Wed November 20, 2013
A Common Core Grievance, Calls For A Baltimore CSX Terminal, and Criticism Of “Stop And Frisk”
Baltimore County teachers file grievance over Common Core requirements. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Vice President Joe Biden renew calls for a CSX transfer terminal. Plus: “stop and frisk,” housing in Baltimore County, the minimum wage, the PG casino, and more.
Grievance Over Common Core Filed In Baltimore County: Baltimore County’s teachers have filed a grievance against the county school board, alleging that the new education standards being imposed under the so-called “Common Core” are forcing them to work hours significantly exceeding their normal workdays. County teachers say that lesson plans under the Common Core are only coming available weeks before they have to be taught, and they say the website used to access those lessons is difficult to use. They say that teachers have had to work as many as 40 extra hours in a two week period in order to comply with the new standards. The grievance was filed on behalf of all 87-hundred teachers in the County; the Baltimore Sun reports that such a wide scope is unusual for a grievance filing. Maryland is one of 46 states moving to the Common Core curriculum.
Blue Ribbon Schools Honored: Four Baltimore-area public schools have been honored as National Blue Ribbon schools. Yesterday, administrators from the schools were in Washington, DC to pick up their awards at a luncheon hosted by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Receiving the awards this year were Chadwick and Charlesmont elementary schools in Baltimore County, Century High in Carroll County and Folly Quarter Middle in Howard County.
Rawlings-Blake, Biden Renew Call For CSX Terminal: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is joining forces with Vice President Joe Biden to renew calls to erect a major CSX terminal in Baltimore. Biden and Rawlings-Blake are in Panama, examining the expansion of the Panama Canal – which will allow larger ships through, and likely benefit the Port of Baltimore, which is one of a handful of ports that can handle them. Vice President Biden tells the Baltimore Sun that the city is poised to reap the benefits of the new ship traffic – including a potential doubling of jobs at the Port – but that the city needs the proposed $90-million CSX terminal to reap all the potential benefits. Members of the community where the terminal’s proposed to go up are opposed to the plan, and it’s run into opposition in the City Council.
ACLU Criticizes Baltimore Police Over “Stop And Frisk”: The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland is criticizing the Baltimore Police Department over its "stop and frisk" policy. After analyzing data provided to the group, the ACLU yesterday called on the department to do a better job of monitoring how officers conduct such stops. The analysis indicated that police stopped people 123-thousand times last year, but found only nine handguns during those stops… the ACLU calls that figure “implausible,” and tells the Baltimore Sun that the reported numbers suggest a “lack of supervision and accountability.” Baltimore Police say they don’t use the “stop and frisk” tactic the way it’s used in New York City, where it’s faced wider criticism… city police also don’t use phrase “stop and frisk” phrase to describe the tactic, instead using the term “investigative stops.”
ACLU Criticizes Compliance With “Immigration Detainers”: The American Civil Liberties Union says that Maryland is “unwittingly” being used by federal immigration authorities by agreeing to detain people wanted by the Department of Homeland Security. The criticism comes along with a report showing that Maryland’s police and jails have detained thousands of people for up to 2 days longer than they normally would, in compliance with so-called “immigration detainers” issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The ACLU is questioning the constitutionality of these “immigration detainers.” Federal officials say they only use the requests when it believes it has a reason to deport someone from the US. The Baltimore Sun notes that the state Attorney General’s office has ruled that local agencies do not have to comply with “immigration detainers” – even though federal officials say doing so is mandatory. But the ACLU says many departments routinely comply with the detainers anyway. Maryland lawmakers will likely examine this issue in the next session of the General Assembly. Yesterday, State Senator Victor Ramirez said he’ll introduce legislation that will keep local law enforcement agencies from detaining immigrants who are in the country illegally. Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins is opposed to the legislation. He tells the Frederick News Post that he’ll call every Maryland lawmaker in protest if the measure is introduced.
