Tue July 29, 2014
Sheltering Immigrant Children, MD’s Pension System, & A Proposed Sale Of City-Owned Parking Garages
Maryland could soon provide shelter for thousands more of the Central American children who’ve been apprehended at the US Mexico border. Maryland’s pension system got a higher-than-expected return on its investments this year. Four parking garages in Baltimore could soon have new owners, under a proposal from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Plus: pre-K funding, sewer line inspections, two railroad companies sue the Maryland Department of the Environment. And more.
MD Hopes To Shelter Two Thousand More Immigrant Children: Maryland could soon provide shelter for thousands more of the Central American children who’ve been apprehended at the US Mexico border. The Baltimore Sun reports that about 22-hundred of the children have already found homes in Maryland this year. Governor Martin O'Malley met with state religious leaders yesterday to talk about situation. And after that meeting, officials said that as many as 2-thousand more children could come to our state; most would be placed with relatives, but some would need foster care or long-term shelter. The state is asking for interested foster parents to apply. And the Governor’s Office for Children tells the Daily Record that it’s also looking for lawyers to work pro bono to help children with legal matters. Governor O’Malley’s administration also says that it’s offered the federal government several different sites in Maryland where some of those children could be sheltered. While the locations of these sites have not been disclosed, the Washington Post reports that one is in Montgomery County.
Taylor-Mitchell Backs Catholic Charities’ Plan To Shelter Immigrant Children In Timonium: A candidate for a Baltimore County Council seat is backing a plan that would bring 50 immigrant children to a Timonium facility operated by the nonprofit Catholic Charities. The Baltimore Sun reports that Democrat Laurie Taylor-Mitchell says that sheltering the children at the site would be a “compassion[ate]” response. Taylor-Mitchell is campaigning to represent the district that covers northern Baltimore County; she’s facing Republican Delegate Wade Kach in the November general election; Kach is opposed to Catholic Charities’ plan to shelter the children.
MD’s Pension System Posts Higher-Than-Expected Return: Maryland’s pension system got a higher-than-expected return on its investments this year. The state was expecting earnings of 7.7 percent. Instead, it earned nearly twice that – a little less than 14.4 percent. The pension fund’s balance now stands at $45.4-billion. The Daily Record reports that the fund serves about 331-thousand retired and active state employees and teachers. Even with the high return, the state’s pension system remains underfunded, but the current amount of unfunded liability won’t be updated until an annual report is released later this year. Its unfunded liability was around $20-billion at the end of the fiscal year that ended in June of 2013.
Rawlings-Blake Proposes Selling Baltimore-Owned Garages: Four parking garages in Baltimore could soon have new owners. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake proposed selling the garages to private developers last year; she says the sale would raise up to $60-million. The Mayor wants to use that money to pay for what she calls “urgent priorities” – which include recreation centers, infrastructure needs and blight elimination. Under the Mayor’s plan, buyers of the garages would face no restrictions on how high they could raise parking rates. City Council President “Jack” Young appeared skeptical of the plan yesterday. He told the Baltimore Sun he thinks leasing the garages might be better than selling them outright. Young also notes that the garages do generate revenue for the city… about $400-thousand a year.
Grants Awarded To Expand Pre-K Programs: Maryland has issued $4.3-million worth of grants to expand pre-kindergarten programs. The Daily Record reports that the grants will go to 24 providers around the state. The grants were approved by the General Assembly earlier this year; they’ll be used to expand full and half-day pre-K to 15-hundred more children.
Railroad Companies Sue MD Environment Department: The Maryland Department of the Environment is being sued by two railroad companies. The Daily Record reports that the suits were filed last week by Norfolk Southern Corporation and CSX. The legal actions are aimed at stopping the Environment Department from disclosing information about their shipments under the state’s Public Information Act. The railroads are trying to prevent information about how they transport crude oil from being made public. CSX says that while that information’s been disclosed to the state, federal law requires that it remain confidential – and CSX notes that the information was only turned over to the state after an official with the Environment Department signed a non-disclosure agreement.
Baltimore To Begin Inspecting Small Sewer Lines: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is set to announce today that the city will soon begin inspecting small sewer lines that lead to thousands of Baltimore homes. The Baltimore Sun reports that the work is part of a new five-year plan aimed at identifying sewer problems while they’re still small. Inspectors will search for cracks and corrosion in the aging pipes, which average 80 years old. Department of Public Works officials say they won’t have to tear up sidewalks to conduct the inspections… nor will they need access to homeowners’ property. The work will be done on the public portion of the sewer lines; homeowners remain responsible for the pipes on their side of the property line.
BGE To Reward Customers: Baltimore Gas and Electric is awarding 640-thousand customers with savings for using less electricity on last Wednesday's Energy Savings Day. The utility’s energy savings program urges customers to raise their thermostats on especially hot days. BGE says the average savings was $6.80. The Baltimore Sun has more.
Comcast Center Becomes XFINITY Center: Maryland basketball will call its building by a new name this season. The Comcast Center at UMD’s College Park campus will now be called the XFINITY Center. The university broke the news yesterday. The XFINITY brand belongs to Comcast and renaming efforts should be done at the arena in a few weeks. The Baltimore Sun has more.
2015 Preakness Logo Revealed: The Maryland Jockey Club has unveiled its official 2015 Preakness logo. The new logo uses the state flag colors of red, gold and black and shows a horse running with the use of three block slides. For the 16th straight year, the Leffler Agency and its division, BrandNU Marketing, designed the logo. The 140th running of the Preakness Stakes is set for next May 16th at Pimlico Race Course. The Baltimore Business Journal has more.
Police Look For Suspect Who Stole Police Equipment: Maryland State Police are looking for help finding those responsible for stealing police equipment out of a vehicle in Harford County. Sometime early Friday morning, police say someone smashed a window on a trooper's unmarked SUV parked outside the officer's Bel Air area home. Once inside they took a tactical vest, a flight suit and other equipment. Police say a tan or gold Cadillac with a loud exhaust and Maryland tags is a possible suspect vehicle. The Baltimore Sun has more.
Baltimore Football: Last night's Ravens practice had a surprise visitor. Longtime linebacker Ray Lewis showed up at M&T Bank Stadium and offered his first public comments on his upcoming statue. Lewis calls it a very humbling thing and says receiving a statue means the world to him. As the public backlash continues, Ravens running back Ray Rice has decided not to appeal his two-game suspension from the NFL, which came following a domestic violence incident in Atlantic City earlier this year. Rice had until yesterday to officially appeal the matter. Rice received a warm welcome during the Ravens’ open practice last night. Rice was shown multiple times on the video board and got large amounts of applause from fans in attendance. The Baltimore Sun has more.
Baltimore Baseball: Baseball’s back in Baltimore. The Orioles open up a three game series with the LA Angels; tonight’s game starts at 7:05pm at Camden Yards
Washington Baseball: The Washington Nationals lost yesterday’s game against the Miami Marlins; the score was 7 to 6.