its riders during the 12 months ending last June.

Riders have complained for years about poor service; they may now be voting with their feet -- although MTA blames the decline in ridership on bad weather. Certainly several recent state audits of MTA paint a picture of an agency often lax in handling money.

The auditors found MTA did not have adequate controls to make sure cash collected at the farebox made it to the bank. Auditors also found instances when MTA paid vendors and workers before verifying work had been done, and sometimes paid bills twice.

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Maryland Morning
8:55 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Sex Trafficking In Maryland

Credit The Samaritan Women

Thousands of young people in the US, and hundreds in Maryland, are sucked into human trafficking being forced or coerced into labor or sexual slavery each year. A fortunate few get free of their captors and a chance to put their lives back together in a safe place. On 23 woodsy acres in south Baltimore, a non-profit called The Samaritan Women runs the only long-term restoration program in the mid-Atlantic for adult women who have been trafficked. In its 19th-century mansion with windows embellished by stained glass, and a posse of purring black housecats, we met Katherine, who asked we only use her first name. She was in her early 20s when a trafficker lured her into his sex business in a western U.S. city. We also speak with Jeanne Allert, founder of The Samaritan Women.

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Maryland Morning
9:00 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Reenvisioning Maryland's Criminal Justice System

Credit Kate Ter Haar / Flickr / Creative Commons

For evidence that Maryland’s criminal justice system needs reform, some point to its recidivism rate: the inefficiency shown in the fact that three years after inmates leave prison, four out of ten are back behind bars. There’s a bipartisan drive in the legislature to create a task force that would attach Maryland to a reform movement called the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, or JRI. It's a multi-state effort run by the U.S. Justice Department and the Pew Center on the States. We turned to Governor Hogan’s point man on the issue, Christopher Shank, who heads the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.

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Maryland Morning
8:55 am
Wed March 18, 2015

"Facing The Great War": Baltimore Students Explore Fort McHenry's World War I Legacy

Injured soldier, M. Giovanni. U.S. General Hospital No. 2, Fort McHenry, Baltimore. May 2, 1919. MdHS, PP32.932.

If you think Maryland’s spectacular celebration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 told you all the interesting history of Fort McHenry, think again. A century ago, another armed conflict was starting in Europe, a combat that would grow into the first World War. A hospital at Fort McHenry would care for the American wounded of that war. We get a chance to learn more about the hospital, the fort, and the impact of the war through a collaboration among the Baltimore School for the Arts, the Maryland Historical Society and the National Park Service, which runs Fort McHenry. Stage production and acting students have been working with theater faculty, researching the period and the result is three short plays that will be performed at Fort McHenry this Saturday and next week.

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Maryland Morning
10:00 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Legislation Aims To Improve Conditions for Hourly Workers

Credit Photo courtesy of Naila Remington/Creative Commons

1.3 million Marylanders, about half the state’s workforce, are paid by the hour, not on salary. Eight out of ten men in hourly jobs work 35 hours a week or more, but only about 45 percent of women do, according to a new study from the non-profit Center for Popular Democracy. Women are also more likely to have lower wages.

The legislators sponsoring the set of bills  say they would make pay and scheduling of work hours more equitable;  they also say their legislative proposals would have a big impact on women. Proponents say the bills would help women, in particular, deal with erratic schedules, achieve pay equity and balance their jobs with family responsibilities.  Opponents say the bills intervene with managers flexibility in running their businesses profitably, and could lead to lawsuits.

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