Mon February 10, 2014
School Delays, More Snow Forecast, Speed Cameras, ICC Tolls, and The State Of The City Speech
We round up this morning’s school delays, look at how the winter’s affecting snow cleanup budgets, and examine the possibility of more snow later this week. Plus: the investigation into Baltimore’s speed camera system, the State of the City speech, a call for ICC toll reductions, public financing in the Governor’s race, and more.
School Delays: Yesterday’s snowfall is changing school schedules this morning. There’s a 1-hour delay for: Kent County schools. There’s a 90-minute delay for: Queen Anne’s County schools. And there’s a 2-hour delay for: Carroll County schools, Cecil County schools, Harford County schools, and Washington County schools.
More Snow Possible Later This Week: More snow could be coming our way later this week; the National Weather Service says there’s a 50 percent chance of snow on Wednesday, an 80 percent chance of snow on Wednesday night, and a 70 percent chance of some sort of precipitation on Thursday. It’s still too early to tell how much snow we’ll get – you can check out the National Weather Service’s latest forecast here.
Snow Cleanup Costs Exceed Budget; Potholes A Major Problem: Maryland is spending a lot of money for the tons of salt that are being used to clear the roads this winter. WJLA reports that our state budgeted $46-million to deal with the snow, but has already spent more than $70-million. However, officials with the State Highway Administration say there's no need for drivers to worry. They say they’re placing a priority on snow removal… and that the budget could be balanced with future cutbacks on non-critical activities like bridge painting or grass mowing. Meanwhile, AAA Mid-Atlantic says it's been an especially bad winter for potholes around the region. The auto club says the potholes will cost drivers almost $5-billion in repairs.
City Council Roundup: The investigation into Baltimore’s troubled speed and red light camera system continues today, when the leader of a city council committee will put in a bill that would give his panel expanded powers. WYPR reporter Kenneth Burns gives Nathan Sterner this preview.
State Of The City Speech To Focus On Crime Reduction: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake plans to talk about the city’s efforts to crack down on violent crime, when she delivers her annual State of the City address this afternoon. The Baltimore Sun reports that the Mayor will talk about plans to implement the crime-reduction program known as “Operation Ceasefire” – that program’s been successful in other large cities, such as Boston; under it, police target offenders in high-crime areas, looking for the people who commit the highest number of offenses. The Mayor’s also expected to talk about her plans to create “Youth Connection Centers,” where juveniles who violate police curfews would be brought year-round. Rawlings-Blake will also announce plans to offer greater rewards to citizen tips that lead to the seizure of illegal guns. The Mayor will deliver her State of the City speech this afternoon at 2, at City Hall. WYPR’s Kenneth Burns had a preview of the speech in the second part of this morning’s City Council Roundup.
What Larry Hogan And Heather Mizeur Have In Common: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Karen Hosler talk about several recent developments in the push for public financing of political campaigns, most notably Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Larry Hogan's decision to take the money despite its accompanying restrictions on fundraising. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Gansler Calls For ICC Toll Reduction For Commuters: Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Doug Gansler is calling for lower tolls for commuters who use the Inter County Connector in the DC suburbs. Gansler – currently the state’s Attorney General – wants to offer a 50 percent discount on the toll for commuters who make at least 15 trips per month on the ICC. Gansler says that usage of the roadway is about 20 percent lower than officials had projected; he says that lowering tolls for commuters would up ridership, and thereby bring in more revenue than is currently coming in. The Baltimore Sun notes that the Maryland Transportation Authority did a study on reducing ICC tolls last year – and found that toll cuts would probably cut revenues; but the Sun notes that the MdTA didn’t study Gansler’s specific plan.
Preakness Stakes Ticket Sales Up: Ticket sales are brisk for this year’s Preakness Stakes. The Baltimore Business Journal reported late last week that sales are up 15 percent, when compared to the same time last year. The Preakness stakes is the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown; it takes place on May 17th at Pimlico Race Course.
Grants For MD Communities From Community Health Resources Commission: Parts of Maryland are benefiting from a grants provided by the Community Health Resources Commission. The 20 grants will send nearly $3-million dollars to programs aimed at reducing infant mortality, increasing access to dental care, and expanding primary service. The money helps around 50-thousand residents in underserved areas of the state. There’s more here from the Cumberland Times-News.
Grasso Cited For Using Hand-Held Cell Phone While Driving: Anne Arundel County Council Chairman John Grasso was pulled over by a county police officer on Friday for talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving. Doing so has been illegal in Maryland for years, but only became a primary offense back in October – a change that lets police stop drivers for the violation. Councilman Grasso tells the Annapolis Capital that he didn’t know it was illegal, but admits he broke the law, and says he plans to pay the ticket.