School Delays, Tonight’s Baltimore City Council Meeting, and The Washington Monument Lighting
A look at this morning’s fog-related school delays on the Eastern Shore. Plus: tonight’s Baltimore City Council meeting, MD’s minimum wage, public transit use, hospital rates, speed camera citations, and the annual lighting of the Washington Monument in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon.
School Delays: Several school systems on the Eastern Shore are opening late, due to fog. On 90-minute delays: Kent County schools, Queen Anne’s County schools, Talbot County schools. On a 2-hour delay: Caroline County schools.
The Baltimore City Council’s Final Meeting Of 2013: The Baltimore City Council holds its last meeting of the year today; it starts this afternoon at 4:30. WYPR Reporter Kenneth Burns gives us a preview of the agenda… which includes a “ban the box” bill and a resolution dealing with sexual predators and the state’s court system. Kenneth also updates us on committee hearings, and offers an overview of agenda items for 2014.
MD Hospital Rates Remain Stable: Maryland hospital rates will remain the same for the first six months of 2014. The Health Services Cost Review Commission decided yesterday to keep the rates the same for the rest of the current fiscal year. The Commission took the unusual step of reviewing rates in the middle of the fiscal year because of a payment system that's changing. There’s more here from the Baltimore Business Journal, here from the Baltimore Sun, and here from the Daily Record.
MaryPIRG Study On Driving And Public Transit: Driving is down in the Baltimore Region… and the use of public transit is up. As the Baltimore Sun reports, the Maryland Public Interest Research Group has released a study showing that the average number of miles driven on the state’s highways dropped by 1.8% between 2006 and 2011. Meanwhile, the region’s public transit systems saw a 17.9% increase in the average number of miles traveled on public transit. More MARC train ridership will be possible in the days to come, as the MTA debuts new weekend hours. MARC’s Penn Line between Baltimore and DC will offer nine round trips on Saturdays and six round trips on Sundays… beginning this weekend. The expanded service is being paid for in part by Maryland’s new gas tax, which took effect back in July. The Capital Gazette has more here.
State Should Care About Minimum Wage: Maryland is one of the richest states in the union. And WYPR Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith says that Maryland should care as much as any state about the alarming and on-going income disparity in this nation. Fraser comments in his weekly essay.
National Guardsman Arrested In Relation To Jail Smuggling Ring: The FBI has arrested a Maryland National Guardsman in connection to the smuggling ring at the Baltimore City Detention center. The Guardsman was charged while deployed in Afghanistan and arrested in Waco, Texas on Tuesday. The Baltimore Sun reports that he’s accused of smuggling phones and other banned items into the jail for members of the Black Guerrilla Family gang. U.S. Marshal's Office authorities are transporting the Guardsman back to Baltimore to face trial.
BPW Approves Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade: Maryland’s Board of Public Works has approved spending $126-million on upgrades to the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant. The Baltimore Sun reports that the upgrades are expected to cut nitrogen pollution from the plant by two thirds. The money comes from the Bay Restoration Fund, which gets its money from the so-called “flush tax” – a fee paid by sewer and septic system users.
Speed Camera Citations Increase In Howard County: Howard County’s automated speed cameras issued more than 58-hundred citations during the first two months of the school year. That’s an increase of about 67 percent from the same period last year. Howard County police tell the Baltimore Sun that the uptick is likely a result of the two portable camera units that its speed camera program picked up at the beginning of the school year.
Zoo Officials Disagree With Humane Society Report: Officials with the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Frederick County are dismissing a report from the Humane Society, that alleges the zoo inadequately cares for its animals. The director of the Global Wildlife Trust, which runs the zoo, claims that the Humane Society’s report was written with a political agenda. He alleges that the report was aimed at making the Association of Zoos and Aquariums the only US authority on zoos; the Catoctin Zoo is accredited by a different group, the Zoological Association of America. The Frederick News Post notes that the Humane Society’s report, released yesterday, also said there were problems at the Plumpton Park zoo in Cecil County and the Tri-State zoo in Allegany County.
MD’s First Hypothermia Death Of The Winter: Maryland has seen its first death of the season due to cold weather. State medical officials say a man from Prince George's County between the ages of 45 and 64 died due to hypothermia. No further information has been released. The Washington Post notes that Maryland saw 19 cold-weather-related deaths last winter.
Washington Monument Lighting Set For Tonight: And it’s a sign of the season in Baltimore – the Washington Monument in historic Mount Vernon will be lit up for the holidays tonight. Ravens defensive end Chris Canty is set to join Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for the 42nd annual event… pre-event festivities start at 5pm; the official ceremony gets underway at 6:00. The actual monument lighting and fireworks finale is set for 7:45. The Baltimore Business Journal has more here.