Mon April 21, 2014
MD Unemployment, A Policy Change At The Baltimore City Detention Center, & Anne Arundel Politics
The preliminary unemployment figures for March. A policy change at the Baltimore City Detention Center. What Anne Arundel endorsements say about the Maryland GOP. A delay for the naming of the new Anne Arundel County Schools Superintendent. The end of the Delmarva Chicken Festival. And more…
Maryland’s March Unemployment Numbers: Maryland’s unemployment rate remained stable during the month of March, according to preliminary data released on Friday by the US Labor Department. The numbers put the unemployment rate at 5.6 percent – the same as it was in February, and significantly below the national unemployment rate of 6.7 percent for the same month. Incidentally, a 6.7% jobless rate was what Maryland had at the same time last year. The Labor Department says Maryland added about 23-hundred jobs to its rolls in March – with the private sector leading the growth. The Baltimore Business Journal notes that construction and manufacturing sectors saw slight jobs declines last month. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun.
Policy Change On Immigrant Detentions At Baltimore Jail: Governor Martin O’Malley has announced that the Baltimore City Detention Center will stop the practice of automatically honoring requests from the federal government to detain people not in the country legally longer than they normally would. Under the federal “Secure Communities” program, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials can order jails to hold undocumented immigrants in custody for two days after they would usually be released. The new policy means that Baltimore will only honor those hold requests if an immigrant has been charged with or convicted of a felony, three or more misdemeanors, or a serious misdemeanor. The governor says that the change puts Baltimore’s policy in line with the stated goal of the “Secure Communities” program – which is to locate and deport repeat, violent offenders. The Baltimore Sun reports that last year, more than 40 percent of the immigrants who had been deported from Maryland under the “Secure Communities” program had no prior criminal records -- that’s a far higher percent than the national average.
What Anne Arundel Endorsements Say About Maryland GOP: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Joel McCord talk about recent endorsements in the Anne Arundel County Executive race and how they might reflect contrasting visions for the Republican Party in Maryland. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Baltimore Chapter Of Longshoremen’s Association Could Be Taken Over By National Union: The Baltimore chapter of the International Longshoremen’s Association could be seized by the national union. The Baltimore Sun reports that the International Longshoremen’s Association is considering taking over the ILA Local 333, after discovering that money was missing from the Baltimore chapter’s accounts, and that union debit cards were being used to pay for nonunion expenses. The Sun adds that the investigation could have an impact on ongoing contract negotiations at the Port of Baltimore – where the ILA local 333 called a three-day strike back in October. The Baltimore chapter of the union did not immediately respond to the Sun for comment.
Maryland Sues BP For Alleged Investment Losses: Maryland is suing oil giant BP for alleged investment losses by the state's pension system as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. State Attorney General Doug Gansler, who is running for governor, says the suit accuses BP of making "false and misleading statements regarding its commitment to safety reforms and oil spill prevention and response capabilities." The Baltimore Sun reports that the state is looking for at least $15-million in damages, as well as court costs and attorney fees. Gansler notes that Maryland’s pension system invested in BP shares between November 2007 and April 2010.
Defense Contractor Settles With Feds Over APG Contract: A defense contractor has reached a settlement with the Federal Government over allegations that it falsified information about its employees in order to charge more money than it was allowed to. Virginia-based Computer Sciences Corporation has agreed to pay the federal government $1.1-million in relation to the allegations. The company was in a contract at Aberdeen Proving Ground between 2008 and 2012 when it allegedly made false claims about the resumes of its workers. The Aegis reports that, under the settlement, the company makes no admission of liability.
Delay For Announcement Of New AA Schools Superintendent: It could take another two weeks before we learn who will be the new Superintendent of the Anne Arundel County school system. The county’s Board of Education had planned to make its final decision this Wednesday, but officials now tell the Capital Gazette that it’s going to take a little longer; an announcement could be made at a special meeting of the Board sometime after Wednesday of this week… or at the next regular board meeting, on May 7th. The Board’s president says the selection process hasn’t encountered any “troubles,” and that delay just reflects the difficulties of following a selection schedule that was created in October. The Board’s president says an announcement will be made as soon as a contract is finalized.
Possible Food Poisoning At Food Safety Conference: Health officials are looking into the possibility that a food poisoning outbreak might have occurred during a recent food safety conference, here in Baltimore, earlier this month. Four people reported falling ill after eating a meal at the Baltimore Convention Center April 9th. The Baltimore Sun notes that city health inspectors paid a visit to the venue's food contractor last week but found no major violations.
Rice Porridge Recall: The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is warning residents not to eat rice porridge with abalone made in Korea. The product has been recalled due to the potential for botulism. Untreated symptoms of the disease cause paralysis of the respiratory system, arms and legs. There’s more information at the state Health Department’s website.
Osprey Nest On Bay Bridge Destroyed: A pair of ospreys that had been building a nest on the Bay Bridge will have to find a new place to raise their chicks. The nest fell apart on Friday, when workers with the Maryland Transportation Authority tried to move it. The Capital Gazette reports that the nest was close to a moving traffic camera, and officials worried that the camera could be obstructed by the nest – and that the birds could be agitated by the camera, and hurt themselves. There were no eggs or chicks in the next, and the osprey is neither an endangered or threatened species.
Traditional Delmarva Chicken Festival Nears End: An Eastern Shore institution is coming to a close. On Friday, officials told the Daily Times that this year’s Delmarva Chicken Festival will be the last. The first Chicken Festival was in 1948, and for more than 6 decades, has been held all over Delmarva – in locations ranging from Georgetown to Dover to Salisbury to Snow Hill. The festival was cancelled twice during that time, both because of avian flu outbreaks. The 65th and last Delmarva Chicken Festival will take place on June 20th and 21st, at the Queen Anne’s County 4-H Park near Centreville. The Delmarva Poultry Industry, which has sponsored the festival, says its refocusing its mission, and looking for more effective ways to promote the Delmarva chicken industry.
Speed Camera Vandalism In Towson: Baltimore County police are asking for help in locating the person responsible for vandalizing a speed camera in Towson. A passerby saw the device near the corner of Thornton and Landrake roads had been sprayed over with white paint and called police. The Baltimore Sun reports that the discovery was made on Friday but it's unclear when the vandal might have struck.
NEA Grants For Baltimore Institutions: Baltimore's cultural scene is getting a big boost from the National Endowment for the Arts. Charm City museums, foundations and festivals will divvy up more than $2.5-million in grants this year. The Baltimore Sun reports that, among the recipients, the BSO is set to receive $100-thousand, the BMA will get $80-thousand and Artscape will receive $45-thousand.
Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles lost yesterday’s game against the Boston Red Sox; the score was 6 to 5. The two teams wrap up their four-game series today in a game that gets underway late this morning.
Washington Baseball: the Washington National won yesterday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals; the score there: 3 to 2.
Baltimore Football: football fans will learn the Ravens’ entire schedule tomorrow. The NFL is set to release the 256-game slate for the upcoming season on Tuesday. In addition to division games, Baltimore will play teams from the NFC South and AFC South this season.