Mon July 14, 2014
Power Outages, MSA Scores, and Westminster Site Nixed As Shelter For Immigrant Children
Another round of overnight storms means another round of power outages in Central Maryland; more storms are forecast today and tomorrow. A site in Westminster is no longer under consideration as a temporary shelter for immigrant children. MSA scores drop, and state school officials say they're not surprised. Plus: MD's public financing system, VA documents, cuts to the state budget, and more.
Monday Power Outages: Last night’s storms knocked out power to more than 25-thousand Maryland homes and businesses… and several hundred remain in the dark at this hour. BGE customers can report outages by calling 877-778-2222. More severe thunderstorms are possible in Central Maryland today and tomorrow as a cold front pushes into the region. The Frederick News Post has more.
Westminster Site Nixed As Temporary Shelter For Immigrant Children: A former Army reserve building in Westminster will not be used to house some of the thousands of unaccompanied children who’ve been crossing the US/Mexico borders. Federal officials had been considering the site as a temporary shelter last week… but the idea faced strong opposition from Carroll County lawmakers, and others. And a preliminary review of the site judged it to be in poor condition, and not suitable for the purposes of a temporary shelter. Officials had previously considered, and dismissed, three other Maryland locations as possible sites to house the children. U.S. officials say they are trying to open new detention centers for the tens of thousands of children from Central America who’ve entered the US in recent months. An estimated 250 are crossing the border every day. There’s more here from the Westminster Patch, and more here and here from the Baltimore Sun.
MSA Scores Decline: Scores on the Maryland School Assessment tests were down this year… showing the largest single-year decline since they were implemented a decade ago. State education officials say they weren’t surprised with the lower scores. This is because Maryland schools are in the midst of changing their curricula to adhere to the Common Core standards… and the MSAs don’t test for those standards. Federal law required that the tests take place, but federal officials tell the Baltimore Sun that they will not hold Maryland schools accountable for the lower scores. The MSAs will be replaced by a new Common Core-oriented test next year.
Franchot's Call For Less Rhetoric Likely To Go Unheeded: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Bryan Sears of the Daily Record talk about the Board of Public Works' decision to cut money from the state budget amid less-than-expected revenues. They also touch on why Comptroller Peter Franchot is urging both parties to talk more seriously about Maryland's fiscal situation. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Contract At Hopkins Hospital Approved: A new contract is now in place for the more than 2-thousand unionized service workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital. After one strike earlier this year, and months of contested negotiations, the hospital and the union reached a tentative deal early last week… workers voted on it on Thursday and Friday, and in the end, the Baltimore Sun reports that about 93 percent of the union members approved it. The deal gives all workers raises, and sets a $15-an-hour minimum wage for certain long-term employees.
VA Documents Improperly Stored: An employee at the Baltimore office of the US Department of Veterans Affairs is alleged to have improperly stored about 8-thousand documents. The Baltimore Sun reports that an inspector general is expected to tell an investigative committee about the claims today. Testimony indicates that the documents included Social Security information and claims folders, and that they were kept in a worker's office for an “extensive period of time.” When it comes to processing claims, the Baltimore VA office is one of the slowest in the nation. This week, auditors are set to reveal how VA officials are clearing up the backlog of delayed claims.
Public Financing System’s Future Uncertain: Unless Maryland lawmakers find a way to replenish the state’s public financing system for gubernatorial elections… this could be the last time the system is used. Before this year, the state’s public financing system hadn’t been used since 1994. But Republican Larry Hogan and Democrat Heather Mizeur used public financing in the primary election, and Hogan – now the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee – will be using it in the general, taking $2.6-million from the fund, and leaving only about a million dollars behind. The Washington Post notes that there’s no longer any way to replenish the public financing fund, because lawmakers got rid of the old source back in 2010 (a voluntary add-on box on state income tax returns). Unless the box is restored – or some other funding source is created – the future of publicly financed elections in Maryland is in doubt.
MD Properties At Risk Of Hurricane Storm Surge Damage: More than 12-thousand Baltimore-area properties are at “extreme risk” of suffering hurricane-driven storm surge damage. A new study by CoreLogic ranks Maryland tenth in the nation for the number of properties at risk during a major storm. The CoreLogic survey says property owners in Ocean City and Salisbury areas have a bit more to worry about… as roughly 36-thousand sites on the Eastern Shore are at risk of damage in any size hurricane. The Baltimore Business Journal has more.
Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles won a 3 to 1 victory over the New York Yankees yesterday, in a game that was called in the bottom of the fifth due to rain. The O’s head into the All-Star break at first place in the American League East.
Washington Baseball: the Washington Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday; the score there was 10 to 3.
Babe Ruth Memorabilia Auction: A weekend memorabilia auction at the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards was a record-setter. Babe Ruth's 1918 contract with the Boston Red Sox sold for just over a million-dollars, the highest price ever paid for a sports contract. A bat from early in Ruth’s career sold for $215-grand and a signed ball brought in $96-thousand. WJZ has more.