County Council Says No To Rosedale Housing Project: WYPR's Nathan Sterner and Alison Knezevich of the Baltimore Sun talk about the Baltimore County Council's decision to reject state funding for a proposed low-income housing development, effectively killing the project. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Baltimore County To Turn Vacant Houses Into Affordable Homes: Baltimore County is planning to use money from the National Mortgage Settlement to help some veterans and families get into new homes. The County is planning to use a $2.75-million state grant to turn dozens of vacant, foreclosed houses into affordable, occupied homes. Officials tell the Timonium Patch that the funds will allow the county to offer 65 homebuyers loans of 20-thousand dollars. The money can be used for down payment or closing costs for homes in neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates. The settlement will also be used to buy foreclosed properties and convert them into rental units which will be available for veterans and their families. And the Baltimore News Journal reports that the money will also create 12 efficiency units for homeless men in Rosedale. The County has more here.
Minimum Wage Legislation: Lawmakers in Prince George’s County yesterday postponed a vote on legislation that would raise the county’s minimum wage. The bill would increase the rate to at least $11.50 an hour by the year 2016. The Washington Post reports that the measure appears to have widespread support, but that Prince George’s County lawmakers decided to wait to vote on it until lawmakers in neighboring Montgomery County weigh in on similar legislation. In Montgomery, the idea has the support of County Executive Isiah Leggett – and is set for a vote at the end of the month; in Prince George’s, County Executive Rushern Baker is opposed to the idea, and wants the minimum wage to be addressed at the state level. Maryland’s current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, but legislation to increase it is expected to be introduced in next year’s General Assembly session… the idea has the backing of Governor Martin O’Malley and the 3 Democrats vying to succeed him in the 2014 election.
Date Set For PG County Casino License Award: Maryland officials are set to announce which company will get a license to run a casino in Prince Georges County a month from today – on December 20th. Three companies are in the running for the right to operate the casino, approved by Maryland voters last year – they are MGM Resorts International, Greenwood Racing and Penn National Gaming. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that the state’s Video Lottery Facility Location Commission will hear from consultants and the bidders at two meetings before the choice is announced; they’re scheduled for December 6th and 12th; the companies will have one last chance to make their cases on the 20th, shortly before the choice is announced.
Arrests In Alleged Baltimore Dogfighting Ring: Baltimore Police have arrested five suspects in connection with an alleged dogfighting ring. Investigators found evidence of dogfighting while executing a search warrant yesterday on a home in the 28-hundred block of West Lafayette Street. Police tell the Baltimore Sun that they discovered 15 pit bulls, including four puppies, chained in the basement of the home. Detectives found a similar scene last week at a home on North Fulton Avenue, which led to Tuesday's raid. The men arrested are expected to face a “variety of charges.”
Disabilities Commission Meets: The commission tasked with improving training for state employees whose jobs require them to deal with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities met for its second time yesterday. The Frederick News Post reports that the group spent its meeting examining similar efforts in states across the country, to determine what best practices should be in Maryland. The commission was formed in response to the death of a man with Down syndrome earlier this year; he died while in custody of three off duty sheriff’s deputies in Fredrick. The commission is set to meet again in December, and complete its first report in early January.
Trash Can Pilot Program Aimed At Reducing Rat Population: Baltimore City is preparing to set up a pilot program that would see some 9-thousand households get big plastic trash cans on wheels. The program is designed to fight litter – and rats. The city’s Bureau of Solid Waste tells the Baltimore Sun that a lack of trash cans is a big factor in rat infestations. The pilot program would see trash cans distributed to people in the Belair-Edison neighborhood and the greater Mondawmin area… if it’s successful, it could be expanded citywide. The expansion would cost 10-million dollars; the pilot program, just over half a million. The city’s Board of Estimates is expected to sign off on the program today.
No Turkey Shortage At Perdue: Maryland-based Perdue Farms says it has plenty of turkeys for Thanksgiving. A Perdue spokeswoman tells the Baltimore Sun that customers placed their turkey orders well before the holiday and the Eastern Shore company has enough birds to meet the demand. Word of the more than adequate supply at Perdue comes after fellow poultry producer Butterball announced a shortage of fresh turkeys, weighing 16 pounds or more, this season.
ACC Lawsuit Continues: A federal appeals court is allowing the Atlantic Coast Conference's legal fight to collect a $52-million exit fee from the University of Maryland to go forward. The Baltimore Sun reports the North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled against Maryland's bid to dismiss the case. The dispute is over Maryland's decision to jump from the ACC to the Big Ten. UMD argues the fee is excessive and is refusing to pay. Maryland is set to join the Big Ten in July.