Fri August 22, 2014
Fracking, The Bank Of America Settlement, Baltimore’s Casino, Speed Cameras, & The MD State Fair
We examine the UMD report on hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) and look at why it’s important for the governor’s race. We examine the preparation for the soon-to-open Horseshoe Casino Baltimore. Plus: MD’s share of the Bank of America settlement, Baltimore speed cameras, the Maryland State Fair opens, and more.
The Last Roll Before Opening: More than 2-thousand invited guests took a chance on the games at the new Horseshoe Casino Baltimore this week, ahead of the official opening scheduled for Tuesday of next week. Lottery and gaming officials called it a “controlled demonstration” to make sure everything is in order. It’s the last step before Caesar’s Entertainment, the Horseshoe’s owner, is awarded an operating license from the state. WYPR’s Kenneth Burns spent yesterday with the person in charge of the inspection.
Appeal Filed In Casino Challenge: A federal judge’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the construction of the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore is being appealed. The Daily Record reports that the eight city residents who sued over alleged environmental violations caused by the construction are appealing the dismissal. The lawsuit names the operator of the casino, as well as the Baltimore Development Corporation and Baltimore’s Mayor and City Council.
Why Fracking Is An Issue To Watch In Governor's Race: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Karen Hosler talk about a fracking report issued by the University of Maryland and why it's important that the public hear more from the gubernatorial candidates on the issue. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
MD Gets Portion Of Bank Of America Settlement: Maryland is getting a share of about $75-million from yesterday’s more than $16.5-billion settlement between the Justice Department and Bank of America. State Attorney General Doug Gansler says the state’s portion will be shared by pension plans operated at the state and local levels. Under the settlement, another $150-million will be split between Maryland, Delaware and Kentucky to help consumers with housing relief efforts.
No New Committees In State Senate: State Senate President Mike Miller says he won’t be creating any new committees in his chamber when the state legislature meets next year. Some lawmakers from Montgomery County had been jockeying for such a move, hoping it would give their delegation more clout, after recently seeing two county lawmakers with leadership roles leave the General Assembly. Senate President Miller tells the Washington Post he had been considering expanding the number of major committees from 4 to 5, but ultimately decided against it.
Baltimore’s Speed Cameras: Baltimore City’s speed camera system has been offline for more than a year… and while Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration says there are no immediate plans to revive it, there are several companies jockeying to take it over. The Baltimore Sun reports that Redflex Traffic Systems is the third speed camera company to register lobbyists in an attempt to win the rights to run Baltimore’s speed cameras. Redflex had operated Chicago’s red-light cameras for more than 10 years, but lost the job last year amid a scandal in which a former executive was charged with bribery. The company says it’s made significant changes since the indictments in Chicago. The city’s not expected to request bids for a new camera operator until a City Council investigation of the city’s camera system is complete.
Anne Arundel Police Union Donates To Wilson Defense Fund: The Anne Arundel County police union has donated nearly $11-hundred to the defense fund of Ferguson Missouri Police officer Darren Wilson, who shot unarmed teen Michael Brown earlier this month. According to the Baltimore Sun, FOP Lodge 70 wanted to send money to help feed officers working during the protests that have broken out since Brown was shot, but the national FOP suggested they contribute to the legal fund. Lodge president O'Brien Atkinson says the donation is being made to ensure that Wilson has adequate legal representation as the shooting is investigated.
New Suspension Policy For Anne Arundel Schools: The Anne Arundel County Board of Education has approved a new policy for student suspensions and expulsions. The Capital Gazette says the policy is designed to keep Anne Arundel students in school; it’s focused on rewarding good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior. Anne Arundel County schools open next week.
Baltimore’s “Safe Routes To School”: Schools here in Baltimore City also open next week… and the city’s mayor, School Board and Department of Transportation are joining forces to ensure that city kids get to their schools safely. The "Safe Routes to School" program uses new flashing lights and neon footprints on the sidewalk to keep kids on a safe path as they walk or bike to school. Mayor Rawlings-Blake says having the designated safe route, means that more young people will be using the same route and won't be walking alone. City schools open on Monday. The Baltimore Sun has more.
TU President Takes Leave Of Absence: Towson University President Maravene Loeschke is taking a leave of absence for the fall semester. In a letter to the campus community, Loeschke cites "health and personal challenges." Back in April, Loeschke said a routine exam revealed cancer in her adrenal gland, but said at the time she expected to make a full recovery. Towson University Provost Tim Chandler has been named acting president in her absence. There's more here from the Daily Record and here from the Baltimore Sun.
Advertising.com Announces Move: The company Advertising.com has announced plans to move from its current headquarters at Tide Point. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that the company will cross the harbor and take residence in the National Bohemian complex in Brewers Hill in spring of next year. About 250 people work for the company, which is a subsidiary of AOL Incorporated. The Daily Record has more.
Maryland State Fair Gets Underway: Maryland’s State Fair opens today at the Timonium Fairgrounds. It’ll continue through Labor Day. Visitors to the State Fair will find tighter security… with new restrictions include a ban on backpacks, coolers, large bags and wheeled carts. Fairgoers could also have their camera and diaper bags, purses and strollers searched. Fair officials are also reserving the right to refuse admission to or eject anyone "deemed to be disorderly."
Sunday Road Closures In Annapolis: motorists should expect delays around downtown Annapolis on Sunday – with some road closures taking effect for the 10-miler, a race that’s likely to draw more than four-thousand runners to the state capital. It begins at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, leaving the city via the Severn River Bridge on Route 450, heads north on Route 648, before returning to 450 via Severn Ridge Road. Police say drivers can expect delays along the race route between 6:30 and 10:00 on Sunday morning. The Capital Gazette has more.
Peacock Flies The Coop In Parkville: A peacock is on the loose in Parkville. Joanne Weber of Weber's Cider Mill Farm says the bird escaped three weeks ago; she tells WJZ that all kinds of traps have been set for the bird – but so far with no success. One of the reasons peacocks are so hard to catch is that they can fly straight up and soar very high.
Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles are in Chicago today, for an afternoon game against the Cubs.
Washington Baseball: The Washington Nationals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 1 to 0 in yesterday’s game.
Baltimore Football: The Ravens host the Washington Redskins tomorrow night for their final home game of the preseason. The game starts at 7:30pm tomorrow – and transportation officials are urging drivers to avoid I-95 to get to the game. They say roadwork in the north and southbound lanes could lead to gridlock getting to M&T Bank Stadium.
Ravens Fans #5 In The NFL: If tomorrow’s game was to be decided on the quality of the FANS, the Ravens would win. "Forbes Magazine" made a top 10 list of the NFL’s best fans and the Ravens ranked #5 -- behind the New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos, and the top ranked Green Bay Packers. The ranking is based on a formula of attendance, television ratings, merchandise sales and percentage of population that watched or attended their hometown team's games. The Baltimore Sun has more.